Here are a couple of the greatest myths I come across about music production and audio engineering. As a musician and audio engineer I’ll do anything to make sure I get the best results.
But there’s always someone who will do their best to take advantage of that. That’s when we end up spending a lot of money on the best tools but still get average results. In this blog post I want to expose a few myths to help you save time and money, yet still get the best results. Let’s look at the myths and resolve them.
A lot of people actually believe that buying an analog mixer will make their sound a lot better. That’s true if you buy an SSL 9000k console and feed all your sounds to the 24 channels. You’ll be able to hear more definition, clarity to your sounds and not much processing will be needed.
So, upcoming producers get the small Mackie or Behringer mixer and feed their sounds to the small mixer hoping it will add the analog feel. Don’t even waste your time this is not going to give you the results you need, so rather mix in the box. But you might get that analog sound if you add good AD and DA converters, it wont be as effective though.
Most small studio producers get a small mixer if they are recording a lot of sounds and don’t have enough input channels on the audio interface. That’s understandable, but not for audio quality unless if you’re willing to spend serious money.
In the past, getting a good audio interface was a challenge. Nowadays audio interfaces are all well designed and these audio companies are using more or less the same technology.
So when it comes to choosing an audio interface focus on the features. Choose one based on what you want to achieve and whether it’s going to be a long or short term thing. If you know what you want to do with the audio interface then getting one shouldn’t be a problem.
So don’t worry about sound quality when choosing one, these days audio interfaces come with great built-in AD and DA converters as well as very usable preamps. But avoid buying any cheap stuff!
Music Software (DAW)
It’s really surprising that there are people who still ask which is the best music making software. It was good to ask that question in 1998 but not today. It doesn’t matter what software you choose for your production.
Choose something you’re comfortable with and know your way around it. If you know you’re DAW very well then it’s easy to get the results you’re after. Spend some time reading the manual or search for tutorials online. But it doesn’t matter which software you use.
Third Party vs Stock Plugins
Honestly, third party plugins just makes it a whole lot easier to get a good and professional sound. Not to say you can’t get professional results with stock plugins, it’s just going to be a lot harder.
Most stock plugins are neutral, meaning they don’t add definition, color and character to a sound. So to get a professional sound you’ll have to design the plugin yourself. If it’s an effect like reverb then you can add more effects to the reverb signal.
Use other effects such as EQ, saturation and even compression to design your plugins more especially effects. Check some of my previous blog posts to get more detailed info about this trick. Avoid using cheap plugins, rather go for a good quality free VST plugin. You can even use layering to make your sounds full or more professional.
You Don’t Need Expensive Gear For Recording
With the right knowledge and experience, you can get the most out of what you already have. So my advise would be to invest your time and money in acquiring more knowledge, if it’s for the specific tools you’re currently using then that’s even better.
Acquiring a lot of knowledge without using it, is not going to help in anyway. Take the knowledge and put it into action, the more you practice your craft the more you become good at it. Spend time listening to what others are doing that you can add to your craft to take it from average to great.
The point is, you don’t really need expensive gear but if you can afford it then there’s no reason you shouldn’t go for it. Just as long as it’s worth it!
Audio Mastering Will Make My Mix Radio Friendly
Another lie, I’ve also made this mistake in the past. If you send the mastering engineer a turd he’ll send you a turd as well. A top quality song starts from the recording or programming stage. When you have a good recording it will be a lot easier to mix it.
Having a good mix makes it easier for the mastering engineer to polish your song and get it ready for radio or any sound device (both indoors and outdoors). So get good quality from the source.
Mastering is All about Making the Song Loud
A lot of people think mastering is all about adding a limiter to make the song loud. Mastering involves dealing with a lot of stuff such as reducing hum & hiss as well as separating the sides from the mid channel to adjust volume of tracks to match, to make the whole feel to be a smooth listening experience.
Not to mention things such as tonal EQ, surgical EQ, compression, track spacing and fades. These are just a few things a mastering engineer has to deal with among a lot of other things, depending on the material.
Mastering is not all about making a song loud, there’s a lot of things involved. If you add a limiter and think you’ve just mastered your song then you’re wrong. All you did was to increase the volume, and louder doesn’t always mean it sounds good.
Mixing Engineers Can Do Mastering
This has a little bit of truth to it since mixing engineers do get a similar training as mastering engineers. But what mixing engineers learn is how to balance individual sounds separately. While mastering engineers learn how to balance the whole song.
Tools such as EQ are not used the same in both mixing and mastering stages. So theoretically they might be able to nail it but they’ll need some mastering training even if it’s just the basics.
As we all know, there are a lot of audio engineering myths out there. The most famous one is that compression makes a sound fat or you must always use automation. Both can be true but not always. There are a lot of these myths but the ones I shared are the ones I see a lot.
If I see more then I’ll just blog about it to keep you guys on point and never misinformed. That’s it for today, hope you do learn something. Feel free to share a few myths you might know by leaving a comment below.