I'm Not Smart Enough To Be An Audio Engineer (And Why That Benefits Me)

2016 Mar 14, 2016

When I think of an engineer I picture someone with advanced degrees, a firm grasp of graduate level math, and a white lab coat.

No, I’m not smart enough to have the word “engineer” anywhere near my name or job description.

Instead, I much prefer to go by the term audio enthusiast. I’m simply a music lover – and I believe that’s of advantage to my recordings and mixes in three ways.

I Don’t Get Distracted By The Gear

Love me for it and hate me for it, I really don’t care what gear I use to make a record.

As fun as the tools are, to me they are simply that – tools. And the tools are not the reason I got into record making. They are simply a necessary means to a much desired end: awesome sounding music.

I have too many friends in the industry who obsess over gear (specs, reviews, blind tests) that they never seem to talk about music any more. Just gear.

How sad that is, when the studios, the gear, and the “engineers” all exist to serve the song.

I Don’t Get Distracted By The Techniques

This one might come off as being a bit ironic, given that I run an online resource that dishes out quite a lot of helpful (I hope) techniques and tricks relating to recording and mixing music in the home studio.

The truth is, while I teach the techniques that I believe to be the most helpful for someone like you, the ones that have proven most helpful to me, I view them (again) simply as a means to an end.

I am only interested in a new technique if it helps me achieve a better result in the studio.

I’m not on the hunt for techniques purely for techniques sake. That would miss the point.

Again, my simplicity in the area of music making helps me avoid the endless discussions of which method of recording/mixing is best and instead focus purely on the music and making sure it sounds killer.

I Don’t Get Distracted By The Industry At Large

As much as I love (most of the time) the industry I work in, I’m not that interested in knowing all the latest details of what’s happening within it.

I’m pretty out of the loop and in the dark about anything and anyone that’s happening right now.

Sometimes that makes me feel a bit dimwitted and foolish. In moments of insecurity I think “Gee, maybe I should take part in more discussions online about what’s happening in the music industry right now.”

But I find that I make better music when I focus on just that – making better music. Not talking about engineers, industry trends, or the latest shift in technology.

You Don’t Have To Be The Smartest Person In The Room

Lest you think this article is all about me and how I don’t get distracted by stuff – let me arrive at the main point: making great sounding recordings and mixes is at its core a simple and achievable task.

You do not have to be a genius (or a lab coat wearing Abbey Road engineer) to achieve your musical goals.

You must, however, possess an unquenchable thirst and desire for great music (and making it yourself).

If you know what good music sounds like, you can make a great record. Sadly knowing all the gear, tips/tricks, and industry secrets doesn’t inherently mean you know what good music sounds like.

The more you focus on (and listen to) great sounding music, the more prepared you will be to get great sounding recordings and mixes. No “engineering” required.

If you let it, that truth will be an encouragement to you. It is to me.

So let me ask you – what is (in your opinion) the best sounding album of all time. The one record that fires you up and makes you want to record or mix something, every time you hear it? Share below!

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