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?

“Should I…”

Here are a few examples of questions I get:

  • Should I use a condenser or dynamic mic on acoustic guitar?
  • Should I compress the kick drum?
  • Should I put my reverb on a separate bus or directly on the track?
  • Should I compress the master bus?
  • Should I use one mic or two on this instrument?

…and the beat goes on.

So, why am I so hard on “Should I…”?

Because, there’s an underlying statement to these questions, and it says a lot about the person asking the questions.

That statement is this: “I want you to tell me what to do. I don’t want to try anything on my own. I don’t want to use my ears to answer this question for myself.”

A bit harsh? Yeah, probably, but perhaps it strikes a chord with you?

Are you constantly second-guessing your choices in the studio? GOOD! You should.

But here’s what I suggest: rather than asking “Should I…” do this:

Just TRY IT.

Try it. Try it. Try it.

Try the idea you’re thinking about, then LISTEN to the results. Do you LIKE the results?

Then THERE’S the answer to your question.

See how THAT’s more valuable than having someone TELL you what to do?

I’m all for learning techniques from other engineers. That’s how I learn a lot of cool things, but I learn SO MUCH by simply trying things in my studio.

What say you?

Hey, I can’t tell you if you should use compression on a particular track, but I can surely show you how compression works, so you can make a more confident decision.

Go here:


P.S. I’m going to add some new videos to Understanding Compression soon, and I’ll also be raising the price. If you buy today, you’ll get all the new videos for FREE when I release them, no price increase for you, my friend. 🙂