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“The Only Thing That Matters Is What Comes Out Of The Speakers”

Daily Blog - May 21st 2021

I love this quote by Andrew Scheps! There are no rules and nobody cares how you got to the final result. How does it sound and feel?

“The Only Thing That Matters Is What Comes Out Of The Speakers”

Don't follow any advice blindly. There are very few things you should do on principle or because "that's how you do it".

For example, I posted a couple of weeks ago that you should make it a habit to always use fades/crossfades when you edit audio to prevent clicks and pops.

And I give my mixing clients a checklist that also says things like "make sure you add fades to all your edits" or "leave a couple dB of headroom on every track", "avoid clipping, unless it's intentional", etc.

Does that mean you should go back now and add fades to an already edited recording that doesn't have any audible clicks in it, just because I said so? Or that you have to trash this awesome take and re-record the part because you accidentally clipped it? No. If it sounds good it is good, even if it's technically "wrong" or "flawed".

Some more examples:

Maybe you've heard someone say that modern editing techniques, vocal tuning, drum samples or amp sims are "taking the life out of music". So you avoid these things out of principle, not realizing they can be used to make a recording feel a lot better, while keeping all of the original vibe, organic sound and mojo of the performance completely intact. Or even enhance those original qualities. If done right for that situation.

Or you've heard so many good things about tape, tubes, transformers and analog circuits in general, that you start to believe this is what will finally make your music sound great. You go down an expensive rabbit hole only to find that in the end nothing has improved about the way your records sound, your success as an artist or how people react to your music.

Maybe you've heard people say the exact opposite, telling you that you can do everything in the box with a cheap interface, cheap microphones, a pair of headphones, any DAW and its stock plugins. But then you wonder why your record is sounding flat and amateur, compared to your favorite records.

All of the statements above can be true or false, depending on the context. Any piece of advice related to those statements can be helpful or misleading.

The reality is that it's all about why and how you're using the tools available to you. It's about developing your taste and your ears. It's about defining the sound in your head and then finding ways that work for you to bring it to life. Whatever those may be. And what works for you will not work for any other person. It's about knowing when a certain technique needs to be applied and when it doesn't matter or makes things worse. 

As listeners, we want to enjoy good music. That's all. Nobody cares how you've made your record sound so organic and vibey. Nobody cares how you got that guitar tone. And nobody cares how you got that great vocal performance. 

Does it sound good? Does it feel right? Then it is right. The techniques used (or not used) to get there are irrelevant to your audience.

Is there anything distracting? Are there obvious mistakes that are not helping the song in any way? Obvious bad edits? Obvious, unwanted distortion that's not making things better? Then do something about it. How you fix it doesn't matter, as long as you fix it.

“The Only Thing That Matters Is What Comes Out Of The Speakers” - Andrew Scheps

So don't just take any advice as gospel. Find what works for you to get to where you want to get. Be open to trying new techniques and ideas. Trust your ears and your intuition. Strive for excellence, making use of whatever you have available, instead of limiting yourself and your opportunities without a good reason for it - and before you've even tried. Just because someone said so.

-Benedikt

PS: I often post videos to these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

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