You wanna know the secret to getting good quality audio on your home recording studio? Learn to cut tomatoes. Okay, that was confusing. Here is what I mean. Everyone has their favorite tool for doing certain kinds of jobs. For example, I use the large chef’s knife to slice tomatoes, but my wife likes the paring knife for the same job. They both work. And if I lost my knife, I could use my wife’s. Nobody likes change, but at the end of the day, as long as you know what the job is (smite the tomato into tiny pieces), any knife will do.
What does this have to do with recording audio at home? Here’s what. Surf around the internet for advice on setting up a home recording studio and you’ll get all kinds of advice about what gear you NEED to have. If you look at the blogs and forums where continuing tips and tricks are being doled out, you’ll find that most of the time, the advice is how to use a certain piece of gear or software. That’s great if you HAVE that stuff. But the focus isn’t on getting you the knowledge. It’s about how to use the tool first. IF you happen to pick up the “why” you’re using the tool at some point, it’s almost by accident.
That doesn’t work for me for several reasons. First, my eyes glaze over and I start slipping into a coma when I read too much technical jargon all at once. And boy-howdy, the audio recording literature is chock-full with the stuff. Second, if you know you can slice a tomato with any knife, you won’t feel like you have to buy the 70-dollar Henckels knife if you’re already holding the paring knife that’s been in your kitchen since you were…oh, much younger.
OK, enough with the metaphors. The bottom line for me is that I want to finish a job properly for the lowest cost possible. I can’t afford to go out and drop $800 for recording gear when a USB mic and some free software will get the same job done. Now, before you say something like “but you can’t get the SAME job done with a low-end studio,” let me point out that it totally depends on what your goal is. It is true that you won’t be able to score a film with virtual instruments, etc, on the $5.00 PC studio. But if all you need is an intelligible voice-over or a song demo, you likely CAN.
So you’ve waited all this time for me to reveal the “secret” to making good recordings on your home studio. That secret is “knowledge trumps gear.” Say it with me! Knowledge trumps gear. If you know the basics of audio recording, it doesn’t matter whether you use Pro-Tools or some other software. You’ll be an audio ninja, able to squeeze every last drop of quality our of the cheapest gear. This was driven home to me when I was starting out in recording, and didn’t like the sound I was getting. I kept buying more and more expensive machines, only to be stuck with the same sound. After a lot of frustration, I heard a recording from a series called “Readers Tapes” in Recording Magazine. It was done on a 4-track cassette recorder, and it RAWKED! It was along-side of songs recorded on thousand-dollar rigs that didn’t sound a tenth as good. I continue to see this every day.
If you understand the basics….I’m not even talking about all the electrical engineering and wave mechanics stuff, just the big 6 or 8 things that factor in to audio quality, you can save yourself boatloads of money and time.
So if you are looking to the internet for advice on how to start a home recording studio, be wary of the folks telling you that you have to spend much more than $25 or so! Heck, at Home Brew Audio, we start you out at the zero-to-five dollar (depending on whether you have a cheap plastic pc mic or not) with The Newbies Guide To Audio Recording Awesomeness 1. You can learn all the basics at that level. Then you build on that as you need to. Then when you’re ready to take it to the next level, you’ll be using much a more professional software program called Reaper), but one that will only cost you $60 (after you evaluate it with the fully-functioning 30-day trial that doesn’t actually stop working after 30 days;)) in The Newbies Guide To Audio Recording Awesomeness 2: Pro Recording With Reaper. So remember, knowledge trumps gear. There are lots of people making crappy recordings on expensive gear. We want you to be the exception – the ones making great audio with the lowest-cost gear.
If you’re not ready to jump into our video training tutorials, there is still a LOT to learn in all the free articles on the site here.
Good luck and have fun!