Gear - What Do I "NEED" vs What Would I "LIKE"

studio business

Hey there, audio engineers! In my last post, I discussed the importance of creating a business plan for your recording studio. I hope you took that advice and have completed your homework. Today, I want to talk about gear - what you "NEED" to have vs. what you "WOULD LIKE" to have.

First and foremost, it's important to remember that no piece of gear, regardless of the price, can make a poorly recorded song sound good. So, before you start thinking about buying expensive equipment or plugins, it's crucial to understand the basic recording principles, such as good mic placement and proper gain staging.

So, what gear do you need to record and mix a 4-5 piece band with acoustic drums? Let's take a look:

  1. Computer - You'll need a dedicated machine for your studio. It can be a Mac or PC, whichever you prefer, with a Quad-core processor minimum and at least 16GB RAM. The faster the processor and the more cores, the better.

  2. DAW - All DAWs basically do the same thing - they record audio. It's up to you to decide which one is the best for you. Do your research, read reviews, and ask people what they use and why. My personal suggestion is Presonus Studio One Professional.

  3. Audio Interface - You'll need to decide how many inputs you need. If you plan to record bands, you'll want at least 8-16 inputs. Again, do your research and choose one that suits your needs and budget.

  4. Reference Monitors - This is another area where everyone has a different opinion. Do your research, ask other people, and listen to what other studios use. For beginners, you can spend $500-$800 and get a pair of active / powered monitors that will do just fine.

  5. Acoustic Treatment - You NEED to have some basic acoustic treatment in your mixing environment if you want to be able to turn out a professional mix. It can cost anywhere from $200-$400.

  6. Microphones - At the beginner/intermediate stage, all you NEED is 6-8 Shure SM57s and a kick drum mic. PERIOD! If you can't record a professional-sounding recording with only an SM57, then you need to re-think what you're doing. The only exception to this is recording a kick drum, for which you can spend an extra $150 and get a decent kick drum mic.

  7. Cables and Stands - You'll need as many cables and stands as you have microphones, plus a few extras in case of damage. Don't buy the cheapest thing you can find. Good quality cables do make a difference and will last you a lifetime. The same is true for mic stands.

Remember, the key to a professional-sounding recording is to get it right at the source. So, before you start investing in expensive gear, make sure you understand the basic recording principles and techniques. Good luck!


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