In early 2010, I bought a set of used studio monitors on eBay for £180. As the price that I paid for them suggests, they’re not the world’s most top-end monitors, though they’re certainly not bad. Yet, despite being a fairly affordable pair of monitors compared to a lot of the other options on the market, I’ve never upgraded them or changed them to a different pair.
With companies constantly releasing new products at increasingly competitive prices, you might be wondering why I’ve never upgraded them. Well, the reason is that, despite there being tons of great options available, no other monitors can offer me what these monitors offer… and that’s familiarity. After 12 years, I’m really used to the way that these monitors sound. And that’s something that a new pair of monitors just can’t offer.
Familiarity is key
Why is familiarity important? Well, when it comes to recording and mixing music, you’ll find it much easier to get the results that you want from equipment that you’re really used to. It’s for that reason that most of the things in my home studio are things I’ve used over and over again. That includes my monitors, mics, instruments, plugins, headphones, etc. For example, with my main snare, I’ve used it so many times that I know exactly which frequencies to hone in on to get different characteristics from that drum when I EQ it.
Familiarity is also really beneficial when you’re first learning to record, mix, and master. If you keep recording the same acoustic guitar, using the same mic, but you vary the placement of the mic, then you’ll learn a lot about how different mic placements sound because you’re familiar with that mic and that guitar. But if you’re constantly buying new guitars, and new mics, and you try to experiment with different mic placements, it’s really hard to comprehend how much of the sound you’re hearing is down to the mic placement and how much of it is down to the instrument or the mic, because you’re not familiar with the way they sound.
Of course, I’m not telling you never to change your gear, or never to upgrade. Trying new things is really important too. But I think that it’s easy to fall into the trap of constantly changing equipment, especially when you’re not getting the results you want. But that lack of familiarity actually makes it harder to achieve the results that you’re looking for, and makes it harder to learn what effect the things that you’re doing are having. So instead of constantly changing and upgrading your equipment, my advice is to stick with it, use it as much as you can, and build familiarity!
Which parts of your home studio are you most familiar with? Leave a comment below.
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