In which Ells Discusses The Pros and Cons of Home Recording

This morning the wonderful BBC 6 Music news team were discussing the current trend for many artists to make the decision to record at home, or in self-built studios, rather than in ‘proper’ commercially run recording studios. Annoyingly, I had to leave for work before I could hear the second half of the discussion (frazzle, razzle, ggrrrs…), but even so, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the pros and cons of recording at home.

These days, home studio tech is pretty cheap (well, comparatively anyway), and most people with the will and interest in pretty shiny things* can afford to set up some basic recording kit, and even budget recording gear can give good results if it’s used effectively and is good quality.

But home recording is not all fun, fun, fun; here’s my rundown of some common pro’s and con’s.

Pros:

  • You can take your time: When you’re recording at home there’s no watching the clock, no thinking ‘I’m paying for this time’ if you run up against any issues and no worries about finishing your session on time. You can rock all night long if you’re so inclined.
  • It’s your own space: If you need to leave things set up, there’s no worries about doing so – you can come back to things later.
  • It works out cheaper in the long run (probably): It will cost you money for the initial kit (and you should buy the best you can afford), but that kit will always be there for you to use, whereas studio time is gone when it’s gone.
  • You retain creative control: Recording yourself allows you to experiment as much as you like without anyone interfering with your ideas.

Cons:

  • You can get too close to the work: Without an outside perspective, sometimes it’s difficult to know whether what you’re producing sounds good. It can become very hard to judge your own work, and you can become over-critical of your songs.
  • You don’t have the benefit of an experienced engineer/producer: Which is fine if you’re either confident that you know what you’re doing, or if you’re happy to take your time and experiment to find the best way to get the sound you want. However, a professional, experienced engineer could save you time and frustration, and an experienced producer can help you shape your sound, and could suggest improvements that you may not have come up with alone.
  • You have to impose your own deadlines: Speaking from personal experience, having kit on hand that you can use at any time is great, but you have to make sure that you actually get your head down and use it**. Booking studio time should give you structure, a deadline to work to and a (hopefully) realistic timescale to achieve your goals.  In theory; if you’re paying for time, you’re less likely to waste it!

Ok then fellow music-types, now it’s over to you. Do you record at home, or do you prefer to book into a studio? Or do you find that a combination of approaches works best for you, such as recording ideas at home, but putting final tracks down in a studio? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to hear from you.

* heh, yeah, this is just how I refer to most gadgets… especially audio gear. Essentially anything that makes your brain go ‘Oooh shiny!’…  I’m a big fan of ‘pretty shiny things’, little magpie that I am.

**Believe me, I am the queen of procrastination.

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