If I was to ask you What’s on your wish list for your studio?, would you have an answer for me? Of course you would. 🙂
You probably have a laundry list of gear that you’d like to add to your current setup. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, it’s a lot of fun to dream up the perfect studio setup (as long as you’re careful to avoid Gear Acquisition Syndrome).
But how do you take that massive list of yours and make sense of anything? How do you determine what you would get next?
Here’s what I try to do.
Identify the Weakest Link(s)
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you should upgrade the area of your studio that has the biggest need. If you’ve got a handful of good microphones, getting one more microphone might not make as much sense as perhaps upgrading a preamp.
If you’ve don’t own any studio monitors or decent headphones, it might not make sense to buy that new plug-in bundle.
If you’re still using the built-in sound card on your computer, almost any other upgrade you could think of wouldn’t make sense. If you upgrade your mics or pres, the crappy converters in your sound card won’t be able to reproduce the difference. If you upgrade your monitoring, you probably won’t hear a huge difference.
Cables – These are usually the weakest link in the chain. Make sure you’re not using really cheap cables.
Some of you may have heard me tell this story before. When I worked at Sweetwater, I had a customer who insisted on running his Neumann U87 into his computer’s built-in mic input. There are a TON of things wrong with this, but the main error is this: He over-upgraded.
A $2,000+ microphone doesn’t make sense for a lot of home studio owners, at least not at first. I’m a firm believer that the components of your studio should make sense together. For $2,000+, you could buy a mic, interface, software, cables/stands, and acoustic treatment.
The 2-Year Rule
As difficult as it may seem, don’t by gear just to “tide you over.” It’s a waste of money. My general rule of thumb is to only buy equipment that I can see myself STILL using 2-5 years from now.
If the plan is to replace it in 6 months, you might as well just hold off and buy the nicer version in 6 months.
I did this with a small USB mixer I bought for creating my tutorial videos. I got the cheapest one available, and it worked okay, but now it’s developed some noise, and I need to replace it. I only bought it a year ago. #waste
What do you think?
Do you have your priorities straight when it comes to buying gear? Leave a comment below.
[Photo by Redvers]