HomeNewsThe Myth of the Cheap High Quality Studio

The Myth of the Cheap High Quality Studio


Cheap-Studio-1000High Quality Recording for Cheap?
Many people seem to think that there is no need to go to a professional recording studio or pay for an experienced engineer to record and mix your music anymore because anybody can buy the equipment to do it at home. There is some partial truth to this because there are amazing things that you can do with a simple home studio setup, but of course there is still a benefit to better equipment and a trained and experienced engineer. The following four statements sum it up:

  1. A skilled engineer with high quality equipment can produce extraordinary results.
  2. A skilled engineer with low quality equipment can produce excellent results.
  3. An unskilled engineer with high quality equipment can produce mediocre results.
  4. An unskilled engineer with low quality equipment can produce horrible results.

The common thread is that no matter how good the equipment, it is the skill of the engineer that will always shine through in the end result. Part of what makes an engineer skilled is their knowledge of high quality equipment, their familiarity with acoustically musical spaces, and their trained ear. It is impossible to impart this amount of knowledge, experience, and training in a book or single website article, but it is possible to point learners in the right direction towards becoming a skilled engineer.

Acoustics Are Importantacoustic-insulation
It’s not just about the gear. Understanding how sound works, moves, and reacts in a room all help an engineer to better capture a sound. An understanding of acoustics will also help a student of recording have a better idea of what to do when their mixes sound rightside heavy in their car, or why their vocal sounds phasey or washy. They should then be able to make some minor adjustments to the placement of their speakers and microphone in order to remedy these two problems. Understanding how the pros do it will always help the hobbyists. If you know what is required to produce high quality recordings, you will better be able to produce quality recordings with cheap equipment (statement #2 above).

Myth vs Reality
It’s simply a myth that a $2,000 home recording rig can produce music that sounds as good as music produced in a million-dollar studio. It is simply impossible. What is possible is that if you put that $2,000 rig in the hands of the million-dollar studio engineer, they can probably make it sound like it came from a $30,000 studio or even $100,000 studio. The earlier the hobbyists come to terms with this truth, the better. This might be like saying that there is no Santa Claus, but isn’t it better to say it now and avoid having kids spend hours starring at the fireplace wondering how Santa carried that big bike down that small opening last year. Rather than have a home recording enthusiast spend hours trying to figure out why their vocals don’t sound as good as the ones on the radio, they just have to first learn what is required to sound that good from the start. This will make them happier with what they have, admitting that in order to sound the same, they might have to spend a bigger chunk of change (like $5,000 to $10,000), focus a little on acoustics, and learn about audio engineering.

I don’t really know if there is a specific reason why this myth is perpetuated. Maybe, people are still in denial of the truth and don’t want to let go of the hope that they can produce professional recordings on a budget. Maybe those who sell the equipment want people to believe this myth in order to continue buying inexpensive semi professional gear. Or maybe hobbyists don’t want to admit that pros are pros for a reason, they have both knowledge and good gear. No matter how much you try to cut corners, the skill of an engineer will always shine through.


  1. It is the equipment manufacturers who initiate these myths, by stating that components of their low cost gear are exactly the same as the higher end kit, which is not untrue – like Audient interfaces which use similar mic preamps as their biggest mixers.
    Branding by association.

    But it takes much more than a preamp to produce a great record.

    And the occasional success of a few who have initial success with low cost gear – but the gullible do not focus on how quickly these fluke successes migrate to much more expensive tried and tested gear, as soon as the record companies get involved – they definitely do not take risks on budget gear.

    And like the lottery, we are all so easily fooled by the huge success of a few, which is the same in every industry, only a few will succeed phenomenally, that we are lured into the lust of this success, without counting the absolutely life long sacrifice that it takes to succeed at any chosen path, being a doctor, musician, footballer, or a president.

    Phenomenal success needs tremendous sacrifice and investment, and there are no short cuts.

    The buying public pays for distinction, exceptional audio, not the kind that every man and his dog can achieve when we all have similar equipment which is as good as the best of yesteryears studios, while the top artists and studios have moved on to even better gear, technologies and best practices, to stay ahead of the game. People forget, the best music/audio is not copied, but invented, that’s what the listening public pays for – something extra, different, something not manufactured here., that takes exceptional talent – to wow the listener with something new!! Enough said

  2. They say that the ones who made the money during the gold rush was not those who were digging for gold, but the shopkeepers who provided the shovels. The Guitar Center is the new music industry and people don’t even realize it yet. I know after years of investing in home recording that most of the equipment they brand and market at the guitar center and places of the like are junk but people buy them just the same. It’s very telling when an iPhone mic produces higher quality than a $300 “Professional” home studio condenser microphone.


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