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Less Is More…or Is It?

Every once in a while I see threads pop up on social media denouncing the use of plug-ins or some other modern form of audio technology.

You can ignore these threads.

You should ignore these threads.

The type of gear used is pretty meaningless these days. All manner of gear gets used to make things sound great.

Plug-ins, for example, have been used in some capacity on just about every hit song you’ve heard for the last 20 years, and these days pretty much every commercially released piece of audio including music, TV, films, and all manner of streaming content has been touched by plug-ins. In a great many cases, they are the ONLY type of processing used on those releases.

The “gear” doesn’t matter.

Similarly, good mixes and bad mixes are not about how much gear you use. Apply that to plug-ins or outboard or microphones or whatever is the “thing” getting the attention today.

Numbers are meaningless.

Only what comes out of the speakers matters.

Period.

I’ve heard engineers do brilliant things with plug-in chains longer than I would probably use. I’ve also heard engineers do brilliant things with just a microphone.

The judgement of the engineer is the deciding factor in the success of any approach put into practice.

If you’re throwing gear or plug-ins or whatever at something because you think you should or just because you can, you’re doing it wrong.

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I posted on Instagram last weekend from a FOH gig I was doing that “Less is More…Sometimes….“. The photo showed a pretty empty Waves MultiRack session. Some of the plug-ins in the rack weren’t even enabled.

Not every gig I do ends up with a rack like this. Sometimes they are much more full. It just depends on what I feel is needed. Last weekend I didn’t need much. Next time could be a different story.

Sometimes less is more.

But sometimes MORE is more.

Contrary to what some might have you believe, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recipe for audio production. That’s one of the many challenges that comes with the discipline.

So, do you struggle with figuring out when to use a type of processing? Are you trying to get better at understanding when to use a little and when to use a lot? Do you want to help yourself and the team you work with move your audio skills to the next level?

I’d love to connect with you. Drop me a line through my Contact page.

David Stagl

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Less Is More…or Is It?