When you’re setting up your home studio, the quantity of things to buy can be overwhelming and confusing. The gear can be addictive and it’s all expensive. Here is my unsexy list of things to spend time and/or money on before getting new monitors, mics, pres, plugins, etc.
1. Sound treatment of your room, especially bass traps.
– I can’t stress the importance of this enough. If you can’t hear properly, you can’t make the decisions which will get you the best results out of whatever gear you have. Better to have a bad signal path and a good listening environment than the other way around. Of course, once you have a good listening environment it will expose the problems of your signal path, but at least then you can make intelligent choices about what to buy next. There is a wealth of information on how to do this on the web. I will talk more about how I did it in a future post but in the meantime research and take it seriously!
2. Sound treatment of your room, especially bass traps.
– Ok, that’s just obnoxious. Next…
3. Monitor Stands and Proper positioning
– Now take those crappy monitors and put them on solid isolating stands or mounts and get them away from corners and walls. I made a pair of stands out of plywood filled with sand. Works great and very inexpensive. There are many options out there.
4. A/D and D/A conversion and clock
– Most low to midrange DAW interfaces cheap out on these things very badly. It makes a huge difference when it’s good. Now that you have sound treated your room, you will love hearing the change when you get a better I/O with good solid clock.
5. Mic Pres
– Now it’s time for the sexy stuff. Expensive too. Now that you can hear properly, your fancy new pres will make a real difference.
It’s really good to have a community of recordists and friends with whom you can share mics, pres, and other gear when needed. Most home studios do not need a full compliment of expensive mics every day. You need the choice ones that you use for your specialty and whatever else you can afford. Then when it comes time to track other things, borrow. Chances are that whoever you borrowed from will need the mics you have someday too. This eases the pressure to spend too much money.
I’ll pause here because this list could go on forever, and from here on it is very well-mined territory. I’ve covered the things I feel most people ignore to their detriment so they can get to the mics faster.