How many are we who always had the dream of recording our own music? Well, for my part, I wouldn’t say that I’m a musician. Maybe I could have been. Anyway, I now have the opportunity to record music, at high quality, mixing it, publicizing it – in an affordable way! Isn’t it fantastic? Do you feel like me? If you are able to get and keep the inspiration – wow! But that isn’t very easy in this abundance of stuff. Let’s see why.
Digital music tools
The Internet era gave us lots and lots of new possibilities. Now you can get things which were almost impossible ten years ago. Using nothing more than a standard family PC or Mac, together with a high-quality sound card for 300$ you could record multi-track pieces and add professional-sounding effects. Clear and authentic effects like reverbs, compressors, and amp-simulators. Goodbye to that digital, plastic sound of the computer-made music of yesterday! The increase in the speed of computers, as well as the declining prices, have given us such a great opportunity.
The manufacturers are well-aware of this wide passion, and the hardware and software products come with frequent updates. Native Instruments, gudang lagu, and IK Multimedia, for instance, offer a free version of high-quality virtual instruments. Suddenly you sit there with a great sound panorama, with real-sounding strings, organs, basses, etc. The commercial versions are of course more attractive – and still affordable. But what do you really need to get your home studio? Wants vs. needs
Are you a professional musician and think it’s better to produce your own demo than pay others to do it? Or you are an amateur musician, and at last, you have found a manner to express your love for music? Perhaps a composer, arranger, or songwriter? Everybody can find a way to use these tools according to their needs.
But what are really your needs? The manufacturers could easily decide it for you, and suddenly you will find yourself drowned in software applications, hardware devices, and, of course, new offers to check out. Then, inspiration and creativity are in real danger! It’s so easy to remain there, adding new effects and adjust parameters “to make it a little better,” but actually one is distracted from the music.
This is getting a sense, isn’t it? Get just the equipment that makes your creativity flow… Nothing else. In other words, not spending hours and hours reading manuals on how to use too advanced software. Not spending money every month for expanding your studio project – you work hard for the money – without seeing any real result. Cleaning and getting in order a small room filled with boxes and cables. Boring! (“Tomorrow, I will play music, now I’ll watch TV…”) Unless you are economically independent, don’t have family, and your prime interest is testing high-tech music equipment, you may want to focus on the music, and not getting distracted by the tools. I have also fallen in that pitfall. The simple music studio
How to avoid it? The answer could be: Keep it simple! Be careful of the “Pro” version, if you don’t really need its features. Start with a modest project – to write a musical or arrange for a symphonic orchestra maybe too much, at least for now.
What do you need? Some examples:
The basic equipment is:
A standard PC/Mac which is not messed up with all sorts of applications and virus. A sound card with ASIO drivers Additional equipment depends on the situation, for example, You love singing, and want a little more than karaoke, perhaps singing your own piece or making an arrangement with several parts.
Need: A decent microphone, a preamp (if not your sound card has), a simple version of Cubase, Cakewalk, etc, and an instrument like Sampletank Free or Kontakt Player.
You are a guitarist and you would like to jam with a combo at home in your free time. Need: a preamp (if not your sound card has), a program like Band-in-a-Box, and an instrument like Sampletank Free or Kontakt Player. If you don’t already have amplifier and effect-pedals, you could opt for a digital multi-effect pedal from Boss, Zoom, Vox, etc.
You love arranging, and your head is filled with ideas. Need: A simple version of Cubase, Cakewalk, etc, or – if you like notation – Finale or Sibelius. For the sounds, an instrument like Sampletank Free or Kontakt Player, or a particular instrument with your favorite sounds (like brass, strings, drums, grand piano, etc.). Nothing else! Nothing else! I will keep these words in my mind from now on, not permitting myself to expand my equipment with stuff, which for sure are excellent, but will waste my time and scare the inspiration that will run away quickly. Nothing more than what I really need and have time to spend on. Do you think like me? The results of our music production from now on – no matter what competence or ambitions we have – will show that we manage to keep the inspiration going in this abundance of possibilities.