If you’re considering becoming a home studio enthusiast, you’ll have options for a variety of modern recording technologies and equipment. Yet the purchase price for all the necessary gear can easily set you back several thousands of dollars. And before long you may come to realize you’re not cut out for the vast technical challenges associated with the craft. To make matters worse, you might have spent as much (or more) for all that gear than you would have to a professional studio that likely would have delivered a much better sounding, quality product.
This is just one reason many musicians still use professional studios. Other reasons include: access to a larger recording space with excellent acoustics, a selection of great microphones and preamps, experienced engineer/producers, the freedom to be creative, and the fresh perspective that recording in a pro studio affords the artist.
1. Optimized Acoustics and Space
Pro studios offer acoustic spaces optimized to record music. Pro studios become a necessity for accommodating larger ensembles and live drums, for instance. But there’s much more to a pro studio than just acoustics. In fact, everything from a studio’s air conditioning system to its wiring play a part in the quality of your recording.
2. Great Gear
Of paramount importance is the studio’s mic locker. Different mics have different sonic characteristics, and having access to a selection of great mics — and an engineer that knows where (and how) to deploy them in a particular acoustical space — is an invaluable asset. The best mics aren’t worth much if the signal is degraded by substandard equipment further down the chain, which is why high-quality preamps, equalizers, compressors, converters, plug-ins, and other processors are critical.
3. Talented Engineers
Professional studios of years past typically employed a staff of engineers and assistants. By the 1980s, staff engineers had become supplanted by independent engineers hired directly by the artist or producer. Today, a wide variety of studios are professional in every respect. Some of them, indeed, are in homes; others, in commercial spaces. Many of them can accommodate large ensembles. Many contemporary studios for hire include the services of a professional engineer (often the owner) who may also be able to provide production services if needed.
4. Freedom to be Creative
Engineering and musical creativity use different parts of the brain. If you are the producer and engineer in your home studio, you likely wear all the hats, which impedes your ability to remain creative as well. When you go to a professional studio, you’re hiring pros to handle the technical aspects of your recording so that you can concentrate on musical creativity.
5. The Ingredients of a Great Sounding Recording
If you suddenly decide a song needs an acoustic strings section, or a sax solo. a professional recording studio will have the best local session musicians on speed dial. Also, consider the value of the experience. You will learn something, and possibly a lot, about the art of recording, which you can then apply to other projects going forward.
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