Moving Past Thinking


I’ve been trying to put an idea into words, and then I caught the end of an interview with Michael Brauer yesterday where he nailed it for me:

“You have get to the point where you know it so well you don’t think about it anymore.”
Michael Brauer

I think this is where a lot of the struggle is for engineers trying to improve. I know it was a big hurdle for me, but it wasn’t something I realized at the time.

We want to get better and we think we’re trying, but in actuality we’re often doing everything but knowing things so well.

We’re often out looking for some missing link of gear we don’t have. Or we’re trying to track down some super-secret black art mixing trick we think only the top mixers know.

We get addicted to the phrase If Only….

If only I had that microphone.
If only I had that drummer.
If only I knew so-and-so’s signal chain on the bass.

Audio production is a craft, though. The greatest thing you can do in learning how to engineer and mix is focus on the craft and learn it so well you don’t think about it anymore. But that’s really hard to do when you’re off chasing something that’s not right in front of you.

For example, one of the biggest roadblocks for me for many years was EQ. I was always looking for recipes from other engineers. I’d look at what frequencies they cut or boosted and take copious notes. Then I’d look at what gear they used and try and find the closest plug-in to it.

But do you know what I found?

They all did it differently.

There was no ONE “right” answer. There was no “magic” setting that could solve everything.

I was chasing information, but information wasn’t really the answer I needed. I had EQ’s in front of me all the time, and I needed to learn how to use THAT EQ.

Some information I learned was helpful because it got me in the ballpark at times. Ultimately, I just had to learn how to make it work for myself. I had to do it over and over again getting guidance along the way from other engineers when I could. Eventually the repetition got me to a point where it was nearly second nature.

It wasn’t an overnight thing, though. It took time and effort and intentionality along with some key guidance to get there.

This is the kind of thing I love helping engineers with today. I love guiding others to figure this all out faster so they’re not chasing ghosts in gear and esoteric techniques.

Are you ready to improve your audio production skills this year? I’d love to connect with you to discuss how I can help you and your team remotely or in-person in 2021. Please drop me a message through my Contact page, and I will be in touch.

David Stagl

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