There is one question that always bothers musicians with home gear: Should I take this to the studio or just stay home and do it myself? Yeah, anyone wants to have their whole album made at the studio, right? But not everyone can afford that. So what now?
The Project Triangle.
Has anyone told you about the Project Triangle? Engineers often use this tool to illustrate the goals of the project. On top you will be placing the word “good”, then at the left point you put the word “fast” and the right you put the word “cheap”. It’s obvious that there are three, but you can only choose two of it. Either cheap and fast, or fast and good, or good and cheap. No matter what you’re gonna do, you’re going to have to sacrifice one item (which I hope is not “good” because… you need it, dude). The point is, I’m telling you, you can have all of it: a studio quality recording AND doing most of the work at home. Well, IF you know what’s best to do where.
Mixing, editing: what you can do yourself and what you should pay others to do.
Once your track has already been recorded, you may want to bring it to the studio for a bit mixing. In studios, you are able to hear the sounds that your sound system did not let you. They are called “professional” for a reason, right? With room specifically tuned to reduce building and phasing frequencies, speakers with a much broader and more even frequency range, and the gear is totally pro. However, to make the process a lot easier, do a pre-mix at home then bring to the studio. This provides the engineer with a starting point, so that he won’t have problems with crossfades or cutting and stuffs. Instead, they can have more time to make your track sound as good as possible.
What about mastering?
About this, I suggest you should go to a professional. Mastering is one of those specific skills that does not follow the common mixing way and requires a pro to process. You cannot simply do this yourself or run into some random engineers. YOU NEED A PRO.
What if my band wants to record live together?
Assuming that your bandmates don’t do the track together often. If you’d like to track together, and you all get along well and you are a potential dynamic duo, trio or something, you all should save some money and go to the studio at once to record. Still, you can do what I said at home before handing over to an engineer, but if you want the quality and a full album then the studio is where you obviously should go to.
In conclusion, instead of staying home to spend your time mixing some not-so-quality stuff, or wasting bunch of money buying the edited track of yours done by the engineer, why don’t you consider what task to do yourself, and what to send to the pro?