When you’ve spent your hard earn cash on mass produced gear...

     ...wouldn’t it be interesting to know how it was made, and was there something more the manufacturer could have done to made it sound better?

     Looking to make a new purchase that you hope will get you out of the sonic cheap sounding mud?

     You may be an amateur or professional recording engineer who has a few paper weights in your equipment rack. We all started from somewhere and our first rack compressors, EQ’s, effects units, etc… were of the cheap variety.

     You may have recently bought a new synth, guitar amp, or microphone promising to deliver the deep sounds of vintage but in reality still sounds flat of those expectations.

     You may also have one of those devices that were a real wallet buster or credit card maximizer; those devices we may have seen in a full page ad in "Tape Op" or "Sound On Sound" making wild claims of “pristine” audio. Are you sure you got your money's worth?

     Let me bring a few things to light which you’ll want to know before spending more money to cure your sonic cravings.

Creation and exploitation of reputations

     Case in point, the vast majority Pro audio companies especially the ones claiming to make high end audio recording and mixing devices, they don’t want you to know about the few important things that they chose to ignore. This is mostly indicative of really big corporate names in the pro audio and instrument market. The companies making usb/firewire/thunderbolt/pci interfaces for instance, many of them started off actually making great sounding gear. They sounded good enough to develop a good reputation.

     This reputation they’ve built up and now rely upon is now being taken advantage of at the expense of the end user, you the reader/gear user. Fast forward to now and we see poor PCB traces made of varying degrees of low grade copper, Chinese dime-store-grade parts being used to filter power and buffer actual audio signals with a flashy faceplate and awesome features which gloss over the fact that even the higher costing components did use still don’t add up to good audio. There has been a sonic race to the bottom and its happened so gradually no one but folks who have been in the business of using this gear for a while know for sure. I thought we’ve reached the lowest points of this race, but unfortunately I’ve been even recently dismayed at what people are being suckered into buying for a lot of money these days.

     Pointing again to interface makers. Today’s new comers to music writing, recording and performance are being sold on the crappiest sounding interfaces ever, and to no fault of their own they are convinced they have great sounding gear, but are left scratching their heads as to why their mixes don’t have the same sonic quality as what they hear on the radio. Some of this is yes… talent and experience needed to be gained. And, great albums have been recorded on mediocre gear, but I can tell you one thing… Dark Side of the Moon wasn’t recorded on mediocre gear. Radiohead’s In Rainbows album wasn’t either. Now you may realize what I’m talking about.

     Let me make this distinction again particularly for folks in the pro audio market who actually use mostly high end parts, and actually make sonically amazing sounding gear. Hats goes off to you and thanks for your honesty and hard work. Some pretty broad generalizations are being made here, but it should be stated that there are some companies NOT on this same race to the bottom that everyone else is on; however these companies are though are becoming fewer and fewer as more of them turn to the cheap side/dark side.

     What I’m saying is probably even more evident when it comes to some of the most trusted names in guitar amp manufacturing. An expert in building high end guitar amps went over with me in grave detail how one of these trusted names now makes amps for hundreds of dollars using some the worst design practices imaginal. They used to make actual quality amps there are even today some of the most sought out.  

     Now that you know this, what are your options? Sell off your gear and save up a few more thousand dollars?

     What if I told you that there are folks who can enhance and mod your existing gear enhanced or modded for much less which in essence, gives you the gear that your hard earned cash deserves. You can have a studio or music rig that you can trust to give you the same level of tonality that the folks who possess unlimited funds have.

What is enhancing and what is modding?

     In the view of this author who has worked in this industry for over 10 years, there are two types of upgrades that can be done to gear; “modding” which adds additional functions or maybe even circuit bending to making that piece of gear more fun, and then there is “enhancing” where the sole purpose of the upgrade is to take whats there and making it better; bringing the device’s sonic quality up to its highest potential. This is where the greatest potential for making your studio or rig all that it can be. Also… you will end up with gear that matches the quality of devices costing many times more. And in the case of enhancing/modding the highest and most expensive gear, you end up with the best sounding gear ever heard.

     There are the manufacturers who admittedly make “affordable” gear. They don’t claim to make high end gear, but guess what? Through enhancing/modding, you can greatly increase their sonic quality, and in some cases… you find huge possibilities which ends up being quite lucrative value added for a fraction. I see this big time in the mic mod community.

     My main goal in writing this is to let you know that big corporate names in audio gear are taking advantage of you, and that you have other options than to keep supporting them in buying their new gear.

A few more quick notes on the benefits of Enhancing/modding vs. buying new gear:

1. Keeping electronics out of landfills.

2. You are supporting small businesses, not a bunch of cut-throat corporations who continually keep the wool over your ears.

3. You'll develop a deeper appreciation/relationship with the gear in your studio which often times helps to inspire you more to be creative.

4. You can break the addiction of always having to have the newest thing, just improve what you have and keep recording without being distracted.       

5. You send a clear message to manufacturers that you do have another choice besides buying their new piece of garbage. You can take that piece of garbage you bought from them last year and give your hard earned cash to someone who’ll give you the sounds that you deserve by enhancing/modding it.

6.  The majority of this modding/enhancing market are located right here in the States and we do not farm out our work to China, so you can be sure that you are investing in our economy, not China’s.