One of the rules of audio recording and production is this:
There are no rules
I remember the first time I heard someone say “If it sounds right it is right”. In my mind, this was revolutionary.
I had been obsessed with trying to do things the “right way”. (Which way are the drum overheads supposed to be panned? Which mic am I supposed to use on a guitar amp?) Over time I learned that it doesn’t matter how I do things. The only thing that matters is the outcome.
I experienced this in a fresh way in my recording project a few weeks ago. The artist I was recording, Karen, was warming up for a few vocal takes on the first song. I was doing some recordings with my favorite microphone to set up levels and mic placement.
I was not happy with the recordings. It kind of sounded like Karen was singing into an aluminium bottle. I tried changing the mic placement a few times. It helped some, but not enough.
So, I decided to switch microphones. I had a second microphone that I wasn’t too happy with in the past. I had recorded my own voice with it, and felt that it sounded kind of wimpy. But I decided I might as well give it a shot with Karen’s voice.
The result was fantastic. Her voice was clear, warm, and free of the aluminium bottle sound.
The moral of the story is this: break the rules. Try new things. Even if something didn’t work for you in the past (like my microphone example), maybe it will work for you in today’s situation. Give it a shot.
In this industry, rules are meant to be broken, as long as it serves the music. If it sounds right, it is right. My encouragement to you: don’t let anyone (including yourself) tell you that it can’t be done a certain way. Try it, and see for yourself.
Do you have examples about how something unconventional or “against the rules” worked for you? Leave a comment!