Whats the point?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Unregistered, May 31, 2011.

  1. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Im new to this site, but spent the day at work reading through the forums (you can get a lot of reading done in 8+ hours at a computer), and a large portion of the posts, while telling you whats best for this or that or how to achieve this or fix that, seemingly have this undertone of why bother doing it yourself rather than pay a professional.

    So you get this impression, if you're not already a pro, dont bother!

    But its not quite said as blunt and directly as that. So while recording software/hardware becomes increasingly available to the common consumer, the resources for recording information more readily available, and more people trying to learn and get into having a home studio of some sort, what is the motivation for one to get started, or continue on down this path?

    So I'll ask this question outright. Why SHOULDNT I just "leave it to the pros?"
    (I do want to record on my own, but I'm just thinking about my choice objectively.)
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    It takes a certain kind of person to really WANT to do this as more than a hobby. It has to be that same obsession as the the one that made you want to play an instrument or get up in front of strangers and bare your soul for a few moments at a time.

    As a professional for many many years and as a moderator on this site for many years, you see all sorts of the same questions being bandied about and sometimes its hard to really identify the purpose someone might have in mind when considering purchasing enough gear to make recordings. Sometimes its all about the value of their dollar (or equivalent) and some see it as a good investment to supercede the pro studio and DIY it. They think they're really going to save a lot and in the meantime put out a superior product due to the fact they arent on anyones clock but their own. And this does work. For some. The truth in this can be seen in the large amount of gear for sale that the ad starts with "Used for only one project......".

    The real truth of this scenario is that it isnt as easy as it looks to get a superior sound or to put out product that gets close to 'Pro'. Experience becomes a real factor somewhere in the process, and isnt something you can buy at an online retailer of fine recording gear.

    Then theres the folks who simply want to delve into the process and become immersed in this little artistic endeavor and take the hook willingly. Theres no escape for these poor souls. These are the ads that simply state they are 'upgrading' and no longer have need for this piece they bought a while back. These are the lifers. They may start up Pro studios, they may have a home-built room where they work with friends, they may be only interested in making their own music and releasing it themselves, but they usually become pretty darn good engineers and sometimes producers depending how far they go with it.

    Then theres the technicians. A lot of highly skilled musicians who simply want the ability to form and reform captured performances until it suits their ear and spirit. These are the hobbiests with usually high-end gear. They dont really try to record releases, though they can, they simply use their studio situations to refine their already well developed sound and use these ideas as springboards to recording in good sounding rooms for product. With the advent of this affordable, quality, gear revolution they are able to keep on budget and schedule by adding tracks on their own while integrating with the big studio. They dont usually sell their gear.

    In asking yourself "Which path to take?", you have to honestly assess the reason you're even interested in recording gear vs. simply booking time in Pro room. You have to be honest about your own abilities as an engineer to be able to take advantage of the tools you have to produce the sounds you hear in your head. The information available these days is endless. Not all of it can be considered gospel and experiementation is the only way to really learn what works for you in your environment and what doesnt.

    Recording something is like switching on a time machine. The results of the pass you make with the red light on is only for that single moment in time. It can be replicated but never really duplicated. It will always stand alone. The Pro studios' role is to capture this moment is such a way as to make it become the defining moment in the life of that particular piece of music or performance. Its a harder job than it looks. There are lots and lots of factors involved. Someone with experience has , hopefully, done their homework over time and has answers and solutions to the various stumbling points involved. Its what, as a client, you're betting your money on.

    In DIYing it, you are betting on your own abilities to learn a craft, and your patience and understanding of the trials you'll face in doing so. And if you have the curious spark about how things are made and you revel in finding these things out then you should go for it yourself. If you simply want high-grade production and no overhead later, then go to the Pros.

    I dont think your impression of 'why' its being suggested to go to a pro studio is quite accurate. Sometimes it becomes obvious to those of us who haunt these pages and try to provide answers, that certain folks are not candidates for DIYing.....Its these that I try to steer to a studio rather than they wasting their time and money on something that will end up as "Only used for one project...." on Ebay.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Home Page:
    I personally feel like there is a very welcoming attitude on RO, and numerous patient professionals. You shouldn't ' leave it to the pros if: you intend on spending more time recording/thinking/talking about recording, than anything else in your life. You have the access to purchase, or use pro level gear/rooms. You wish to ignore social life as you make bad recordings with said pro gear/rooms. You have a professional to learn from, and i don't mean a skilled college professor you never talk to again, someone who will help any time.
    i think anybody with a cool musical idea should pursue it no matter what.
    I started w/ a 4 track for fun when i was 14, and two or three years ago i decided to try a living at it. i learned alot from books, mags, RO, tech support people, home engineers, crappy bands in bad rooms, and broken stuff. I love engineering, the feeling that feeling ya get when someone nails a take, gives me chills, and i love it. Whether it's a basement band practice recording, or not, you know when it's 'it'.
    one very overlooked aspect of the home studios i've paid to record at, is someone telling you 'how' to express that. that's experience that i'm still gaining, and i think everyone is.
    As a practical means of on the job training, i've done (and messed up some) live sound for some big/not so big names, at a club. I've taken jobs that entail wiring/re-wiring bar/club/band pa systems. I take pride in a very neatly wired, low maintenance system, and well built/treated sound rooms. I've also been a 'fly on the wall' during sessions recorded by some guys w/ serious credit.
    I'm nowhere near the engineering skill set that the guys i work for are at. i work/learn at a pro studio, not because of my amazing engineering prowess, but because i had the construction ability/knowledge to build it to their expectations, desire, and enough engineering ability to start off.. I was lucky/dumb enough to work out a minimal labor rate, to ensure i can work there after the build, and learn from two of the best guys in my tri-state area.
    We all use the same equipment at the studio, and they just get better sounds.
    Would i hire them if i wanted a fully produced professional recording? yesa. it wouldn't be cheap. my personal musical ideas aren't that great, and my engineering in my home studio gets the point across. if something i do makes a spark, great, it'll be that much better w/ 30 yrs. of experience getting the sounds, and telling me what to do.
    So, i'd say look at what you really want, and decide if you want fleshed out demos of reasonable quality, that you can take to the professionals, a home studio production, or a job as a soundperson.
    What the experienced pro's hear, create, and dictate is fascinating, and much, much, more difficult than i ever knew. Good luck!!
    p.s this is coming from a content, broke dude, living in his parents basement, that is becoming a sound professional slowly everyday!
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:

    Both sides...

    As has been said... If you get this in your blood, get the fever and you REALLY love ramen noodles, peanut butter and for those of my down under brothers... Vegamite... then you might want to consider tossin' a bunch of cash down the toilet until you get the hang of it.

    But realize, that just as there are millions of dollars of art supplies sold, there aren't that many Picasso's out there makin' a living... and so very few of the art supply stores and manufacturers even give a rip whether you are, or you aren't. They only care that they are able to get you to part with your money chasing the all but impossible dream of breaking even, much less actually making money.

    After talking with several notable engineers/producers, you quickly discover that while they still occasionally play music, more than 95% of their time is spent just engineering and/or producing. This for a couple of reasons... First and foremost, it's their life work. Their passion. It's in their soul and it's what makes them tick. Next, it's because it's how they earn their living, and likely will be until they die. Next, they can't afford to try to augment their income from making music as a musician. If they step out of the role as an engineer, they'll quickly loose their chops.

    Which brings up the subject of whether you can successfully do both - be a playing professional musician and recordist/mixer.

    Yes, you can... but again, it's the exception rather than the rule.

    Think about it this way. As a professional musician, I used to practice about 8 hours/day, 6-7 days/week. As an engineer, I try to sit down at the console or get in the studio for 10-16 hours/day. Granted a pretty good chunk of that time is actually being a business owner/operator, but it really does take the same amount of time (or more) as it does as a musician.

    So, if I'm spending 16-20 hours on both music and engineering, it really doesn't leave much time for eating, sleeping, taking care of personal business or keeping up my home. Not to mention that they are both generally two entirely different types of discipline.

    Creating music uses as different mindset than recording. Having to stop in the middle of being creative to get all analytical and delve into physics, electronics and computer sciences tends to put a serious damper on the creative side... and the opposite happens as well. (but that's the fun part.)

    So, if you're really serious about performing music, sure, get something simple and basic to capture ideas and let your recording experiences be benign until you are ready to actually get serious about a project - then take it to someone who operates on the same professional level as you do, to help you take your creative expression to the highest level you can.

    But if you're really drawn to the true craftsmanship of capturing and producing music, then go for it - knowing that your playing days are indeed probably going to be limited.
  5. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Vashon Island, Washington
    Home Page:
    I have to agree with much of what has been said.
    I think the proliferation of powerful, affordable recording equipment and the concomitant advertising hype has created a generation of musicians who have been led to believe that gear = good results. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!
    You can't become a good recording engineer by purchasing the appropriate gear any more than you could become a concert violinist by purchasing a quality violin! It takes years of practice and experience to gain the 'chops' to get professional results.
    So to answer your question "Why SHOULDN't..." you leave it to the pros: You shouldn't leave it to the pros if all you want is an amateur result; You shouldn't leave it to the pros if what you really want to be doing with your life is recording engineering instead of music; You shouldn't leave it to the pros if you don't mind working at it hard and seriously for several years while achieving less-than-professional results!
    Having said that, many of us pro engineers, myself included, started out as musicians attempting to get some decent results for our own purposes. For me, it was 10 years before I felt competent enough to open my own studio, and during the ensuing 10 years I have learned how much I have yet to learn to be truly proficient at this craft. I have long ago left behind efforts towards pitching my songs to publishers or practicing/playing gigs.
    So just ask yourself where your passion truly lies, and what kind of results you want for your most current musical efforts.
    We pros aren't trying to boast about how great we are for all of our experience, merely trying to open a window through which you can view the road ahead. You asked!
  6. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Thank you so much. i really appreciate you guys answers. actually gave me a lot of insight.

    I never knew there were so many perspectives or takes on intentions for getting into this kinda thing. I thought it was you either wanted to be a pro to make money, or you wanted delve into it to explore. But there are so many subtleties and nuances about it.

    For me, I never intended to make money doing this. I dont even make money playing, and I do several gigs. I just do it for the love of the music and to continue to grow and go to the next level. I started down this road because my original teacher and music mentor has his own studio and has taken the time to show me a lot of things. Because he's an engineer by profession and so am I, we can speak about the engineering aspects of everything (waves, frequencies, etc) and none of it is mundane or overwhelming.

    I started writing my own music and wanted to record and started working with him, but once he retired, he started doing music full time. With full time comes more and bigger projects, so now that he's got a lot more PAYING folks occupying his time, I decided to try it on my own. When I ran into problems, he'd take me in the studio and show me several things on the project he's working on, sometimes unrelated to the question, but it became a "wow, i didnt know u could do that" moment. So dealing with him, I became good with a number of the technical aspects. Just didnt have that "ear". Thats something you cant really teach, you develop it over time.

    So my objective is a more than just hobby, but nowhere near being a studio engineer for hire, nor having a studio for hire either. Any money I get from playing or other gigs (my bro and i did a few live sound gigs) strictly goes back into equipment, and since i have enough basses, money I have now is going towards recording equipment. Just want to get the music out there. Whats the point in creating and keeping it all to yourself?

    I know Im rambling a bit. Just was trying to touch on the different points that were made. But i truly thank you guys for restoring my faith that this isnt a lost cause or a dead end path. I do feel that the attitude here is welcoming, but you guys have been super helpful. i'll definitely be signing up.
  7. mdb

    mdb Active Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    Okanagan, Canada
    My simple answer... because you enjoy it and get satisfaction from doing it yourself. If your mixes suck, learn from them and from others in this community and carry on. If you don't enjoy it, get a pro to do it for you. My recordings stink compared to the reference CD's I listen to and as much as I care, I don't. I've got a day job and in the end my mixes don't amount to squat when it comes to the meaning of life and what I live for. It's a hobby for me and I enjoy it because I enjoy music. I don't think it's a bad attitude, just perspective. If you are trying to sell a demo CD and aren't getting the quality you need, then have a professional mix and produce it for you and continue to record and learn in your basement. Some day you might be your own mixer/ producer or you might be one for someone else. If not, do it for the love of music... or go do something you enjoy. I'm happy and I'm not Chris Lord-Alge.
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    The intentions for getting into recording are as rich and varied as the individuals who do it.

    However, the folks that are the most successful in this "game", are the one's who DIDN'T get into it for the money. They get into it (to the point of no return), because it presents at least a challenge to their intellect or some other aspect of their being.

    There's a significant populace of the engineers/producers that do this as their sole means of support, who rather detest the people who get in this with the "I'm gonna get rich and famous" attitude. Not that they feel threatened that some kid's gonna take away business or income - but because they don't understand or respect the fact that this is actually a skilled craft that one must actually put forth a great deal of effort to learn to do well... and in accordance with set industry standards.

    Sure, just about anyone can join NARAS or AES by paying the membership dues. But it should be your desire to improve your working knowledge and skill set - by joining a professional organization - to have your work delivered at the established industry standards... if you wish to present yourself in the marketplace as a "trusted" professional.

    Yes, there are some who initially got into this craft for the "wrong" reason, that the switch is flipped and they "get it", and have indeed gone on to bigger and better things in the engineering/production aspect of our industry. So, I'm not painting this with a broad brush. I'm just trying to explain some of the "attitude" you will indeed run into, from time to time.
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    I know I' just repeating a lot of what was said above, but to me the direct answer to your question is that the reason not to leave it to the professionals is that you are interested in the process of recording itself. Recording has to be more than a means to an end to you for it to make sense. We get a lot of expect to save money (bad idea) and most of the "leave it to the professionals" comments are directed at them.
  10. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    Apr 19, 2009
    Calgary Alberta Canada
    As someone who no longer really writes or plays much music anymore I record because I record, it's just what I do. When I was in a band if someone asked me "why are you in a band, you know you have a 1 in 100,000 chance of even making a bad living off of it right?" I'd have said the same thing, I do it because it's what I do. I love it, I think I'm decent at it and constantly improving, and I love it. I'm not recording my own bands because we're too broke to go to a studio anymore, this is all the art I have left. When I'm not recording, I'm probably thinking about recording... so yeah, record if you're passionate about it, not because you want to try to save money for your band (if someone really just wants to save their band money I'd say rather than DIY, just go to another person's home studio, someone who while not a professional, at least has more experience than most band members, and is passionate about recording).

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