Originally Posted by skod
Count me as another one for "just dive in", but with a caveat- and a hard-learned one at that. Avoid analysis paralysis at all costs!
I've now owned 3 project studios. I've been a member of the Audio Engineering Society since the 70s, so you can see a little of my approach: I'm arguably a better engineer than player. I had the first two of them set up quite well, with great mic collections, acoustic treatments, and all the wonderful and expensive bells and whistles needed to allow a decent engineer to get professional results. Actually made a little money, and definitely made some good recordings in them. But all that work ended up being for other people- I was so obsessed with achieving perfection that I essentially stopped doing my own music. When working for a client, there's a definite end point: at which they take the master and leave. Unfortunately, it is not so with one's own work.
When I sold off Son of Scratchpad Studio, I told myself that I'd never do it again- that I would just work on my own stuff, and stop allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. "Just for fun" can become "just a few more takes and some more sweetening... but ooh what's that new (plug-in/box/mic) do?" altogether too easily. It is seductive: the siren song of all that technology is *very* strong.
When I set up my current Return of Son of Scratchpad Studio, I deliberately kept it trivially simple and low-tech: literally, specifically to force it to be a songwriter's scratchpad like its namesake, *and nothing more*. "Print it and move on" has become my mantra. Don't allow yourself to get so bogged down in the minutiae of recording that you lose sight of the music.
Many, many people need to celebrate their musicianship, and not attempt to impose engineering upon themselves. One of my favorite bassists literally gave up music and took up golf after getting lost in the pursuit of perfection, and especially in the frustration of getting the gear to work the way he wanted. It sounds like a cliche, but it is absolutely true. If you have *any trace* of the gearhead and/or perfection addict in your makeup (or are prone to any other form of addiction), go forward with some caution, and keep it light and easy. Bits are a lot cheaper than tape used to be, for sure, and you can do a lot with very little- but do it to get the ideas printed, not to create the next great Tubular Bells.
If you can keep the perfect from becoming the enemy of the good, more power to you- you'll have a blast. But if one day you find yourself at the driving range blasting away at a bucket of balls because of the 25th mid-take Blue Screen Of Death for the day, remember these words... (;-)