The Pros and Cons of Pro Recording: DIY vs Studio

Should You Record Your Music DIY or in a Professional Studio?

Exciting new advances in technology are revolutionizing many creative fields and helping amateurs feel like experts. It’s tempting to consider yourself a master photographer just because you have Instagram installed on your iPhone; equally appealing is the idea of skipping out on hefty studio fees and self-producing your next album from your basement with Garage Band. But there remains a wide gulf in quality between an amateur recording and a professional studio production; the more complex your project is, and the more ambitious your vision, the more you should consider saving up and shelling out for the real deal.

Consider the Project

What you’re seeking to accomplish on your recording makes a big difference in terms of how you should approach it. Are you a freshly-formed band who needs to slap together a demo tape to send around to some open mic nights? Or are you ready to take the next step and put together an album you can feel proud of for years to come? One with the potential to attract and impress agents, labels, and gigs at bigger-ticket venues?

The ultimate goal of the project you have in mind will really change the math as far as whether or not it makes sense to invest in a higher quality finished product. If this is ultimately a money-making venture for you, it’ll be much more likely to pay off if your record is cleanly produced and has a polished sound. On the other hand, a labor of love for a stripped-down act likely doesn’t require cleaning out your bank account.

It’s Not Just Technology

When considering the “pros” of a pro studio recording, many people focus on the higher quality of technology that will be available to them. This is an important point to consider — excellent mics, a great interface, and top-of-the-line software will go a long way toward bringing out the best of your sound. But the benefits of recording in a professional studio go above and beyond the physical tools.

You’ll also benefit from the producer’s knowledge and years of experience. That particular style or sound element that could take you months to achieve? If you’ve got a good producer, he or she will know exactly how to make it happen. The best equipment in the world is still no match for talent and expertise.

In addition to experience, simply having some outside perspective can be truly invaluable. A minor decision can lead to hours of agonizing when it’s just you alone with your tracks. Endless hours spent mixing and mastering might make you question everything, or even feel tempted to scrap tracks with plenty of potential.

It’s Not Always Black and White

There are plenty of options if you don’t feel comfortable DIY-ing, but also don’t want to commit to the pricetag of a full professional job. Perhaps you could just record a handful of singles in the studio for a great-sounding EP. Or you could rent equipment and put together a temporary studio setup that’s better than anything you could afford to buy outright. Even just working together with fellow musicians for their advice could offer you that much-needed outsider perspective. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll need to think carefully about your project and the best way to pull it off with the budget you’re working with.

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