When is a Pro Studio the Right Choice?

1323 74

We listen to tons of albums every day, and the recording and production quality tends to vary just as much as the styles of music do. Ultimately, it’s up to you (the artist) to decide what sort of sound you’re going for, and of course, cost is always a concern. Yes, in a perfect world, we’d all have the time and money to spend weeks tinkering in a professional studio. That’s not a reality for most of us. But are you sacrificing pro-sounding results for the convenience of home recording? Again, it all depends on what your goals are with your music, and the means at hand. But unless you really know what you’re doing, getting that “radio-ready” pro sound of polished tracks at home can be a struggle.

So, when is a pro studio the right choice for your project?

We’ve heard a lot of different stories from musicians: some swear by the studio, others prefer the freedom of working at home and could never imagine shelling out big bucks and dealing with time constraints. For others, booking studio time is a motivator: you know exactly when you’re going in, and you’d better have your tracks up to snuff by the time that day rolls around. With the advent of pro-quality (HD, even) home recording, a lot of musicians are doing basic tracking at home, and only going to the studio to lay down the major elements of their record. (Why record tambourine at the studio when you can do it at home?)
What are your thoughts on this? Can you get the sound you want from your DAW/home studio? Do you think a pro studio is a must for a serious musician, or a waste of money? Let us know in the comments below.

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Ironically, nowadays, many "pro" studios are little more than hyped up bedroom studios. Much of the equipment is the same, with one or two (sometimes crucial) differences, depending on the quality of the studio.

    The key differences in a recording studio are usually:

    a) live room/s – they offer separate spaces to perform and record your music. This is valuable when capturing acoustic instruments because control rooms are not always the most acoustically silent rooms (computer fans etc…) Also, live rooms can be acoustically treated without having to accomodate mixing desks and monitors, all of which take up crucial space in a room if they are going to be positioned correctly. It can be good not to be in the same room as the producer and engineer when you're trying to nail a performance, too.

    b) quality signal chain. This is something you can spend money on to buy, and doesn't depend on the layout of your home. But it's expensive. A good mic, decent cables, a good preamp, good A-D/D-A converters, good speakers for mixing…these are worthwhile investments for anyone planning to do pro-level recording, as they will allow you to get better results quicker. I'm not saying a pro-level recording can't be achieved with budget or midrange recording gear, but it takes longer. Decent studios tend to have that, because they're always working to a timescale.

    c)Proper mix room. Acoustic treatment makes all the difference in the room you're recording or mixing in. Big pro studios often have their rooms designed acoustically from the architectural point upwards, and it means that your recordings are less likely to sound cheap or boxy.

    d) experienced engineers and producers. Recording music is an instinctive learning process, and people with good instincts can make recordings better. If someone has tracked a thousand bands (that he cared about) then he'll probably have an idea of how to capture your sound too. Equally though, if they see you as just another paying client to get in and out the door, then they might not be motivated to give you their best. You need to know who you're dealing with.

    But these things only relate to the actual sound of the recording, not the performance, not the instruments themselves.

    The key is to understand the boundaries and limitations that you have chosen to work with. If your target is to make something that sounds like Nashville, you probably need to spend a lot of money on (and time learning about) gear and acoustic treatment (or go to a proper pro studio). But if you're not aiming at that, and your fans are not expecting that kind of quality (indeed, they might be switched off by that), then you need to show that you have embraced your chosen limitations, and you are expressing yourself with the tools you've got. There is no shame in that, and it can just as easily be turned to your advantage.

    Just some random thoughts, hope it helps! (from an avid podcast listener!)

  • My band is about to release our first album ("What is Nerdwave?", out 9/18/2010 at http://www.weracketeer.com), and most of its recording was done in a home studio.

    Our drummer has a great setup in his home where he records local artists, so we hired an engineer to come in and help but saved a lot of money on studio time working there.

    We paid for engineering, mixing and mastering. We're pretty happy with the result, and we intend to keep working that way. We'd probably only do full-studio recording if we suddenly became a lot more successful or had loads of money to spare. 🙂

  • Great topic.

    I can't think of anyone who would prefer to work out of closets and third bedrooms instead of heading to commercial studios with great gear, great rooms and qualified engineers… that is unless you record very little acoustic instruments. I'm a young record producer and I began by working out of my home and soon learned that the quality of my work got a lot better once I entered a commercial space for major elements. The exception is certainly if you have a near-commercial quality space IN your home and have fantastic engineering chops.

    For me, a GREAT sounding drum room is a necessity. I must have a great sounding room on drums. There's no other option. Guitars can be fine in a well-treated space. Still, recording guitars with a room mic can be a major help when creating different ambient spaces naturally rather than artificially.

    Vocals can totally be done from home and that's what I do most of the time. As long as my room has a good vibe and a great signal chain then I'm good to go.

    The only thing that is frustrating with commercial spaces is dealing with time constraints. When I'm at home, I can take as much time as I'd like. You have to know how much you can reasonably get done while in a commercial space otherwise some executive producer (the guy with the money) may have some works for you when he realizes $750/day has been added to the budget. 🙂

    Happy recording!

  • I would love to be able to afford a professional studio, but I can't, so I have to work with what I have, Cubase and Sonar.

    However, I now find myself writing in the studio, getting sounds and then working songs around them (sounds not noises). This is helping me develop my music a lot more than having to rush to get things done in a studio.

    Now… if I could only afford to do this in a Pro studio… well….

  • Wil

    We're a traveling group (90% of the time) so we have a mac with cubase & a firewire setup. We tend to track where we can & currently without a decent drummer I can play the parts myself & fix minor issues or sample the individual drums & cut & paste to build a track so a great acoustic room isn't the main concern.

    Time & money are the biggest factors. We checked a budget for a studio recording then checked a couple of decent mics, the presonus fp10, and a macbook & the budget was less for the DIY route, having a music business degree with a focus on mixing we decided to get the gear so we could spend more time & use it for future projects…as well as pawn if times get too hard! Also the way we release material a DIY approach is best but we also save all raw tracks to a hard drive or thumb drive. This way, in the event that we have a decent budget, or need for better quality, we can take the tracks to a pro-studio for mix down.

    BTW RVs aren't bad for mixing off our last project I mixed 2 songs in an RV 2 in a van & 6 in a friend's house with little acoustic treatment….the RV tracks came out best, the van tracks were second best & the stationary house tracks BLEW!

  • J.Lynch

    Honestly, everything has its place.. if recording an actual band or choir or live instruments or all the above.. of course a big studio with space for all these things is required… to get the best sound available. There's really no other way to record all that other than in a church.. as i have witnessed.. awesome.. but as far as hip hop and RnB and pop.. A large studio is a waste.. you dont really need much other than great music and lyrics and a good Daw and Mic. You can lay down everything and literally get a good engineer to mix in the box or take it to a big studio for mixing and mastering. The majority of Drake's album was mixed in a laptop. I know for a fact his mixtape was.. lol. And Trey Songz' albums are mostly recorded in a bedroom type studio with the basic home recording setup… either Protools or Logic and a good Audio Technica Mic. Rarely is any of this music recorded elsewhere. The producer behind it just has tons of experience and years in the industry. His name is Troy Taylor. Look him up..

    • Joey

      This.

      “Honestly, everything has its place.. if recording an actual band or choir or live instruments or all the above.. of course a big studio with space for all these things is required… to get the best sound available. There’s really no other way to record all that other than in a church.. as i have witnessed.. awesome.. but as far as hip hop and RnB and pop.. A large studio is a waste.. you dont really need much other than great music and lyrics and a good Daw and Mic. You can lay down everything and literally get a good engineer to mix in the box or take it to a big studio for mixing and mastering. The majority of Drake’s album was mixed in a laptop. I know for a fact his mixtape was.. lol. And Trey Songz’ albums are mostly recorded in a bedroom type studio with the basic home recording setup… either Protools or Logic and a good Audio Technica Mic. Rarely is any of this music recorded elsewhere. The producer behind it just has tons of experience and years in the industry. His name is Troy Taylor. Look him up..”

  • BT

    It all depends on where you are and what your goals are. I don't tour. The city I live in does little to support local music (like purchasing CD's), so it's not worth my while to put money into professional recording. In two years I've haven't even sold 100 CD's.

    Then again, maybe if I put a lot of bucks into the recording I might sell more.

    I have no idea 🙂

  • Don't let your budget decide. Determine whether or not you have the skills to accomplish some of the components yourself. Use your ears- your listeners will. If you need more money, go make some. I've heard a lot of excuses for crap product, but there's only ever one reason: they don't care enough to be professional. Nebraska was recorded on a four-track cassette recorder. Appetite For Destruction cost $300,000. They are both deadly albums by artists who put out the best they had. On major record labels, btw.

  • Brettr

    A lot of instruments can be DI'd, even guitars but even mic'ing a guitar amp is not a technically demanding. Instruments such as vocals that required mics can be recorded easily as long as you don't need room acoustics, get a direct sound with few reflections.

    The big challenge is drums. I use sample software and drummers can use midi drums with samples but if you prefer real drums then a studio can be relatively economical – as long as your drummer can sit down and play the music without too many retakes.

  • You don't need a "pro studio" if you know how to do it at home. No time pressure is a good thing for some…and you can take the money you saved by recording at home and spend it on a mastering lab. Thats what we did.
    Nine years ago I bought a Roland VS-1680 hard disk recorder and a CD burner…it is theoretically "old" but I learned how to use it and we made our bossa nova record on it….the key is quality in/quality out. One good vocal/instrument mic, and a good preamp and limiter, I used FMR preamp and Great Little Compressor gear…spent close to a grand on mastering, made all the difference…we have sold this CD on CDBaby consistently…made our money back…this home studio situation allowed me to work all day on a kb or sax solo until I got it right. There is no easy answer to the question but the benefits of recording at home if you have mastered your gear are very large…

  • When it come to recording with sequencers and sound modules as opposed to real instruments, what if any are some of the advantages in a pro studio ?

  • A third options that seems a lot more common is to go into a pro studio to record the drums, then take the rough drum mix home and record all the guitars/bass/vocals on home equipment, then bring those tracks back to the pro studio to have them import them, and then have the pro studio mix/produce/master the thing.

    This leaves the hard stuff in the hands of the pro studio, while you don't have to pay them or be under their time constraints while doing the easy stuff on your own, and can easily cut the pro studio time you need in half.

  • I'll agree with Beat Attitude, and wanted to emphasize a few key points.

    * There is no substitute for a good performance of good music. While definitions of "good" may vary, it's often been said that a great performance on low-quality gear is preferable to a lackluster performance on awesome gear. Will recording in your own studio give you the environment and guidance to deliver the best performance? A great recording engineer/producer will create that environment, set expectations, and work with the artists to get the best possible performance. Where will YOU feel most motivated and able to deliver your best performance?

    * Acoustics, Acoustics, Acoustics!! Unless everything you do is DI'd or computer generated, the room you record in *WILL* affect your recording. There are lots of things that can be done to turn a standard room into a passable recording space, but you may find that a dedicated live room is required to avoid boxi-ness. And, as was already pointed out, the same will go for your mixing environment and doubly so for the mastering environment. If you want to record in your own space and take the time to get your tracks just right GREAT… but seriously consider hiring an engineer and/or a mastering engineer working in a dedicated studio!

    * Experience. You worked countless hours to hone your skills on your instrument of choice (including vocals). Why would you expect engineering a mix to take any less study, practice, and experience? Sure, learning how to do it on your own material can be liberating and rewarding… but if you don't want to invest the time to learn how to do it right and do it A LOT, you should seriously consider a mixing engineer!

    Bottom line? Record where you can get the best capture of your best performance, whether that is in your own location or not. Consider a studio for mixing and SERIOUSLY consider a studio for mastering to get the best out of your lovingly crafted tracks!

  • Forgiveness

    I agree with Beat Attitude, there are many factors involved. I think what works best is totally dependent on the individual and one thing that's guaranteed from almost every recording you'll do: you'll walk away knowing what you'd like to do different next time. Hopefully, you'll also become a better musician and artist with every experience.

    The recording environment can have a big impact on the performance; regardless of whether you record in a commercial studio, a private producer's studio, or at home.

    I think the quality of the recording experience can really help the artist bring their best. Some artists deliver their best alone in the middle of the night in a familiar space, others perform their best knowing that they have limited time and there is an audience listening. There is no right answer and a hundred ways to approach it, just go with what you can afford and what you are comfortable with.

    I used to own a large commercial studio, many of my clients found it intimidating and couldn't focus there. We lost our lease a few years ago, now I work out of a house that is dedicated to recording, is treated, and has nice gear. To be be honest, the majority of my clients (singer songwriters) are much more comfortable working in the house. It just feels more intimate and familiar to them and they tend to give better performances there. Also, my clients tend to just be here for 10 days at a stretch. Many find that they focus better when they have time set aside just for their music. Lots of people prefer to work on tunes a little bit at a time and consider things over time.

    Experiment and find the best fit for you. You are guaranteed to learn something from every experience.

  • Funny this discussion should come up. Our band (sans a 'real' drummer) is sort of being pushed toward studio recording. Not so much to sell merch or what have you, but to get a "good/professional" sound for a few of our originals to present to the movie/TV market.
    I'm actually torn. I know the advantages of studio over home. I also know the cost limitations. We all work full time jobs, so our time away from those are precious. (Family+Work+Music doesn't always = fun)
    If approached properly and methodically, a "home" recording can sound as good as a studio performance. Sure, there are the effects, signal processing and so on that a studio can provide, but with some knowledge of the tools at hand, decent equipment and of course, TIME, anything can be done at home to produce a good quality sound.
    So, even after saying all of this, I'm still torn.
    I'd love to hear what we sound like through someone else's ears.
    Time will tell.
    Great topic BTW. Thanks!

  • I think it really depends on the artist and what they are wanting from the project. I made a big decision to record at a state of the art facility with a very well known producer and engineer. I wanted to give my fans the best I could and also push myself as an artist.

    I have learned and am still learning as the project continues. Budget IS a big factor, but I also believe we must push ourselves to limits to create the best we can, as nothing will be handed to us on a silver platter unless we have that funding behind us. My effort has been pure fan support and grassroots, I am also a full time musician which as we know, are no guarantees in our income, so yes, the budget is a struggle. But the experience of the process has been priceless and continues to be.

    When you put yourself in an environment with the best, they won't take anything but the best from you, and they will push you to places you never thought you could go. It has and continues to change my life, as a person and as an artist. I also realize that as an independent artist, how LUCKY I am to be able to work with such pro's.

    Not that my last two Cd's are worth anything less, it's more about the music and creating all that it can be. I believe it depends on the artist, remember too, that even the best producers started out in the basement too…

    It's your dream… live it and create it…

    I know my experience of working with the best in my genre HAS changed my life, and also brings more awareness to how things are done to get the best you possibly can.

    I am grateful for the experience, the trust and belief from my fans, the producer, the engineers and other musicians that are lending their artistry.
    Music is an art… all of it… from playing to producing down to graphic design and branding… in this process, I have also learned, and really began to understand that it also is a business.. and be OK with that.

    And you do get what you pay for…. it really just depends on what the artist wants to accomplish, for themselves… you have to do it because you want to with the realization that you may not get your money back… and that is with ANY project…

  • Great post! This is very near and dear to my heart being that I'm a new home studio owner. I've recorded in both environments and agree with most of the comments above – there is a time and a place for both options. Depending on certain variables. I tend to lean towards sticking with the home studio (again biased now) because of time restraints and pressure. The creativity and solid musicianship shines when there isn't so much pressure in a 'pro' studio. Final thought as well: I think most "Pro Studios" should take an ego check and realize they're not as much needed as they once were. Personally, I think more musicians will want to go into a so called 'pro-studio' if they're not charging an arm and a leg and rushing them through the process.

    My two cents!
    Cheers,
    Travis

  • Chris

    I think it is totally up the artist to decide what sound they are going for, and if they can achieve that in a home based studio. I have heard some amazing albums that were recorded in a home studio. Likewise, I have heard some sub-par stuff coming from huge studios.

  • Jeremy

    Love this topic. I encountered this back in 2002-2003 when I was working on my first CD "jigsaw". I had a Pro Tools Digi 001 at home…both a guitar and bass Pod Pro and some decent instruments.

    The most important things I learned were: I can get great sounds at home on guitar and bass and keys. But doing proper drums and vocals or anything acoustic…the best money I spent was on a professional studio with a great room, amazing gear, and an engineer and producer. The experienced mixing/mastering alone was worth it…but using the best equipment in the best rooms for anything acoustic make a world of difference. To me (and most people), the vocals have to be perfect, they stand out in the mix, they lead the listener and its honestly what most people pay attention to first. Getting them polished and perfect is the greatest way to make your song sound professional. Its worth the cost to do it in the pro studio and make your work stand out.

    As the author writes, its all about what you're looking to do, plus the type of music, and even whats realistically within your means to afford. Cost effectiveness to me was being able to play with and record clean, polished tracks at home (and now i've been able to capture excellent acoustic guitar, harmonica and violin sounds as well), but putting the final ultimate professional touch on each song requires the vocals and mixing to be done in a pro studio and was absolutely worth the extra influx of my hard earned money.

  • Dan Arwady

    I agree that there are many different ways to do it. Personally, I've produced an entire album of my work by myself in my home studio, and I've also paid to track and mix in a pro environment. Beyond that, I've done a sort of hybrid of what Alex Blume said: tracking it myself and then mixing it in a professional studio with all outboard gear. It all depends on time, circumstance, and of course, budget.

    I always LOVED engineering, and doing it myself made me a better engineer, producer, and musician. I don't use electronic instruments, for the most part – my group uses all acoustic instruments – so I learned how to mic, mix, acoustically treat rooms, blow up equipment by accident, etc. It was great for me. Now I know all the gear, nuts, bolts, mics, cable, monitors, etc. that goes into getting a great sound.

    But there's one thing that hasn't been discussed, and it's more important than anything else. The performance.

    They have yet to make a "soul" plug-in. THAT'S what makes great records. Because an engineer's chief job is to capture that moment when the vocal is at its most beautiful, or the guitar player really nails that solo.

    Is it important to do it in a technically proficient way? Of course – failing at this could sacrifice a great musical moment.

    But I'll always sacrifice a little bit of technology for the performance.

    Keep this in mind: most listeners, even avid ones, can't put their finger on WHY they like what they like. It's just that some pieces speak to them and some don't. Many of them will identify with lyrics, if it's a pop song, not realizing that if they heard the vocal track soloed it would sound silly or weird. They will probably not pinpoint the tube grit of an overdriven U67 or the twang of Skunk Baxter's Telecaster as the reason they really love the song (despite the fact that this is how you and I now listen as attentive musicians). The moment just happens to make them feel good.

    So make an effort to make great recordings, certainly, because it's often a subconscious reason why someone will identify with your music. But don't ever substitute a big recording budget for taking the time to work at the real craft – songwriting. Writing a great song, and getting someone to communicate that song's message, is really what makes great recordings.

    My advice? Find the place that will be most conducive to getting the best performance out of your players. That's why studios spend so much money on aesthetics – to get the vibe right. If that means treating your recording efforts as a business decision, ponying up the money, and heading to a pro studio, then do it – I can relate to that. But if you're going to perform that vocal track better in your bunny slippers in your basement, maybe because you're under less pressure to nail it quickly, then go with that instead. People will notice a great performance way before they notice the room acoustics.

    And that's why we still listen to old records today.

  • Well, things have certainly changed over the years. It used to be you HAD to go to a studio, there was no other choice but with the advent of better technology, you can do most of what you need to at home. However, there is always a place for big time engineers. I write pieces for film and tv and have just finished up some work for a new tv show and EVERYTHING is done out of the home studio. Now, I do use a lot of soft synths but even with the occasional inst. recording I can get it all done in my studio. Pick good quality gear, KNOW all of your gear and programs inside and out and have fun! That's what music is all about anyways. My studio was probably only about $15-20,000 at the most with collected gear over time and I never have to pay more for a "major studio"

  • I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog I love recording analog…. but I always record digitally!

    Though we are happy about our second album that will be released very soon!
    If you are interested please shoot an email to leilolaimusic@gmail.com for a free album

  • I think the key to getting great recordings is learning how the use the equipment. Even a Pro Studio will produce sucky results if the person in the control room doesn't have the chops.
    That said, I started with a modest home studio. I spend a lot of time learning to use the equipment. The better I got, the better my rep for using the studio… The better my rep, the more money I made recording others… The more money I made, I bought better equipment… You get the idea.

    You can check out my modest studio at http://www.pristinestudios.com
    My album "Back In The Mood" and single "Take The Chance" were recorded there.

    Dennis

  • Broken Keys

    To me, it depends on the type of sound your trying to shoot for. If you want your recordings to be sort of dirty and gritty then a home studio is possibly the best way to go. Not saying that professional quality can't be acheived through a home set up. There are some people who are not into music sounding to clean or manufactured. Especially for Hip Hop. Some classic Hip Hop albums were made on 4 track recorders and other minimal gear.

    If I'm correct, some of Wu-Tang and Cash Money record's earlier releases were recorded on a 4 track recorder. Raw Talent can take some artist a long way. I'm inspired by artist or groups who can use little to any gear and make music that's timeless. I'm also inspired by real high quality music. I love the crispness of High quality recordings. Especially when your listening through headphones or cruising in your car.

    It just depends on the artist or groups fanbase. In my opinion, if an artist is makin a living recording music at home, stick to your guns. If it aint broke then don't fix it. If not, getting your music to sound proffessional may be the way to go. You know how the saying goes….Presentation is everything. Some people won't even listen for 5 seconds if your music is not pro-quality. Depends on the the listener.

    In conclusion, I think the best investment is getting a very high quality Pre-Amp and AD/DA converter. Compressors and EQ's can help also. That's a must for home recording as far as recording and mixing. I was in search of great home recording quality for years and couldn't figure out why I couldn't get my music to sound as polished as a I wanted it to. Very frustrating. After years of searching, I finally figured out how to get is sounding decent enought to make an impression on the massess. Good ears and Practice is a plus also.Lol.

    Peace,

    Broken Keys

  • I've been recording in my home studio exclusively now for 10 years and have published 4 CDs with 3 more almost done. The reasons I chose the home studio approach is because of the luxury of no time restraints, not having to depend on other people to get the job done and the fun of doing it my way myself. My engineering chops are not the best but I am constantly learning my software (Sonar and Samplitude) and thereby improving my sound.

    An unlimited budget would find me in the pro studio for the mixing but I feel my circumstances are motivating me to be the best I can be. That makes me feel very good about myself and my capabilities. To me that's reason enough to be the lone creator of beauty for people to enjoy.

  • In my case, poster Beat Attitude's letter D is the most important thing to me. I've done home recording, but when it comes down to actually releasing something, I want an engineer — something the band is not — and an objective set of ears — something the band can't be. You can buy the same equipment that's in a professional studio, but nothing beats a great set of ears and the technical nohow to put you at rest and find nuances that you didn't know were there. I'm lucky enough to have an engineer that cares deeply about the music he tracks, and he's never shy about voicing his opinion when asked.

    I have a group of friends who got great results with home recordings, and of course The Wrens produced a critically acclaimed album in their living room. But I would say that they did this despite the limitations of home recording, not because it was more convenient. Some music will be brilliant no matter what.

    One final thought: Some artists have trouble letting go, and can lose any spontaneity in their recordings. Having a home studio might let you tinker with every knob for years without ever being finished. Having a budget might be a blessing. There are some schools of artistic thought that say that limitations breed creativity. If you have to make hard choices, you will sometimes make more interesting ones.

  • you can stream my album at my website – I tried to do the home studio route and even had acquired some decent Pro "Consumer" gear but the stress of trying to learn to record everything to my satisfaction eventually drove me to a slightly better built basement studio where from my $35/hr I got the following

    1. a good engineer who could also fill the role of producer – telling me that the improvised rehearsal take I just went thru was pretty good despite my running out of breath on one line (that sounded weary and authentic later on)

    2. – a Gaggle of extra amps/instruments

    3. – A vibe in which to create without outside noise like aircraft, trains, refrigerators

    4. – Protools with lots of good outboard gear

    —–

    My home studio had an advantage too though – I did lots of demos and takes/retakes over and over for the arrangements – although sonically they weren't up to snuff, they clued me in to how I wanted to structure and arrange the album so that when I went in it was knocked out pretty fast

    —-

    so in my mind they each have their place, but I'm so glad I decided to do my album in a studio environment with an experienced (and somewhat impartial) set of ears

    rb

  • I use a laptop, a microphone and FL Studio Demo version

    I wish i could go to a pro studio and lay it all down with an acoustic guitar, where i am is on the road to getting there or at least a way of getting on with my music

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FguElaDziQ

    i recorded this with a borrowed Zoom H4N in a studio control room between other people's sessions at 4 AM with just enough time for one take

    The rawness shows and i kinda like that

  • It all depends on how many clothes you have to wear and if you can sleep with your music. You should be able to party, take a shower, eat, sleep, and work on the proj. for as long as needed and the nicest place you can do that in the better. If you own it GREAT if you can Rent it and have someone else clean up when your done then even better. the most important thing is that the artist are happy and the enginer and mixers can do a great job then you will have a good representation of the art that has been created .. and if that sucks then you need to write some better music 🙂 never stop writing …

  • As you said, it depends on what your goals are. I even belong to my work in my home studio, but it's equipped with state – of – the – art analogue gear (which is out of time, but sophisticated enought to get you a professional sounding base). This in view, I remarked that the term of , home recording' is violated today by an industry who sells plastic to the kids out there who think they get professional stuff for some bucks … (it's more expensive and even more profitable as they think for that what's in the box.) But anyway, this is an extra point.
    I am a recording artist, I have musical collaborations in Paris and mostly in L.A. and that means you record finaly in a professional enviroment. But, I'd never go out without having already some tracks from home in the pocket, for instance vocals – hell, that needs time and, first of all, the right or magic moment. Who can afford to go in at 5 o clock, in a pro studio, wake the engineer to put the final vocals on tape, cause you feel it's the ultimate moment? So that's my point on that, home recording is a wonderful, intimate solution, but you have at last equipped for that thing which is most important to do at home.

    From Paris –
    Matthias Sturm

    http://www.myspace.com/mslucifermusique

  • Marcus

    mics,mics,mics,mics,mics. top line fundamental effects (verb, delay, etc.). Theres a huge difference from a stomp box to a line level TC Electronics or algorithmic reverbs and the price shows and so does the sound.

  • Home recordings are great for demos and some styles. Moby did alright. However, how many bands/artists who've become household names recorded in their bedrooms? Not Kings of Leon, not Elton John, not Madonna, not Michael Jackson, etc. If one is truly serious about making the best record they can make, get a trusted producer (so the artist can focus) and go to a studio that can give you, say, the snare sound that you need or the right mic for your voice. It really DOES matter. All the focus on availability and budget may be why music sales have plummeted in the past 10 years. That could be one reason, anyway. As musicians, we should not be making music that we chew on like a piece of gum for a while and spit it out, unless the music deserves such treatment. Why do so many cover bands STILL play In The Midnight Hour or Brick House or You May Be Right or Fire and Rain? Because they were great, memorable songs. . . . recorded in a studio with great musicians/engineers/producers. GIGO is the old saying. Let's stop trying to cut corners, and everyone charge a reasonable fee so we can make a living and bring great music back.

  • Think Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

    Most musicians’ have far better recording set ups then Sgt. Pepper, was recorded on.
    I think the main ingredients to making a good recording are the music it’s self. You don’t need to be a great musician, just make great music. Some people can play A, C, D, E. and come up with something that is good, others will come up with “ I am the Walrus”
    Some music will never sound any different done at home than in a good studio and that is because of the basic elements them self’s.

    George Martin said he didn’t think Sgt. Pepper would have turned out any better if it were recorded today; in fact it may not have been as good.
    Sometimes we do our best work under limitations.

    Having cut my teeth on 4 track then on to 16 and 24, I can say the most musicians to day would have a hard time trying to record on 4 track and coming out with a Sgt. Pepper.

    In the end it comes down to this one simple thing. GOOD EQUIPMENT IN THE RIGHT HANDS WILL GIVE YOU GOOD OR EVEN GREAT RESULTS, HOW EVER MODEST EQUIPMENT IN THE RIGHT HANDS CAN GIVE YOU WONDROUS RESULTS.

    Having said all that I will say, there are many things to consider when making a recording. But the most important is Experience, knowledge and knowing what to use and how to get the best out of what you have to work with.

    Good luck eveyone and make great recordings
    Live Long and Peosper
    Eric Davenport
    Musician, Recording Engineer, Producer.
    Merit Records

  • Producing music at home does take some learning of basic audio and mixing concepts to achieve the sound quality you're looking for, but it is very possible and very rewarding. I certainly would recommend taking your stereo mix to a mastering house to be mastered before releasing to the public.

  • Devastation Bluebell

    I'm with J.Lynch. What you really need is a good idea. If you don't have that then the best studio in the world is a waste of time anyway

  • Some of the rest of you may have said this, but home and pro studio aren't mutually exclusive. You can do both. I thoroughly demo at home and keep parts of the demo in the final mix. This saves time and money.

    Typically, I track my meticulous harmony vocals, MIDI-driven keys and some acoustic guitars at home as part of the demo. I record other players in a pro setting: drums, electric guitars and bass. Those on a budget can especially benefit from paying for a "drum day" in a pro setting.

    Also…working with collaborators via ye Internet is a way of getting different sounds, different rooms, different fx. Even if these are from other home studios, these will help "diversify" your sound and probably there will be no cost at all.

    Yours,
    Scott Brookman

  • We did our first cd with our home studio … we are very happy with the results and we have managed to give away about 600 copies of it in a year and most of the listeners said that the sound of our cd is really very good. We did everything , from recording to mixing …We only did the mastering in a studio here in Crete and i think that we should have done the mastering also by ourselves! So the point is that if you are on a small band, I advise you to spend your money in home equipment instead of paying a pro studio! We did and it helped us a lot
    If you want to hear some of our music go to
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/wintercrescent

    Its metal/prog
    Cheers and hailz to the CdBaby Team

  • I've produced music since a teenager. Recently a sponsor payed for a series of 'professional' expensive recordings at a major studio. After the sessions I released the music.

    Meanwhile I also released my home studio project of the same songs which outsold and out sounded all of the others combined.

    Some of the sharpest critics pointed to flaws involving the pro-studio sessions including:

    1 – Drums over-riding the song while drowning out lead vocals.
    2 – Bad mixes of instruments on acoustic takes.
    3 – Sloppy recording noises not filtered out in the final mastering.
    4 – A general consistency of bad mixing.

    And much more!

    The finished pro-mix was/is the slowest seller of my current 42 albums to date. And frankly, I wouldn't buy that album either (don't ask me which one it is cause I'm embarrassed to tell). Some would say I need another studio. I say go with what works and stop wasting time and money.

    If you have a good ear for sound and songwriting, why trust your music with someone who doesn't.

  • Hello ladies and gents,

    I am of the opinion (and have written a book about this!) that fine quality recordings can be made at home. The major problems that musicians face in the home studio environment are often "in your head", much as are the problems of time pressure or performance anxiety when the clock is ticking in the "big studio".

    At home, the table are turned. The luxury of endless takes can get out of control, allowing the process of recording to replace the "moment" and the "energy" of capturing a performance – which is what recordings were originally intended to do. The great Brian Eno might call this "sounds like Pro Tools" (not to dig on one system, but to point out the sound of heavily edited, process, and polished DAW productions).

    Furthermore, the home engineer is often tempted to use the toys he/she spent all that hard-earned money on more often than a seasoned studio engineer might do. For example, the temptation might be to use the priciest condenser mic they have on a guitar amp, and running it through that boutique EQ and compressor for good measure, when a Shure 57 straight into the preamp may be a better choice!

    This runs on into mixing and mastering, when the toys and plug-ins are strapped across the 2-bus and tweaked to no end. A minor investment in studio acoustic treatment, and better yet, mastering in a different studio (that's the time for the "big studio" would often be the best move.

    Beyond working on the studio acoustics (the biggest flaw in most home studios), it's important to set goals, limits, and deadlines; especially in the home environment. Consider how many Presonus Fireboxes, Digi Mboxes, and the like have been sold, and you'll know about how many home studios there are out there. So where are all the albums? Stored on hard drives, never getting finished… That's the curse of the home studio. I encourage those in this situation to set a limit, and kick the stuff out!

    Looking forward to hearing more great music,,

    Thanks CDBaby!

    joe dochtermann

    troutband_com & joedocmusic_com

  • Good pro studios will have an affiliation with an arranger or an orchestrator who will prepare your string or horn charts for $100-$150 per song, and contacts with local symphony or theater-pit players who will play at the AFM Limited Pressing Session Rate (fewer than 10,000 CDs, or 3,000 in Canada)which is $100 per 2-hr session, plus benefits. This means you can get a string quartet for $495 all in, plus parts for, say, $150. Add a couple of hours of studio time and you can have full string or horn sweetening for $800-$900. Split the two hour session between a couple of songwriters and you're looking at about $600 per song.

    If you surround yourself with the best people you can afford and stay the hell out of their way, your song will exceed whatever you can conceive for it. This is the benefit of working with a fully pro studio. They are on your side. Write me at buzz@abcbuzz.com to continue this discussion.

  • This is a great discussion. I've heard many good points and agree with a great deal.

    I recorded my EP in a studio and got it mastered in 301 (best mastering engineer in Australia for my style of music, not cheap at all) and was very happy with the result. But this was also because I found a producer who really had a vision for the music and the record. I had an idea of what I wanted, but his experience made it far better.

    Also, the producer was a session drummer and bassist (which meant he played for free on the record) and him being a musician was very important to me. I don't want some guy whose obsession with gear and technical aspects of production giving me a polished, generic record. If they don't understand the notion of the vibe of the music, you're wasting your time.

    But everyone needs a home studio. You need to get your demos together as part of the writing process and then record in the studio. I spent $1000 on a home studio and can record decent sounding demos but I can't put drums in and they sound is often very thin and frail. If I update my studio, I could definitely get it sounding better but I still lack the ear to be a great producer. I can put together a decent demo but there is a lot to production and if you don't know about gear, acoustics, pre-amps, compressors, phase cancellation and all kinds of crazy things, you might often find that you get the vibe but need someone to hold the whole thing together.

    Bon Iver´s debut a record made in a home studio setup. But don't forget that the record was heavily produced, even if done without pro gear. He constantly pans several vocal parts, uses heaps of guitars and plenty of effects.

    Also, the room suited the sound. It was supposed to sound like it was made in a cabin in the woods.

    You don't need the BEST gear, nor do you need to know EVERYTHING or have a perfectly treated room. You have to have the RIGHT gear, know ENOUGH and have a room that WORKS. If you don't have the know how to make the record, get an engineer. If you don't have the gear, you can either buy it or rent it, or simply pay for a pro studio. If you're house makes your rock album sound like a wash of excrement, find a better room. The pro studio's offer the best gear, but you won't use half of it. The room is important for drums but less so for vocals and guitar (though still important!). You can always record different parts in different places.

    If money is an issue (how could it not be?) be strategic and find out what is the best way to record your album with your budget. Just remember that there are only three things: acoustics, gear and knowledge. The rest is just the power of the performance, which is the most important part by far.

    Cheers,

    Jehan

    http://www.myspace.com/jehangonsalkorale

  • My debut album "On the Level" is a mix of home studio and pro studio. I do urban music so some of the tracks were programmed, some were completely live. For the live band recordings I used the pro studio. For the major elements of most tracks (vocals, and my flute) I also used a pro studio.

    You can go out and rent a really expensive mic and record your vocals, horn lines etc. at home. But the major studios will usually have invested major money in processors. I do think it makes a world of difference.

    Mastering should also be done in a pro studio. Make sure that the mastering engineer you use it right for your music. And also, have him or her do one song first to make sure it is the sound you are going for before you have them do the whole thing. I made that mistake and ended up having to pay someone else to do it. I took it to someone who was a lot more money but a lot more experienced. The sonic difference is amazing.

  • Just a little additionbto that post. Take a look at Bruce Springsteen's album Nebraska. "Sparsely recorded on a cassette-tape Porta-studio, Nebraska was originally intended as a demonstration for later expansion into a 'proper' album with a full band. However, Springsteen ultimately decided to release the demos as a standalone album. Nebraska remains one of the most highly regarded albums in his catalog."

    So there are exceptions.

  • I'm working on my 2nd CD, recording all vocals at home. I've recorded in Nashville in the 90's, and the problems I had there was that they wanted me to sound like everyone else, so I ended up with recordings that I wasn't happy with because they didn't know how to mix the bass guitar with enough "balls" to my liking. So, I packed up the whole music thing in discouragement b/c I couldn't get anyone to understand the sounds I wanted that I was hearing in my head (I'm a McCartney bass fan).
    Now, I've unpacked my songs that I wrote in Nashville, and finished the first CD in the studio b/c the unfinished tracks were in DAT form and had to be finished in digital, so even in a pro studio, the imperfections can be heard.
    For CD # 2 I'm singing at home and have a local bass/drummer/guitarist record their tracks, then I send all the WAV files to a studio in Boston and I, as producer, try to get the engineer to get the sound that I hear in my head. He's doing the best so far out of of the engineers I've worked with, but I have to spend so much time waiting on him … that's the frustrating part. If I had a LOT of money, I don't think I'd be put on the "back burner" so much.
    But, my question is, as a novice, what is the best vocal mic to use for my vocals? I like recording vocals at home b/c I can experiment with my voice and I don't have to be worried about the money.
    email: deedeejane@gmail.com
    my music can be heard: http://www.reverbnation.com/delilahclark
    (the new songs are "Lately" and "Vanish Away". If you listen to those vocals, and then listen to my earlier songs, I think you'll notice that my vocals are a LOT MORE expressive now b/c I'm recording the vocals at home.

  • It wouldn't be the equipment I was interested in if I used a pro studio it would be the people. A good producer will be able to coax the best performance out of you and be able to stop you when you have got it down.

    When you listen to music you can tell if the musicians were having fun or were performing with passion, sadness or anger. No one will ever produce a plug in that when you switch it in the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

  • Jon

    I would encourage your readers to go find the article "Home Studios are Killing Music" by Producer/Engineer Ronan Chris Murphy (you'll find a link to it on the FAQ page of my website). In this article, Ronan points out that when most musicians get too caught up in building a home studio, it's very counter-productive to their music. They end up spending most of their time obsessing over studio gear & recording techniques instead of writing new songs, playing gigs, and perfecting their art. I think he makes a great case for going in and paying for some studio time.

  • I'm a solo acoustic musician on Celtic harp. I don't want to be my own engineer and I don't have "great ears." When I go into the studio to record, I make sure everything is down cold. Well, as cold as it can be anyway. What I'm happy to pay for is all the equipment, a great engineer, someone who can combine various takes, etc. and let me concentrate on communicating the music.

    I use a Zoom HD for practice at home, recording my vocal ensemble for web clips, and field recordings in my other area of expertise – sacred music. Audacity is my best friend there.

    Yes, I'm amazed at the technology that's out there – but heck, I'm just not up to taking that on myself – and besides, recording engineers need to eat.

  • Rob in Madrid

    Jehan, Devora Clark very nice stuff, well done!

    One option I haven't seen discussed yet, ´Outsourcing` The reality is most home studio stuff sounds, well, like it was done at home. My wife is an awesome singer and song writer but when it comes to recording what she wrote, well how can I put it nicely, we suck, and badly. No amount of equipment can change that.

    Enter outsourcing. We first went with http://www.themissingtrack.com for 449 US they will produce a complete song for you. The problem is they don't put much creativity into it. Quality is grea, just bland.

    A friend put us onto Marvin Glöckner over at http://www.inteativ.de he produced German world cup song "Wir glauben an euch" by Sebastian Hämer. We sent him the a basic sound track and with an idea of what Chris wanted and he just blew us away. We then recorded the vocals at home and he did the final mix

    Yes we could have gone into the studio and recorded, but my wife is a busy professional and why, Marvin did an awesome job, I highly doubt we could have produced the same quality.

    Honestly unless you can produce stuff as good as Pomplamoose I would stick to outsourcing, it's cheap effective and the sound is probably better than you could do yourself.

    Compare Shelter produced by themissingtrack.com

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWZJCUKnU0s

    to what Marvin produced with Glory to your Holy Name

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGR4ySy_uVI

    Rob

    BTW the next song is going to be a rock and roll song, Chris never thought she'd write a rock and roll song as she is more of a ballad singer.

    There are also a lot of people who will lay down a drum track for under a 100 dollars as well.

  • Regarding the issue of buying equipment for a home studio, it's advisable to be on guard against gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) so that you don't get carried away after buying that great vocal mic. You know, "now I have to get a preamp to match it," which is soon followed by a vintage compressor, then all the other stuff that goes into assembling a great front end for you recordings.

    Decide whether you want to be in the music business or the studio business. Equipment manufacturers have done a good job over the past 30 years convincing musicians that they have to buy lots of gear to record themselves, when the truth is that if artists spent half that money on professional arrangers, players and studios, they would be far ahead of the competition who are still paying off their gear, reading manuals (maybe), and renting out their "studios" for $18 per hour and undermining the value of a real studio operation. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

  • Nate

    My own home recordings don't sound "radio-ready," as you put it, but many others' do. You've got to have great equipment and know how to use it to get an amazing sound from a home recording. I wish I had a little bit better equipment and a little more technical knowledge.

  • Being a studio owner I want to share some of my views. Basically I am experiencing that people tend to forget that it is always a human being that is responsible for the result. Whether it may be singing, playing the guitar, mixing or mastering. An Ovation guitar won't make you a good guitar player, a Neumann U 87 won't make you a good singer and a Pro Tools HD 6 system won't make a great mix.

    So please everyone forget about the technical aspects and concentrate on the people. Listen to the mixes/mastering samples of engineers, decide which one you like best and don't care about their equipment.

  • Hi, I'm a professional producer and engineer.

    When I understand that artists are on a slim budget (and they don't need a producer's advice) I always suggest them to record as much as possible at home. You can get very good results nowadays at home. Nice drums can be made through software, guitars can be recorded through Line 6s and obviously keyboards through plugins.
    When it comes to vocals a pro studio could be needed, since not many can afford U87s, Avalons pres and stuff like that and plus a pro studio have vocal booths with controlled reverberation (the most important thing).
    On the other hand a pro studio is still very very ahead of home studios in the mixing and mastering, and it's not only because of the fancy and pricey gizmos we have (that still matter), it's because we are 24 hrs into making records, so we usually know how to make the *hit shine.
    Plus as far as your sessions are recorded on standard softwares such as Pro Tools, you can have them mixed and mastered anywhere in the world!
    Right now a lot of our work is mixing and mastering music recorded @ home or in other cities with very high results!

  • Yeah… Im only 15 years old, I currently Record in a professional studio, and produce my own tracks with my own home studio when im on a budget, but really in my opinion i bilieve its better to make your own homerecording studio. You would spend more money going to a pro studio when you can make your own for less, really you just gotta know what your doing and it will save you alotta money, programs that are good right now I highly recomend pro tools it is the software much used in the world right now and a Mac is morecompatible with music software but yea my point is Homestudio will cost some money but you will defenetly get more out of it..hope it helps…..{Chuck}

  • We are actually doing studio work right now. We are demoing at home, then we're going to the studio for drums, coming home for guitars, bass, keys, etc. Then we're going back to the studio for vocals.

    This will help us save a TON of studio money. Since we have the equipment to do the basics we will and then we'll do the harder things (drums and vox) in studio. I think it's the best way to save money but still get a GREAT recording!

  • Benjamin

    As a musician and home studio owner, I will say that there are goals that you cannot just achieve simply by having a home studio. Having been doing this for a while I have developed a "good ear" that you can only get with experience. This is what you look for when shopping for studio space and time. A tech or engineer who knows there stuff. One who hears things that the musician might not. Also, techniques for recording such as types of mics and placement of them, and knowledge of compression and frequencies that are appropriate for a given sound are good traits of a professional who will give you your money's worth. A lot of people with home studios claim to have a good enough ear for it but are not aware of how much training and experience they still need.

    You will never achieve the perfect sound your first few times around and it is always good to have fresh ears. So ask for second and third opinions if you are a home studio owner. It also helps to have knowledge of the right equipment for your recording task.

  • I am almost finished with my first solo studio album. I am a bassist and a songwriter. I have tried doing the home studio thing and learned that I am not an engineer and that the sound that comes out of my bass and my voice sound different on record then it does when I sit and play. The recorded versions are always lacking. My solution: I got together with a professional music listener, a producer. The new album sounds better in its unfinished state than anything I've done before And it is very very close to what is in my head trying to get out 🙂

  • Randy

    As a singer/songwriter/drummer/guitarist/bassist/vocalist/project studio owner my advice for bands would be to try to acquire some decent recording equipment. Whether this be a DAW like ProTools (VERY expensive), Cubase, Logic, etc. or one of the digital workstations or even Portastudios or analog tape and a mixing desk any of it coulkd potentially work. The most important thing to concentrate on is getting very good, CLEAN performances down on tape/disk. By clean I mean no digital clipping and without AC hum, cord crackle, neighbor's dogs, etc.

    Try to get your drums (use MIDI if you don't have good mics or a quality kit), bass and all of your basic tracks done to the best of your ability done at home. You CAN do your vocals at home as well, but you need to reduce the ambience as much as possible (unless you have an AMAZING sounding room – doubtful). You can get great results with an SM58 if you do it right or you can buy a SD condenser mic like an MXL V67g for about $120. You can put together very good signal chains (compressors, de-essers, tube emulation, etc.) with plugins that are affordable and in some cases even free. Line6 software can yield very good results for guitar/bass amp simulation, or mic your amp if you have an SM57 or a 421 and can get a good tone in your house.

    Unless you have previous mixing/mastering experience you should then go into a commercial studio and hire them to mix and master your CD. Have all of your tracking done (unless you want to do overdubs with their boutique amps and expensive microphones) and have all of your tracks organized and well documented. It's important to bring some examples of commercial recordings to give the engineer an idea of the style you are going for with your mix. They'll be able to tell you very quickly whether the sounds you've captured can get you in the ballpark or not. The key here isn't to copy the reference audio, it's to convey the idea of what you have in mind to the engineer.

    Have the pros do your mixdowns and mastering (VERY important if you want to compete with commercial recordings) instead of trying to do it yourself until you've gained enough experience to give it a go on your own. Pay attention and learn from the pro you've hired to do your mixing and mastering.

    Some VERY good records have been made at home and then mixed and mastered in a commercial studio.

  • I've been blessed with some high end equipment, and have heard everything from ssl, to tube, to dat, to masterlinks, convertors, to avalons, api, mytek, weiss, tubetech, all the stuff you don't go pick up at the local GC…. The thing is, the right engineer can scultp a musicians music with these high end tools and blow them away. Yes I agree with the above comment, as long as you don't distort, or print anything to tape such as a vocal, or any other instruments with distorted levels, or a compressed to the other room bassline, SEND IT TO BE MIXED, THEN MASTERED , in a way they never thought possible. Like how did pinkfloyd get that bassline, It is true you should get what you pay for, but as far as I am concerned ten years ago, I thought I was a talented engineer charging people for cleaning there audio, I cleaned it but I didn't make it platinum, now my ears aknowledge the slightest of changes, and deliver high end audio, through and through, ten years later, I can blow some stuff on the radio out of the water, and I am a midsize indie studio. It is all about having a clean signal for each recording, so yes, You can concentrate on getting the gist down at home, but if you have a hit on your hands, get it to a equipped operation with a great engineer, with gear from great companies. The beatles were using fairchild compressors and alot of know vintage emi stuff, they make plugs after and recorded in abby roads studio. without the beatles music and lyrics, tagged with great engineering, marketing, and the whole package, Sound quality played a big roll, as stereo imaging was used very creativily in the studio, I don't see john lennon twisting knobs to create that, I see him sculpting lyrics and laying vocals and creating music to change a countries way of looking at the world! Think about it? but yes if your serious get around serious engineers, and they usually have some key pieces of equipment to make your music, what it was intended to be.

    If you have time to learn these tools as a musician, it's like a preacher learning the Bible, They call you a recording artist right? So yes brush up to where your recording are solid, learn about the recording stage, then send your music out to get mixed and mastered.. Two different stages, hope I added a little fuel to the fire, of home recording.
    Doug Jenkins
    Engineer

  • shoot left out one thing in my studio that you just can't get the sound without it,, MANLEY MU.. Man that has made me such a happier engineer, a compressor that just gives a track that energy it was lacking coming from the digital world. I love it.

  • I saved a tonne of money by preparing 7 tracks with my band, making sure that the drums were super solid. Then we went into a high end studio for two days, laid the tracks down with each person isolated from one another. I also have an mbox2/protools which I've been using for years and spent the next two months trying different/new tracks, editing, fixing, etc…..

    I would say that drums are the most difficult instrument for achieving a professional sounding record as far as with a real person playing instead of a machine (i much prefer live drums) If you can make those happen, the gear is pretty cheap to rent if you need it compared to high end studio rates.

  • We're actually using the hybrid concept on the album we're currently recording. We're using lots of contained sounds like midi synths and sampled drum tracks, so we decided to do tracking for most of our instrumental work at a home studio. From there we'll go on to a professional studio for vocal recording and any drums and percussion, acoustic guitars, etc. and another separate place for mixing and mastering of the final product.

    You be the judge as far as how well that plan works out when we release the first in a series of four EP's on October 31st. 😉

  • Gregory Zeigler

    I work out songs and arrangements, and record basic demos (on freeware Audacity) at home, and then go intoa studio.

    This past year I have been recording tracks in a studio as a "solo artist", without a band to bounce ideas off of. I'm not really much of a guitar player or bassist, or singer, for that matter, so working with an engineer and a producer has been invaluable. I'm quite sure that I wouldn't have achieved anything approaching the results I've been getting in the studio had I been recording at home. There was even one instance when I only had the basic chords and melody but with no ideas for an arrangement. My producer at the studio liked it though and basically arranged it with me on the fly as we recorded. I wouldn't have recorded that song at all if it hadn't been for his help.

    Plus the point made in the original article – that of having the studio booked and having to be ready to go for that day and time – makes all the difference to me. I'm not a work-at-home kind of guy. I'm too lazy and easily distracted. And it's just more fun to get out of my house and work with other people. Not to mention the opportunity to network.

    I'm lucky to earn enough money to use a studio, and live in a place where studio time is relatively cheap. I wouldn't want to record any other way, really.

  • if it's worth recording it's worth recording right. get the best you can afford and be prepared. it will cost you less in the long run. HOME AND PROJECT STUDIOS ARE FOR PRE PRODUCTION UNLESS:1- you are recording a songwriter demo.
    AND.
    NOT OR.
    2- you have a decent mic and tube preamp.
    other wise don't waste your time. amateur recording are why the people who matter don't listen to demos anymore and stdios who could have made the difference in your success or failure are folding. 20 dollars and hour for shit is still shit.

  • I guess I have two thoughts on this. Recording at home will put you and your band at ease and let you concentrate on the music not a clock. I have been in many studios over the years and while I'm sure they did not mean to the staff had a way of making me feel some pressure. The other side of the coin is some people will be inspired by the use of a pro studio. I cannot imagine not being filled with awe and creativity walking into someplace like Abbey Road. A lot of the above posts do mention "PROFESSIONAL" a lot in making their point for studios. The one thing to think about is there are a lot of home studios that have been started by these "PROFESSIONALS" after wanting to go it alone. If your music is good and you know what you want go with your heart as far as recording and it will all turn out fine.

    Jim

  • When I record at home and get more creative,but the quality is not that great. When I record in a studio,I don't have time to get creative cause I'm in a hurry to complete a song and I don't lag cause I get charged more…so I just like recording at home,it's fun and i got a whole lot of time to get creative!

  • Great topic!

    I am a songwriter, though I am just starting to perform again. I have a backlog of material that I could never afford to record in a real studio. But I know that if poor production is a distraction, no one will ever be able to detect your fabulous writing. Plus often a recording artist/label will use the exact arrangement that was on the demo – so your demo needs to be pretty dang good.

    For someone like me, I think the answer is to do the grunt work at home and then go into the studio with solid drums, guitars, a scratch vocal and any MIDI/Synth tracks already created. This way I can save a boatload of time and get the benefit of using a real engineer who has great equipment, education and recording talent.

  • I am a Record Producer/Studio Owner/TV Talk Show Host "ASK DINO SHOW"
    I have owned 4 Pro studios in 25 years. I have done countless sessions and Produced/Engineered/Mixed 1000 of projects. I have had to fix many many songs from "Home Recordings" and that is saying mildly. If you ARE already a seasoned Producer/Engineer AND you have some great equipment then yes you can get an "INDUSTRY STANDARD" product at home. BUT most people are not Pro's like this (but alot of people THINK they are).. Big Mistake. I could make many points to show this fact, but I will just say this,… IF you want a great product that is equal (or better) to what is on Radio/TV/Films, the have a Professional do it at a Pro Studio. You WILL SAVE MONEY and MAKE MORE MONEY in the end. I promise you that… Dino Maddalone

  • Dude Abides

    Opinions. Everyone has them!

    Some can, some can't. If you can't, find someone who can.

    I've done a ton of random recording, starting with a Yamaha 4-track tape machine. It was awesome. Some incredible things have emerged from its captures.

    I've been all sides of recording; recording the music, being the engineer, producer, mastering, hanging out and lending advice, moral support, etc.

    There is something to be gained from working with others, especially those who are experienced and excited to help.

    A motivated person can still do something on their own, or with a band. Truly good music can come from a non "pro" studio, but studios must not only provide recording/mixing/mastering/hang out space/etc. they usually have a reputation to uphold. This, combined with a dedicated team can mean the difference between great and mediocre, or, really good and a studio might've been more awesome, or, not much difference overall for any number of reasons.

    It truly depends on the situation. Drive, ambition, dedication, and talent can shine more when allowed to flourish without as many constraints (gravity is usually a pretty steady constraint…). It could also be stifled, over analyzed, and ultimately boring. It could be about the same as if done elsewhere. It could flat out suck no matter how much it was worked on.

    What matters is the final outcome. Record often. Record and find what works best. Take the time to do the best with what you can attain.

    About finished with a solo album recorded at home. It's been interesting to work my own music out with little assistance. A real studio would've been awesome to work with, no doubt, but only if I had a ton of time to book and the money to do so. For what I can do on my own, including mastering, the tunes I'm working on will benefit well enough. Would benefits be greater with a pro studio, and others to work with? Of this I have no doubt. The only conditions would be that the environment be welcome, stimulating, and friendly.

  • chris

    This may not be the Q&A under which to ask this… but what if what I am looking for is not a home system to record final trax and mix (I know the merits of doing the final parts in a studio) but rather the best way (via a home computer and program) to create working tracks among band members scattered across the country?
    Ideally- we could pass along an original idea, and each guy could tape his own part ideas and send to the rest of us– kind of a virtual jam session to work out a piece.
    Not looking to spend a ton of cash- just want to make it work, with all of us all across the country.
    I have a MAC- but would prefer to do this by taping (and then tranferring to other band members) our own instrumentation (not using a virtual drumkit, etc).
    I know this is being done– but the question is: is it possibly without laying out a huge amt of money for a large group of people? Thanks for any advice!

  • Hi everyone
    Here is my take on using a pro studio instead of a home studio. I live in Nashville, Tn. which has some of the greatest musicians in the world, in my opinion. A 32 track digital studio here will cost you from $65 to $100 dollars an hour, including an engineer. If you want to cut your entire CD, 10 tracks, in a day, you can get a day rate for the musicians – usually $600 a day per man. I produce all of my own music, so I do not have the expense of a producer. The musicians here have a numbering system they use, where you go in and sit with them and play your song, either on guitar or piano, or a tape of the song, if you have it. You will usually meet with someone before you go in the studio to write you a master chart of your songs. He will reproduce copies for all of your musicians, and they will be looking at their copy while you play them your song. Then you will go in the vocal booth and they will take their places in the studio. They will play your song one time, and ususally on the second time they play it, it is a take. They are that good! You can get the same musicians who play with the stars if they are available on the date you want to record – usually for the $600 fee per man. Some will not work for you for that, but most will. I recently did the rhythm tracks to a new CD, and had Chris Leuzinger on lead guitar – he did all of the lead on Garth's music – Bruce Bouton on steel – he did all of the steel on Garth's music – Larry Franklin on fiddle – a grammy winning musician – Bruce Watkins on rhythm guitar – he has played for just about everyone in town at some time or another and has played on all of Alan Jackson's records since he has been a star – Tommy Wells on drums, a great drummer – Duncan Mullins on bass – session leader and great bassist – and Gary Primm on piano – an awesome player who is one of the best in Nashville. Cost on all of this? $5,200! Of course, then you will want to go in an do your vocal, put on some background singers – tune your voice a little if needed – and mix it all down. You will probably end up with between $10,000 to $12,000 in the entire project. But the difference in your final product – priceless! I know everyone cannot afford to do this – then if you cannot produce your songs, you will have the added expense of a producer. But all in all, if there is any way you can afford to come to Nashville and do your CD, there is no comparison to a home based studio. That is my opinion. Just be careful of sharks out there who will tell you if you let them do your music, they will get you a record deal – and want to charge you $50,000 or $100,000 or more! Don't do it! I recently met a young man who did just that. Home studios are fine – but you get what you pay for. That is just my take on pro studios. Just being around the musicians and watching how great they are is well worth the extra cost and the product you will get, if you can afford to do it.

  • Setting up a pro studio is a long term commitment (and expensive).

    It is incredibly rewarding but good results take time.
    One should not expect to begin recording and be self producing the same year.

    Sure it can be done but in most cases learning to record and produce music takes several years.

    If you are committed to your music in this way then go for it.
    It is always rewarding to learn new things.

    I record, mix and master all my Cds in my home studio and enjoy the challenge.
    Have a listen….

    http://www.richardashe.net/ http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RichardAshe

  • Part of the enjoyable of taking part in the guitar is to have the ability to decide it up and jam out an unimaginable tune, even if you’re just studying to entertain yourself and your family.

  • Frontline & the Bos

    this article Hit the nail on the head, some Parts of Recording is a waste of time and money in a studio, Because TIME is MONEY! I spend My time Laying down the vocals at Home, so I can get it Just right without having to spend my Dome on a cemented vocal I might not Like, Get the scratch down and when you come into the studio you can put the passion to it and get the desired Performance!