research will help you better understand which equipment you need to purchase from specialty stores and which you can buy from general merchants. "All companies push their own products, but you have to know what you need and why you need it," he explains. Since Borneo familiarized himself with the products he required for his studio, he didn’t go to an acoustics store for Homosote (a soundproofing material)-he shopped at the less expensive Home Depot.
Carlock recommends that whenever possible, you purchase equipment in person from a local dealer rather than through mail-order catalogs. "Mail-order houses and volume chains typically have a little better pricing but finding a knowledgeable salesperson can be tricky. Just remember: if you live in Chicago and your house is on fire, you want to be able to call the Chicago fire department, not the one in Florida or Indiana. The same applies for pro audio gear." If you have to return defective equipment, the cost of overnight shipping could diminish the savings on the initial purchase, Carlock warns. But no matter how much you save, music equipment can be expensive. Here’s how you can pay for it.
BE FRANK ABOUT YOUR FUNDS
Once you’ve determined what your equipment needs are, take a realistic look at your wallet. "It’s important to establish what your budget is up front," Carlock advises. Knowledgeable pro-audio sales associates and consultants in equipment stores such as Sam Ash Music can help you get your studio up and running, especially since many of these consultants have studios of their own. Travis Milner, an owner of a commercial jingle-writing company, Soul’d Out Promos, points out that many music st
ores have payment plans and credit cards to make the overall cost of studio equipment more digestible. Whether you choose to join a payment plan or not, get as many opinions as you need until you find the products that suit your requirements and your pocketbook. Says Carlock: "Work with someone who’s compassionate about your ideas and goals. An ‘expert’ who’s short-spoken and indifferent to you may not be an expert after all."
And don’t feel pressured to buy everything at once. "I’m a big fan of purchasing equipment in stages," Rushen says. Do your research, consult catalogs and seek the best prices on your purchases, as you would with any other investment. Finally, take the time with the instructions and products to get the most out of your investment. "If you learn [to operate] your equipment to the fullest," Collins explains, "you can take a thousand-dollar board and get almost the same [professional quality] as one in a bigger studio." In the long run, it’s about the quality of the product you create, not how fancy and expensive your equipment is.
Borneo, who used his annual bonus and credit cards to purchase his music equipment, is glad he built his home studio in stages. Although the process took a few years, the timing allowed him to upgrade