So you want to set up a studio that will produce good music? Or perhaps you want to make money out of music? Either way, there are some essentials every studio should have; either home or professional.
Here's my top ten;
- Skill and experience.
- Without this you can have all the gear in the world and still make sub-standard recordings. I recommend reading as many books as you can, watching as many videos, completing at least one course and finding either a studio where you can make tea and learn, or a mentor who you can sit next to, shut up and listen to during sessions.
- Some musical understanding.
- I'm amazed at the amount of people who think you can produce great music without knowing any musical theory. You don't need to be a degree educated music graduate or the best musician in the world, but you should at least know the fundamentals such as timing, harmonic structures etc.
- The best computer you can get.
- What platform you choose is your up to you, there's no debate here about Mac or PC, but whatever you choose make sure it's powerful enough for your system to grow with plenty of processing and RAM. Also make sure you get decent sized screens and as many as you can, with Pro Tools that's at least two! My rule of thumb is to buy a computer that will last me around two years of growth. Think of computers like kids' shoes, if you buy a pair that fit them today then you'll need to buy a new pair next month.
- Pro Tools
- Like it or not, Pro Tools is now and for the foreseeable future the industry standard for recording. It may not have all the features that some of the other DAWs have, but it offers you and your clients the best possible opportunity to work between other studios. Of course if you think you will never need to work with anyone else, then choose another DAW, but as far as I'm concerned if you want to be a working pro studio then it has to be Pro Tools.
- Good Monitoring
- There's a lot of studio monitors out there and ask 10 engineers which monitors to get and you'll get 10 different answers. Once you have made your choice from one of the top brands, then the most important thing is that you get used to the sound of your monitors and you understand how things sound when you listen through them. This is why Yamaha NS10 monitors became such a staple of every studio, they weren't the best, it was just that engineers knew how they sounded and mixed to that. Mastering engineers can correct the idiosyncrasies of your monitors in the mastering process.
- Sound Treatment
- Egg boxes don't work! Get yourself some decent sound treatment that will deal with the issues caused by the sound of the room you are working in. If nothing else, then make you should get some decent pads for your monitors and a decent shield for your microphone.
- At Least One Good Microphone
- If there's one thing I would recommend collecting, that's microphones. They all have distinct characteristics and when I'm tracking vocals I will often put up several mics on a singer to see which suits their voice and style. If you don't have the money to invest, then make sure you get at least one high quality microphone that has all round potential. It must at least be able to handle vocals and some other acoustic instruments. After that get a good stereo pair, or if you are going to record drums, then a good set of drum mics.
- Good Headphones
- You may be surprised to know that I do a lot of mixing in headphones, but even if you don't, then a good pair of headphone is essential for both tracking and mixing
- Virtual Instruments
- Love em or hate them, Virtual Instruments are a fast and cost effective way of getting a lot of great sounds into your tracks quick. There are various VI sets from different manufacturers and you can pay your money and take your choice. However, there's no other package that is so integrated into the Pro Tools environment than the Pro Tools Instrument Expansion Pack. My opinion is, that if you can't make a good track with Pro Tools and PTIEP then I would suggest you take up painting or a sport.
- A sense of humour
- Making music can be hard work, artists can be hard work and there's nothing more likely to add to the pressure than trying to get a hit record down in a limited amount of time. I'm not suggesting you try and crack every joke you know, but you can be serious about about what you do without taking it all too seriously.
I hope these tips help you - now how about you give me some of yours?