Ought to You Spend money on ‘Smoke & Mirror’ Gear For Your Residence Studio?

[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Gary Gray.]

There’s a class of drugs for the house studio proprietor that I consult with as “Smoke & Mirror Gear.”

What I imply by “Smoke & Mirror Gear” is gear that may be costly for the house studio proprietor and spectacular to the common potential consumer. Costly can embody costs as excessive as $12,000 for a tube microphone, or as much as $100,000 for a mixing board that matches in a house studio.

Within the conventional sense, the time period “Smoke & Mirrors” implies one thing that’s an phantasm, one thing that seems to be way more useful than it truly is.

As you’ll uncover, the time period “Smoke & Mirrors” on this article particularly means “any gear or component in a studio which is perceived by a possible consumer (rightly or wrongly) to speak professionalism and competence.” You will notice how making a call of whether or not to buy “Smoke & Mirror Gear” is an efficient determination for you or not, and the way the choice of “Go” or “No” attracts a high-quality line between what is required, and what’s needed – by each the house studio proprietor AND the potential consumer.

On this article, the time period “Smoke & Mirror Gear” additionally attracts a high-quality line (or a not so high-quality line) between what’s honest and what’s a rip-off — between the producer or vendor and the house studio proprietor. Learn on and also you’ll see precisely what I imply…

Case in Level: I used to be watching a video on YouTube this week about Causes To Have A Actual Mixing Board in Your Residence Studio. What struck me as far more attention-grabbing than the video itself, was the highest rated remark under the video:

“Don’t inform my purchasers, however 90% of the explanation I hold my 64 channel digital console within the studio is so I can cost extra. Significantly. I get about double what I used to cost after I simply had a mouse and interface, and I mainly solely use a single stereo channel. An enormous console in my Residence Studio is cash within the financial institution.”

There are three faculties of thought concerning the “Smoke & Mirrors” method to operating a Residence Studio (or any studio).

  • “I can’t afford costly gear, and that’s OK with me, as a result of I can get precisely the identical high quality recordings carried out for myself and/or my purchasers with my cheap gear and with out spending an additional penny.” (The much less skilled model of number one is, “I can’t afford costly gear, however I’m saving up for it. And till I get it, I suppose all of my recordings and mixes are gonna suck.”)
  • “90% of the explanation I bought costly and spectacular gear is in order that extra demanding purchasers with cash determine to make use of my providers. I get about double what I used to cost after I simply had a mouse and interface. Having costly and spectacular gear in my Residence Studio is cash within the financial institution.” (Just like the video remark above)
  • “I’m taking a hybrid method (together with components of 1 and a couple of above), together with researching the newest expertise for higher servicing my very own initiatives and/or purchasers’ initiatives.”
  • I comply with the third college of thought above. 

    Right here’s a real-life instance of how I apply the hybrid method and why:  I bought a Shure SM7B microphone. Spectacular to potential purchasers, and on this case solely reasonably costly at roughly $400 (with a CloudLifter phantom energy activated pre-amp).

    I seen that a few of my potential purchasers had been very impressed that the SM7B that they’d be singing into was the identical mannequin that Michael Jackson’s engineer Bruce Swedien used for plenty of Michal’s hits.

    In Bruce’s personal phrases:

     “As an example, I used to be allowed the liberty to make microphone selections, and no one ever stated a phrase. I simply did it. For instance, I used a Shure SM7 on most of Michael’s lead vocals — ‘Billie Jean’, ‘The Approach You Make Me Really feel’ — and boy, did that increase some eyebrows! However I really like that mic, and I’ve six of them.”

    The explanation Bruce’s use of the SM7 “raised eyebrows” on the time was not as a result of it was an superior vocal mic. On the contrary. As much as that time it was used for years as a broadcast microphone for radio DJs. Numerous individuals on the manufacturing crew with Bruce thought he was loopy for utilizing it.

    In some respects, you could possibly say that Bruce was utilizing the precise reverse method of “Smoke & Mirrors.”

    When it was found that he selected that mic, it was extra like “Joke and Sneers.” Bruce did one thing that folks on the time thought was a step down (or extra) from what an expert in his capability must be doing. However he knew higher. Bruce had the knowledge to be freed from what I name “mythmaking” and “brainwashing” within the music manufacturing world. He used his ears and knew that microphones which price four occasions extra had been no higher for the duty.

    In my on-line Masterclass The Profitable Residence Studio on, I’m going over extensively the facet of how extensively “mythmaking” and “brainwashing” can have an effect on anybody attempting to study the topic of music manufacturing. The truth is, my private effort of sustaining a non-biased view is one motive I didn’t renew the sponsorships I used to be receiving and why I refuse new sponsorships I’m supplied. My goal is to curate true, helpful and persistently workable academic content material to indie musicians worldwide, permitting them to turn out to be extra succesful, assured and profitable within the music business.

    Most individuals who go on “myths” and “brainwashing” are, in my estimation, unable to spend sufficient time researching totally with a purpose to sift the true from the false. Fortunately, I’ve spent over 6,000 hours and a number of other years of researching each analog and digital recording, mixing and mastering, and have utilized the findings to my very own studio manufacturing work and to my mentoring with my college students.

    I presently work every day as a producer for The Disney Music Group, 20th Century Studios and Hollywood Information, together with signed and Indie Musician purchasers. I mentor and apprentice Indie Musicians all through the world who’re succeeding of their careers. So, after I current a subject of examine to a scholar, I take into account the analysis, group of the topic and the way through which I current the topic an enormous accountability as a mentor — particularly with the ability of the web.

    Let The Purchaser Beware!

    I’ve discovered that the supply of many of the “myths” and “brainwashing” on the market come from a really small handful of unscrupulous salespeople – which yow will discover in any business. Because the saying goes, “let the customer beware!” There’s a well-known latin translation of those phrases you’ll have heard, “Caveat Emptor!”

    What Is a Good Technique?

    In terms of microphones, I counsel procuring a microphone such because the Shure SM7B. When your purchasers discover out who sang on that mannequin mic previously you’ll discover one thing attention-grabbing occur. And right here is the place the “Smoke & Mirrors” impact kicks in in a great way, they are going to often-times get very impressed and their performances will enhance after they equate their gear with their idols. For some individuals, this can’t be argued with.

    Keep in mind, the music business is pushed by ardour, emotion, soul, spirit, the human component – that are all on the core of MUSIC! That’s what we do!! If a chunk of drugs helps convey out the very best of these components in an individual, nice!

    The questions turn out to be:

  • Are you able to afford these items of drugs? And…
  • Are you able to (or your consumer) acknowledge that the true supply of ardour, emotion, soul, spirit and the human component is INTERNAL, and doesn’t reside in a chunk of kit? And…
  • Are you able to (or your consumer) acknowledge that the precise and factual variations between many cheap and costly items of drugs equal little to no distinction?
  • As an example, I’m presently (and have been for eight years) concerned in every day mixing and mastering of 200 – 400 monitor epic recordings all from my residence studio and all 100% in-the-box and digital. And these recordings are accepted by main companies first time in, alongside recordings carried out in analog studios with gear costing 100 occasions what I paid for my residence studio. And the standard is strictly the identical. 

    So, if you will buy “Smoke & Mirror Gear,” my suggestion is to make sure you have or can discover the clientele who may help you discover a return in your funding.  After I see studio homeowners charging extra money as a result of they’ve spectacular gear (assuming these studio homeowners are delivering skilled high quality recordings), do I scoff and take into account that not OK?

    No! Not by any means. The reality of the matter is, most of these studio homeowners are nonetheless asking too little for a service that we ship that creates sonic emotional miracles out of nothing! For my part, we ship extra magic than magic itself, and have struggled greater than any physician or lawyer ever will, and never sufficient studio homeowners ask for and obtain what they’re price!

    Typically producers or sellers, then again, reap the benefits of residence studio homeowners by over exaggerating (utilizing a pleasant time period) what sure gear can — or can not — do. Many items of cheap gear can do precisely what costly items of drugs can do. And people salespeople realize it.

    In the present day & The Future

    Particularly with the present world state of affairs of distant work so essential, I’ve provide you with a workable technique whereby you may take the actually necessary elements of what we do and switch them into an honest revenue.

    As an example, I’ve found an unbelievable life-changing, game-changing device that has allowed me to make more cash in the course of the present state of affairs (and can proceed into the longer term) than ever earlier than. This can be a plug-in referred to as ListenTo by It permits me to stream good, pristine high quality audio in real-time, direct to my purchasers and college students wherever on the earth.

    That is such a strong expertise that my native purchasers, who will not be capable of come to my studio, have all instructed me that recording with this technique is “higher than being there!” So, this can be a new revolutionary workflow, it’s not a substitute workflow. It will maintain sturdy nicely into the longer term.

    What I do is stream good, pristine audio of my session straight from my DAW to my purchasers and college students by way of the ListenTo plug-in, whereas they watch me engaged on my DAW by way of teleconferencing display share in real-time!

    It’s like being a fly on the wall whereas I work!

    The truth is, after beta-testing this workflow for eight months, I began a brand new service referred to as “” the place anybody can watch and hearken to me recording, mixing and mastering professional classes at any time. AND I document these classes and have a library of movies (with pristine high quality audio) out there as replays. That is actually apprenticing and is one of the simplest ways to learn to document, combine and grasp — from the consolation of your house studio!


    The selection of buying and selling “Smoke & Mirror Gear” is yours. Hopefully, this text will assist you to determine which method to go, and extra importantly, why I all the time say, “Use your ear, not your gear as a precedence if you combine and grasp!”

    Gary Grey is a voting member of the Grammy
    Recording Academy; a two-time Telly Award- Successful Producer, Arranger,
    Mixing and Mastering Engineer; the creator of The Residence Studio Bible, and
    creator of the net Masterclass The Profitable Residence Studio.


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