5 Tips to Improve the Sound: What You Have Never Been Told

5 Tips to Improve the Sound: What You Have Never Been Told

Below we will give you 5 fundamental tips that you should keep in mind if you want to improve the sound of your musical productions.

In this article you will find five tips , which are usually not explained in tutorials, since they are usually focus on more technical sound issues. These recommendations , are as basic as they are important. the ideas have been collected from the experience of different professionals in the sector. We want to share them with you to help your projects take a significant step forward.

Avoid becoming a computer addict

Of course, it is important to know, experiment, study and ultimately play everything that comes your way, in order to become an experienced and judicious sound technician. We firmly believe that practice makes perfect (this is not one of the 5 concepts in this article, but it is not bad to keep it in mind). 

It is a very beneficial attitude to launch yourself to try and make mistakes as many times as necessary. This is not anything new either, we all know the role of experience, linked to sensory perception, in the formation of knowledge.

That being said, many times we let ourselves be dazzled by the technical characteristics of the equipment , by the studio that has dozens of preamps that we have only seen in magazines, etc…

In addition, we also deal with preconceived ideas that some teams are bad and others are good just because they have told us or we have read about it. 

Where do we want to go with all this? There is no magic list of elements , equipment or instruments that is the best and that works in all situations.

We can have a wide list of equipment and know all its characteristics, but what is important is the way in which we integrate it and, above all, how we use it. That is, what is the benefit that, with our knowledge, we get from the equipment that we have. 

Technology changes rapidly and sometimes we get dizzy and think that it is very important to have the latest version of a certain product and we spend more time on updates than creating or managing an interesting project.

Train your mind through your ear

Ear training is really a training for the mind. Conscious hearing is not a function of the ear but of the mind. The appreciation of sound, that is, perceiving and recognizing the merit of a good sound, its characteristics, detecting if what we are listening to is poor material, lacking in nuances, or on the contrary, clear and harmonically rich, is the consequence of a mental image that is forged based on experience and habit. 

Listening and identifying the essential characteristics of a good mix, so that it sounds good, balanced and professional, requires training.

amplifier mixer to improve the sound

For example, a musician, who is used to picking out songs by ear, has a different vision, which allows him to face music from a broader perspective , since he is forced to listen carefully to each and every one of the instruments… , their details , melodies, articulations, etc. This is key to improve the sound.

When a musician with these characteristics listens to a song, he can generate a mental image quite easily, visualize the notes or chord sequences, distinguish one instrument from another, their different timbres, etc. And this is just practice, nothing more.

It is important to make ear training a regular activity, a daily activity. This exercise in coordination between the ear and the brain improves your ability to discriminate the different aspects of a sound and increases your ability to take them where you want to go. 

There are different types of practices in this regard, passive, active training, etc. The purpose of this article is not to delve into the more technical aspects, such as analysis classes, mixes, exercises, balances, panoramas, depth or dynamics, since this is material for another type of content that we will discuss on another occasion.

Keep a productive vision to improve the sound

Consider how things can add up. Be flexible, curious and pragmatic. This will enrich your work.

It is very important to seek the best synergy. As we have mentioned before, there is no sacred list of equipment, nor techniques or unique ways of working, what there are thousands of tools to enhance our production and our creativity, and many ways to do it. We must find the ones that, together, offer us the best result.

We have often heard phrases like, what is better, mixing with headphones or speakers? 

This question is a clear example of what we are referring to at this point and the answer is applicable to many other similar situations: “One thing does not replace the other, but rather they complement each other, they give you a more global vision of what you are hearing and allow you to focus on different aspects. 

In case it hasn’t been completely clear, here’s another classic. Which is better Cubase or Pro Tools ? 

pro tools

There will be those who think that Pro Tools is an industry standard and those who say that Cubase has a thousand times better MIDI editor and that kind of thing.

Obviously there is a question of quality of development and components that is indisputable and that we take for granted, but, already within the universe of professional products, we must choose according to our needs, objectives and coherence with our workflow. The choice in the end will depend on your resources, specific needs, work system, type of project, and of course, your ears.

Follow the “quality source” rule

If something goes in sounding wrong, it will come out sounding wrong, this is a maxim that is always true and is valid both for recording and live. Therefore, you should always try to get the highest quality at the source of the audio  and maintain those conditions as much as possible (avoiding cumulative loss) throughout the processing. 

You can never trust that you will solve it later. No matter what equipment, knowledge or experience you have, the basic idea is that the higher the quality of the starting audio, the better the final product will be. This brings us to the next point. Use your equipment wisely.

To improve the sound, Use the tools consciously

If you don’t know what a piece of equipment does or is used for, don’t use it. This has its nuances, which we will explain a little further down, but the main idea is this.

It may happen that you have a processor, not very common for you, but that you have heard that it works wonders. Let’s take for example an “aural exciter”. Product specifications detail the following: increased presence and clarity, increased perceived loudness, improved detail and intelligibility, etc.

It is a mistake to think that because the equipment offers all these possibilities and is manufactured by a great brand, just passing the audio signal through it will improve the sound. If you do not know how the product works, you can get quite the opposite. 

For this reason, our advice is that you first study the equipment, inform yourself, look for examples , and only then use it in your work, knowing what you are doing at all times.

At this point we also encourage you to experiment , without compromising your work, or the work of others. It’s a good attitude to learn and get new sounds, fresh ideas and develop your personality. 

Trying, making mistakes, getting it right, all this has a positive effect on your learning and your creativity. But if you really don’t know what you’re doing and it doesn’t sound any better, then it probably isn’t worth it. Remember the maxim rule: if it sounds good, it’s good .

We hope that these simple tips have been interesting to you and that they fulfill their function, that of helping you to enrich and improve the way you work.

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