Jason sent in a question via the Ask Joe form that I thought would be a great topic of conversation here on HSC.

Jason wrote:

My question is this…I have a Tascam DP-02 multi-track recorder, a pair of KRK studio monitors, and a mixing board. Is it possible to get a good demo out of this equipment?

This is a valid question, and it’s one I get asked quite a bit. Chances are it’s a question you have asked, too. So let’s talk about it.

Essentially, we’re asking:

“What does it take to make good recordings?”

This was at the heart of what we looked at during 31 Days to Better Recordings.

Getting good recordings is a massive topic. As of today I’ve written 368 posts on the topic…and I feel like I’m just beginning to scratch the surface.

However, as complex as a question like this might be, the answer is still fairly simple. Last week I discussed this in an interview I did with Graham from (I actually did a BUNCH of interviews last week…more on that later.)

Graham and I talked about how good equipment is certainly essential to great recordings, but good technique trumps equipment every time.

This is not a new concept. This is something you’ve probably heard before (and it’s something we all need to hear regularly). You could put the best engineer in the world behind a Tascam DP-02 and a pair of KRKs, and he would make an AMAZING-sounding record.

On the flip-side, you could put an absolute beginner in front of a huge SSL console in a multi-million-dollar facility, and he would probably produce something mediocre at best.

The key to making good recordings has very little to do with what equipment you’re using. What you DO with the gear makes all the difference.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a certain threshold of quality that your equipment needs to meet in order to have any hope of a decent recording. No one really expects you to make award-winning recordings using the built-in microphone on your laptop.

That being said, almost any recording equipment you buy today can produce great recordings. Tascam DP-02? Yep.

It has become more and more inexpensive to create great-sounding equipment that even a $100 piece of gear can sound pretty stinkin’ good.

So next time you blame your equipment for you crappy recordings, take a step back and ask yourself if there’s even a TINY chance that it’s you that needs to improve, not your gear.

[Photo by Ranch Records]

7 Responses to “What does it take to make good recordings? [Ask Joe]”

  1. Bouben

    That is it. And I like to be limited somehow so that I can learn more and experiment with my gear. Limits make me more creative.

  2. Bob Sorace

    You could give me the best canvas and brushes money could buy, and I would create a decent painting, you give Picasso some Crayola water colors and a crumpled up piece of paper and he will create a masterpiece.

  3. Otto

    One more thing Joe, I’m wondering, Do you think you need the best, or almost the best, equipment to become that best enginner in the world? Or all the experience you get, mixing in a not ideal room for instance, is valid to become that best enginner?

    • Joe Gilder

      You absolutely do NOT need the best equipment to become the best engineer in the world. However, when you combine AMAZING engineering skills AND amazing gear, you’ll get phenomenal results.

  4. Otto

    Hey Joe! Otto from Brazil here,
    That is so true, in my home studio I take time to buy new stuff or so… Not just because of your advice about this, but in the beginning I just didn’t have the money! So I was stuck with what I had in the time.. and I just had to do the best I could. When I had the money to buy, say a new preamp or even the midi keyboard, I already knew the process without the stuff and I could hear the difference putting the new gear immediatly. Same with my new monitors, I’ve been using them for six months now, and have made about 10 projects, and just now, after the time and the use, I feel like I really “know” the monitors.
    Love what you do here at HSC, keep it running Joe!
    Cheers! 😀

  5. Lukas

    Good one, Joe!
    More than often, peole get into this weird line of thinking, that they need to possess rather than achieve… Gear is important, no doubt, but you will only yield good results if you know your way. I heard many killer-sounding recordings which were done using budget equipment. No amount of shiny new toys is going to automagically make your recordings sound like a commercial release. I think upgrading our setup should always come with experience, not the other way around.


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