Do you need more plug-ins? Or more skills?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Wednesday December 19, 2018
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Everyone working in audio feels like this, or felt like this in the past...

"If only I had that one piece of equipment or software that would make my work sound professional - All my problems would be solved."

Yes, that elusive 'magic' piece of equipment, or 'magic' plug-in. It must be out there somewhere. When you find it and buy it and start using it, you'll have all the success that you want.

Trouble is, every equipment manufacturer and every software developer wants you to think that their product is that elusive, magical, must-have item that you need.

So you buy, buy and buy again. So much equipment, so many plug-ins. But still no magical success.

Back to reality...

I did say in my opening sentence, "Everyone working in audio feels like this, **or felt like this in the past**".

Yes, some people get beyond their search for the magic plug-in and go on to become successful engineers and producers.

That's where the magic is... Once you realise that there's no such thing as magic equipment or magic plug-ins, you are FREE to develop your knowledge, skills and experience. You will be fully aware that whether or not you become successful in music and audio is absolutely down to YOU. Not your equipment. Not your plug-ins.

I will admit that there is a certain base level of equipment and software that you need as a foundation for success. But if you have any of the professionally oriented DAWs such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase etc. then you have all of the features you need to work to a pro standard. Add a good EQ, a good compressor, and a good reverb, and you really are all set to go.

Hardware-wise, you need three microphones. Two general-purpose mics that will work for any sound source, and also work well in stereo. And a third mic which should normally be a specialised vocal mic. Yes it's nice to have more mics. But if you have the basics then don't go blaming your lack of mics for not having the success you want (so far).

You need good monitoring yes. But if you have a pair of monitors as good as the KRK Rokit 5 (which sell for around $360) or better then your monitors are not holding you back.

You need reasonable acoustics. But so many successful recordings are made in domestic settings these days I'd say that this is proof you don't need professionally-designed studio acoustics to succeed. Yes you would like it, but you don't need it. Don't go blaming your acoustics for not having the success you want (so far).

Knowledge, skills, experience

So you have a base-level setup already? Then you're good to go. It isn't your lack of additional equipment, more plug-ins, or anything claiming to add magic to your recordings that's holding you back.

Nothing is holding you back. What you need is something that will propel you forwards!

In summary

In summary, I've heard the evidence over and over again from my work with students of audio that knowledge, skills and experience are absolutely the key to success. More equipment and plug-ins? Well yes it's always nice to have them. But the most important thing in your studio right now is YOU. Developing *yourself* will make the most difference to your work and lead you forward to your future success.

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