“Age-Appropriate” Gear

Today is my son Owen’s birthday. He’s two years old. Love that kid.

For his birthday Pam and I bought him this little hot wheels toy. It’s got a “ferris wheel” that you turn to lift the cars up to the top of a ramp, then the cars race down and jump from one ramp to another.

It’s pretty cool.

The box said “Ages 4+” but we ignored it.

I always thought those “age-appropriate” recommendations had to do with whether or not there were small parts that a toddler could choke on.

As it turns out, they were right. This toy was not age-appropriate for little Owen (even though his daddy thought it was pretty cool.) He just couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to work, and it got really frustrating for him really quickly.

Did you know there’s such a thing as “age-appropriate” gear? (more…)

The Official Recording Redneck Test

Maybe it’s because I’m lazy.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town in the South (shout out to Yazoo City, Mississippi!).

But I think I’ve got some serious redneck in me…at least when it comes to recording.

(For those of you who are outside the US and unfamiliar with the term “redneck,” it’s kinda hard to explain. Listen to some country music and you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.)

Rednecks tend to be unconventional. (Jeff Foxworthy built his career as a comedian by pointing out the unconventional behavior of a redneck.) They just don’t do things the way mainstream folks would do them.

They do things their own way.

They use tools at their disposal (like duct tape and WD-40, for example) to get things done. (more…)

A Crucial Conversation About Gear

I was having a conversation with my buddy Pete Woj the other day.

Pete’s a cool guy. For one thing, he’s bought just about every tutorial video I’ve ever released (which makes him very popular around HSC headquarters), but he’s also big on APPLYING what he learns.

Anyway, we were talking about recording equipment. He was debating buying a new audio interface and wanted my opinion.

But then he listened to one of my recent podcasts and answered his own question. (more…)

Putting the Guitar Before the Horse

I’m a songwriter. I’ve been writing songs since I was a teenager.

Imagine a 14-year-old version of Joe.

He walks up to his parents and says, “Mom, Dad, I want to start writing songs. I’m gonna need a $2,000 Gibson guitar to make that happen.”

What happens next?

Probably a lot of laughing.


Because it’s complete nonsense. (more…)

Recording Wannabe’s

Remember that post I wrote a couple days ago?

The one where I said stealing plugins makes your mixes worse?

(It definitely got a few people fired up.)

Let’s dive a bit deeper into that, shall we?

Some people thought that I was saying that people who steal plugins aren’t capable of learning how to use those plugins effectively…that there’s some magic force field that causes everything to sound like poo.

That’s not what I’m saying.

I’m talking about deeper issues. (more…)

Annoyingly Indecisive Psycho Kitty

My wife and I have a psychotic cat. His name’s Wayne.

Wayne does this really annoying thing at night. When we let him outside, he runs around for a while, then he jumps up into the window next to our living room couch. And scratches.

“Scratch, scratch, scratch.”

He knows it annoys me.

Eventually I get up, go to the door, and let him in.

2 minutes later, he’s at the door, meowing for me to let him out again.

It drives me CRAZY.

He can’t make up his mind. He spends all his time whining to go outside or whining to come back inside.

It’s a vicious, maddening cycle.

But sadly that describes a lot of home studio folks.

They run around like Wayne the Psycho Kitty, jumping from one piece of gear to the next. One minute they think they need a new mic. The next minute they need a new preamp or interface.

Then they insist they “need” to upgrade all their software to have the “latest features.”

They CLAIM they love music and love to record, but the reality is they’re simply GEAR COLLECTORS.

They haven’t finished a song in months, maybe years. Yet they keep whining that their recording rig is somehow inadequate or unacceptable.

“As soon as I have this final piece to the puzzle, I’ll record all the time!”

News Flash: You won’t.

You’ll be just like Wayne, as soon as you get what you THINK you want, two minutes later you’ll be whining for the next thing.

Stop the madness.

If you’re not making music, you’re missing the point entirely.

Do you want people to say:

“Wow, his recordings sound great!”


“Wow, he’s great at buying gear!”


Your choice.


Finally – Scientific Proof That You Don’t Need More Gear

You might like this.

Or you might hate it.

My buddy Kevin told me about a study done at Columbia University a few years ago called When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?

Here’s a summary of what they found:

Current psychological theory and research affirm the positive affective and motivational consequences of having personal choice. These findings have led to the popular notion that the more choice, the better-that the human ability to manage, and the human desire for, choice is unlimited. Findings from 3 experimental studies starkly challenge this implicit assumption that having more choices is necessarily more intrinsically motivating than having fewer. These experiments, which were conducted in both field and laboratory settings, show that people are more likely to purchase gourmet jams or chocolates or to undertake optional class essay assignments when offered a limited array of 6 choices rather than a more extensive array of 24 or 30 choices. Moreover, participants actually reported greater subsequent satisfaction with their selections and wrote better essays when their original set of options had been limited. Implications for future research are discussed. (more…)

Photoshop and Pro Tools

I just got back from a family vacation to the beach. As with any event involving babies, there were a LOT of pictures taken.

My wife and I have a decent little point-and-shoot camera. I think it’s called a DSLR. You can’t change out lenses or anything, but it’s got a lot of the features of the nicer, more expensive cameras.

My sister-in-law, however, has a nice SLR camera. On top of that, she recently bought a really nice $500 lens for it.

Our camera takes nice pictures.

Her camera takes GREAT pictures.

Okay, Joe, this is a recording blog…where are you going with this?