[UPDATE – I’m on vacation this week, so there will be no Ask Joe podcast or videos this week. But here’s something for you to chew on this week.]

The beautiful thing about running a website for seven years is that everything I’ve said during that time is documented. This means if I ever change my mind and say something different, you’ll be able to find examples of me giving both opinions on the internet.

To me, that’s a cool thing. There’s no law that says you have to maintain the same consistent opinion for your entire live. Opinions evolve. We change. It’s fun to see how my approaches to recording and mixing and songwriting and life in general have changed over the years.

Three years ago I posted a video called “One of the Best Mixing Tips Ever.” Check it out here:

If you don’t feel like watching the video (and seeing thinner version of me with more hair), here’s the gist of the video: When you’re mixing a song, use a high-pass filter on every track but kick drum and bass. This will keep your mixes from becoming muddy.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

When I first started talking about using a high-pass filter to roll off low end in all the tracks in my session that aren’t specifically “low end” tracks, I was in a different place in my recording journey. This “high-pass everything” concept started for me in college, and carried on for many years.

Here’s the truth, I adopted the “high-pass everything” mindset back when I wasn’t very good at recording. For my album Out of Indiana, for example, all the raw acoustic guitar tracks were too muddy. I recorded them with the mic too close. Because of this, I HAD to use a lot of high-pass filters to prevent them from being muddy.

I made “high-pass everything” my mantra, because that’s what I needed at the time to make my mixes not be muddy.

As I matured and got better at recording and really developed a more Get-It-Right-At-The-Source (GIRATS) mindset, I found myself not NEEDING to use high-pass filters all over the place.

Life lesson: Always be improving and evolving. “High-pass everything” was a helpful tactic for a season of life, but had I allowed it to become a crutch, I would have never improved my recording skills, and my mixes wouldn’t have improved much. It was a decent fix for a bigger problem: bad recordings. I addressed the bigger problem, and the fix became obsolete.

Always be open-minded to new ways to improve. Don’t change just for the sake of change, but if you’re not constantly evolving and improving, something’s probably wrong. Shake things up. Admit that it’s possible you may be wrong, or there may be a better way out there.

QUESTION: What topic have you “flip-flopped” on for the better?

  • http://www.jonnylipshamstudios.co.uk Jonny Lipsham

    I, like you, used to high pass everything. Now I pretty much only high-pass where it is needed. The “high-pass everything” concept seems to be VERY popular. I have seen a number of people advocating it on videos and in blog articles.

    I found that high-passing too much made my mixes a little on the thin side. You are spot-on in that, with GIRATS as a foundation, before ANY music is created, it makes for a more fun and engaging recording phase, which in turn leads to a more fun mixing phase. Productions that are dripping with fun make for a FAR more engaging listening experience. And, is that not what the entire point of our work is?