Adventures In Audio
Help! I have too much equipment. What can I do?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Friday February 25, 2011
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A Audio Masterclass reader wants to get rid of half of his equipment. Trouble is - he doesn't know which half. Here are his comments...

Here are just some of the gears I have in my humble home-recording studio:

My point is, which gears do I need to keep and which need to go?

I bought these over the years and I don't even use half of them. My Zoom multi-track recorders, those I tend to use a lot more than my Tascam SX1-LE or my recording softwares.

My Tascam though, is connected to a VGA screen, a keyboard and mouse, which do a whole lot more.

Do these machines vary in their digital sound quality? Or one brand versus the other?

Zoom tends to have better multi FX built into its systems; guitar, vocal, etc. My Tascam is weighted in at about 100 lbs. My Zoom machines are terrific to carry, especially for live recording.

I assembled all my arrangements through my arranger keyboards and record them straight into these machines. Likewise with my guitars, and bass guitars.

Should I route everything through my Behringer mixing board and out to these recording machines? I sometimes use my Behringer compressor for vocal and my bass guitar.

I do not do drum, I loop most of my drum tracks either through my zooms, or my Ableton Live 4.0 software.

My Steinberg Wavelab 4.0 mastering software tends to do a good job on cd mastering, but never near a professionally-mastered CD. I sent a demo off to a studio in Phoenix to be professionally mastered. In comparison, theirs surpasses mine. They are a few light years away from me. Is that because they are using Pro Tools, and expensive analog compressors such as Manley and those giant audio brands?

When I do my recording, do I need to stay below the 0 db, and if so, how far below?

Lastly, no matter how good some humble studio owners do as far mastering a CD for release, professionally-mastered CDs are always louder and punchier than those of humble studios such as mine.

A friend of mine who is a studio owner himself and record a lot of groups from the Houston and Dallas area, said that it has to do with the gears they use and their experiences in the field. And also either a technique or a mastering gear, I forgot, that's called radio..something, or something radio... anyway, thanks for taking my questions.

Sender: Greg S Mario

David Mellor replies...

Phew, what a question! It isn't easy to give definitive advice here, but my friend Dr. Producer advises that you are probably suffering from equipment-itis. You have so much equipment it is confusing you and weighing you down with too many possibilities.

Many recording enthusiasts long to have a well-stocked studio. There are some hardware items you can't have too many of...

Notice that I didn't list plug-ins or software instruments. It's too easy to have so many that you are literally spoilt for choice and you can't get any work done because you can't make up your mind.

The list could continue. However there are two items of which you only need one of each...

So I would recommend that you dig out your old recordings and decide which are the best. Whichever equipment gave you the best results, keep it. The rest - sell it on eBay.

Don't get hung up on sound quality. It's a rare recording these days that suffers from the sound quality of the equipment. 99.999% of the time if there is a sound problem, it's down to the skill of the engineer, or lack of.

Any comments on which equipment should stay and which should go are very welcome.

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