I’ve been involved with a discussion over at the Harmony Central Forums yesterday and today. The thread started with a question about the advantages of getting a higher-end audio interface. The original poster owns an M-Audio ProFire 2626, and wants to know if he should get something with better converters.

While you should be careful not to get sucked into the “buying new gear will solve all my problems and bring about world peace” cycle, it’s still important to think about the sound quality of the equipment you own. Like I wrote many times in the 12 Home Studio Necessities series, a lot of times you get what you pay for

But not all the time. 

Dinner and Gear

At some point you can spend more money and not be able to tell a difference. For example, last night my wife and I celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary. We went out to a nice restaurant for a fancy dinner. We spent a good amount of money, but it was well worth it.

What if we doubled the amount we spent? Would it be twice as good? Possibly. What if we doubled it a few more times? Then would it be worth it? Eh… At some point the more money we would spend on the meal, the less food we would get. We’d get those tiny little “fancy” portions you see on the cooking channel. Sure it would be tasty (I hope), but I know I’d still be hungry afterwards, and I’d probably feel like I wasted my money.

Read more »

Here’s the second edition of “Ask Joe.” If you’re new to Home Studio Corner, “Ask Joe” is basically a question-and-answer portion of the blog where I address questions submitted by readers via the Ask Joe form. (I tried to post this last night, but YouTube wasn’t playing nicely.)

I mention at the beginning of the video how the previous video was a bit on the long side (10 minutes!)…but this one ended up being 8 minutes. However, I’m only dealing with four questions today.

Video Summary:

  • 0:25 – A good all-around virtual instrument package?
  • 1:44 – Hard drive chipset for Cubase?
  • 3:13 – Good audio interface for a band?
  • 5:57 – Using a Yamaha PSR keyboard as a MIDI controller?

Related Articles:

Do you struggle with wearing two hats in your home studio? Are you an engineer? Are you a musician? Are you some combination of both? This article addresses those questions. It was written by a good friend of mine over at fathomlessregression.wordpress.com.

Choose Your Headgear

These days it’s extremely common for people in the music industry to wear many hats at once. Chances are good that many of you out there in music land are writing, performing, engineering, producing, and mastering your own projects from start to finish. Thanks to the advent of inexpensive (when compared to their analog counterpart) computer-based recording systems, the vast majority of musicians are stepping into the world of recording.

Part of the joy of that experience is getting to not only have creative control over the writing and performing process, but also the various aspects of recording and mixing. Sounds great, right? You don’t have to be at the mercy of an engineer who may not know what sound you’re going for, or who may “overmix” things. You have complete control over everything. Read more »

In my latest newsletter I wrote about a friend of mine who lost a lot of work due to a hard drive failure. In light of the last several articles dealing with productivity, it’s important that we look at archival and backup. Our theme has been making the most of your time in your home studio. Backing up your files can be a huge time-saver.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read this article on why you should use a dedicated/external hard drive for recording. With that in mind, the next step is to acquire another drive for backup purposes. Ideally you’ll have at least three hard drives:

  • System Drive – This holds your operating system
  • Recording Drive – This is where you save your session and audio files. (All your audio streams to and from this drive.)
  • Backup Drive – This is where you…drumroll please…save backups of all your files. Read more »

In The Seven Habits for Highly Effective People, Franklin R. Covey writes about the importance of scheduling priorities. Schedules tend to get a bad rap. People who schedule out every single part of their lives are considered cold, rigid, and non-spontaneous. People who don’t schedule anything are considered flaky and irresponsible.

So what does this mean for your home studio? I suffer from an acute case of “flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants.” I rarely schedule studio time into my week or month. I get there when I get there. Once I do sit down in the mix position, though, I sometimes scratch my head as to what I’m actually going to do.

The Time-Wasting Begins

It’s when I’m in this state of indecision that I start doing some of the things I mentioned in the first article of this productivity series, things like re-wiring my studio or rearranging my gear or furniture. Very little of this has anything to do with music. Read more »

One of the things I enjoy most about starting a new recording project is setting everything up. If you’ve done much recording, you know what I’m talking about. There’s a certain sense of giddiness that bubbles up when you sit in front of a blank Pro Tools screen.

It’s very god-like. You’re creating something out of nothing. When you open Pro Tools for the first time, it doesn’t open up with a huge song already put together for you. It’s a blank slate. There’s not so much as a single mono audio track created. You must do this yourself. For me, that’s an exciting part of the creative process.

But what happens when it takes you thirty minutes to set up your Pro Tools session for every new song you start recording? While it is certainly fun to build your virtual Pro Tools mixer, is this the best use of your time? Shouldn’t you be…um…what’s the word…recording instead?

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. However, as I mentioned in the first article of this productivity series, it’s important that we view our home studios as professional studios. Time is of the essence. If there’s a basic activity that you’re doing over and over (i.e. setting up a Pro Tools session for recording), wouldn’t it make sense to automate that process? Read more »