Got a $10 phrase for you today.

Cognitive Dissonance.

This guy talks about it in a book* I’m reading. Here’s a quote:

“It refers to the disconnect between what we believe in our minds and what we experience or see in reality. The underlying theory is simple. The more we are committed to believing that something is true, the less likely we are to believe that it’s opposite is true, even in the face of clear evidence that shows we are wrong.”

I think cognitive dissonance is my sworn enemy, the thing that I fight the most in trying to help people create better-sounding music.

We were discussing this in the VIP forum just the other day.

I was sharing a piece of advice that I’ve shared many times before (it had to do with getting it right at the source…shocker), and Kris chimed in:

“Joe knows fixing it in the mix doesn’t work because he’s tried it. Maybe that’s the only way for some people to learn this lesson?”

Amen and amen.

Sadly, a lot of people I teach have a serious case of CD, Cognitive Dissonance.

They aren’t happy with the sound of their recordings (evidence that something’s wrong), so they scour the internet for something to fix their wayward songs.

They come upon a new plugin bundle (or microphone), and they snatch it up.

The songs don’t get better.

Rather than considering the evidence (that better plugins/gear did NOT help improve their recordings), they continue on in their cognitive dissonance, ignoring the facts and blazing a trail to find that elusive shortcut to getting better-sounding recordings.

I was chatting with a buddy on Twitter the other day, and he was ragging on me because I hadn’t tried any of the Slate Digital plugins or the new Waves Redd series plugins.

I retorted that I hadn’t purchased plugins in 3-4 years (aside from a $5 VU meter plugin that’s pretty cool for mastering).

Heck, it could be longer. It was at least 2009 when I last purchased a plugin.

Here’s the interesting part.

Have my recordings and mixes improved in the last 4 years?


Was it because of new plugins?


I’m still using the same ones, but my recordings and mixes are noticeably better.

What could that possibly mean?

It means, my cognitively dissonant friend, that the biggest changes happened on the FRONT end, starting with me an my brain.

Sure, I got a few nicer guitars, a nice guitar amp, a better preamp, and a few different microphones…but the biggest improvement was ME.


I focus on making Joe better.

Not just making Joe’s studio better.

And I do it by good old-fashioned hard work, the kind of work that’s fun. The kind of work that makes you better.

The kind of work you can sign up for right now over at:

Kicking CD’s butt, one day at a time,

Joe Gilder
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