The Search for Talent Should Outweigh Your Search for Recording Methods, and Gear

Posted by Warren Dent on Nov 9th 2015

I'm always perplexed by the cult of personality built up around recording engineers who have a legacy and history we all wish we had. I don't mean to belittle their achievements in even the slightest way, I'm saying that their path is their path and we have no way to emulate it at all. Are they a musician? If so, what instrument(s) do they play? Was that their path to recording engineering? Or, did something else lead them there?

Meanwhile, you are who you are and here you are...recording music for fun or for profit. Somehow you arrived, but it probably had nothing to do with what many famous engineers did.

We should respect the pioneers above all, the people who started to bend the rules until one day everyone realized, there are no more rules. All of these options in technique, room design and gear would not be the same without them. At some point though you have to weigh what you know (assuming you know the basics) against your own output and quality of your recordings. 

When you do this, I think you will find the biggest factor is the talent on the other side of the glass that you are recording.

If Bruce Swedien walked into your studio while tracking drums, would he really mic a drum kit much differently than you?

Probably not, the biggest difference would be the talent he gets to record based on his stature and career.

Keep in mind, the second biggest difference would be his problem solving skills and adapting to each situation based on experience. Nobody just wakes up with this, unfortunately it's a skill set that separates good from bad experiences in many studios.

Mic'ing up a guitar amp is normally one microphone, you can do this right? OK...then the difference will be the player and the arrangement you are capturing. If it's a stellar situation, the mic will actually matter the least.

It may be time to examine that last elusive "why don't my recordings sound like ____?" question with a search for, or development of the actual performing talent. A good band will make you sound good, a bad band will make you sound pretty bad.

A great band will make you sound great, you will feel like some kind of genius as you push the faders up and realize that you've been a part of something greater than idolizing a person or wondering what gear could transform your output.

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