Did you know that mixing can be summed up in just one word? It’s true. Mixing isn’t about plugins, converters, or studio monitors. It isn’t about acoustically treated rooms or golden ears. All of those things play a part (potentially) in getting a good mix, but to focus on them when mixing is to miss the entire point. Let’s kick off Mixing Month with this critical video…
I’ve got some bad news for you. Not every song you write will be good. In fact, you probably will have to write some crappy songs just to even get to the good ones. It’s a sad truth about songwriting that all of us must embrace at some point or another. The sooner you can come to grips with the fact that not every song is good, the sooner you can have the guts to cut your losses and throw away the bad ones; even if you spent a day of your life writing like I just did.
So you want to actually release a new album or EP this year? Fantastic. Do you have a deadline in place? Smart move. But there’s one final piece of the puzzle; a “not so” secret to actually finishing your project on time. And truth is, I know most of you aren’t doing this. Skip this video at your own peril!
Today I want to make the case that what your plugins look like in your DAW is critical to your track’s success. Now, let’s be clear up front. What the graphical user interface (GUI) of a piece of software looks like has no actual affect on the sonics of your music, technically speaking. However, so much of music making is emotional and psychological and that plays a big part in what I want to discuss today.
The “Cool” Factor Is Important
I’m firmly of the mind that inspiration in the studio can come from visual stimuli. If you’ve ever been in a high end studio with a gorgeous console, racks of compressors and preamps, nice lighting, and walls of vintage guitars to play with you get pumped up to make music. It’s part of the intangible nature of gear. Beautiful (i.e. cool looking) gear makes you feel cool. At least it does for me.
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Nothing irritates me more in the audio world than seeing impressionable home studio owners being led down pointless rabbit trails in the name of “getting better recordings.” There is a gospel of “better gear” being preached day and night on popular internet forums and all around the inter-webs that not only doesn’t help get people the results their after, it leaves them more confused and disenchanted than ever.
Why Are We Obsessed With Converters?
If can’t tell by now, the title of this article is chock full of sarcasm. But the sad thing is, this statement is being made all the time. Many of you even have been “convinced” by someone online that your converters are bad and you need to upgrade. You might not have even known what converters were, let alone that the ones you already own in your audio interface aren’t “good enough” to do serious audio work.
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Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned vet, with so many capable DAWs to choose from your head can spin constantly wondering which piece of software is right for you. Today I want give you some wisdom as you approach the purchase of or potential switch to a new DAW in hopes that it will bring you more productivity, joy, and better results.
If you know me, then you know I’m not into expensive studio equipment. Is it because I can’t afford it? Well originally, when I was starting out, that was the biggest factor. I was a broke student working my way through school.
But these days I actually can afford all that expensive gear, and yet I still don’t buy things like $1000 microphones. Why? Because I can’t really justify spending 10x the money on something that really isn’t 10x better than its $100 counterpart.
Let’s Be Honest For A Moment
Let’s cut through the silliness and be honest for a minute. There are two inherent reasons why we think that $1000 microphones should sound better than $100 microphones.
One, we see many of the world’s top producers and engineers using them (and much more expensive mics too) and they get really great results. Two, we all suffer from what I call Brand Snobbery, which is a condition where you are brainwashed into thinking you always get what you pay for, and that some brands are inherently “better” than other brands. Read More →
We all want a better recording. Who doesn’t? But in our pursuit of great recordings we ironically spend way too much money and effort on things that don’t make a huge difference. Some examples would include: more expensive microphones, new audio interface or converters, a DAW upgrade/switch, or even new studio monitors. If you really want to improve the quality of your tracks, focus on these big wins and you’ll get results.
The Tone Of The Instrument
Do you know why pro recordings sound so good? They do everything possible to get the absolute best tone out of each instrument before they ever hit the record button. Sound simple? It is. But why do we ignore this advice? Because let’s be honest we do. We jump straight to preamps and converters. What a joke!
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I know a lot of you would love to start charging to record or mix bands out of your home or project studio. But you’re afraid. You’re believing some very common invisible scripts that act as barriers. They hold you back from actually branching out and starting a simple audio freelance business. Here are the three biggest myths I hear every week about getting paid to do audio.
Are you afraid of failing at this whole home studio thing? Do you fear that you’ll never be able to deliver a great recording or mix that sounds pro? You’re not alone. I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.
The idea that one could fail in the studio suggests that there is a one-size-fits-all goal for recording and mixing. A target, if you will, that you might come up short of. The truth is, if you view everything you do as an experiment, you can never fail.
Everything Is An Experiment
At a recent conference, I heard financial author and radio personality Dave Ramsey say in regards to running a business, that “if everything you try is an experiment, then you can never fail.” His point is all about perspective, how you see the world. (Isn’t everything about our perspective by the way?) If you see every idea, challenge, project, or session as an experiment, then there is no way to lose.
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