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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

10 Reasons Why Home Recording Studios Suck

I happened to come across this post recently and found it pretty interesting. It's so easy and inexpensive to buy some really powerful recording gear these days that almost every musician has a home studio, but all of them will tell you that recording is not as easy as it seems.

This article from AudioGeekzine nicely points out what eventually becomes the "hardship" of owning your own studio.
Don’t get the wrong idea from this article, I’m not hating on home studios, I have a home studio, I host The Home Recording Show. I’m not complaining, just pointing out some of the negative sides of the average home studio. An average home studio being a room in a house or apartment that was not specifically built to be a recording studio. Purpose built home studios are the exception, they have some of the qualities of professional studios, but some of the downsides still apply.
1) Less than ideal acoustically. More often than not the home studio is a spare bedroom or in the corner of the basement. Most home studios have little invested to improve the sound in the room.
2) Noise issues. Professional studios are constructed with extreme acoustic isolation in mind. They keep sound from escaping and outside sounds interfering, allowing them to operate at any time of day. In the home studio you have to deal with your neighbor mowing his lawn, children running around and other noises. Additionally you can’t work at a normal volume too early or too late in the day without neighbors or your family complaining.
3) Never ending money pit. You may think you have everything you need but it won’t be long until you succumb to G.A.S.
4) Low perceptions of quality. If you’re trying to use your home studio to make an income, there is a limitation on the kind of work you’ll get. A major label is not going to send a band to your bedroom to make a record. There is still plenty of jobs you can do at a quality level but you’re at a disadvantage from the start.
5) Pro studio owners HATE you because you take business away and put out an inferior product. Whether that is true or not can cause some heated debate.
6) A major distraction. You just wanted to make a quick recording of a song idea. You spend the next two hours doing software updates, scrolling through synth patches to find the perfect one and oops you’ve forgotten that great idea for a song.
7) It changes your role from musician to engineer. Instead of spending your time improving your playing and songwriting abilities you must spend your time learning recording techniques, troubleshooting,
8) Equipment that doesn’t match in quality or is low quality overall. Cheap mics into a cheap mixer into a built-in soundcard using cheap cables. If you want a professional sound there is a minimum level of equipment that must be invested.
9) Less respect for your time. I’m finding I sit around waiting for late clients much more in my home studio than as a staff engineer at a studio. Another side of this, a band spends two years recording their album in their home studio but could have gotten the same or better results in two week at a professional studio. Time has value.
10) It never ends. Without strict self imposed time limits you will never finish the album. A fear of commitment and the ability to tweak absolutely anything makes things take so much longer than necessary.
    So there’s 10 negative sides to this Home Studio thing we’ve gotten ourselves into. Obviously these don’t apply to everyone, and some points are very general.
    Without my home studio, this website and half my income wouldn’t be here. On the other hand I’d probably have a lot less grey hair on my head and a lot more money in the bank.
    I’m well aware of the limitations of my studio (the room specifically) and what it is perfectly capable of accomplishing, however this doesn’t satisfy me.
    Home studios aren't going away any time soon, but neither are professional recording studios. In the meantime, let's hope we can keep the techniques of the pros alive so that the next generation of pro can easily make the leap from the home to the commercial environs.


    Anonymous said...

    Let me guess, Bobby lives in L.A.

    TheKerneyCrump said...

    Haha, it is funny because I was actually interested in making my own studio but I guess I will stick to my tried and true Sydney studio, Enmore Audio. I always have had great experiences just wanted something a bit closer, like my home, but as you have explained it is not worth it.

    Unknown said...

    Lots of great points in this post! The great thing about it in my mind is that it's not only a list of common pitfalls in home studios, but a big list of things to avoid if you run a home studio.


    Anonymous said...

    So your homestudio sux because Pro studio owners hate you, what??

    Bobby Owsinski said...

    Yes, I live in LA and it's a fact that commercial studio owners hate you because you're taking away their business. It's less of the case these days because they're pretty much resigned to the fact.

    Austin Studio Owner said...

    A lot of musicians think they'll save money by recording at home but they end up wasting money on equipment they don't know how to use and end up giving up on music altogether.

    Recorind studios new jersey said...

    Home recording will never have studio sound...its just science!
    I agree 100% and have written articles on this same subject.

    JL Studios Recording Toronto said...

    Thank you for a great article!
    Most home studios tend to be lacking in acoustic treatment -- one of the most important aspects to producing professional sound quality.

    Anonymous said...

    "Home studios aren't going away any time soon, but neither are professional recording studios..."

    Funny how in 4 years since this article has been written so many "real recording studios" have closed their doors and more project studios have put out Billboard, radio, studio quality hits. It's all in who masters and mixes it I always say.

    Jim Reynolds said...

    2015 marks my 50th year in the professional recording biz.Cant believe all of the schools out there teaching so called would be engineers for jobs that do not exist and never have.I was only 19 years old in 1965 when I bought my first professional tape machine.It was a custom built Crown BX-822 2 track that weighed 70 pounds and had 14 tubes.It cost me around $1,400.00 and my parents thought I was crazy because I was working at a electronics jobber making only $1.50 a hour wage.After I payed up the Crown bought a couple of used Neumann U-87's and a couple of RCA 77DX ribbon mikes.Worked at my craft evenings and weekends untill I had so much business that I left my full time job in 1985 and this has been my only income for the last 30 years.I have recorded thousands of albums and demos.Last year I recorded a brand new album for Minnesota's famous original surf band The Trashmen (Surfin Bird fame 1963) We tracked 17 songs in 2 days all live except vocals.I am still old school 24 track Hi-8 digital tape.
    No harsh sounding computers for me.

    Lyndon Fielden said...

    I think that point 9 hits the nail on the head - what musicians with limited exposure to recording/mixing don't realise, is that it takes many years of practice and trial and error to train your ears to discern a great mix from an OK mix... you cant read that kind of experience on the web or in a book!

    Michael J Gorde said...

    Running a home studio takes a lot of effort and hard work too.

    Ethan Curtis said...

    Great post Bobby!
    I would add that one of the best things about a pro studio is the opportunity to vibe out and feed off of the energy of likeminded individuals; collaborate, receive credible critique, cross pollenate ideas, etc. It's just as much about the experience as the quality and efficiency.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Rock On!

    Lisa Jeanette said...

    Good points - thanks for this post!


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