I spent last weekend at a lake house a couple hours east of Nashville.

It was me and a bunch of other guys, getting “away” for a few days.

We spent a lot of time just hanging out, eating a lot of junk food, and playing foosball.

I used to think foosball was a fun little game to play with friends.

Until Jakob.

Jakob is a freaking foosball master.

Before I could blink he had already scored 5 goals on me.

I proceeded to marvel at his undefeated streak the entire weekend. A few guys came close to beating him (I was definitely not one of them), but he never lost.

Now, here’s the important part.

Do I just write Jakob off as some sort of “foosball genius,” who was born with an innate ability to play foosball like a pro? (And thereby assume that I could never be as good as him.)

OR…do I realize that he has probably spent countless hours in front of a foosball table, practicing and practicing…for years, LONG before he and I played our first game? (And that I could be just as good if I worked that hard.)

It’s the same way with recording.

We hear somebody’s mix, and we tend to want to chalk it up to the fact they they are just innately better mix engineers than we are.

Or they have better equipment.

Or better ears. (What the heck does that mean anyway?)

When the truth is simply this:

The more you work at something, the better you’ll be at it.

Yes, there are different levels of talent. But I think we home studio rock stars tend to shoot ourselves in the foot, assuming it can’t be “that easy.”

“Yeah, I can practice my mixing skills, but what will REALLY give me great mixes is being able to use a million-dollar studio.”

Would a million-dollar studio be awesome? Heck to the yes.

Do you think you should already be a pretty good mixer BEFORE you start pumping out mixes from said million-dollar studio?

I think so.

SO…that leaves you with but one task:

Get busy.

Get better at your craft, and upgrade your tools as needed.

One great way to get better at mixing is to know how to use the “swiss-army knife of mixing” known as compression.

I can show you the ropes here:

www.UnderstandingCompression.com

I may not be a foosball master, but I know a thing or two about using compression to get great-sounding mixes. Click here for more.

  • But that’s not necessarily true Joe. That dude might have had a real innate talent for playing games like foosball that he nurtured along with his hours ov practice.

    Even if you did spend the same time as him practising you might not actually get anywhere near as good as him eh Joe.

    We all have our talents. And so it is with audio engineering, some people are just going to be better at it than others, regardless ov practice, training etc.

    • PFRfan

      To an extent you’re right, but I think Joe is making the point that most of us live far beneath our potential and have no idea how good we can be. Joe may never reach that guy’s level, but he can get WAY closer than he is now. And how does he know that there isn’t some latent talent in there just waiting to explode when he gives it the right opportunity?

      Some kids can’t figure out how to read until they’re 8 or 9 years old. But as soon as they do… BOOM. They blow by the others who had a head start on them. Sometimes it just clicks. I think the same thing is true with playing, recording, mixing, etc. You toil away until all of the sudden it starts to come together and you begin to make great strides forward.

      Doing it repeatedly is the key. A number of people reference the book “Outliers” which makes the assertion that it requires roughly 10,000 hours of doing something in order to become great at it. This rule isn’t hard and fast, but I bet it’s right more than 95% of the time.

      • Thanks PFRfan. You said it much better than I did. 🙂

        • PFRfan

          Nah. I just don’t my enter key as often as you do.

          J/K!

          • PFRfan

            “I don’t USE my enter key”, I meant to say. It seems as though other keys don’t get as much attention as they need, either.

          • 🙂

    • Very true, but even if he was born with great talent, he still had to invest hours into developing that talent.
      Nobody gets good without practice, no matter how much talent they have.