Keith Everette Smith

Producer, Songwriter, Multi-Instrumentalist, Music Director

If I knew then what I know now: What I'd buy with $22,500 if I was starting all over again.

My friend John Carl (who is a creative genius in any format) suggested that I write this blog.

In 2005 I put up my first investment for my studio (I purchased the assets of Unseen Sound Studios in Lynchburg, VA). I spent about $22,500 for all the gear. With that I got an Pro Tools HD System, some preamps (Avalon 737sp, Drawmer 1960 and a few other nice pieces), some Mackie 824 Monitors, and a few microphones.

Now that I’ve been at this a while (and sold of most of that original gear) I can safely say that you can buy a LOT with $22,500 and have a COMPLETELY pro setup. I mean, what I got was really great, but in this new age of recording I’d probably go at it a little differently.

So here it is….

IF I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW, HERE’S WHAT MY FIRST STUDIO WOULD HAVE LOOKED LIKE



GRAND TOTAL: $22,560

OK, so I’m a little over (and I didn’t include tax) but it’s close. :)

a little explaination….

You might notice that these prices are not exact. They are my estimates and allow for a little bargain shopping on ebay. I 100% recommend buying gear from sellers with high sale counts and near flawless feedback ratings. Especially when you’re buying “vintage status” gear (gear that will likely hold its value), you can end up saving a ton and losing very little if you later decide to sell. I really think you could get everything here under the $22,500 mark if you tried. (I’m not very good at this because I am an impulse shopper :)

This studio is definitely a studio for a pro. It is NOT however a studio to record drums with. I tend to think that there are PLENTY of really affordable professional studios these days that will sound infinitely better than an average bedroom. So, at least at first I would recommend cutting drums at another facility. You could record up to 12 channels of audio if you had a six more preamps. You could record drums if you borrowed a hand full of mics. (I should do a post on my favorite drum microphones.)

You may have noticed that I did not recommend an HD system. LE systems these days are REALLY powerful and handle high track counts and lots of plugins. There’s even a plugin out these days that will handle delay compensation withing LE systems! (that was always a big issue for me.)

With this setup you’ve got…
  • Great microphones (the Manley and SM-7 will handle vocals and you’ve got the best guitar mics around in the Josephsons (acoustic guitars), SM-57 and Royer mics)
  • Class A preamps (the Avedis preamps are very Neve like and sound amazing)
  • Fantastic EQ for correction
  • Incredibly versatile compressors in the EL Distressors.
  • Clean power coming from the Monster Power unit (very important)
  • Great monitoring with the Mackie 824’s
  • A patch bay for easily routing your gear
  • More than enough plugins to handle pro sounding mixing without compromise.
This is all top-of-the-line gear that you will find in professional studios. There is nothing lacking in this system regarding quality. Sure, there are other options and each engineer is going to have a different opinion on gear choices, but these pieces are highly regarded as some of the best stuff money can buy. It will deliver amazing results!

So there you have it, my studio if I had to do it over again :)