Tony Visconti:- "Producers and Engineers: Rather than actively buying up new and vintage equipment, more plug-ins, thinking those inanimate things will make better records, you should be asking the artists you record to submit better music, better lyrics and better performances. Don't degrade your skill and talent by resigning yourself to polishing turds. Chasing the Top 10 is a fool's game. Give feedback, give direction. This is your responsibility to music, to our culture, to the public whom you do not want to let down."
I think to the Producers and Engineers without a lot of high end gear (myself included) this quote is motivational and inspirational. Sure there comes a line when you cross into bad equipment which will directly affect the finished result... but a lot of mixing and recording gear on the market today can produce great results for relatively small amounts of money.
If you had asked me 6 months ago I would have argued against this quote and insisted on needing a Neve console to do the job, but with more experience with high end gear and plugins I now wholeheartedly agree with Visconti. In terms of mixing and mastering there is only a certain amount of glitter you roll the turd in and in the end it is still shit underneath.
I believe the emphasis on flashy gear through different mediums is cemented in our sub conscious from an early age and sets us up for polishing turds when hitting the studios. I’m grateful for the opportunity to fully digest Visconti’s wise words and really approach my next recording session with a fresh outlook and set of ears. I have a great band booked in for a recording session in 3 weeks’ time; this will be the chance to not shy away from behind the desk but to spend ample amount of time on the other side of the glass.
From now on my main focus will be talking to the musicians and making sure we understand each other, making them feel welcome to offer opinions (and vise-versa). Next time I will personally be putting on the headphones and setting up headphone mix’s, this will take some of the stress away from the session, nothing worse when a musician is waiting for the engineer to figure out something. And lastly just taking the time to really listen around the space and not be afraid to stop and move a microphone or swap it for another.
In my experience so far a well thought out and well planned session goes a long way and can dramatically improve the quality at the end of the day. Giving the musicians the time and freedom to breathe sparks creativity and fun; giving the room energy tthus producing a better album.