Your 2020 New Year’s Audio Resolution

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I’m assuming you survived Christmas if you’re reading this. I’m actually slowly getting back in the swing of things this week. As you’re getting back into things for the New Year, I have a New Year’s Resolution for you if you’re looking to up your audio game this year.

So, I had a cool thing happen last month. I was working in my studio on a mix and looking at measurements of some things, and everything was measuring spot on to what I shoot for. Mind you, I wasn’t mixing to these measurements, I was hitting them naturally. So I kicked out a mix and went to listen in my car, and it was dead on where I wanted it to be.

This got me really excited, but it wasn’t because the mix was great. I was excited because I knew I could finally trust my new monitors.

I changed my main studio monitors out about six months ago, and as I wrote last year it was kind of a terrifying thing. The new monitors were a definite improvement, but when you shake up the familiar it’s hard to know what you’re actually hearing. The only way you can really know is to keep working and see how the results translate and adjust as needed.

I haven’t had a lot of issues with translation from my new monitors, but it still took work at first and a bit more on the “mastering” side than I normally want to do. As a studio mix engineer this kind of sucks, and it’s not something I really deal with in live sound working with PA’s. With the PA, what you hear is what you and everyone else gets, but when you’re mixing in a studio it’s all about making sure what you hear is going to translate to rooms and systems you’re not working on.

So what does that have to do with New Year’s Resolutions? Well, my recommendation for you is to Build Your Audio Confidence in 2020.

I know. Pretty cliche and formulaic, but hear me out.

When I look back over my entire audio career from my start in high school theater to my first full-time job and up through the last 20+ years, nothing probably helped me more than increases in confidence. I think it’s the lynchpin in audio success. In my case last year, gaining more confidence in my monitors was liberating because I can just do what I do without having to think about whether it “really” works.

Self-doubt and second guessing yourself are natural, and these seem to be common character traits among many engineers. I think some of the most impactful moments of my career came from witnessing some of my audio heroes display their doubts right in front of me. Impostor syndrome is a real thing, and many of us have it no matter what level we’re at.

So when I’m talking about Confidence here, I’m not talking about a cure for that because I don’t think there is a cure. The Confidence I’m talking about is more the ability to manage the self-doubt and second guessing. It’s about being able to work through it with the faith and belief that you can work through it. It’s confidence about knowing your own tastes and what you are doing and being able to manage your decisions against what your boss or pastor or artist or client or whoever wants without getting rattled.

Now, I don’t know exactly how you should approach building confidence this year because it’s probably going to look different for everyone. Maybe it means getting some training. Maybe it means finding some new people to surround and encourage you. Maybe it means finding someone who can coach you. And maybe it even means changing your current working situation or walking away from poor relationships. If there is some way I can assist you in building your confidence, I would love to chat. Feel free to connect with me through my website.

David Stagl

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