The Pros and Cons of Home Recording

November 22nd, 2013

Else is about to embark on a pretty significant home recording project, aiming to record 8 originals in the best quality that we can. We decided to do all of the recording ourselves, an increasingly popular option given the relative afford-ability of modern recording equipment. The decision was not made without first weighing some pros and cons, detailed below.

Pro: You Control the Price

Recording in a studio means you don’t have great control over how much the project costs, and it usually costs quite a lot. When recording at home, it’s really up to you how much you want to spend. Some sequencers cost as little as $75, and even free options like Audacity could work if not too many studio FX are needed. Thousands of dollars can be saved by recording at home.

Con: You Control the Price

For the most part, with audio equipment, you get what you pay for. A $50 microphone and $75 editing software will greatly limit your end-result. Spending dozens of hours recording into inferior equipment sometimes means doing it all again, but paying for the studio the second time around.

Pro: You Keep the Schedule

Recording on your own means that you can punch in tracks any time you’re free. A 30 minute time slot before your head out for a jog on a weeknight can be enough to lay down some rhythm tracks. This can be a great way to get the project done in non-intrusive manner when compared to needing to clear entire weekends to work in a studio.

Con: You Keep the Schedule

Having blocked out studio time forces you to know your parts and record them cleanly. When recording at home, it’s mighty easy to procrastinate and plan on recording tomorrow, no tomorrow… no tomorrow. Home recording projects can drag for months as tracks slowly are added.

Pro: You  Control the Entire Process

Being able to re-record, change mixes, apply or remove FX at any time you want is a glorious thing. It’s nearly impossible to hear all the touch-ups that need to be done to a track in a day’s worth of editing. Botched notes, over or underdone post FX, and various glitches are often detected only after a few week’s worth of listening. When you’re sitting with a pressed CD from a studio, there’s nothing you can do about it. When you have raw audio files and a saved project at your disposal, editing can be an infinite process.

Con: You Control the Entire Process

Editing can be an infinite process. It’s really hard to admit that no recording will ever be perfect. Each track reaches a point of diminishing returns where re-recording, changing post EQ and FX, and re-editing doesn’t really yield a great improvement but takes painstaking hours. Musicians tend to be perfectionists, and this infinite editing process can draw people in and never let them go. Meanwhile, the material goes unreleased, gigs go unscheduled, and life outside of the music ceases to exist.

For the perfectionist who has some extra time, home recording is a great option. For those who are on tighter timelines or would like to focus more on the outside-of-the-studio experience, a studio visit is well worth the price.