A year or so ago, I was watching a video from Ronan’s Recording Show.

Ronan talked about how he’s getting more and more into video stuff. He had invested in a mid-level “prosumer” video camera, and he was experimenting with ways to capture high-quality video without a super-expensive camera.

He packed up his camera and went to a professional video set. There were several different “scenes” set up, each with really colorful props and all the proper lighting.

What happened?

The video he captured on his camera looked just as good as the video from the multi-thousand dollar high-end cameras. (If not “just as good,” there wasn’t a hugely noticeable difference.)

The conclusion?

The environment was much more important than the equipment. With the proper lighting, Ronan was able to capture a really good shot, even with an “inferior” camera.

But what does that teach us about audio?

Your recordings need better lighting, not necessarily a better camera.

In other words, if you spend more time getting the “scene” right, it almost doesn’t matter what gear you use to capture it.

A great-sounding amp in a great-sounding room will sound great whether you use a $100 SM57 or a $3,000 Neumann.

Next time you’re getting ready to record something, imagine that your mic is a camera and ask yourself, “Do I need better props and lighting?”

Better props might include:

  • a better guitar
  • a better performance (meaning more rehearsal)
  • a better part (maybe the musician needs to play something different)

Better lighting might include:

  • more absorption (it doesn’t have to be fancy foam; blankets can work great)
  • a different room
  • a different mic placement

If you take the time to think this way, your recordings will inevitably get better.

Ronan is a great recording engineer with lots of audio experience. I’m interviewing him Thursday evening on a live webinar for my VIP members.

Five bucks gets you in, plus you get access to all previous and future interviews and videos, plus some freaky cool bonuses.

It’s all explained here:


See you Thursday…

6 Responses to “Your Audio Needs Better Lighting”

  1. Dave Marriott - Eclectic wonderland studios

    I totally agree Joe. A $3k Neumann is only going to pick up an even clearer image of a crappy home studio room! My best ever bang for the buck studio improvement was two used office partitions with a couple of old quilts draped over them and one piece of acoustic foam taped to the quilt at mic level. Total cost $15. I set it up for vocal tracking as a sandwich – one in front & one behind the singer. Of course it won’t trap bass but the before & after test on vocals with cardioid condenser mic is remarkable.

  2. Xan

    I dunno about this. I can see what you are trying to do here, but sound and vision are two quite different beasts.

    But I suppose if we want to play with this analogy we could say that the WHOLE recording chain is the CAMERA. Therefore the mic would be the LENS..

    Then we could say the “tape” is the film, the developing is the mixing, the photochemicals are the plugins etc etc

    Or perhaps we are staying in the digital realm? In that case Photoshop is Protools, Paintshop Pro is Cubase. Infraview is Audacity..! hehehe

    But speaking ov pro versus high-end consumer gear. These days many consumer items DO boast specs rivaling, even beating in some cases, things like megapixels etc. But this doesn’t consider the full picture, if you’ll pardon the pun! 🙂

    A pro camera for example, will have more options that will allow it to give better results in more situations. A better quality lens, probably with more optical zoom and generally will be built in a more robust way.

  3. Chawps

    For a second, I thought this was going to be about studio mood lighting, but I appreciate the analogy even more than you telling me to get a lava lamp. Plus I already have a lava lamp…

  4. Bob Sorace

    I saw that one, I enjoy watching his videos. Although he seems to have a food fetish…



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