116: Your Audio Knowledge Could Be The Reason Why Your Records Don’t Sound Great

116: Your Audio Knowledge Could Be The Reason Why Your Records Don’t Sound Great

We have both worked with many people who know a lot. Like a LOT. Often more than we do (and we're obsessed with learning). Yet their records still don’t sound great. Let’s explore the reasons for this.


Because here's the thing:

We don’t want you to be held back by something that could be a huge advantage. Of course knowledge is important, but for some people it can be detrimental to their success as an engineer/producer, especially when combined with a certain mindset.

Here are some examples of that (we discuss those on the episode): 

  • Learning all sorts of crazy drum production techniques but ignoring the much more important basics
  • Knowing about a certain technique but not being aware that it's the wrong solution for the job
  • Obsessing over technical flaws in a track can get in the way of choosing an emotional home run
  • Developing knowledge and technical skill while failing to develop taste, vision and the ability to serve the song

Here's how to avoid or overcome this problem:

  • Be teachable and seek advice from people who have done it - that’s actually better than knowing a lot without having real experience
  • Always be open to new ideas - there’s almost never a black/white, right/wrong. It’s mostly grey.
  • Don’t forget that producing and even engineering/mixing is at least as much art as it is science.
  • Keep in mind that when a problem is technically solved, it doesn’t automatically mean it sounds great
  • Use your knowledge as a flexible toolbox, not as a strict set of rules you always follow
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks, use new approaches, mix without meters, whatever makes you leave your comfort zone
  • People don’t like know-it-alls - If you want to collaborate with others, keep that in mind

Proof of all that: 

A degree or any formal/theoretical type of education means nothing in this industry. It’s all about what comes out of the speakers and whether or not it makes people feel something. 

And just as important: 

The biggest opportunities always present themselves to the people who are willing to constantly learn and adapt and who also have the necessary people skills (being kind, open to ideas and critical feedback, etc.) - not the ones who start with the most theoretical or technical knowledge.

Book a free feedback call with Benedikt:

This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

Benedikt's voice on this episode has been recorded with the Antelope Axino Synergy Core.

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB 116 - Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy 

[00:00:00] Benedikt: knowledge is important, but don't let it get in the way of the art of the creativity. Break the rules. focus on the song, do what serves the song. All of these things are so much more important. Be open. Don't be a know it all 

[00:00:14] Malcom: Yeah. 

[00:00:28] Benedikt: Hello, and welcome to the self recording band podcast. I am your host Benedict tine, and I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm Owen flood. How are you?

[00:00:37] Malcom: Hey, Benny. I'm great, man. How are you? 

[00:00:39] Benedikt: great. Thank you still good. It's one of these weird two episodes in a row days where I don't know how to answer this question. The second time around.

[00:00:47] Malcom: Yeah, yeah. Listeners, I'm leaving for like a month, essentially. And, uh, so we're trying to stock up on episodes before I head out of town. I'm unfortunately not allowed to say what project I'm [00:01:00] heading out of town on. But yeah, going to be on the road. Uh, about a month and we've got a couple episodes in the bank. You might have one that's just Benny or so. Um, we'll, we'll see how it all plays out, but don't worry. There's going to be content. Don't sweat it and I'll be back. 

[00:01:15] Benedikt: Definitely. Definitely you'll be back for sure. And I look forward to that. So, Today, we're going to be talking about something that I notice a lot when I do coaching calls with people. So, and in today's episode, we're going to talk about why your audio knowledge could be the reason for why your records don't sound great. And. Yes exactly. That's the sound that was playing in my head while I was saying that actually. Yeah, totally. So yeah, it can really be the case and it could really be the reason or part of the problem. And I see that all the time with people that I, um, I do coaching calls with that they actually know quite a bit, but they often, sometimes they know more than I do about certain parts of, of the production or overall sometimes even, but for whatever reason, they [00:02:00] can't make great sounding records. if you want to jump on a call like that with me, by the way, if you want to have a completely free coaching call, a free feedback call, you can go to the self recording, bent.com/call, and we can do a one hour coaching session completely for free to figure out where you are right now, where you want to be and whether or not I can help you get there. And I'm also of course, going to help you on the spot, give you feedback and all of that. So, yeah, it's completely free. Go to the self recording. bet.com/call and let's hang. yeah. And what I noticed on these calls quite a bit is that the knowledge is often not the problem. It's sometimes like not having the launch is not the problem. Sometimes having, knowing too much about a certain thing can be the problem because people are focusing on the wrong things or they are not open to new ideas anymore sometimes. So yeah, I've worked with a lot of people who need. A lot, like really a lot often more than I do. And you know, you've got to know that I'm obsessed with learning and I have been learning every day for more [00:03:00] than a decade now. Like, it's really, it's a problem for myself too, but still there are people out there who know a lot more than I do yet. Their records still don't sound great often. And I want to explore the reasons or potential reasons for this 

[00:03:12] today. 

[00:03:13] Malcom: Yeah, it is fascinating. Um, I feel like often for musicians, there's two camps. There's like the extremely technical person. And then there's the extremely, uh, like, you know, just creative in the moment kind of person. And. You would think that in a very technical job, such as recording great sounding audio like engineering audio is really what it comes down to. You would think the technical person would be at a huge, huge advantage, but it can so easily get in their way and actually create, like, it'd be Totally. detrimental to what they're trying to create. And, and it's not unusual for, especially in the beginner stages for the creative. People, I see sending me demos too, to have a way better results. [00:04:00] They're just, they're not even thinking about it. They're just throwing a mic in front of something and clicking record and trying to nail the performance. And that like alone is like, oh, you don't have it. It's simple. But it worked kind of thing. Uh, opposed to like them, a technical person might not even get to record it. You know, they might be messaging me about like, Hey, do you think I should try this mic configuration? Or is it worth me renting these better mix? It's like, they, you know, like there's so many obstacles that knowledge can put in front of you. Um, so we're talking about stuff like that today and, and, uh, not just the stuff that stops you from recording, but the stuff that, uh, Not push the needle as far as you think, while you're recording. 

[00:04:42] Benedikt: Absolutely. Yeah. And you know, the thing is we don't want you to be, to be held back by something that could actually be a huge advantage. Like it's good to know things like knowledge is always great. Right? So it is important, but it can be detrimental to your success as an engineer producer or DIY musician. especially, and that's something I really want to talk about [00:05:00] also later is, um, especially when combined with a certain mindset, because the knowledge, oftentimes it's just a problem because people refuse to take in other information, other opinions, you know, or like get out of their comfort zone or, you know, we get to that, but like it's oftentimes a combination of knowledge and a certain mindset that, that gets in the way of people and, uh, So let's maybe start by some examples just to let people know what, what could happen. Um, and then when it goes through the, the tactical things, like what you can do. To me, the one thing that comes to mind, for example, where I just see that happen in real life all the time is when people ask for advice on a forum, for example, or in our, even in our community, sometimes this has happened or it, but in other places as well, it's very common when somebody asks for, for advice. And then, and then people give advice and they it's, of course well-intended like, they, they want the best for the, the person they're helping. And there'll be like, well, I would do. I was, you know, [00:06:00] creative. Uh, I would level match. I would queue match this thing and I would turn that into an IRA. And then I would blend the two and I would throw in another of this and they give this crazy explanation of what they would do to try to solve the problem when maybe the best advice would just been to either just quickly record the thing or maybe apply a simple cue move. That's also all the problems, but they immediately immediately go to that very complex technical problem solving mode. And, and, you know, that might solve the problem, but. Oftentimes not the right thing to do, and it's not, it doesn't sound great after it it's just repaired in a way, but it might not be the, the best thing for the song or, you know, but I see this all the time where these two different personalities that you've. Well, you can really see that somebody comes in with a really simple practical, or artistic sort of way of solving the problem. And then another person will be we'll, we'll take a very, very complex approach. And you know, so this is something where I see that. And I feel like if you, if you are with like, if you are like that, with all your decisions, when you're producing [00:07:00] music, the end result is not going to be really exciting. I think it's going to be totally over-processed and you, you just make it so complicated for no reason. Sometimes the solution is so simple. And you don't need all the things that you can do in theory and your diet. You don't need all of those all the time, you know?

[00:07:17] Malcom: Yeah. a hundred percent, a hundred percent. There's a there's there's almost always like a simpler way and a. I think context is everything. And that is something that even, you know, even listen to us, we're really happy you're here listening to us. Um, but anything you learned from our podcasts needs to be put into context, um, in whatever situation you're in. So we might have our favorite fixes for things, but we have no idea if it's going to apply to the next time you're doing a recording. So you have to kind of. Try and figure out what you think is going to work and really experiment as well. And, and see if it actually is going to help you in that don't assume because it's the solution that it is the best solution, I guess, is what I'm saying. [00:08:00] uh, a really common thing for me is the technical. People might, you know, read like 18 articles on how the roommates were set up for when the levee breaks or something. And, and, and, and just like, be like, okay, we're going to get like the most massive drum sound ever. Um, and there's like, they sent me six different pairs of room mikes and they forgot to like, you know, mix the Toms or something. Like they, they just like sacrificed such important stuff. Because they were focused on these technically like weird and advanced ideas, like, oh, like we threw a mic in the piano with all of the keys that are in the key of the song taped down. So they'll ring. It's like, well, okay. I need, I need a snare mic now. Like I can't make this work. That's that's not going to do anything for me. Um, and so, so don't get hyper-focused on the latest and greatest thing you've read. 

[00:08:52] Benedikt: Yeah, totally. Same with guitar sounds. You know, if, if you like people over obsess [00:09:00] about it, same thing they read about my technique or something and they, then they throw in. For Mike Sonic edit guitar amp with like rooms and M and like a pair angled at the cab and whatnot when just 1 57 in front of an amp, that that is the exact right amp with the right setting and the right performance and everything would have totally done it. They focused on all these other things and the time they spent setting all of this up should have been spent getting the tone, right. That comes out of the cab and just putting one mic in front of it and capturing right. We did a whole episode on that, but there's also, it's the same as with, with the drum techniques.

[00:09:30] Yeah. 

[00:09:31] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's super common as well. You're, you're totally right. And here's something to think about the more complex, the technique you were going for, uh, the more opportunity for mistakes that you're not aware of come into play. So, so with the drums and, and with really complex guitar setups, that fit, that problem usually presents itself in a not very solid understanding of face. So they're like, I did all these cool things and it's like, well, none of them work together or with anything like that, [00:10:00] that I have to use. Um, so, so you are like, we don't want to stop you from experimenting. Um, but as always, we really want to stress, get the basics and then experiment, you know, make sure that the core thing, like if one mic on that guitar cab doesn't sound pretty darn good. You have to get that right before you start adding a bunch of other stuff and getting more technical. 

[00:10:22] Benedikt: Yes, totally. Um, but I really liked the third example that you put here, because those things that we've just talking about, they, they are, you know, th. people know something, they know a technique or they've read about something, but they also don't know enough. So that to, to, in order to be able to apply correctly. So there's still this, this element of like, not knowing the basics about phase or not knowing this and that. So, but what I really want to talk about also are the people who really know all of these things, like who really know what they're doing, but they still can't make great Downing sounding things. And it might be because they're knowing so much. And the third point here. Where, if the technical things [00:11:00] are so important to you and you know how to technically fix everything, you know, everything about frequency and resonances and how to get rid of those things and all the automatic, intelligent tools that we have today and all the tools and techniques that there are to fix, quote, unquote, fix an audio problem. If you know all of those things and you know how to, how to use them and all of that. But it still doesn't sound great. It's maybe because you're so focused on these technical things and on repairing the recording that you completely fail to, like you, you, for, for example, you, you don't pick the. Better take, as you put it here, the emotional homerun, um, with vocals, for example, you don't pick the better take because there's another take that's technically better, for example, or you focus on fixing everything about it, and then all the emotion is gone. Maybe that's also super common with guitar tones, you know, and like, I have to be careful with that because I really like quote unquote fixing guitar tones. Sometimes if you'd heard tone is aggressive and. Um, a little bit exhausting to listen [00:12:00] to, and I try to go in and find all the resonances and make it all even in beautiful and, and all that. And yeah, it might, you can argue that it's maybe technically better or it's more pleasing sounding or whatnot, but it's like if it's not aggressive anymore, but it's supposed to be aggressive. Or if it's cutting as much anymore than maybe I should have just taken the less perfect thing and like embrace it, you know? And the overall, the overall overly technical people completely missed that. Oftentimes. So they know everything about everything and they know all the tools and techniques and they enjoy filling with the newest tools and they get really excited about that. But when they're done the whole song, just sometimes it sounds like, like white noise without any emotion, because all the residences and all the exciting stuff is just gone and it's all repaired. And 

[00:12:44] And good 

[00:12:45] Malcom: make things too good for easily, for sure. Um, my example of this, of, of being overly technical on. On, like in, instead of getting the right emotion is something that I continually battled with [00:13:00] and it's guitar solos that the bends just don't quite get where they're meant to go. I like I'm waiting for it to finally reach that resolution note and resolve and they just don't quite get it there. And the whole band is like, oh, that was so cool. It's so uncomfortable and I'm like, Yeah. it's just so uncomfortable. Can we please do it again? And, and like this, this happens to me all the time and I know they're right at, like, there's no way everybody's a. Picky about it as I am. And then the rest of the band literally loves it and they have to convince me, um, for whatever reason, that's always been a struggle of mine. I want to hear it, get there, but I, I, the right, the right is to hold define. And after the funny part is after the fact. When I go back to listen to the song later, I love it. You know, it's just in the moment where I'm focused about them playing and pitch while we're tracking, you know, I'm like I'm in that. Hyper-technical, we're going to get a really in tune guitar performance here. And, and that gets in the way of me judging their solo [00:14:00] performances, emotional. 

[00:14:00] Benedikt: Yes. Yeah. That's a very good example. Also it goes to show that it is a good idea sometimes to just show it to two non-musicians or like non pros. I mean, in this case they are musicians, but like, it's a good indicator. When, when people are in the room who are not audio professionals and they hear something and everybody's like, wow, that's just so amazing. So great. That feels great. They can't tell you why exactly, but they just love it. And that's a good indicator that there's some things right here. Even if you think it's wrong, because we hear this things differently and it's a fine line because it's our job to be more picky about these things, to tell people that something's not in tune and to be able to go in and fix that. So that's part of our job, but you know, we have to still think and listen, like music, listeners and fans. And if, if there's five people in the room and they all love it and they love how it feels. So maybe you should think twice, whether you're not you do anything about it or you don't want to mess it up. So 

[00:14:57] Malcom: Absolutely. Yeah. [00:15:00] This is a, you, you wrote something down Betty here that says, don't forget that producing and even engineering and mixing is as least as much art as it is science. And that's so spot on here. And as we know, art is incredibly subjective. And, and your own opinions are going to shift over time. Nobody goes into, nobody listens to what they listened to, like when they were seven. I mean, some stuff maybe, but like your, your taste in music is probably changed, right? Your preference for, for styles of music and playing and, and tones have probably all changed as well. I used to think that a Les Paul and the neck pickup was the best way to go, uh, like for like any like metal, whatever. I don't know what the hell I was thinking about. I told him must've been so terrible. Anybody that's on my band when I was 16. Sorry. It must have been a fluffy mess. Um, but, uh, like, like it just changes one day I was like, this is so much better. If I use my bridge pickup, it took me forever to get there. And, uh, so you just got to [00:16:00] roll with the punches a little bit and keep adapting. 

[00:16:02] Benedikt: Yeah, absolutely. Totally agreed. Yeah. It's like, I really think it's, it's at least as much art. It's even more about the art than, I mean, you know, in argue producing, it's definitely more orange from engineering. It mixing has a technical aspect to it, but like at the end of the day, it is about making art sound great. It's not like who cares about the technical stuff it's made for people who want to listen to the music to feel something. And they don't care about the technical stuff, the technical stuff, or just the tools. So I think the whole, the whole idea that, that whole scientific approach. There is a right way to do something and there's a wrong way and there's a problem and you have to fix it. And that whole idea is kind of weird to me. Although I, I, I think I am a pretty logical person and I like this aspect of my brain and other areas of life where that's helpful, but when it comes to music, I try to not be that way because I really think that there's very rarely a right or wrong. It's, it's mostly gray. There's Mo there's more than one [00:17:00] approaches in most cases, more than one approach. So you gotta be really, you got to approach it like, like it's art and you gotta be open also to new ideas and to the whole idea that there, there might be no right way to do something. And a lot of the technical people, they just see or hear a problem and they want to fix it. And they think there is this one definite outcome that it's supposed to be. When that actually doesn't really exist because it's very subjective. and it's, it's not as, uh, as simple as that. And, uh, yeah, so, and yeah. And what, what gets in the way of those types of people sometimes is that, as I said, is that they're not open to new ideas anymore. So they, when you think that it's a black, black, a white right or wrong thing, You tend to think that there's one way to do it. And if somebody else tells you otherwise, you just don't believe it. And that is really, really dangerous. So it is a creative thing and you should always be open to new ideas. You should question yourself all the time and get out of your comfort zone and stuff like that. [00:18:00] So, yeah, that's just, that's just something I see. And that's the problem for a lot of people who think that way, I think.

[00:18:06] Malcom: Yeah. absolutely. So, so we've talked about it, like a lot of examples and, and, uh, and what not. So like how, how do they get out of this? What are some solutions. Best thing for me was always collaboration. I would say, like working with somebody else and seeing how they do it and being like, Ooh, like you're not going to dead end up the heck out of the room around that guitar cap. That's my, like my go-to is like, we're going to eliminate the room on guitar tracking. And then having to be, oh, that was awesome. You know, what a cool, what a cool ambiance and space around that guitar. That works just, just dandy and it's a new, a new thing I can pull out of my toolbox. Um, when I think that's the right fit and I was just totally closed off to it before seeing it that that's like one example. Right. And I wouldn't have had that without being in the room with somebody doing it total opposite way from me.

[00:18:58] Benedikt: a hundred percent. And [00:19:00] the reason is why that is so important and so valuable to be able to work with, with experienced people with other people in general. That it's a lot better to, to have the experience, the real world experience than to just know a lot without the real experience. So if you seek advice from people who have actually done it or who, who are doing it every single day, who record a lot, who have had to solve different problems, you'll notice that they are very intentional about what they do. They're Israeli, right? Like sometimes they completely dead and everything around the guitar, and sometimes they embrace the ambiance. There's no right or wrong. They just know what's what serves. What is better in that moment. And they do whatever is necessary, even, even if it might be technically wrong. Um, so a lot of people break the rules all the time, if it's good for the song. And those are always the people who have a lot of experience and who, who are very practical and like yeah, it's, It's much better to be teachable and to seek advice than to know it all, but never [00:20:00] having really done it. That's, that's a pretty yeah, I think that's true and it's pretty dangerous to, to have all the theoretical knowledge, but you've, you've never actually had to solve a lot of these problems. So you only think that what you know is actually the right thing to do in this moment. So yeah. Go out and collaborate with others, for sure. If you can with experienced people. Yep. And we've been talking about that before. Sorry. We've been talking about that before we started the episode that I found it. How some people who haven't really made a record in their life yet, they knew well, and again, they are not wrong. They know a lot oftentimes, but they knew everything about a certain topic. They, or about all your engineering in general, they, they know, you know, they, they know everything. And then there are other people who are making great records and who've been doing so for decades and I've listened to, I've listened to a bunch of podcasts and I've watched videos of like great engineers, producers. Where they sometimes don't know a very seemingly simple, basic thing. And I'm like, how is it possible that this person doesn't know [00:21:00] this? This can't be true, but it doesn't seem to matter. They make great records, nonetheless. So a lot of times these people don't know at all, but they are still able to make exciting sounding music that just resonates with people. And a lot of the people who claim to know it all or who actually know it all, almost all of it. That doesn't mean they make great records.

[00:21:19] Malcom: Yeah. The more you are caring about the technical aspects of things, the less you are caring about how it actually sounds. Um, and that is just simply a fact because it's not like we can just care a hundred percent about both. There's a sliding scale. The more your attention is drawn towards. If the transients are lined up on the two guitars, the less you are thinking about the overall big picture of the song. So there's a lot to be. For, for telling the technical side of your brain to shut up sometimes and just listen to the whole song. There's so much value in there. And if that is always where you're coming from, like just how does it sound period? You're going to adapt regardless to if like something that's technically wrong. You may not [00:22:00] know why, but you are going to still go after it. So it's not like by not thinking technically that you're ignoring problems, you're still going to be listening and solving them just maybe in different ways. 

[00:22:11] Benedikt: Yeah, but you're not creating problems for yourself that aren't actually there. That's the thing. Yeah. So one example I keep thinking about is the whole match IQ thing that comes up a lot. And like, with all these, not, not only magic you, but all these intelligent tools that we have now, where in theory, you could just go and, uh, and get import. Really good recording of any instrument. You can import that into your door, whatever, and then you could match it and make it the same, basically when it comes to frequency response, uh, and make yours the same as the good recording. But it still won't sound as good, or it's still the song won't be as good because yeah, you might be able to match a cue, your guitar to another EHR or your bass drum or whatever. But if it's not the right thing for your song and every song is completely different than. You know, [00:23:00] that's not, you know, it doesn't help you. So just the, yeah, exactly. Just because you've technically solved it or you've turned it into something that has worked for somebody else. It doesn't mean that your song now sounds better. This is just something, that's the danger of all these modern, intelligent tools that we have that in theory, we could just use tools like golfers or match IQ and other things, and like all these, um, auto mixing things and master rebalance and whatnot. And we could get something that is in the ballpark of something else, but we completely miss the emotional, you know, what the content of whatever we're working on.

[00:23:36] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah, that that technical strategy is just not going to serve you. Unfortunately.

[00:23:42] Benedikt: Yeah. So I would say you just use your tool and your knowledge, because knowledge is still important. I'm again, not saying that it's wrong to know all these things. It really helps you just need to know how to use it, because I think you should use your knowledge as a flexible sort of toolbox a toolkit and not as a strict of set rules that you [00:24:00] always follow. So. Keep those things in your back pocket. If you need them, you can reach for them and you can use them, but always be intentional. And don't think you, when you learn something, you read about something that you always have to do it that way. Let's see. Yeah. So the thing is also, I'm curious to hear your thoughts and that is that it it's different for everybody. Like everybody has a different You know, a different thing that they're struggling with, maybe. So I think too, the way to overcome this, if you're the technical person or if you feel like, you know, a lot, but you still, you know, records for some reason still don't resonate with people or still don't sound great. maybe ask yourself what it is. That's, that's your problem specifically? So maybe you relying on meters and numbers a lot when you're mixing and you think you're doing the correct things, but it doesn't really work. So maybe the fix for you would be. Leave your comfort zone and makes without meters for awhile, or don't use a cue like pro Q3, but use a console emulation that doesn't show you the graph. So you have to queue by ear, [00:25:00] maybe use a compressor that doesn't show you the amount of gain reduction, which can be very uncomfortable. Like I'm the type of person I want to see those things. I believe I can still sort of ignore them when I have to, but if I have to use a compressor that doesn't show me the gain reduction or doesn't show me when compressing starts at all, it gets really hard for me to dial in the right amount of compression. I keep constantly doubting myself when I do that. So I have to do that exercise intentionally, intentionally all the time. just, just to force myself to listen more and to read less. So if you're that type of person maybe mixing with without any sort of meters helps you. 

[00:25:34] Malcom: Yup. 

[00:25:34] Benedikt: Um, whatever makes you leave your comfort zone, I guess. And I'm curious to hear your thoughts, Malcolm, what are other things that you could use as like, when it comes to new approaches or ability to take risks? Like

[00:25:44] Malcom: yeah. I mean, like limiting, I I'm actually really into the idea of like limiting for creative results. Um, you know, like even down to songwriting, like, okay, we're going to write. A song, but we're only allowed to use these two chords, how the hell, like [00:26:00] that's going to be tricky. Right. Um, and, and it's going to force you into new places that aren't as comfortable out of your habits. Right? Um, so the equivalent in engineering would be like, like you guitarist with four mics in. You have one, you only have one. You have to come up with your tone with one is probably going to yield a really good positive result for you. If you just you'll, you'll learn quicker because you're listening to one thing at a time and experimenting with it and trying to make it do what you wanted, all of those other microphones to do. So limits what you have available. Um, and in the doll, we have so much available, 

[00:26:34] Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. Let me just have to stock plugins maybe to be a thing, like try to mix a song. Just I'm actually, I haven't told you about this, but in one of our future mixes, Editions when we do those again, I plan on doing one where I intentionally mix a song with only the stock plugins. And I want to see like where that goes. Like, I want to find something I do. I'm going to do a second mix. Like it's not maybe not going to be the official release or something, but I'd [00:27:00] try to do a second mix and see how close I can get with just the stock plugins as an experiment, something like that. I, I plan on doing something because it's more relatable to our audience, I think. And, um, I want to challenge myself from time to time and I'm pretty sure it's doable. Like why not?

[00:27:12] Malcom: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. I mean, I think there's a lot in there and it's really all about your mindset and, and kind of challenging your existing beliefs. And, and of course, always just being honest of what, what you think you're struggling with and, and maybe, maybe it is your technical brain that is causing obstacles in your way.

[00:27:35] Benedikt: absolutely. Now. that I do a lot of, a lot, a lot with the people that I'm coaching actually. And there's also some that make me think of that. When you said limit yourself to certain things exercise and exercise that I do a lot is that I break down the mixing process into different phases and I make people, people make a first mix of what they're trying to mix, where they are just allowed to use. [00:28:00] Volume and panning nothing else. And they have to get the best mix possible over to me. that's the first exercise and people are always surprised by how far they can actually get like automation is allowed to so they can automate, they can use volume and pans, but nothing else. And it's like, they are surprised by how. Good that things can sound if you just do that. And how important balancing actually is, for example, and then the next step could be limit yourself to only sort of corrective acute moves. So whenever you have your balance now, and then whenever something is like masking something else or standing out to you as like annoying remove that, but don't do anything else. Do you use just the stocky cue, use some filtering, get rid of annoying stuff again and rebalance. And then, and then, uh, that's the thing. And then at the next step, you know, we focus on sweetening and Q or like, and then we introduce compression and other. And with doing an exercise like that, you really you're forced to pay more attention to those basics and not start with the very advanced stuff right away. And oftentimes the result is that all of the individual elements of the mix keep [00:29:00] their original sort of vibe and their size and everything to it because what happens when people start right away with like throwing all they have at. Things tend to get smaller, real quick or over-processed, or the original vibe is gone. And if you're very careful like that, and only limit yourself to the basics for awhile, then you can keep the original size and impact of it for longer or ideally to the end. So there's that, um, maybe you can do an exercise like that with your own music, and you'll be surprised by how far you can take it without doing complex things off.

[00:29:33] Malcom: I told her. Yeah. Yeah. Another limiting, uh, variable could be time only give yourself like an hour to get your guitar down as you can't get finicky and start fiddling with different options and pulling in different cabs, driving to your friend's house to grab a different amp or whatever. Like you just got to make it. You know, you can always redo this stuff, right. So just try and work with what you have and make it as good as you can. And you're going to have to get creative rather than technical. 

[00:29:59] Benedikt: Absolutely. [00:30:00] And now there's. Completely a complete other side to this as well that I want to quickly touch on, which is the whole mindset thing that can get in your way in other ways too. So, because some people really know a lot and maybe they even know how to apply things and maybe they can make, they can't even make things sound good or, you know, but they're still not getting ahead or their records still. They, they don't get to find the right people to work with them on their record. So maybe they are limiting themselves there. And the reason could be if you know a lot and you constantly let everybody know that, you know, a lot, and you're always the person suggesting all the complex solutions and you insist on your way of doing it. And there's only this right approach. People are likely not going to like to work, like not, not going to want to work with you maybe or collaborate with you. So people just don't like know-it-alls and the type of person who is like that on like online forums or, you know, these 

[00:30:56] Malcom: And maybe they have. a podcast where the weekly, just talk about it for about [00:31:00] an hour at a time, like 

[00:31:01] Benedikt: yeah, 

[00:31:02] Malcom: 116 episodes later, it could be, could be a German or a Canadian could be. 

[00:31:08] Benedikt: Exactly. If you're that type of person stop that right now. No. Um, but like, yeah, I mean, but I can, I think we can say that we are very open for like criticism and like other ideas and, you know, but like being a know it all, where if we were here every week telling you. This is how you do it and there's no other way. And we don't care about what you think. And it's like, not about your song, it's just about doing this right thing. And, you know, for like that, not a lot of people would listen probably. And, um, and it's like, because there is no, as we said, like, there is no one way of doing things. And if you're that type of person and you approach all your recordings that way, then people will not want to work with you and collaborate with you. So that could go in. You could get in your way as well. Like people just don't like to know whether. And, um, you just have to be to stay open. So keep that in mind when you're wanting to collaborate with others. I think,

[00:31:59] Malcom: yeah. it's a, [00:32:00] it's a great point. Um, you have to be open to learning from, from people that know less than you, because even if they know less than you, they know something that you don't know. Um, you know, there there's so much out there. Um, and Yeah, there's only two universal truths really. And it's like, you should be nice to people and you need new guitar strings when you record. That's really it. Oh, and I think we have, we're adding record a Dai to that well. 

[00:32:26] I think we're up to three now. 

[00:32:27] Benedikt: I wasn't prepared for that. What? I really didn't see that one coming. Ah, awesome. Awesome. Yeah, totally. But you're so right. So yeah. Um, it was the no, no, no, you're totally right. So, um, and the proof of all of that, I also want to put that out real quick. Is that. In our industry, in the music industry, when you want to make that your job, when you want to engineer produce for a living, and let's say, you're not doing what I did and you just stupid and you jump right into it without working your way up. Sort of, I mean, you can do that. It's not always stupid, but like, you know, [00:33:00] they would have been a quicker way of doing it then. I'm an engineer now, like I did struggling for five years, you know, so, but like, if you want to do it smart in a smarter way, which is working with other people earlier, trying to get to, to get to work at different studios, learning from other people in all of that. So if you trying to, I think there's still. Even though there are not as many big studios anymore. There is still the opportunity to be an intern for a while, or to assist somebody or to be helpful, valuable in any, in any way to somebody. And they will in exchange, show you things. So there is still ways of collaborating with other people. And I think you should absolutely do that. And what I wanted to say is in our industry, if you want to do something like that, if you want to work under somebody or learn from somebody or be an intern or be an engineer or a runner or whatever, for something. Uh, degree or any like formal or theoretical type of education usually means nothing. It like really doesn't sometimes it helps, but most people that I know myself included, [00:34:00] we don't care about that when we like hire people or let people help us with things like that. It's, you know, it's all about. W for us to us, it's all about what comes out of the speakers at the end of the day and whether or not it makes people feel something. And when we work with somebody, it's all about them being open and teachable and, um, so they, they can adapt and, um, and learn a lot quickly. And so that they get the, the whole idea. And like, nobody cares about your whole, about your degree or about the theoretical knowledge. Really it's about being good around people. It's about having the people skills. Um, it's about constantly being constantly learning and adapting. Being teachable is more important than knowing it all, as I said, and this is just proof for all of what we said in this episode. I think that this whole, um, industry works like that, that this is also the reason why so many graduates of like audio schools struggle to make it a career because they, they, maybe they [00:35:00] know a lot if they've done well, well there, and really learned a lot, which not all of them do, but even if they do that, they often struggle to, to make the turn of this into their career because. The knowledge is not what it's all about. It's about being able to learn, being teachable, being good with other people and getting the idea that it's about art and the emotional impact that it has on people. And then only, if you get that and if you have these types of qualities, you are valuable to somebody else whose goal is to make music that makes somebody feel something. So, it just proves that this is true and that the people who know the most are not necessarily the ones who make the best records and the most impactful ones.

[00:35:36] Malcom: A hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah. You'll, you'll have some humbling moments along the way, which will remind you of this episode. And that's a good thing. 

[00:35:44] Benedikt: Yes, definitely. Definitely. Yeah. Um, and I don't know about you Malcolm, maybe that's something I want to a way of ending this episode. Again, I, I, we talked a lot about Thomas, for example, he, the amazing dude who is, um, editing this podcast. [00:36:00] He it's his birthday today. Actually. I completely forgot about that. So happy birthday, Thomas. Yeah. Yeah. totally. I mean, I've called them today, but I wanted to mention them on the show as well. So he, for example, Thomas, he was a. He did go to an audio school and learn there, and he had some knowledge, but when he approached me about whether or not he could be an intern for awhile, I didn't ask any of those. Um, I didn't care about the, the, the audio knowledge basically, and I've never. I've I've never taken on like an interim before. I've never done that because like all the people who ever reached out to me were just immediate knows, like I just couldn't see myself working with those people. And when Thomas approached me was not his audio skills, I didn't hear any of his productions at first or any of, I didn't ask about his audio skills and he had them for sure, but like, What, what fascinated me and was what would want it, me? what make me want to work with him was the way he approached me, the way he immediately showed that he was willing to learn and to put in the work. And he [00:37:00] was curious and he was open. And I just knew that even if that dude with no nothing right now, within a short amount of time, he would know enough so that he could help me. And, um, He understood what this was all about, what I was trying to do with my mixing business and also the surf recording band. And so all of these skills were much more important to me. And it didn't care about at all, like about what she knew at this time, at this point. So that's just my personal story when it comes to that. And, and he could have impressed me with technical things and I wouldn't have cared and other people before him maybe knew more, but I didn't let them be an intern.

[00:37:35] Malcom: Told the same story with, uh, my assistant editor, uh, Stacy. He. Uh, I went looking for somebody that uses pro tools and the same software I use for like vocal editing and stuff like that. Stacy checked, none of those boxes doesn't use ProTools doesn't have any of the software I use, but he came up with solutions for all of those problems and immediately was like, well, here's [00:38:00] how I could get around that and still get you what you need. Um, I can learn that software. I can, you know, like it was just like, none of these are problems. They're just obstacles for, for me to figure it out and, and then get the job done. And it was like, Yeah. you're, you're the, you're the person you're hired. Um, 

[00:38:14] Benedikt: Yeah. Yep. 

[00:38:15] Malcom: that attitude goes so far and, and, you know, like thinking about it, he learned some new skills along the way and got paid for it 

[00:38:24] Benedikt: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, same thing here. Like Thomas is not an intern now. Like he left that sort of thing long ago. Like he came to me in late 2019 and I was just, and I don't even call him an assistant anymore. He's just an engineer that I partnered with who helps with like all sorts of projects that we do now. Um, he started as an engineer, but we've been working for two and a half year now, years now together, and it's going great. and yeah, he pretty quickly got paid for all of that. So yeah, absolutely. Same 

[00:38:51] Malcom: Amazing. Yeah. Assistance is the wrong word. We've got to just figure out how to get rid of that because Stacey's not my assistant at all. He just does like the job of the assistant editor, [00:39:00] but I hate the word. He's 

[00:39:01] Benedikt: yeah, 

[00:39:02] Malcom: He's just doing editing 

[00:39:03] Benedikt: yes, yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, I brought that up at some point to Thomas and it was like, Hey, I keep calling you assistant. And I just, it doesn't feel right. Um, and he's like, I don't, I don't mind like. It's not less valuable, like being an assistant is not a, you know, it's like a valuable thing and I'm like, yeah, but I like don't want to do that anymore for some reason. Yeah. Anyway, I don't know if it says if that's a bad thing or not, but I feel like it's just a partnership at this point. And, so yeah, uh, yeah, as I said, fitspo is the thing, the skill, like, figure it the fuck out. If you can do that, then. 

[00:39:35] Malcom: will be better. 

[00:39:36] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. All right. So I, I hope this was a helpful episode. I was rambling again, that always happens with these types of episodes when I get really passionate about something. And it's not something really practical, but like a big picture thing like that. It's always hard to describe that, but I think. Got I hope we got the point across and, uh, I hope that you keep learning and that you still believe that knowledge is important, but [00:40:00] don't let it get in the way of the art of the creativity. Break the rules. Focus on the song, do what serves the song. All of these things are so much more important. Be open. Don't be a know it all like that's the whole takeaway.

[00:40:13] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Don't let this podcast episode stop you from listening to this podcast.

[00:40:17] Benedikt: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Totally. All 

[00:40:22] right. Um, anything you want to add? 

[00:40:24] Malcom: Uh, no, I think we've got so much in there. yeah, I hope it was valuable. Everyone. Thank you for listening as, as always. 

[00:40:30] Benedikt: Thank you. See you next week. Bye. 

[00:40:33] Malcom: Bye.

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