I went to a big concert last night.

I brought a pair of earplugs.

Glad I did, for two reasons:

First, I protected my hearing. I don’t enjoy really loud concert music. It’s sometimes physically painful, and it can easily cause long-term hearing damage.

Secondly, I actually think most concerts sound BETTER with earplugs. Instead of bombarding my eardrums with a huge wall of sound, I pop in a couple earplugs and suddenly I can hear everything very clearly.

Sure, I lose a little bit of high end (I don’t use the fancy earplugs, just regular ones), but I can hear the entire band WAY more clearly than I possibly could without earplugs.

Do you know what I listen to?

Is it the mix?


I listen (for the most part) to the lead vocalist.

Live environments can be very forgiving for lead vocalists. Everything is so loud that you can’t reeeeeally tell if they’re singing off-pitch or not. It all gets lost in a huge wall of sound.

But when you plug in your magical earbuds, suddenly you can hear the lead vocal crystal clearly…warts and all.

Several bands played last night, and because I could hear each of the lead vocalists so clearly, I left with a really good impression of who were the better singers and who weren’t.

I didn’t walk away from that concert saying “Man, that was a great mix.”

I walked away saying, “Man, that one guy really is a great singer.”

Yet another example of music and performance trumping everything else.

Focus on capturing a great performance, and the rest of the technical stuff will much more easily fall into place.

To mix a song that was both performed AND recorded well, check out this month’s Dueling Mixes tune:


Joe Gilder
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