With the advent of digital consoles, meters, RTAs, and the like, so many times, we as audio techs begin to lean on those tools more and more. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, lately I have noticed that I began leaning on them too much instead of simply using my ears to make it sound great. I think we can easily get caught in a trap of turning knobs that make changes on a screen until it “looks right” whether it sounds good or not!
I don’t think that displays or graphs are bad. They are an extremely helpful tool when used appropriately. However, when they are used as a crutch, they’re no good.
I recall something that Danny Duncan from Vanguard Recording said to me. It’s so simple I feel like I should have thought of it before but never did. Stop looking at the controls. Stop looking at the screen with the graphs on it. Close your eyes and EQ only using your ears.
It’s crazy that we have become so dependent on the graphic and visual representations of what we do as audio engineers. Ultimately, it’s all about how it sounds in the end. Call it a New Years resolution, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to not depend so much on visual tools to get me to where I need to be. Rather, I’m going to force myself to depend on what my ears hear.