Recording Studio Equipment: Stop Paying For Hype


When it comes to recording studio equipment, it’s easy to get bit by the bug, but are you are really just paying for the hype? If you are into recording your own music, there’s no doubt you have found yourself pages deep on Sweetwater or Gear Slutz looking for the next big thing to take your sounds to a new level. But when it comes to pro recording studio equipment, it seems that the further in you go, the more narrow the selection. Have you ever seen a pro recording studio microphone locker? It will probably look something like this: Music Recording Studio Equipment, Cheap Home Recording Studio EquipmentI know what you’re already thinking…“Yeah right?! There are literally two of everything!” There’s no way I can afford to have a professional microphone collection!” I know the feeling. I started from the bottom too. In fact, I bought my first microphone during my time in a recording arts program as well and use to constantly be in pursuit of cheap home recording studio equipment. However, I can assure you that after several hard drive crashes (some unrecoverable and I didn’t have a back up), 2 audio interface failures, and countless dead microphone and instrument cables, cutting costs is exactly the opposite of what I should’ve started out doing in my home recording studio.

“Just put a ’57 on it!”

So where does that leave us? Do not despair! I’m going to give you some Jedi Master recording studio, tips to get yourself up and running without falling victim to buying cheap recording studio equipment. Surely by now you’ve realized (or at least heard) that one of the best possible microphones to have in a recording studio is the trusty Shure SM57. It can do almost anything you ask of it! And while some would say you can also drive a nail into a wall with it, I would leave the rigorous “field testing” to the R&D team over at Shure. Not only can it do just about everything but make you a sandwich, it will only cost you a single Benjamin (That’s $100 in case you don’t know your Presidential flash cards).

Most of your microphone purchases will probably be made in a similar fashion – popularity has to speak for something right? A lot of these names have become “household” for a reason. And while some of the mics you’ll end up spending more on might take you more time to save for, there’s a reason that they’re used over and over again in sessions from Death Metal to Jewel and everywhere in between. The Sennheiser MD421 is widely regarded as THE tom microphone, but maybe you haven’t heard that it records guitars, kick drums, and bass guitar cabinets well too. There’s a lot to be said for doing your microphone homework!

“Tried and true will almost always do”

The narrow spectrum applies to the rest of the recording studio equipment as well from compressors and EQ’s to preamps and recording consoles. In fact, here in Nashville – one of the biggest recording mecca’s in the world – you’ll likely see one of 4 brands of recording consoles in any major recording studio: Neve, SSL, API, and Trident. Oh I assure you, there are plenty more, but these few have remained the “industry standards” decade after decade. The best advice I can give you is to fix your eyes on the music recording studio equipment that you know to be considered “industry standard” and invest in those purchases. Don’t get me wrong, there are always shortcuts and gear that will surprise even the most pretentious audiophile on the planet, (Ahem! Gear manufacturers, you know who among you are the dark horses). But when it comes to building your recording studio equipment collection, go for the sure thing!

Here is a great starting point if you are searching “equipment for home recording studio”. Remember, if you haven’t already checked out the recording arts program here at Dark Horse Institute, it’s crammed full of amazing training in the music industry and is one of the fastest ways on earth to go pro! Get out there and make some great music. And email me your questions! sean@darkhorseinstitute.com

Dynamic Mics

  • Shure 57 (get as many as you can, you’ll use them a lot)
    • List Price: $99
  • Shure Beta 52a (You love it or you hate it, but it’s a classic mic to use on kick drum and bass guitars)
    • List Price: $189
  • Sennheiser MD421 (toms, guitars, brass, the list goes on)
    • List Price: $349
  • Shure SM7b (hey, if it’s good enough for Michael Jackson, it’s good enough for you right?)
    • List Price: $349

Condensor Mics

  • Rode NT1A (a great starter mic that will work in a variety of applications; will really help you get your noise floor cleaned up)
    • List Price $299
  • Audio Technica 4033 (drum overheads, vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitars…this guy is a workhorse and a serious upgrade to your mic locker)
    • List Price: $399
  • Avantone C-12 (Vocals, electric or acoustic guitars)
    • List Price: $499

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