I just hit the ninth anniversary of signing the lease on my studio space today, and I'm in the planning stages for moving into a new building (courtesy of my landlord-to-be, Hamptone). Reflecting on the past, paying my taxes for last year and looking to the future has made me think about the business of setting up and running a studio lately. One of the thoughts that has crossed my mind is how much money I've spent on gear that someone who had dreams of owning their own studio might not anticipate — especially the stuff that clients might not even see and certainly don't ask about when selecting a studio to work at! Okay, here we go:

Headphone distribution and amplification

I'm spending somewhere over $3000 to set up a new headphone system when I move. Will anyone notice or will they take it for granted?

Power Conditioning

I dropped $1700 on a couple of these units and the fire marshal still thinks they're power strips.


I'm suffering through a patchbay situation right now where the word "intermittent" comes up a lot. So we're looking at TT patchbays — thousands will be spent. Has anyone ever walked into a studio and said, "Hey, nice patchbay!" Nope.


Are there ever less than three broken sets of headphones in my office? I spend at least $99 a set — there's thirteen pairs of 'phones here. We seem to blow through the headphone extension cables too.

Mic Stands

Obvious, but when you add in the cost of a boom and then realize how many of the brands out there fall apart or won't get tight, how many you will throw away, how much you need larger stands and how many clips will fall apart — it adds up.


I need to find new, lower profile racks for my space. It's not like they show up at the thrift store. Add in rack shelves, cover plates, tie downs and the overpriced rack screws found at most pro audio shops.


I might need a new G5. I'll probably have to max out the RAM. Has anyone ever asked you about the computer that your DAW is running on when they book time? Of course not.

Hard Drives

I think I own about six right now. That's probably a low number compared to most folks!


Mics, speaker wire, FireWire 400 and 800, USB, headphone amp, guitar, snakes, racked gear, patch cables, plate reverb wiring, tube mic, inserts, etc. The need for cables never ends and you need extra of everything that any piece of future or carted-in equipment might need. Also consider every kind of interface device (ReAmp, DI, XLR to 1/4", PCP, IBP) you might ever need.

Power Amps

Something has to power those NS-10s. Using your old home stereo receiver will not do you ANY good!


Gates aren't sexy, they aren't fun to set, and (hopefully) no one hears them. But damn, every small studio I seem to go to is lacking in these. Eight channels of them is still not enough for me.

Calibration Tapes

MRL. Not cheap, but necessary if you own an analog tape deck.


People might think that getting new instruments would be fun. Kind of. But imagine spending thousands on a new drum kit when you can't even play drums — just because other people's drums sound like shit 50% of the time. I do enjoy buying weird stompboxes though.

Sound Treatment

I think more and more people are realizing the importance of this. Making the room behave is just as much a part of the listening experience as the speakers are. But damn, it don't come cheap or easy.

Speaker Stands

Really, I dropped $250 on these last time. Looks like I need more or different ones. Ugh.


It's pretty hard to get clients to get excited about these. Even sadder that they have never heard of the most expensive, high end brands.

Okay, my bitch session is over. Now I gotta sit down and order some shit.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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