Don’t Shoot For Perfection

2011 Mar 04, 2011

If you truly want to create great recordings, then don’t shoot for perfection in the studio. It sounds odd, but all that energy put into capturing the perfect tone, the flawless take, the “out of the park” mix is actually more of a hindrance to the music. Instead you could be channeling all that you have into what really matters in the studio, the song and the performance.


Via woodleywonderworks Flickr

Perfect Garbage

Part of what motivates me to write and make videos for The Recording Revolution is the exciting fact that we have amazing, affordable, and accessible technology that allows many of us to produce music with professional results who wouldn’t normally be in a position to do so. The problem is that we are trying so hard to make “perfect” sounding albums (ones that sound like top label releases) that we may not even stop to consider if what we are perfecting is just a bad song.

If you’re like me, you can become so focused on firing up your studio and pressing “record” that you forget to slow down and figure out if you even have something worth recording. We take for granted how easy it is to lay something down that we just jump into the doing and perfecting, when in reality we may just be perfecting a piece of garbage.

Perfection Over Performance

Even if we have a well written and long thought out song to record, we can easily flow right into all of the techniques and workflows to make sure our song is captured perfectly, and then not pay much attention to the performance itself. Where the drums in time? Check. Was the guitar part doubled? Check. Were we getting a good vocal level into Pro Tools? Check. But are we considering whether the performance(s) had heart? Passion? Authenticity?

I know I’m bad at this when I record myself. When I’m laying down parts I’m already mentally beyond the recording phase and am thinking about the mix itself. How is it all sounding technically? Rarely do I slow down and think about my performance being unique and special. Some of the most loved recordings to date aren’t the most perfect recordings, but they are the most incredible performances you’ll ever hear.

Forget Perfection!

It’s time to change. Listen to me when I say, “Forget trying to create perfection, people!” It’s not worth it. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to compete with the best of the best on a technical level. Instead focus more on creating quality recordings that have an amazing performance! Try to capture something special in the studio.

Because we have so much affordable gear and unlimited takes, we can totally become lazy in the studio and not worry about performance. But that pressure that used to exist is what allowed those “magic moments” to occur: talented people who were trying to deliver their absolute best performance. THAT, my friend is what we should focus on. Not perfection.

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