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Why I Started Home Studio Basics

by Stuart Charles Black
Published: Last Updated on
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Today I wanted to come at you with something a little different; a glimpse into the past but also why I decided to start this blog and YouTube channel! If you’re interested in a real and raw answer, stick around. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, but rather give my honest reasons behind what I do here.

Around 2014 I was making beats regularly and looking for a way to sell them online.

Lab circa 2014

Transitioning laptops. Left is the old T510.

I began in 2007, and in 2009 discovered my love for the art of sampling. By 2014, I felt like I had a good enough body of work and some clout in the community to where I was comfortable charging for beats.

So I began researching and stumbled across a marketer named “Postman.” I have no idea what he’s up to these days, but his short videos were inspiring to me.

At the time, I was still living with my parents and had a typical 9-5 job that I pretty much hated (no surprise there).

I wanted to make a living selling beats, but as you can well imagine, the trajectory turned out a bit differently.

I still make beats, but not nearly as much as I did back then. I’ve always done it for the love of the craft, but anytime you can make a living off of what you’re passionate about is always a plus. Surely I sold some of my beats, but I suppose it wasn’t a long-term solution for me.

Nowadays I’m grateful for the fact that making music has remained a hobby and not something I rely on for a living. Because trust me, some things in life should stay hobbies!

I don’t know how it happened, but after digging through Postman’s content for a while, I stumbled across a website called Wealthy Affiliate; a training program designed to teach newcomers the basics of affiliate marketing (otherwise known as commission).

The concept is simple; promote products you enjoy through a blog and make a percentage of the sale through links to some affiliate (Amazon, eBay, Sweetwater, etc.)

The idea of this was intriguing to me as I love writing and getting my thoughts out on paper (or the internet, same thing xD).

One of the most important aspects of the program that they teach is choosing a niche you enjoy; something you’re extremely passionate about. This helps to mitigate the inevitable burnouts that come along with writing hundreds, or even thousands of articles over time.

After all this time building HomeStudioBasics, it was one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received.

Not only is it tough to build a brand, but it can also be exhausting at times taking into account everything that goes into maintaining a website and presence online.

There are all sorts of roadblocks and issues that must be rectified pretty much regularly, so I’m really happy I chose audio. In all honestly, it was a snap decision and pretty easy to settle on.

It’s something I’ve always had a deep-rooted love for, and I think the articles, feedback, comments, and testimonials I get surely can attest to that.

So for the question of why I started this blog?

There are a couple of reasons:

  1. I wanted to make money doing something I enjoyed.
  2. I wanted to show people that building a home studio doesn’t have to seem impossible.

In 2014 it could be done for fairly cheap, but nowadays the prospect of starting one is even easier! Technology has certainly advanced, but the price of really great gear seems like almost nothing when you consider some of the earliest recording studios and the challenges they faced; cost or otherwise.

I’m sure most people can relate to those pictures of the gigantic treated studios with thousands of knobs, huge mixers, flattering overhead lighting, and acoustic foam all over the place. You know, the crap that looks like it came straight out of a magazine fold-out.

In reality, building a home studio is pretty much nothing like that.

I also think so many people back then either knowingly or unknowingly made it incredibly difficult and perplexing; as it if were rocket science. Most of the stuff I read was jargon, to put it mildly. It didn’t help me at all.

I wanted to create something that would help people get started, while at the same time NOT confusing them.

My goal was to systematically run down step by step everything you needed, while also explaining some of the basic concepts that go along with audio. This is where my logo comes in. If you’re interested in the process behind that, click here.

For instance, when I first started, I had no idea what the heck an audio interface was or why I needed one.

Looking back, that seems incredibly elementary, but we all have to start somewhere!

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Chillin’ in studio 🙂 This is the 1st generation model. They have since come out with a 3rd!

I also remember my electronic music teacher back in 2006 giving me one of the vaguest, most tech-nerd answers you can imagine … to a kid who had literally no idea what he was talking about.

When I look back on it, it seems incredibly silly that he couldn’t just explain what a Digital To Analog Converter (Or Analog To Digital) was in layman’s terms.

So as you can see, even my original intent of this blog kind of morphed into something else. Nowadays I’m mostly helping people out with headphones and DAC setups, but I still enjoy all of the other components that go into the humble home studio.

What’s interesting about this is that I’ve always been extremely passionate about the act of listening to music, and specifically headphones have always fascinated me.

My high school quote was one from Bob Marley: “Mellow mood has got me, so let the music rock me.”

Music has always been incredibly important to me, and I’m trying to get back to that. I think demoing a lot of gear and becoming immersed in the hobby can be a blessing and a curse.

It can sometimes make you jaded and cynical about what goes on in the industry, but my love for music (and specifically Hip-Hop beats) will never change.

These are my Hip-Hop boom boxes. There are many like them, but these ones are mine.


I was looking for ways to sell my beats, but then came across Wealthy Affiliate and the rest is history.

I also run another site called Painterly Stew, which contains my artwork and design process, so you could say I stay pretty busy!

Most people won’t tell you that they started a blog to make some money and eventually go full-time with it.

They’ll only tell you that the goal was to help people (or some other noble cause), in turn making themselves look good.

I love helping people, even more so now than I did back then. But that wasn’t the main concern in 2014. It was secondary. The main concern was not wanting to blow my brains out by going to a job I despised.

I knew that I wanted to share my knowledge and had a passion for it but also knew that it could make some money. To me, it was a no-brainer.

Would I do this for free? That’s hard to say, and I think we could get deep about it when considering the philosophy behind capitalism itself and money creation (basically debt).

It’s a strange ideology for sure, but I think it mostly does work if you’re an honest, hard-working individual with good intentions.

Oh, I’m sorry did I break your concentration?

Well, allow me to retort. You were saying something about, best intentions?

At the end of the day, I have to put food on the table, but I’ve always maintained a sense of integrity while others may shill products and tell you to buy everything that comes along.

I don’t do that, and the people who follow this website and channel appreciate me for it.

Take this recent comment:

While stumbling around doing research on headphone amps and dacs to consider purchasing, I found some of your reviews, and immediately dubbed you my favorite and most entertaining and straight-shooting reviewer. You have definitely kept me from wasting perfectly good money, and have put me on the right track after I found myself sensing my BS detector about to go off with other reviewers. It was as if I was about to be led aboard the saucer by the friendly, huge-headed alien, but then, I heard you yelling from the distance, “Stop! Don’t go with them! ‘To Serve Man’… It’s a cookbook!” Thank you very much, Mr. Black! You are awesome!Jonathan Rogers

I help people make the best decision possible given their unique situation. Nothing more. Every product out there isn’t for everybody, and I’ve always postulated exactly what I think and why.

What I’m known for mostly is helping newcomers not piss their money away on stuff they don’t need; i.e. most of what’s being shilled nowadays.

As the old adage goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

This is why at the end of the day, my conscience is completely clean and I have absolutely no reason to feel bad about selling products to people. If done right, it’s very rewarding because I’m helping others achieve their goals while also working towards mine. I believe wholeheartedly in my mission and my message.


I started the YouTube channel so I could drive traffic to the blog. That was the original intent, but that too has gravitated into something a little different as I sometimes find that my videos rank better than my articles do. Go figure. Heh.

Not every video does well, but a lot of them do. My traffic numbers between the blog and channel are starting to merge a bit more as well.

Ultimately, more traffic means more revenue (which makes my life easier) but I’m also reaching more people with my message; something I’ve always been extremely passionate about as well.

I want people to understand that they don’t have to obsess over products, they don’t have to obsess over Amps & DACS, and they don’t have to worry and stress about things that are in reality very trivial. What they should be doing is enjoying music more and talking about/purchasing gear less.

There was a great quote comment from someone on my Truth About Audio discussion a while back and he quoted something he had read somewhere:

Simple, but yet profoundly important, and something that people should take to heart. His avatar is also the same Gameboy that I still have from 1989, so he’s automatically cool. Lol.

What I’m finding nowadays is that most folks end up getting caught up in debates about technical specs or the technology itself rather than discussing and enjoying music.

95% of the comments I get are about product A vs. B, how this gear sounds, some crap about synergy and scaling, etc. There’s almost nothing about the music itself, which ironically is the main point.

I understand that people want their gear to portray the song right, but if we’re being honest, most products do a darn good job of that. So why so much crap?

It all boils down to $$$.

I remember back when I was in high school, the music always took center stage.

It felt like an accomplishment to find a good album that you could share with your friends.

I remember one of my best friends, Anthony F., would always joke about it: “Hey guys, check out this new album that I discovered.” It was kind of a running gag we had in our circle of friends. We were kind of like hipsters before hipsters became a thing.

You wanted people to know that you had good taste in music, that YOU were the one who told someone about an artist, band, or song. It seems kind of silly in retrospect, but priorities were different back then and our hearts were in the right place even though we were fairly snobby about it. If only audiophiles were snobby about the right things!

Nowadays, everything is right at our fingertips via streaming apps and I think that saps some of the charm out of what it’s like to go out and search for music.

Making a mix for someone was something special as well. I remember a girl I knew back in 2005 making lots of CDs for me and it felt really cool that someone would go to all the trouble of 1) thinking about me that much, but 2) also actually sitting down to make the mix (which was a much more involved process back then!)

It’s almost like making pancakes from scratch or something. It’s a labor of love.

Pancakes go really well with the 6XX.

The main concern was always, THE MUSIC. Not the CD player, not the headphones (which were cheap pieces of garbage basically).

I still have a Panasonic CD player from 2003 that my dad got me, it still works, and it still sounds great. I didn’t care about what it was that played the music. I cared about the music.

Our discussions and friendship revolved around music, which in turn morphed into some philosophy.

In the case of my friend A, we could talk for hours about it, or not talk at all and just listen. Her intellect was what was important to me. There’s nothing like being silent with someone you care about and knowing both your hearts and souls are on exactly the same wavelength.

I will never forget one sunny spring day in particular. A and I were driving on some back roads in Cary, NC, and weaving in and out of neighborhoods, just listening to music. Grateful Dead’s Serengetti came on one of the CDs I had (or she had) at the time and we both just got completely lost in it.

When the song ended, we both just kind of looked at each other and she was like “Oh My god that was the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard.”

I felt the same way. It was like you could hear everything in such great detail that now, I have a hard time putting it into words. Something about the xylophone at the end felt majestic; spiritual almost. The most beautiful melody I could ever conjure up in my head. It was as if the Grateful Dead explained the meaning of life in 2 minutes by not having to utter a single word.

It was like being on cloud 9 with her. We forged a deep connection and bond that day, something I really haven’t felt (in its entirety anyway) since. We were on exactly the same page internally. We didn’t really even have to speak. I knew and she knew. I felt connected to her in a way that I cannot explain. That kind of thing is hard to come by with another individual and happens very rarely in this lifetime.

This experience actually speaks to exactly the dilemma that I think is pervasive in the audio (and specifically the headphone) industry.

People can’t concentrate anymore.

Say what you want, but EVERYONE is vying for your click in what Mark Manson called “The Attention Economy.”

Even now as I write this, listening to John Coltrane’s “Summertime”, one of my all-time favorite Jazz pieces, I can’t concentrate on the subtleties of the music while typing at the same time. I can’t fully appreciate how incredible the musicianship is because my mind is filled with thousands of other thoughts.

Surely this is a testament to getting older and having way more priorities (and also not remembering Jack sh**). LOL. I can listen to and enjoy the song, but I can’t REALLY analyze it like I want to or get lost in it unless I’m completely present; something I’ve been working on in all facets of my life.

There are too many distractions abound, and I think simplifying is of the utmost importance; especially in this day and age.

In the story I shared from 2005, A and I were completely immersed in the track, to the point where all that existed was me, her, and the music. That’s what people should be getting back to. I don’t even remember where we were driving. The car didn’t even exist. It was just a vessel. The focus was solely on what we were hearing, and how amazing it was.

And yes, we were high. I’ll let audio legend Paul McGowan speak to exactly what I’m having a hard time putting into words, and what ultimately makes concentrating easier when you’re under the influence.

How do drugs affect listening experiences?

Don’t forget to subscribe to Paul’s channel!

YouTube video player

Now that’s not to say I can’t concentrate. I absolutely have to find a way to do that when I’m writing an article like this one or comparing 2 or more products, but I think it’s much harder to do nowadays for a myriad of reasons.

I also think people make a lot of excuses and need to tap into some of that discipline and willpower, myself included. We all have it, but we don’t all use it.

Like Paul, I too quit smoking years ago, for some of the same reasons he did, but also for other reasons as well which are perhaps beyond the scope of this article and a discussion for another day.

Video Discussion

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Final Word

My goal has always been to make a living, while still maintaining my humanity and not just becoming another popular voice. That’s why, if you read the comments on this blog and my channel, I’m always trying to help, but I want to talk to you, the person, as well. It’s how I’ve forged great friendships with a lot of the guys (and gals) who tune in regularly.

I think creators tend to lose sight of who got them to the place they’re at, and that’s YOU, the reader, the subscriber, the fan, the friend.

I never want to forget that.

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion and came away with some valuable insight.

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

What are your thoughts on all of this? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,





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