Remember the OOPS moments

Few things in life are only applicable in only one area. I grew up in the back end of a drive in restaurant, one where several of our recipes were only available at Rusty's, our restaurant. I remember stories of grandma taking months, if not years to perfect certain recipes. Much like in my own studio, many of the best discoveries were simply happy accidents.

Just like in the test kitchen, audio accidents can have surprising implications. I can't tell you how many times I've cringed, thrown my hands in the air and said "lesson learned! I'll never do that again." And yet, there have been times when an oops moment has turned into a massive epiphany.

Like not noticing that the mic moved an inch on my guitar cab, or missing the measurement on my 3:1 mic setup and finding the phasing pleasant, and so on. I've even heard from people who accidentally  discovered that angling the microphone removes plosives. (Set the mic to a side but point it at your mouth at under a 45 degree angle).

When I first started recording and mixing, I made every mistake under the sun. From the worst mic choice, to "mic placement, what's that?", clipping audio, to incredibly soft audio, to refrigerator noises in the background, to not using an interface, and on and on ad nauseam. There wasn't anywhere near as many resources for learning as there are now. YouTube wasn't out yet...so yeah, no videos showing me the fast fix. But I'll tell you what, I learned so much from making mistakes and not giving up. I learned, with just a simple SM57, how to make anything sing. How to make a stereo image from a single recording with a single mic by doubling the track, hard panning them left and right, and inverting the phase on one. Guess what, that's an actual famous stereo technique called the M/S technique or Mid-Side technique and I figured it out on my own (but I didn't discover it first...). FYI, yes, the audio disappears in mono, but it's a stereo technique. And the actual way to do it is with 2 mics set in an XY pattern at 90 degrees from each other (and the one facing left to right of the source needs to be a figure 8). Then you double the figure 8 mic, pan it, and flip the polarity on one track. That way the stereo image is a blending of wide stereo and a direct mono source. Plus, if the audio is played in mono, then you still have a solid track of the source.

I want you to take something very seriously here - learn and grow. Never stop learning. As soon as you find yourself being the "big fish" in the pond, find a new pond to swim in. Once I started to get more and more people in my area asking me for advice and help, I knew I needed to find bigger and better mentors. Life has a way of making things happen. I'd say it's God opening doors, you might say the universe revealed my path. Either way, it worked out. I found myself becoming friends with a couple guys who, let's just say, are way bigger fish than I am. And they were nice enough to take me under their wing. You can only learn and grow so much on your own, but always learn. If you're into recording, maybe start helping do sound at your church or local playhouse. You'd be surprised how different, and yet how alike the two forms of audio are. And learn from your mistakes, both the good and the bad ones. Because let's face it, not all mistakes are bad. And no bad mistake should be the end.

One of the most important things to remember with recording audio is that it's really more art than it is science. And with art and all things beautiful, it's often the "flaws" that people find the most attractive. Always remember to use your ears more than your eyes on a meter. Sound is subjective, and this is your art. You might as well love it.

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