You heard me talk about gear acquisition syndrome or GAS before. It’s not a new term, and it’s not something we don’t all deal with.

You’ve also heard me say that it’s much more important to use the gear that you currently own to its fullest extent before going out and buying more equipment. At some point though we all inevitably ask the question, Is expensive gear worth the money?

It’s a valid question. There are lots of really cool expensive pieces of gear out there. And they wouldn’t exist if someone wasn’t buying them. So the real question is are they necessary?

As with most things in recording, the answer is it depends.

Let me share with you three steps to take before considering buying a new piece of equipment. This is a good idea if you’re just starting out or if you’ve been recording for 20 years.

1. Drive your gear into the ground.

I don’t like to buy new cars. When I do buy a car I plan to own it for a long time. The goal is to drive it until the wheels fall off and then buy a new car.

Think of your recording equipment in the same way. You should use that equipment until it dies before considering buying new equipment.

I don’t mean that literally. What I am saying is that you need to use your gear so much that you truly understand all the subtle nuances of every piece of equipment that you own. Constantly buying near gear inhibits you from really learning the gear that you currently own.

2. Identify the real problem.

What are you unhappy about in your studio? Is it the equipment or perhaps is the problem you? You need to spend more time practicing, more time learning proper technique. All the gear in the world won’t help you with that.

3. Buy what will have the greatest impact.

If you need to buy one piece of equipment, buy the piece of equipment that will do you the most good.

Acoustic treatment is a great example. It will make everything sound better.

A good microphone pre amp will make all of your microphones sound better.

So those are three steps to help you think through a new gear purchase. How do you go about purchasing new equipment?

[Photo Credit]

  • CamBam

    I’m reading this and there is an ad for a 33 thousand dollar mic locker giveaway to my right aha. My next gear purchase is a mic stand. I have two, but I want to mic up my friend’s guitar amp while I play drums. I guess the sm57 I bought and the mic stand I am going to buy was a reward for learning how to fully capture a drum kit using five mics (the recording of drums I did today, however, used six mics).

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  • A more affordable way answer the question is to hire the services of a real estate professional that will provide an estimate of value free of charge. The reason a real estate consultant can provide the comparable sales analysis for free is because they want to have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the home owner. Realtors understand the importance of service, the intricacies of the real estate market, and how to negotiate in the current market in the best interests of a home owner. By providing comparable sales analysis free of charge, it is a win-win situation as in most cases the homeowner will be so delighted with the realtor’s knowledge and systems that when it comes time to sell their home, they will contact the agent to assist them.

  • Excellent post, it’s always hard to try and realise that most of us have more than enough equipment to get on with making/recording music. I’m starting up my own blog to try and show how im going to use a small second bedroom as a studio, so I might have to get some advice from you for any troubles I run into!! Buying new gear is always difficult to avoid, but I have found knowing what is actually worth splashing cash on (as you have stated) helps a huge amount. For example, I really want to get a FireWire analog desk as nothing beats mixing on real faders, and then using your ears more than your eyes. However, this is more of a I WANT than necessity. However, I did recently purchase a beta 58 (not fake!) for a hundred quid less than RRP. Didn’t NEED it right away, but will help my choices when recording right away, for a much lower cost!!

  • felipenoris

    As you said before, we all like new toys!! 🙂

  • Scott Waldrep

    I’ve devoted myself to buying only hardware,treatment and better instruments for the next couple of years. Software and Plugins are cool, but they come and go. A great drum set, cymbals, microphone or preamp will always better your sound at the source. They also don’t care what OS you upgrade to.

  • Another related point you hinted at with #3 – If you do buy gear try to diversify your purchases so you have the most ground covered.  For example, you’d be better served if you own a colored pre and a clean pre instead of a bunch that all sound similar.  I talk myself out of purchases all the time and avoid GAS by reminding myself that I already own a similar piece of gear.

  • I’m going to buy a new mic preamp so I won’t heard the noise floor of my AI. After that, I’ll buy some new microphone! (GAS is coming to keep me!)