A couple weeks ago I went on a road trip with 4 other guys to South Carolina for a weekend show.

At one point, one of the guys pulled out his iPhone and started playing a bunch of recordings an audio engineer friend of his had given to him.

These were, quite literally, some of the worst recordings I’ve ever heard in my life.

I’m getting a little uncomfortable even thinking about them right now. They were just awful.

What made them so bad? Was it the engineering? Mic choice? Mic placement? The mix?


That’s the good news (and I guess the bad news, too).

On some of these songs, the recordings were technically good. But the big, gross variable was the performance. These were some insanely bad performances. No amount of recording technique or fancy mixing tricks could cover over these horrific performances.

The people in these recordings were just completely not talented, and somehow they were unable to understand that they didn’t sound good. I assume they would listen to the recording and think that it sounds as good as any other CD they’ve ever listened to.

That boggles my mind.

But there’s a point here, my friend.

In all the talk about recording technique, we MUST not forget that the first and foremost priority is the performance. If the performance is embarrassing, the mix will be embarrassing.

But the flip-side is also true, if the performance is absolutely amazing, the mix will likely sound great, too. Your job as the mix engineer then becomes to simply stay out of the way and let the musician shine through.

Give yourself a fighting chance, and focus on recording quality sources. I’m not saying they have to be A-list session players. But if they can’t hold a tune, then maybe you need to pass on that recording session.

Before you dive into any of my training videos, to learn how to use EQ for example, you need to make sure you’re starting with decent-sounding tracks.

If you are, then you’re on track to get a really great-sounding mix.

It just takes a little “massaging” with EQ from that point.

To learn how I take decent-sounding tracks and make ’em shine with EQ, check out Understanding EQ: