Shooting in the Dark: Making Changes Without Listening
Imagine an archer, shooting a target with his eyes closed. He fires an arrow, opens his eyes to see that he missed, only to grab another arrow and fire again, eyes closed. With enough time, the archer will eventually hit the target by firing and readjusting little by little, but wouldn’t it be a lot more efficient to simply fire the arrow with his eyes open?
One of the biggest mistakes I see beginners making with audio is either recording or mixing without listening. This can mean recording without headphones, changing an EQ setting without audio playing, or exporting an audio project without listening to it first. People seem more inclined to scrutinize barely perceptible differences between two microphones rather than actively listen while recording or mixing. Recording with headphones on makes a far greater difference than any microphone could ever make, as the talent can make adjustments to his or her position relative to the microphone, and shaping the recorded sound in real time. These changes go a long way and can save money and time by relying on technique rather than expensive gear and postproduction.
Critical monitoring is the biggest secret in audio, and the thing separates truly professional recordings from the poor-sounding amateur recordings. Even an archer shooting with his eyes closed will hit his mark eventually, but it’s far simpler to shoot with your eyes open.
Photo credit: @alesnesetril