Taking care of your studio equipment is an important part of being a musician. Here are 13 tips on how to protect your music recording equipment in 2021.
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You may think that after investing plenty of money and time building your very own home recording studio, the equipment will now just take care of itself. Unfortunately, this is simply not true as you’ll now need to take the steps necessary to protect your expensive home studio equipment in order for it to last a lifetime.
Not taking these steps will often result in your audio and recording equipment–such as your headphones, multi-track recorders, and digital audio workstation becoming damaged or perhaps even stolen. This article will provide you with 13 sure-fire ways to protect your studio equipment that will allow you to enjoy your home studio for many years or perhaps even a lifetime.
1. Security Cameras
In order to protect your expensive home studio equipment, one of the first things you should do is invest in a surveillance system or cameras.
Installing cameras will deter potential thieves from trying to enter the premises, simply by suggesting surveillance, but it would be a good idea to make sure someone is indeed watching every once in a while. This can help you notice patterns of suspicious behavior and nip potential problems in the bud before they arise.
There are lots of options for inexpensive cameras that often include audio monitoring and night vision that you can easily link up to your computer or smartphone.
2. Secure Your Equipment
You might not be ready for the commitment or money involved in a full-blown security system. The next best option? Make it physically impossible for dishonest thieves to move your gear without attracting attention.
This can mean, tying it down or locking it away. Building a home studio can become an expensive venture and having to replace stolen equipment, or even a piece that has sentimental value to you can be unbelievably disheartening.
One of the best things you can do is to mount all or most of your equipment into steel racks. Yes, a thief could conceivably unscrew everything and remove it but that takes far too long. Remember that most of the time our goal is going to be to make things more difficult. Doing this will frustrate potential thieves as they won’t be able to quietly or easily escape with your expensive gear.
3. Register your Equipment
Taking the five to ten minutes to register your equipment with the manufacturer will give you proof of ownership, and if something does happen to get stolen, the serial number can be easily traced back to you. So, if thieves steal all of your speakers and then try to sell them, the potential buyer can call the manufacturer in order to see who they belong to, thus preventing the sale and, hopefully also helping you get your stuff back.
Registering your equipment will not only prevent your equipment from being resold, but it is imperative to insure your gear, which I’ll talk about later on in the article.
4. Tag your Equipment
Another great way to protect your home studio equipment is to put identifying marks on your equipment. You can pick up an engraving pen from Amazon or eBay at a pretty low cost, right now I’m seeing prices less than $20. That’s basically nothing considering all the money you have or will have invested in your studio equipment.
Grab one of those and in a couple of hours, you have a low-cost way to etch initials, numbers, or whatever mark you choose into the metal casing of your equipment (when possible).
Having these identifying marks will undoubtedly make your stolen equipment pretty much impossible to sell and, therefore, detracting thieves from even attempting to take it.
5. Get Insurance
Having a well-written insurance policy on your equipment will not only protect it from theft, but also from fire or water damage. Please don’t just assume that your homeowners or renters policy will cover your home studio gear.
You should definitely catalog all of your receipts when you buy any new equipment. Also, you should take pictures of your gear as well just in case something happens and you need to prove what condition your equipment was in and that you are the owner.
To keep it simple, I scan in all of my receipts and save them to a folder in my dropbox account along with the pictures. That way I have everything in one place and even if something catastrophic were to happen (like a fire) and my studio contents were destroyed (along with my computer and paper files), I’d have a way to pull all of the details for an insurance claim.
6. Keep a List of Your Equipment
You should definitely keep a detailed list of everything you buy for your studio and it fits nicely with the last tip. Create a spreadsheet with excel or google sheets that has a column with the model name, serial number, date purchased, where you bought it, and the price paid for everything of value in your studio.
This is simply another great safeguard from thieves as it will help you prove that you’re the owner of the equipment and allow insurance quotes to be made and paid out relatively easily.
7. Use Basic Maintenance Routines
Moving on from theft and damage protection, an article by a writer named Micah posted on the website 6am Group, suggests a few great tips for the day-to-day maintenance of your expensive home studio equipment.
He advises to completely turn down the volume knobs on all equipment when plugging, unplugging, and turning on or off. Doing this will certainly go a long way in preserving the mechanical integrity of your home studio equipment. When you’re wrapping up for the day, simply follow these guidelines and your equipment will end up working well for many years.
He also advises that when you’re cleaning your equipment to “avoid chemical cleaners and use a slightly damp towel instead.”
8. Use a Quality Power Conditioner
One of the more common ways to make sure your expensive home studio equipment lasts a lifetime is to invest in a quality power conditioner. This advice comes from a fantastic article from Home Studio Corner.
“If you compare your gear to a car, then a power conditioner would be both an insurance policy and regular maintenance. It protects the gear and helps it run at optimal performance. A good power conditioner has the capacity to ‘clamp down’ on surges, preventing them from passing on to the gear.”
Obviously, you don’t want your equipment to short out if a power surge occurs, and investing in a quality power conditioner will protect you from these circumstances, especially in a home recording studio that you have built yourself.
9. Beware of Water Damage and Flooding
In order to protect your home recording studio equipment, careful planning is absolutely necessary. When choosing a room for your studio, do your best to choose a location that is not prone to flooding and has not flooded before.
The reasons for this are pretty clear, though there have been cases where basement home studios have been utterly ruined by floodwaters or burst pipes. Though good home or flood insurance will ultimately protect your home recording studio investments, it will still be a huge pain if you’re required to replace all of your equipment due to water damage.
10. Prevent Dust Damage
Preventing dust damage is one of the more sure-fire ways to make your expensive home studio equipment last a lifetime. Dust has a way of getting into the cracks and crevices of electronic equipment, building up and causing the machines to run slow and ineffective.
Thankfully, you can prevent dust damage with professional dust covers or even sheets and blankets.
11. No Food or Drinks
Though rules such as these will certainly make guests to your home recording studio slightly upset, it’s definitely in your equipment’s best interest.
In order to avoid spills and subsequent damage, simply make a sign that says “No food or drinks” and post it somewhere it can be easily seen outside of your home recording studio.
If guests happen to object to this rule, simply explain that you can’t afford to lose a piece of expensive equipment due to food or liquid spilling on it. Most people will happily agree to this request, and if they don’t, then tell them they can find somewhere else to record.
12. No Smoking
Similar to the food and drink rule, you should also prevent individuals from smoking in your recording studio. Smoke from cigarettes, illicit drugs, and worst of all, vaporizers can all damage and age your equipment, which means you’ll have to replace it more often.
I know, I know. Musicians are notorious for their love for all things smokeable. You might be worried about upsetting people, but your equipment and studio are your things, your space, and most importantly, your home. To avoid any undue awkwardness, simply post a “No smoking” sign in your recording studio area.
13. Other Things to Keep in Mind
A few other miscellaneous sure-fire ways to make your expensive home studio equipment last a lifetime, according to Micah: “When mixing, keep your levels in check and stay out of the red.” The reason for this is to protect your speakers.
Don’t stack your equipment on top of each other. This can not only create undue strain on certain pieces, but it’s an easy way to snap off handles, knobs, and switches. This same tip applies to vinyl records because stacking them on top of each other can cause the records to warp.
Vinyl records should also be stored away from the sun because sunlight can also do a bit of damage if exposed for long periods of time.
A few other tips according to Micah advise owners of home studio equipment to be careful “when storing microphones in foam-lined cases, try to wrap it in a paper or plastic bag; tiny pieces of foam can make their way through the mic’s ‘grille’ and damage the capsule.”
Following the tips laid out in this article will, without a doubt, help keep your home recording studio equipment safe and usable for many years. Building a home studio is just the first step in creating a great recording environment that will last a lifetime. When all of the planning and building is finished the next step is to follow these tips.
Of course, every home recording studio is set up differently, and you may not need to follow all of these tips. It is definitely up to the owner of the studio to determine which of these are absolutely necessary as some simply may hold more weight than others.
After researching this topic, I’ve learned that theft is perhaps the most prevalent and harmful situation home recording studio owner’s face. The equipment that thieves can make off with is rather easily pawned and pilfered for quick and easy cash if steps aren’t taken to deter them from taking your stuff.
Surveillance equipment and insurance are two of the best ways to prevent the theft of your home studio equipment and investing in these precautions are almost universally done by home recording studio owners.