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An Introduction to Compression: Basic Compression - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Equalization - A free download from Audio Masterclass

Equipping Your Home Recording Studio - A free download from Audio Masterclass

Is there such a thing as Photoshopped audio?

Can you hear the subtle effect of the knee control of the compressor? (With audio and video demonstrations)

The importance of monitoring in the recording studio

When using a drum virtual instrument, should you record each drum to its own individual track?

Click removal at the start of a track

One simple step you must take to make sure your masters sound really great

Setting the recording level control in GarageBand

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue

Q: Should I upgrade my Shure SM58 and use technical solutions for noise and ambience?

Why choosing a key for your song is one of the most important aspects of preparation for production and recording

"What's the use of a hobby if you can't produce the best results possible?", or - "What equipment should I buy?"

Is it better to have a rhythm machine and a good digital recorder separately, or can workstations like the Boss DR-1200 or the KORG D1600 really get it done in that department...

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Question from a Audio Masterclass visitor...

A lot of digital recording options out there! I record at home, as time allows, and having quality bass and drum tracks is a must.

It's all for fun, but what the use of a hobby if you can't produce the best results possible?

Two questions, please:

1) Is it better to have a rhythm machine and a good digital recorder separately, or can workstations like the Boss DR-1200 or the KORG D1600 really get it done in that department.

2) Of those two machines, similar in price, which would you chose for ease of use and quality results?

Thanks - Peter Rice

David Mellor replies...

You won't believe the flak I get from frequently saying this, but the very best way for a newcomer to recording to equip his or her home recording studio is to use the same equipment as the pros use.

Every time I say this, I get flame mail from people who use different equipment. But...


And I can use all caps too!

I spent a decade and a half reviewing equipment for Sound on Sound and other magazines. There was hardly one occasion where I came across a piece of equipment that didn't do exactly what it said on the box.

Granted, there were some software bugs, one loudspeaker would sound different to another, bigger equipment has more facilities etc.

But there was hardly any equipment or software that wouldn't let you get on and do the job.

Having said that though, cream tends to rise to the top of the milk.

So certain equipment and software will let you get the job done just that little bit more efficiently. Certain microphones and loudspeakers will have the edge over others.

You could spend a lot of time trying to work out for yourself which is the best equipment. Or you could take the advice of reviewers (who always have to sit on the fence because there are advertisers to please).

But the one simple way of knowing which equipment is best is to look at what the pros use.

If people in the sound engineering and music recording industries are using a certain piece of equipment or software, and are achieving success with it, why on earth shouldn't you use it too? Do you know something that already successful people don't?

OK, this is a vicious circle and if no-one tried out different equipment then gradually there would be no competition among manufacturers and no choice.

But for any one, individual person seeking their best chance of success, the very safest option is to use the same equipment as the pros.

And I still haven't answered your question...


1) Yes, separate the rhythm from the recorder. Whatever is best at rhythm and whatever is best at recording are always likely to be different. If a recorder has a rhythm option, don't use it. Find something else that allows you more possibilities and hence to be more creative.

2) I've had to make it my policy not to compare machines. In my heart I can't tell you to buy either the Korg or the Boss, when what you need is a Yamaha. Yamaha sell digital mixing consoles to the professionals. Believe me, they know their business.

Often I welcome replies to my articles. However, I don't need to know - talking to my readership in general - that you have achieved success on an XYZ911 beatbox/recorder/karaoke/air guitar - I believe you and good luck to you. When that starts rising to the top in professional circles I'll take a look and tell everyone else what I think.

OK then, you can reply to . Just be careful of those all caps.

P.S. "What's the use of a hobby if you can't produce the best results possible?" Well my hobby is oil painting and I'm absolutely crap at it. But that's the point of a hobby - to be pleasurable but pointless. Audio Masterclass is about achieving success, and for that you have to treat recording as very much more than a mere hobby.

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By David Mellor Thursday August 4, 2005
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