It’s February, and as many will know, with a new month comes a new focus! As we’re another step closer to Spring, I know many will be like minded in feeling the urge to start decluttering their home or work space (which is exactly how my last 2 weeks have been spent), and so this month I think its most appropriate to have our focus on Spring Cleaning & Replacing; and starting with today's topic on Wise Upgrades.
Making wise decisions, especially towards new equipment, has always been hard for me; mainly because I’m still like a kid in my mind and I love experimenting with new toys - but over time, I’ve learnt to control that urge and I’m going to share a few tips with you today on how you can too.
Let’s dive in!
Return On Your Investment
I’m sure most of you will have heard the term ROI or return on investment, and it exists for good reason. Businesses all over the world rely on this for growth and profit, as well as returning funds to investors who may have maybe supplied capital in the early days of the venture to help get the business up and running, hire staff, and more. But as much as it’s a term used in the corporate world, it’s a way of thinking in general about so many things in life, and in particular, the things that you purchase both daily and also for your studio.
The way I personally like to view anything I buy for my studio is that it needs to be with the intention of allowing myself to make more money down the road, so I can reinvest that money in the studio again. Repeating that cycle then becomes natural, and I always have some funds left over that’s placed to one side at all points to either replace something broken, or stock up on breakable items that all artists need from time to time.
A few great examples of these sorts of investments are, in my life specifically, new microphone stands as many of mine are at the end of their life cycle - but in general, shock mounts such as the new Vintage Series Universal Shock mount, or the upgraded shock mount for the Black Hole Series. Not only does it provide more safety and longevity of your microphones, but it also greatly improves quality compared to mounted directly to the microphone stand, reducing the risk of sound traveling up the boom arm and instead isolating the mic so only the source material it’s placed in front of is ‘heard’. Another great investment would be storage such as our boxes, which aging increase the longevity of the mic, but also protect it from weathering, dust, or similar build up on the capsule when not in use.
Now we have that mindset established, and the obvious things that are either broken or pose a risk to your equipment are dealt with, the next thing to do is prioritize the things that are needed and not just wanted. Again, the mindset of making a return on the investment needs to be met and once it has, then you can work down this list to things that take less priority in the short term - inevitably, working in this way means you will reach the end of the list, so patience is the key!
For me personally, Preamps, Microphones, and instruments always take priority over things such as outboard effects or pedals, or similar. And the explanation for that is simple; I literally can’t write or perform without these elements and neither would my clients. On top of that, we live in an age where plugins and software have become so good at recreating the real thing, that I can easily work with the digital counterpart in the short term, with the interest of investing in the hardware in the long term.
These Golden Age Premier Preamps are a great investment if you are yet to have a dedicated preamp rather than your interface's preamps.
It’s a simple way of working, but until I started working in this way financially, I would always find myself in need of something to solve a major issue, such as noise or poor quality, and come to the realization that I had already spend the money I could’ve invested to solve the problem into something that could’ve waited. It was infuriating and it genuinely took me a lot longer than I’m willing to admit to get out of that mindset, so I hope you can learn from my mistakes.
On The Move
Lastly, It occurred to me recently just how good of an early investment a portable recording rig has been for me over the years. I’ve been preparing for a drum session that is going to be rather adventurous in terms of the scale and size of the room I’ll be recording within - specifically, the one main area I want to exploit that most rooms don’t have is a balcony at the back of the hall that overhangs above the rest of the room which I hope will give me an enormous and explosive room mic sound to use either in parts of the record, or across the entire thing.
When I was planning this all out, I remembered that around 4 years ago I bought a 100ft loom connected 16 input stagebox for when my band was on tour and needed to help some of the venues that might not have the inputs and outputs on-stage that we needed in order to perform or have the sound we desired. Along with this, I have my laptop that I’m writing this blog out on now, with a plugin subscription already activated, as well as my trust Arturia Fuse interface, and an 8 channel ADAT expansion which my laptop sits on perfectly when doing off location recording.
For me personally, I'd be lost without my Arturia interface for when I'm away from the studio - not only are the preamps incredible, it's incredibly versatile in how you can record with it.
Because I’d already invested in this rig early, not only has it allowed me to write on the road and perform with every band I’ve been in, but also encouraged me to search for new was to expand my own recordings outside of the studio, which has in turn resulted in a larger pool of clientele that wish to work with me in this way - resulting in my investment not just being made back, but a profit from the investment that’s now being used to invest in other areas of the studio. A portable recording rig should be close to the top of your priorities list if you are yet to have one.