So, you’ve made the decision to spend some of your hard earned money on that recording project. Now begins the process of filtering through all of the many recording options and finding out what works best for you. One thing that you will run into, without a doubt, is what I like to call the old Ear vs. Gear argument.
If you have been playing music long enough, you have run into someone saying something to the effect of: “I don’t need all of that fancy gear, I have the ear to mix it”. As a producer and an engineer at a professional studio I hear this statement weekly. Thus, I’ve decided to devote this blog entry to tackling this issue once and for all. Is it in the gear or in the ear?
Let me first acknowledge the importance of a well-trained ear to the production of music. Everything inside of me wants to say that it is THE most important tool. However, I would be lying. For instance, what good are my ears if there is no sound to be heard, or no microphones to capture that sound? With all this said, I think that a well-trained ear is a linchpin in the world of sound engineering. I can’t argue with the importance of the ears. They are just as important as the taste buds of a master chef.
I also need to state the importance of equipment to the equation. All is lost without the ability to capture the sound and your ears are useless without some sort of medium for listening. Ears, without equipment, are just ears I suppose. Just like that master chef’s taste buds are inconsequential without the help of his knives. The gear is what allows an experienced producer to trust his or her ears. Nothing will bring a session to a screeching halt as quickly as problems with poor equipment
The most important point to make is this: the ears and the gear are not mutually exclusive. The producers and engineers in professional studios, with all the fancy gear, work there for a reason. Not to mention they do it a lot. If practice makes perfect, I would trust the ear of the person that listens every day. I have plenty of friends that are pretty mean with a camera phone. I will be hiring none of them to shoot my wedding.
Just remember, use your own ears to listen to what the producer has to say. It is important for you to find someone that you are comfortable sharing this experience with. It is important to trust your producer’s opinion, ear, and gear. After all the point of it all is to sound good, and that starts with the artist. So, you better get practicing; I’ll be listening! Until then……Stand Bye
Producer/Engineer – Oranjudio
Director of Multimedia – BusTown Music