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Why do people record in home studios? Wouldn't a pro studio do a better job?

Why do people persist in recording in inadequate home studios when there are pro studios that could do a much better job?

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There are three immediate answers to this question...

  • Because it's cheaper than hiring a studio.
  • Because you can work in your own environment.
  • Because you can be more in control.

But there is one answer that is much closer to the real truth than most home recordists would dare to admit...

We love the equipment!

The number of home recordists for whom the equipment is merely a means to an end is vanishingly small. And if you don't believe me, then just look at the vast range of products on offer at a site like zZounds. Someone is buying all this stuff. Is it someone else, or is it you?!

Personally I am neither for nor against in the home versus professional studio argument. I think it would be a shame if there were no pro studios around any more, but otherwise I don't see why people should not choose as they wish.

Having said that, pro studios do have certain advantages...

  • A working environment. Anyone who works from home will know absolutely how difficult it is to stay focused amidst a predominantly domestic environment.
  • Time constraints. If you look at successful art of any variety, usually the stuff that has really made an impact has been done under constraints of various kinds. Absolute freedom means absolute freedom to explore every option and never get round to committing. Having limited time means you need to prepare adequately, and you will be fully 'sprung' in the studio, ready to go.
  • Good acoustics. There's not much point in a pro studio these days having bad acoustics. We can stay at home for that ;-)
  • Creative atmosphere. There's nothing like the buzz of being around creative people, even if you just bump into them in the restaurant area. At home? Well perhaps your dog is creative.
  • Let the professionals take the strain. With an experienced engineer at the controls, you can concentrate on your music.

Despite the above, one of the prime reasons people state for wanting to record at home is that they have had bad experiences in studios where they didn't feel in control. The engineer did things they didn't like and the result wasn't what they wanted.

Well, learning how to run a session is an art in itself. It's like hiring an interior designer to style your home. The first time you do it, the result will be what they want. The next time, you will resolve to have more input.

There is however one very important advantage of working at home...

Being innovative and creative in a pro recording studio is an expensive way to spend time. Creativity isn't something the runs according to the clock. At home, you can stay up all night if you need and all it costs extra is electricity for the light.

Probably the best approach is to have the best of both worlds. Work at home on the things that are easily accomplished at home, and use a pro studio to add acoustic and electric instruments, perhaps also to mix.

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By David Mellor Friday September 2, 2005
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