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Audio Recording Tips: The concept of “Knowing What You Want to Hear.”

By February 27, 2013March 16th, 2016Audio, Blog

I’m going to cover the concept in audio recording of “knowing what you want to hear”. This is very critical in audio recording and yet is all too often left out when recording a song or project or doing a live show.

This takes preparation, experience and experimentation. So start now if you do not have a “Brain File” in your brain as to what you want a song or a note or an instrument to sound like. This applies to audio recording and live performances, from musician to engineer, to producer, to system tech, to guitar tech and so on.

Far to often, I have experienced when the above-mentioned personnel does NOT have a good idea, ahead of time, of what they want something to sound or should possibly sound like. For example: I have in my “Brian File,” I a sound for a rock kick drum. I can hear it right now as I am typing this. In fact I have many different sounds in my “Brian File” for just this one instrument and type of music and year it was roughly produced from Country, Jazz, Pop, Rap, Rock, and the other types of music and the years they have gone through. They have different sounds for just this one instrument. Remember, it’s a starting point. As an engineer, producer, and player, I am not claiming that I know the exact year that a rock kic drum was produced as it changes over time and from band to band. I have not heard or experienced them all, but I do have a clear “Brain File” as to where to start.  You get the picture? This is what makes music so unique and keeps us all coming back for more. This applies to ALL instruments, vocals, and audio of any type.

Having a starting point of what you want to hear, in frequency, content, tone, and overall sound, will vary from instrument to instrument, to the players, the mic’s, sound systems, pre-amps, speakers, and the entire audio path from beginning to end. Even the cables. I will go so far to suggest that the AC power or even batteries used in foot pedal devices have been sworn by many a “top grade pro musician” that they hear the difference when they change these things.  This comes from that specific “Brian File” they have. Their focus is that deep! I encourage of you, no matter what capacity you’re in, as far as the audio is concerned, no matter whether you’re a producer, player, engineer, drum tech, guitar tech, to have that file in your brain for a starting point. Then move on from there to your end goal.

Another aspect to hearing what you want, is to hear what you don’t want. This is equally important, yet difficult for lot of people. What does that mean? Here is one example: a “mechanical” sound produced by a kic drum pedal. There is a potential sound you don’t want to hear in every audio path and situation. Beware of this as well. Create this “Brian File” as well. It will come in handy!

This will save you time, but will also produce a better product. If you are working for someone or new to working with them, get to know how they play, their gear and what they like in what they’re attempting to do. Better yet, what they want you to do. This applies to producers big time. Try to hear their “Brian File” then put that into use with them and others. Over time, the more you do this, you will have acquired a great file base.

Have a great day,


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