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Microphone Month 4

Upgrade Path in the Studio

Q: I have a pretty nice studio. But I know that with a few better pieces of gear, I could get even better results. The question is, how do I decide what to upgrade, and what order to upgrade in for the best results?

A: Our first recommendation is to contact your Sweetwater Sales Engineer. She or he will be happy to discuss your current rig with you, to help suss out where the weak points might be, and to suggest suitable pieces that will improve your results.

The thing to seek is the weakest link in your system — it might be anywhere in the chain, and every chain has one. It could be a hardware piece, it could be a software piece, it could be a computer that is holding you back. Look for “bottlenecks” in the process that are slowing you down, and keep an eye out for instances where you say “I wish I could…” or “I wish this piece of gear would…” during a session.

As for where to start, it depends on where the weak link is, of course. But in general, we often look at the monitoring system first. All of your decisions are based on what you hear so (assuming your room has been well treated acoustically) start with your monitors and work backward. From there, you might look at the front end — maximize the quality during the capture phase with great mics, preamps, and processing. Then, there’s the middle — your recorder/mixer or your DAW and its associated hardware, processing gear and software, and so on.

Don’t forget the little things — cables and accessories, which may improve either the sonic results you get or may make your studio more ergonomic and fun to work in.

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