Yesterday I wrote about how using high-end preamps can be a great tool, IF you already know how to get good-sounding recordings with minimal equipment.

Today, I want to share with you something that a lot of people won’t want to read. A lot of companies won’t want you to read this. But it could potentially save you untold amounts of time and money (and help you make better-sounding recordings, too).

As you recall, I run a website called Dueling Mixes with my good buddy Graham Cochrane. For almost two years, we’ve competed every month on mixing a new song. Then we post those mixes to the members area, where members vote for their favorite.

Now, Graham has won more months than I have.

Most of the time he uses various paid-for plugins, stuff from Waves, Steven Slate, etc. Sometimes he’ll use stock plugins.

Most of the time I use stock plugins. Sometimes I’ll use my Waves SSL plugins.

You could read that and say to yourself, “See, there’s proof you need to use fancy plugins. Graham uses them more, and Graham has won more months.”

If you go straight there, you’re missing out on something powerful, and you’re likely doomed to forever have mediocre mixes.

First off, on the month’s I’ve won the votes, most of the time I was using stock plugins and Graham wasn’t. How could I possibly win if I was using inferior equipment?

Secondly, if you listen to both of our mixes each month, you’ll notice that neither mix is bad. They’re just different. Both good mixes, whether we used stock plugins or not. Interesting…

Thirdly, the reason Graham has won more months than me is…

…wait for it…

…he’s a better mix engineer than me.


Did I just admit that THE main reason Graham has won more months than me is that it has to do with his skill level rather than the gear he uses??!?!?!?!

That’s right, cowboy.

No one would argue that John Mayer is a better guitarist than me BECAUSE he has really, really nice guitars and amps.

And Graham isn’t better than me because he uses fancy plugins.

’Tis true.

I could buy all the plugins Graham uses, and I won’t beat him unless I produce a better mix. I won’t beat him unless I make better mixing decisions.

It just so happens I won last month and am winning this month.

Wanna guess what kind of EQ’s and compressors I used in those mixes?

Find out here:

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner