10 Ways to Limit Yourself (& Make Yourself Better)

Hidey ho, neighbor.

You’ve heard me talk before about how good limitations can be for you. Having boundaries can actually ENHANCE your creativity.

Well, maybe you don’t believe me. Or maybe you simply haven’t given it a try yet.

Here are some suggestions for you. 10 ways to limit yourself…and make yourself better…all at the same time. (more…)

Two Words You Should Never Say In the Studio

If I had a nickel for every time someone wrote these two words to me in an email…

These two words are especially popular with people who are just starting out in recording. They’re eager to learn, and I’m certainly on board with their eagerness.

To this day, I still LOVE to learn new recording tricks and techniques.

But these two words, while well-intended, can lead you down a path that’s simply…neither fun nor helpful.

What are the two words you should never say in the studio? (more…)

You’re Not Allowed to Mix

It’s President’s Day here in the US. Not sure exactly what that means for me, since I don’t personally know any presidents, but I’ll figure something out…

What it DOES mean is that I have a challenge for you. More on that in a second.

I’m reading through a book written by Paul White of Sound on Sound magazine. It’s called “The Producer’s Handbook,” and it’s pretty good so far.

One thing he talks about early in the book is that some of the first multi-track tape machines were 3-track recorders. That means they had a stereo track for the band, leaving a third track for the lead vocal.

Talk about simple. (more…)

These SAVE you money?

Here’s the thing.

When your mixes are sounding muddy or unprofessional, what’s your gut instinct?

Buy a better set of plugins?

Hold on there, cowboy.

What if, instead of getting a new batch of EQ plugins, you really took the time to learn how EQ was meant to work.

Rather than just knowing what the frequency, gain, and Q knobs DO, are you confident that you know HOW to use them to get the results you want?

There’s a big difference. (more…)

Different Versions of Mixes – Good Idea or Dumb?

Long-time reader, first-time questioner Mark asks:

Would making 3, 4, or 5 different versions of a mix be more detrimental than helpful?

How many versions of mixes do you do? My iTunes library certainly has its fair share of songs with “Mix 4” or “Mix 5” in the title.

In short, it’s easy to drown in a sea of options.

As awesome as computer-based recording is, it has its downfalls, the big one being infinite choices. Your initial instinct is to think that having 10 mixes of a song will help you make sure you pick the exact right one. (more…)

My Big Stupid Recording Failure

Once upon a time, Joe made a stupid mistake.

I was recording a bunch of acoustic guitar tracks for an album project.

I was super-excited. I had set aside an entire afternoon to knock out all the songs.

Also, I had just gotten a brand new microphone, and was going to use it along with another mic to record the guitar in stereo.

All was right with the world. I set levels, listened through my headphones, and the sound was HUGE.

Jackpot. Let’s start recording. (more…)

Recording Engineers Who Don’t Make No Sense

Some things just don’t make no sense.

I interact regularly with lots home studio owners.

And the more I hear from them, the more “don’t make no sense” things I hear.

For example…

  1. People who complain that they can never find any paying clients, but they don’t have a single song in their portfolio to show of their chops.
  2. People who can’t get good mixes, and they blame it on their gear. (more…)

Why EQ is Unnatural

EQJim asks,

I’m planning on ordering your Understanding EQ package. I was just wondering something about EQ in recording. Could you please explain why we have to EQ instruments in a recording? If we see a live performance without sound reinforcement there is no frequency manipulation. Why is it so different from recording and what we hear out of speakers? Is it an issue of sonic space?

This is a REALLY good question.

Why is it that I can listen to musicians playing in front of me and it sounds fine, then when I record them I have to do all this manipulation to get them to fit well together? (more…)