A Sound Investment

Here's a step-by-step guide to building your own home studio and tips on turning a profit

musical ideas for yourself or a band, then perhaps a 4-track analog recorder, such as the Tascam Porta 02 Multitrack Recorder, priced at around $160, will suffice. However, if you plan to make a profit from your venture by starting a music production business or creating professional-quality demos, then you should acquire equipment that is as close to CD quality as possible, say Peter McIan and Larry Wichman, the authors of The Musician’s Guide to Home Recording (Music Sales Corp., $24.95). Remember, the more technologically advanced your home studio is, the easier it will be to match the technology of the commercial studio where you choose to do your final mixing. On the other hand, Borneo warns against purchasing products before you have a clear understanding of their performance. "Ensure you have the right equipment and know how to use it effectively for your desired results," he cautions. "That may not require spending more money."

Of course the best way to ensure you get the right equipment is to seek professional advice. Borneo started with the Internet, where he came across Auralex Acoustics Inc. (www.auralex.com), a firm targeted to hobbyists that specializes in sound reinforcement, broadcast and recording equipment. The site allows consumers to purchase products, access the firm’s consulting engineers and download online instructions, including "Acoustics 101"-a guide that Borneo says was most helpful.

Patrice Rushen, a three-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist, also turned to the pros when she did a complete upgrade of the eight-year-old project studio she has housed in her garage. For the most part, you can design a quality recording studio to suit any living space-without altering the structure of that area-since home recording gear is small and portable. "However, if you are looking for a top-quality recording environment, you need to seek out a studio design consultant to discuss structural changes," advises Dave Carlock, professional audio sales consultant at Los Angeles-based Westlake Audio Inc. (see Professional Audio Consultation Services). Rushen got advice on every aspect of her Southern California workspace, from acoustical design to the purchase of equipment: "The final musical sound and quality produced at my studio must be competitive with commercial studios," she insists. As a result, she purchased ProTools, a software-based program for high-end and top-notch professional recordings.

"It can do major record-label quality, from recording to mixing in the computer," says Carlock. At $20,000 for just the software and some basic accessories, ProTools is currently the most expensive recording program on the market; however, with 64 tracks of recording capability and editing ease, professionals like Rushen and Carlock find the program invaluable.

But determining the type of equipment you need is only half the battle. Now it’s time to choose the right retailer.

Type in "home recording studio" in any Internet search engine and you’re sure to a get a large selection of companies offering musical equipment. So how do you determine which gear outfitters make the cut? Borneo says comprehensive

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