This Missing Ingredient In Your Audio Training

2014 Sep 15, 2014

As much as I want my site to help you get the training and teaching you need to reach your recording and mixing goals, I fear there is a danger to what I do.

Unless you and I are careful (and I do try to make this point often) we can take all the audio training in the world and still not see the results we want.


Because there’s a key element missing.


Via KatieThebeau Flickr

The Skill Beneath The Skill

Perhaps you come here (or any other audio website) looking for specific tips related to your DAW. Or you want to know the ins and outs of EQ or compression.

There is much value in understanding the tools an audio engineer uses and then applying them to your tracks.

But really there is a skill beneath the skill of recording or mixing that you really must know.

One of my readers passed on this article by live sound guru Robert Scovill and one thing he said at the end of the post hit this point home:

This is the missing ingredient that I see all around the world with folks that want to be “trained” to be a mixer. They equate it to console operation.

By most accounts many have little insight into what actually makes music tick. Why does this sound or that sound actually work? What drove the artist or producer to choose that sound for that part?

I mean, at the end of the day, it’s really music production appreciation and studies isn’t it? – Robert Scovill

More Than Microphones, Plugins, And DAWs

Where many of us can get things wrong is when we mistake the art of recording or mixing as simply correctly operating microphones, preamps, DAWs, plugins, and other fun toys.

We think knowledge of audio tools will lead to great sounding recordings. Not true.

While knowledge of the tools is a must in my book (at least workable knowledge), by itself it’s not enough. We need to understand “what actually makes music tick.”

This is where listening to really good music comes in to play. The more music you have cataloged away in your brain, the better you will understand arrangements, performance, tones, and instrumentation.

All of this will lead to better recording and mixing decisions.

This Is Encouraging News

If you have the right perspective, this should be super encouraging news. Getting better has way less to do with acquiring more and more knowledge (or more gear) than it does with knowing what good music sounds like and why.

Anyone with a musical ear can do this. With any gear available. That’s good news!

That is what I’ve been trying to say for almost 5 years now.

Great recording and mixing has always been about knowing great music and trying to convey a great musical idea with the right tools. These days, though, those tools are now cheaper than ever – letting the rest of us realize our musical dreams!

It truly is a revolution – a time in history where more great music is being made than ever.

So if you feel that your recordings and mixes aren’t quite where you want them to be, have no fear.

Sure more training can help, but the one missing ingredient is knowing what really makes great music. That costs nothing, but a little time and intentionality to study your favorite recordings.

Do me a favor – take a minute to leave a comment below and share one of your favorite recordings of all time and one thing it taught you about what makes a great song. Go!

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