• Phil McDonald

Gear - Should I splash the cash?

When it comes to recording gear you could literally spend hours looking at bits of kit and then spend hours (or days, let's be honest) comparing different options on different websites whilst reading endless reviews. And at the end of the process, you're still no clearer. When it comes to recording gear it really is a minefield. But does it have to be?

The short answer is no. The golden rule with gear is "do I need it?" rather than "that would look nice in my home studio" Depending on what you're trying to achieve in your studio will determine what gear you need. If you're primarily a singer-songwriter playing an acoustic guitar you're not going to need a locker full of expensive microphones and a mixing desk the size of a small village. Chances are you could probably make do with a small choice of mics and a decent DAW on your computer. A few stock plugins and you're good to go. However, if you're recording bands or vocal groups you're probably going to need a bit more in the way of mics.

So how much cash should you spend? Obviously there's no set answer to this question. If you're just recording yourself for a bit of fun then you really don't need to spend a fortune. If you're recording other people and trying to improve your skills then you're going to need to spend a bit more. Before you do, however, there are a few things you should consider.

1. Can I afford it? This is a biggie - Personally I wouldn't recommend getting into debt to buy a high-quality large-diaphragm mic for example.

2. What will it achieve? - Say you did buy that super expensive mic hoping it's going to take your recordings to the next level. These mics are designed to be used in professional studios that have been carefully acoustically treated to perfection to capture the ultimate performance. If you're trying to capture that very same sound in your spare bedroom with the same mic it probably isn't going to happen.

3. Lots of shiny kit isn't necessarily going to make your recordings loads better, It's easy to be wowed by something with lots of flashing lights that might make your workflow a little easier but ultimately won't improve the overall product at the end of the day. It's important to acknowledge where your skills are at this point. Buying lots of expensive kit isn't going to make your recordings ten times better overnight.

To conclude, recording equipment can be a complicated area and the are always umpteen choices and then a few more (usually on special offer to tempt you) If money isn't an object then feel free to get the best you can but if it means not feeding your family for a few months in order to get that killer vocal take then it isn't a good idea. Take your time, upgrade your gear only when you need to, or when circumstances dictate and remember, shiny kit won't make a great record out of nothing. A great artist with great songs will still sound good on cheaper gear.

Have you ever made a purchase you regret? Feel free to comment.

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