When I started getting back to music, I knew one thing I really needed to learn was audio engineering… It’s one thing to write songs but another to record them properly and yet another to mix them nicely.
You can get all the best recording gear in the world, build yourself a great sound treated studio, buy the most powerful computer, the best DAW (Digital Audio Workstation if you wonder what that means), but the one thing that you really need is to actually learn how to use all that.
And it takes time, because you need to train your ears. Critical listening is the one essential skill you need beyond the basics of learning how to operate a DAW which is a pretty complex and powerful piece of software. You can learn about EQ, compression, delays, reverbs, but you will get nowhere if you don’t know how to listen critically.
Now as I’ve said elsewhere, one thing you learn as a mixing engineer is to close your eyes, because it’s easy to get tricked by what you see… for example, say you are EQ-ing a track, and you look at the EQ curve, your brain will trick you to hear a change even if you’re actually EQ-ing another track, or even if that track is muted… It happened to me more than once, and it happened to most of the audio engineers I know. So best close your eyes if you want to avoid any false stimuli…
Which is where the essential accessory comes into play! Every studio worthy of this name needs one.. I’m talking about the Lava Lamp!!! Yes, if you look at recording studios, you will see all sorts of gear, mixing console, effects rack, cables, audio monitors, etc… But in the coolest studios, you will also likely see a Lava Lamp.
Personally, I feel that it’s very inducing to creative mixing. Just looking at the lava bubbles blowing up is fascinating and when I’m doing work on a mix and don’t want to close my eyes, I look at it instead of looking at the screen. Plus the light is really cool and not aggressive so you can sustain more time in your little sound bubble with it…
So if you really want to get into audio engineering, think about this essential mixing accessory! Your studio won’t be the same without it! ;-)