Consumers tend to think that more expensive products are usually better when it comes to speakers, headphones and other audio equipment. This is a major fallacy. On the consumer end, there is a lot of marketing hype such as celebrities endorsing headphones, or ads stating that the products are made with gold wiring, leather, and marble, but these features are just designed to attract customers – not to improve quality.
I also made this article because there is a lot of talk on the internet in music and studio-building communities (i.e. Gearslutz) about expensive gear. In numerous special cases, expensive equipment does important things which cheaper alternatives don’t. But, unfortunately, a large portion of high-end purchases of expensive gear for home studios or consumer use is done because of (a) consumerism and (b) misinformation about audio hardware.
Expensive gear is only worth it if you can fully utilize it.
* Buying a $700 condenser microphone and a pair of $500 studio monitors without having proper sound treatment to prevent echoes is not a good idea.
* Buying an audio interface with 4-8 inputs if you don’t have a live band or a collection of instruments is not a good idea.
* Spending hundreds of dollars on plugins is meaningless if you don’t have the time and patience to learn how to produce and mix music.
High-end gear is not recommended for beginners
There are many people who spend thousands on equipment, lose interest in audio work and then liquidate it on Craigslist for less than what they paid, losing a lot of time and money. If you are spending more time fantasizing over the gear you want to buy than the work you are creating from it, it may be more of a short-term obsession than a long-term passion.
It’s good to start small and gradually build up your home studio so that you only end up spending a lot of money if you have sustained interest in audio work. I like the mantra of letting one’s arsenal of equipment grow as their mixing/recording/producing skills grow. Upgrading your equipment can a good thing once you’ve made the most out of the equipment you currently have.
You can make the most out of basic equipment
Before buying expensive equipment, it is better to make the most out of the entry-level equipment you have. Prince made Purple Rain on a $100 microphone. Led Zeppelin didn’t need a high-end computer (by today’s standards) to create a catalogue of great songs. We have even more access to affordable synthesizers in the digital age than producers who made hits in the 80’s did. There are many people (especially on the internet) who own expensive gear, claim that budget-gear is crap and yet, they haven’t even made a hit song yet. Expensive equipment definitely offers more tools, but it’s definitely true that expensive gear is the icing and your skill as an engineer/artist is the cake.