Top 10 Audio Engineering Myths

As an audio engineer, I’ve heard a lot of myths about audio engineering over the years. Some of them are harmless and simply amusing, while others can lead to disastrous results. In this article, I’ll be debunking the top 10 audio engineering myths that I’ve come across.

Myth 1: High sample rates and bit depths make audio sound better

One of the most common audio engineering myths is that higher sample rates and bit depths automatically make audio sound better. While it’s true that higher sample rates and bit depths can provide more detail and resolution in digital audio, the human ear can only perceive a limited range of frequencies and dynamic range. In fact, most people can’t hear a difference between 16-bit and 24-bit audio, and the majority of commercial music is still recorded at 44.1kHz sample rate.

Myth 2: You need expensive gear to make professional sounding recordings

Another common myth is that you need expensive gear to make professional sounding recordings. While high-end gear can certainly make a difference in the quality of your recordings, it’s not always necessary. In fact, some of the most iconic recordings in history were made on budget gear. What’s more important than gear is having a good understanding of the fundamentals of audio engineering, and learning how to use the gear you have to its fullest potential.

Myth 3: EQ should always be used to fix audio problems

EQ is a powerful tool in audio engineering, but it’s not always the solution to every problem. In fact, sometimes EQ can make things worse. For example, if you’re trying to remove a specific frequency that’s causing a problem in a recording, cutting that frequency with EQ might also remove other important frequencies that you want to keep. Instead, try using other tools like dynamic range processing or noise reduction to solve the problem.

Myth 4: Louder is always better

One of the biggest myths in the music industry is that louder is always better. While it’s true that a loud mix can grab the listener’s attention, it’s not always the best approach. In fact, excessively loud mixes can cause ear fatigue and actually make the music less enjoyable to listen to. The key is to find the right balance between volume and dynamics, and to use compression and limiting judiciously.

Myth 5: The room you record in doesn’t matter

Another common myth is that the room you record in doesn’t matter. In reality, the room you record in can have a significant impact on the sound of your recordings. A poorly treated room can result in unwanted reflections and resonances that can color the sound of your recordings, and can be very difficult to fix later on. Investing in acoustic treatment for your recording space can make a huge difference in the quality of your recordings.

Myth 6: Mixing is just turning up the volume of the right tracks

Mixing is a complex process that involves much more than simply turning up the volume of the right tracks. A good mix requires careful balancing of levels, panning, EQ, compression, and other effects to create a cohesive and balanced sound. It also requires a good understanding of the genre and style of music being mixed, as well as the ability to make creative choices that enhance the emotion and impact of the song.

Myth 7: Compression should always be used to control dynamics

Compression is a powerful tool in audio engineering that can be used to control dynamics and add punch to a recording. However, it’s not always the best solution to every problem. In fact, using too much compression can result in a lifeless and artificial sound. It’s important to use compression judiciously and in conjunction with other techniques like EQ and volume automation to create a natural and dynamic mix.

Myth 8: Reverb should always be used to make audio sound better

Reverb is another powerful tool in audio engineering that can be used to create a sense of space and depth in a recording. However, it’s not always necessary or appropriate. Using too much reverb can make a recording sound muddy or washed out, and can also make it more difficult to distinguish individual elements in a mix. It’s important to use reverb sparingly and in a way that enhances the emotion and impact of the music.

Myth 9: Mastering will fix a poorly mixed or recorded track

Many people believe that mastering is a magic fix that can turn a poorly mixed or recorded track into a professional sounding masterpiece. While mastering can certainly enhance the sound of a recording, it can’t fix fundamental problems with the mix or recording. It’s important to focus on getting a good mix and recording in the first place, and then using mastering to add the final touches and polish to the finished product.

Myth 10: You need to be born with “good ears” to be a successful audio engineer

Finally, there’s a myth that you need to be born with “good ears” to be a successful audio engineer. While it’s true that some people have a natural talent for audio engineering, it’s also a skill that can be learned and developed over time. With practice and training, anyone can learn how to listen critically and develop the skills needed to create professional sounding recordings.

Conclusion

There are many myths and misconceptions about audio engineering that can lead to confusion and even disaster for aspiring engineers. By understanding and debunking these myths, you can develop a clearer understanding of what it takes to create professional sounding recordings. Remember that audio engineering is a skill that can be learned and developed over time, and that the most important factor in creating great recordings is a dedication to the craft and a willingness to learn and experiment.

Thank you for reading, and happy engineering!