Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Avoid Forums like the Plague!

The Internet is a living hub of information, right at our fingertips, and right at the centre of this information hub is the communal area, the message board, forum, comment thread, or whatever form it takes.

When you're researching your next piece of gear for a studio, these seem like a good place to go. And they are, for one reason that I'll touch on later. But on the most part, like anything, don't believe everything you read within these forums. In fact, in some cases you can't believe anything you read.

So why is this? Surely these people know what they're on about?

Thats what you'd think, but consider the nature of the ever-expanding selection of studio gear for sale. Every year, more and more products add themselves to this line, befuddling people with choice despite the fact that everyone wants to find "the best" one. Is there a best one?

That is what forums may have you believe. Or rather, certain users on forums. Or most users.

You can take any "reccomend me X piece of gear" thread, and it will pan out like this:

Hi guys, I'd like to know what the best XXXX for about $500 is.

"I'd reccomend [piece of gear I own], its amazing!"

"Consider [piece of gear I own], its really the next best thing. All my recordings sounded rubbish, then I got [piece of gear I own] and everything sounds so much clearer, with a tighter low end!"

"I used to own [piece of gear mentioned above] but I sold it to get [piece of gear I own] and never looked back. [piece of gear mentioned above] is utter crap, don't listen to a word that guy says"

"All XXXX under $500 are crap, consumer pieces of junk. I work in a top studio, so I know. My clients wouldn't be happy unless I used an XXXX which costs at least $3000"

"Consider spending the money on acoustic treatment first"

"I got a [piece of gear I own] for $200, its better than [gear mentioned above]. Don't believe the hype"

Blah blah blah, it goes on and on. Only one reply in there is of any use to newcomers, can you guess which one it is?

The point is, people only know what they have experience with. Nevertheless, they still think it their duty to direct you towards the pieces of gear they know and love, because hey...it worked for them, so it'll work for you!

It might not though. You need to consider your needs, and its very rare that people on forums do.

Then there's the ego. One forum in particular (a bunch of gear whorez =P) is frequented by a lot of top engineers, producers and experts in this field. So surely this is the most reliable forum!!!

Just because someone is a professional doesn't mean they're any good at telling you what you need. Some of these people can make amazing records, but it doesn't mean they have experience with every M-audio interface or any updates of Logic Pro. Ask these guys about technique, but not gear.

Why is this? These guys have the best gear. They have no interest or any need to go and try out the latest Mbox. If you watched the Audio Myths workshop video (which you should have, if you haven't GO WATCH IT NOW ---->) you'll see that preconceptions will affect how you hear things. So even if one of these guys says they went to a clients prosumer setup and it all sounded awful, its likely that they went in there, saw a prosumer brand name and expected it to sound like garbage. So then it did.

Anyway, I digress. Whats good about forums? The one thing that isn't down to opinion of course; reliability, build quality, etc. Forums are the best place to determine if a piece of gear has common issues.

In fact, this is the one thing you should be considering if you're on the lookout for prosumer gear. Don't worry about the sound quality if you're starting out, please dear god don't worry about the sound quality! You probably won't notice or care about the difference between an Mbox and an Apogee Rosetta, and it shouldn't be the first thing on your mind at all. You should be wanting to make music and record it, and its more important to get all the gear you need and make sure it works with your system and doesn't break. Once you have that, go and make music! Have fun with it! Upgrade your system when it really needs an upgrade (see my post on circumventing GAS!)

Take vare,

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