What the Right Gear Can Do for You
There are many pieces of gear available, some fancy and some basic. Finding the right gear for you can mean the difference between creating music and creating frustration.
It's only in recent years that the sound quality and low prices of home recording equipment have made recording professional-sounding music at home possible. The early tape-based studios lacked the fidelity that professional studios could produce. With tape, it was easy to tell a homespun demo from a demo recorded in a professional studio. Digital gear has blurred that line substantially. The noisy recordings and tape hiss that plagued home studios are now a thing of the past. Twenty years ago, even an experienced engineer couldn't make a budget home studio sound truly professional; now, anything is possible.
It's not true that good recording equipment can make musicians sound better. Great gear can't improve musicianship, songwriting, or your general skill on an instrument. While signal processing can enhance your sound, the quality of the final product will primarily depend on two factors, no matter how much you spend on equipment. The first, and most important, is the quality of the sound you are recording. Unrehearsed, badly organized music and music played on poor-sounding instruments will sound lousy every time, no matter how expensive the recording gear is. The second factor is the knowledge and skill of the recording engineer. The art of microphone placements, EQ, and all the effects settings contribute to the quality of the sound. You get out what you put in.
Just as buying a Ferrari won't necessarily make you a better driver, buying top-level equipment won't instantly make your music sound better. The opposite is usually true; the better your gear, the more accurately it records and plays back, including both the good
It's time to break down gear into categories based on price, which is the determining factor for many people. Remember that prices might change over time, but the ideas behind what you get for the money are the same.
Every piece of home recording gear is trying to imitate the features of a professional recording studio on a smaller scale. While technological advancements might allow more features, the goal is still the same: achieve at home the quality that the professionals get in a studio.