These misconceptions are a bit like John McLane, they won’t die that easily, and if you get caught in their whirl, they will just give you lot of confusion and stress and take you away from your primary goal, which is making great music.
With this series I want to dismantle a few of them I heard about over the years, so that we can shed some light upon the truth and start this new year with the right foot!
#1 You Need Expensive Gear To Make A Great Sounding Record
This is likely the most popular audio myth around… It is not a better preamp, a new expensive outboard compressor or that missing plugin bundle that will give you a great mix.
Having the right knowing and training can get your mix 80% there with your mix with affordable gear ($200-ish) as well. No need to get an expensive $2000 preamp or whatever.
So please, Instead of wasting your money chasing that ultimate piece of equipment, get some training, learn new techniques, form you unique taste and mix as many songs as you can. It’s a trial and error process… Don’t believe the hype around. It’s meant to get you down… You can definitely make great recordings even if you’re on a budget.
#2 To Get The Best Quality, You Always Need To Record As Hot As You Can Before Clipping
Huge misconception here. With digital 24bit recording, we have tons of pure digital “space” (headroom) and very low noise-floors that you can get a clean sounding recording even if you keep our peaks a few dB below the digital roof of 0dBFS. In fact, most audio interfaces will work even better if you hit the sweet spot of their converters, which is much lower than that!
So there’s no logic reason to record close to 0! Don’t let the meters fool you. Keep your signals averaging around -18dBFS (as that’ll likely be your sweet spot), with peaks a bit higher in the yellow area, no red allowed, and you’re done! Good clean signals, no noise below and headroom above!
#3 Digital Sounds Worse Than Analog
I bet you already know how it goes…Digital lacks warmth, depth, sounds harsh, sterile, clinical, <put your next bad term here>, and so on…
There’s nothing wrong with digital. It just sounds real and pure. In fact, digital gives us something that’s closer to the real thing, to what we hear in the room while the artist is playing. A clean and pristine digital recording wins hands down over an analog one for what concerns faithfulness!
The problem is that we don’t like to hear sounds that way! Analog tape and equipment adds harmonic distortion, compression, high end smoothing and other things we find pleasant. Given our fully-analog past, we got so used to hear music that way that, when we listen at something which has been recorded in a pure digital way, we just don’t like it. It doesn’t have all the analog distortions we like… But that’s not an issue inherent with digital; it’s more about us and our habits.
Don’t miss Part 2…