Bargain Recording and Production — Maybe Not Such a Bargain
Sunday August 31st 2008, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Audio recording

One thing we see in the recording studio fairly frequently: a new customer arrives with a few home-recorded tracks, and just want my husband to “clean them up at bit.” Just a little mixing and mastering, dontcha know. They think this is a fine way to save a bit of money on their recording project.

And depending on what kind of product you want to end up, it might be. The sad thing is, the clients often seem to think they’re going to walk away with a high end CD-quality result.

Listen, I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, but your second-hand low-end Casio keyboard does not sound just like real strings or a real drum kit or, well, a real anything.

And even if you have high-end, expensive gear, this may not make your home recording idea any more viable. Remember: the key to high quality production isn’t the cost of the gear, it’s the experience and skill of the operator. A highly-trained woodworker could create beautiful heirloom furniture with nothing more than a hammer, a saw, a chisel, a screwdriver and maybe some sandpaper. In the hands of an inexperienced operator, thousands of dollars of high-end power tools may not make much more than a pile of expensive firewood.

Now, I’m not saying you have to book time with the top local music producer, hire expensive studio musicians and rent out the highest-end studio in town for every little project. What you need depends very much on what you want.

Your home-grown tracks may well be good enough if what you’re creating is a simple demo to help get you gigs at local nightspots. But if you want something a little more polished — say, a CD to sell at those gigs — well, the bottom line is you’ll get out of it what you put into it. You can’t start with crap input and expect professional quality output.

It’s okay to go with a bargain solution when your needs are simple. But if you’re looking for retail-ready or airplay-ready audio recording, don’t cheap out. Sure, you may save a few dollars on the front end, but you’ll never be happy with the final product.

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