‘More people are prepared to upgrade’: pro audio experts discuss the home studio market - PSNEurope

‘More people are prepared to upgrade’: pro audio experts discuss the home studio market

As the home studio market continues to prosper in the age of the bedroom producer, PSNEurope caught up with some of the sector’s key players to check its pulse and find out where it’s headed as we close in on the end of 2017…
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Tim Page, marketing manager EMEA professional audio, Audio-Technica

What are the key trends you’ve seen in the home studio market this year?

We’re seeing a continuation and strengthening of an approach that sees home-based studios used for serious music production. Writing, programming and even mixing for commercial release takes place in non-traditional studios all the time these days and that trend shows no signs of slowing.

Tim Page

Tim Page

Are there any product lines that have proved particularly popular this year?

Audio-Technica recently collaborated with Audient on the AT2035-Studio ‘Essential Studio Kit’, which includes an AT2035 large diaphragm cardioid condenser mic, ATH-M40x studio monitor headphones and an Audient iD4 Black USB audio interface. The response to that has been great – uptake from retailers has been very strong, particularly in the run up to the Christmas buying period. And we’re also seeing growth in sales of Artnovion acoustic treatment (for which Audio-Technica is the UK distributor) for home studios.

Is your core home studio market entry-level bedroom producers looking to make recordings from their bedroom, or are more people upgrading their home set-ups?

It’s really possible to invest in a home studio and get great results these days, so more people are prepared to upgrade – it’s very different to when the market was limited to eight-track tape or hard disk recorders for home use. The core of Audio-Technica’s base in this area is probably serious amateurs – they can buy a 20 Series microphone for incredibly reasonable money and add a 40 Series (or even 50 Series) model as their ambition develops, and it’s money well spent because they can be plugging in to world-class preamps and using the same software as pros use without breaking the bank.

In terms of the Artnovion range, we have seen an increase in people wanting to improve their recording spaces at home. Many engineers and artists prefer the comfort of their own spaces rather than commercially run studios – and they’re becoming more aware of the benefits of investing in treatment in order to produce consistent, high quality results.

What are the biggest opportunities in the home studio market?

Location recording/production is a big one for us, so moving outside of the home. Records are being worked on and mixed (to at least an ‘almost release ready’ level) on planes, trains and in coffee shops these days. And young bands can hire a decent rehearsal space, take a laptop, interface and selection of affordable mics and record amazing quality live performances these days – it really frees up the creative process from being tied to one room.

And what are the biggest challenges?

The wider challenges, sadly, may be the lack of music education in schools, which we may see impacting the number of young people starting to play an instrument. Although I’m optimistic that rock’n’roll will never die and there will always be creative youngsters making guitar-based music, hip-hop and dance tracks, simply because they’re driven to do so. In a commercial sense, it’s always a challenge to stand out in a crowded marketplace such as this. Audio-Technica’s in the fortunate position of having a long history and a track record of producing microphones that have a place in the hearts of many project studio owners.

Rob Jenkins, technical director, Focusrite

What are the key trends you’ve seen in the home studio market this year?

For many years the transition from studio hardware to DAW software and plugins has been the general trend. However, we have recently seen the idea of mixing outside of the box being championed by music producers. We suspect it is driven by both the idea of achieving an authentic sound and the realisation that a real physical user interface offers a different experience to driving a mouse.

Are there any product lines that have proved particularly popular?

The resurgence of external rack equipment, especially the 500series/lunchbox type products, has taken everybody by surprise. This format has allowed manufacturers to reissue classic modules and also for cottage industries to both resurrect affordable versions of vintage equipment and new esoteric devices

What are the biggest opportunities in the home studio market?

Rob Jenkins

Rob Jenkins

Two elements create opportunity, technology and innovation. The computer transport and the interconnection of devices are being constantly improved by new technology like Thunderbolt and Ethernet. Now it is possible to have very high channel counts at high sample rates at very low latency running between multiple pieces of equipment that can turn any environment into an improvised recording area. Converting a home into a temporary multi-room recording studio is now possible for a reasonable budget. Additionally, innovations in algorithms allow users to control their listening space as never before. Things like the Sonarworks speaker calibration system allow the user to improve their listening area without having to resort to architectural interventions.

And what are the biggest challenges?

The age-old problem of getting the balance between quality and cost for new innovations. Half a solution is no solution so making a judgement between where to add new value and trade off against old values can be a tough judgement call, you could argue that Apple either do a good or bad job at this, for example.

Stuart Down, director, Quested Monitoring Systems

What trends have you seen in the home studio market this year?

I am not too sure we can see a trend this year, but looking at the history we are seeing more and more pro users choosing to work from a home based studio.

Stuart Down

Stuart Down

Is your core home studio market entry-level bedroom producers looking to make recordings from their bedroom, or are you seeing more people upgrading their home studio set-ups?

Our core user base tends to be more the pro user, but we have seen a trend from some of the smaller ‘bedroom’ users upgrading what they work with. I think this is driven by a wider knowledge of what is out there and a proper understanding of what a studio monitor is meant to do.

What are the biggest opportunities in the home studio market?

We see this as a growing area, but maybe not in the typical home or bedroom studio scenario. More and more pro users are choosing to build an environment at home to work from day to day. In some areas we have seen this translate in to large format soffit based systems going in to what are domestic based studios.

And what are the biggest challenges?

We still need these larger studios and city based studios, even with residential based production rooms or studios! A large or reasonable size live space to record and inspire will always be a key part of the process, along with the incredible knowledge that has been learnt by the people working in these spaces day to day. On the home or residential side, the biggest challenge is making sure that more users don’t just know your reputation, but they have experience or knowledge of your products in that environment too.

Howard Jones, marketing director, Genelec

What are the key trends you’ve seen in the home studio market this year?

Howard Jones

Howard Jones

The increasing realisation that the customer’s room acoustics have a profound effect on the quality of the audio being monitored – and therefore how well those mixes are going to translate to other rooms and systems. The use of DSP and room correction software is a testament to that, a technology that we’ve been evangelising about for over a decade, and which is rapidly gaining wider acceptance.

Are there any product lines that have proved particularly popular?

This year it’s been The Ones, our new compact three-way coaxial monitors. These are the smallest three-way studio monitors you can buy, so have a footprint that ideally suits the home studio. Due to their point source design you can also monitor with them at listening distances as little as 40cm, with no loss of precision, so again they are perfect for small rooms. Like all of our SAM family of monitors they integrate tightly with our GLM calibration software, so the customer can optimise The Ones for use in their particular acoustic space.

Is your core home studio market entry-level bedroom producers looking to make recordings from their bedroom, or are you seeing more people upgrading their home studio set-ups?

I wouldn’t say that the entry-level user is our core market – as a fundamentally pro brand many people come to us when they realise that their entry level purchase is not really going to be a speaker-for-life, and they need a more trustworthy reference monitor system. But yes, some home studios are becoming way more sophisticated, and due to our DSP-and-room-correction software approach, modest rooms that might once have been tracking-only studios can now deliver really decent mixes that translate brilliantly.

What are the biggest opportunities in the home studio market?

For us it’s all about educating the customer – we will never be the cheapest loudspeaker because we are totally committed to designing and manufacturing everything in our native Finland, so our goal is simply to educate the user as to how their studio monitors will influence every single tracking and mix decision that they’ll ever make. The better the monitor, the better their chances of making good decisions. The prize is being successful in communicating that message.

And what are the biggest challenges?

Communicating the message above!

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