I Just Saved A Guy $9,000

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I’m sure many of you are like me, you don’t want to spend anymore than you have to in order to have quality studio gear that will help you produce top notch recordings. With so many choices in the home studio world, the line between “needs” and “wants” can be blurry.

Well, I am proud to say that The Recording Revolution just saved someone from spending a ton of cash on gear.

The $9,000 Question

Last week I received an email from a new reader, Brandon, that read like this…

I just ran into your blog after searching on the web for advice on studio gear! I am currently working on my solo album (Genre – Pop) and I was about to spend somewhere around 9 Grand to get some new gear for vocals (Neumann U87, Universal Audio 6176, Apogee Rosetta 200)…

Yikes! That’s $9,000 just to get great sounding vocals. That doesn’t even account for tracking drums! Read on…

After hearing your stuff from the 002 and the Rode…I am completely convinced that I don’t need to now. Thanks so much! I have made up a way cheaper list.

How Much Of It Really Is The Gear?

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about people! Here’s a guy who had a list of very nice stuff that could indeed (if used properly)  yield amazing vocal results. Big studios with healthy budgets would consider his vocal chain standard to be sure. But the whole point of my site is to remind (or teach) you that the gear isn’t the issue. If you aren’t happy with your vocal sound, perhaps you need to improve yourself. Work on mic placement, performance, arrangement, acoustic treatment, etc.

Also, many people who maybe are getting decent results just jump to the conclusion that in order to get GREAT vocals you need expensive gear. That is an oversimplified myth. Skill and technique trump gear every time. On top of that, the “revolution” that we are a part of is the world of much more affordable products that will do just as good of a job. Some people hate to hear that, but it’s true. Many smart companies are making quality, affordable, and sonically wonderful audio products for your studio. Just do your research.

Today’s $9,000 Lesson

The moral of Brandon’s story is not that $9,000 worth of gear is pointless. Rather, the lesson is that before we jump to spend a ton of cash on gear, we need to really assess our needs, our skill level, and our weakest link. Until the weakest link in your recordings is a piece of gear, work on improving YOU. When you DO find you need something else in your studio you will know exactly why and can then make a better decision.

You work hard too earn your money, don’t toss it away that easily.

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14 Responses to “I Just Saved A Guy $9,000”

  1. Marc Lapointe

    Excellent point as usual; however, this article reminds me that I am the Weakess Link in the recording chain. Unfortunately, this does not give the the warm and fuzzy I was looking for on a Monday morning. I kinda enjoyed blaming my ineptitude in recording on my gear. To add salt to the wound; I don’t even have beautiful hands!

    Reply
  2. ChucK

    +1

    Yet another great post Graham!

    I’m a guitarist-one that studied and practiced diligently blah blah blah. And much like skill trumps gear great guitar tone comes FIRST from one’s technique!!! If great guitar tone is the goal then one must practice technique-there’s just no other way. Of course a decent guitar is mandatory-but that doesn’t have to be expensive….

    Thanks again graham!!!

    Reply
  3. Stian Sylta

    I actually own a ua6176 but the sound is not drastically improved from the preamps in my M-Audio Octane. So I agree with the point. For Celine Dion in a perfect room and a super mic, go for it. For my studio recording up and commers, 10/10 times the digi003 or Octane Willy do the trick.

    Reply
  4. Pat

    I agree…Recorded vocals for a pop song using MXL 990 ($59.00 at Musicians Friend). A little tweak of the EQ and reverb and some compression…Boom! The vocals rocked!

    Reply
  5. Angel Blasini

    Great article! Really helps put things in perspective and helps me focus where my time needs to be spent at… In the studio grinding instead of on guitarcenter.com or sweetwater.com shopping. Thanks Graham.

    Reply
  6. Allan Sanders

    Hey Graham, I am in a band and we are struggling on our live and recording gear situation. We have a small 8 channel powered mixer and we need a mixer with about 16 channels and I wanted to go digital. I also want to be able to record all of us at the same time but with my current setup of a one channel audio interface, we have to do it all separately which takes a lot more time. I basically looking at two specific options, I can either save up for a Presonus to take care of both situations or I could buy 2 8-channel audio interfaces ( a lot cheaper) to run with the apple mainstage live virtual mixer and to use during recording. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Graham

      The StudioLive 16.0.2 from PreSonus is 16 channels and a firewire interface and runs just at $1300. Might be worth it.

      Graham

      Reply
  7. Steve

    One thing that I personally do is rent gear. I get the best of both words that way. Solid sonics and virtually no cost. If I’m going to be recording a keeper only once every couple years when it’s album time, I’d rather rent a C800G and Retro Instruments Channel Strip for $50 a day total (from Blackbird) and spend less than acquiring a cheap mic and interface. It also makes me work more effectively because I know that I don’t have access to it forever, so I better get on it. But overall, I’d agree in full. You don’t need amazing gear to get good results. I used to use a Rode NT3 as my main mic and people would comment on how they liked the vocal sound.

    Reply
    • Graham

      I’m glad you brought this up Steve. No one thinks to “rent” gear anymore these days. Great suggestion.

      Reply
  8. Niklas J. Blixt

    I’d say it’s about 90% skill and the rest is gear. And if the performance is great and takes you away emotionally you don’t care that much about the sound, it’s all about the music!

    And I think it sparks your creativity to have limitations in the studio. If you don’t have the “right” mic for recording guitar you have to be creative with what you’ve got to make it sound awesome.

    Reply

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