5 Common Misconceptions About Music Production

beginner music production tips and misconceptions


ome recording studios are fun projects that are becoming increasingly common these days. A lot of audio engineers take it a step further and offer their equipment and services on a freelance basis to clients. Building a home studio is easy, but I see beginners getting caught on a lot of myths related to music production in general.

Here is a short list of the 5 most common misconceptions about music production.

1. Better Equipment Means Better Sound Quality

My day job requires me to converse with a lot of people who occasionally mention their “home studio” in passing. Most of the time, I have to suffer through a brief window of bragging about what equipment they have or what pricey piece of gear they’re going to install next. Here’s the bottom line: expensive production equipment doesn’t make music sound better.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to invest in quality products, especially if there’s a career on the line; however, most of the time this dilemma pops up among beginners who have room for plenty of mistakes. Mistakes are good. Learn from them! What beginners shouldn’t do is burn through a savings account with the hope that the latest and greatest equipment will make their music sound better.

It doesn’t matter if the microphone is $100 or $1000. It’s all about knowing how and when to use it.

2. Some DAWS “Sound” Better Than Others

This next sub-topic is a spiral of debate that many newcomers get caught up in every day. A DAW, or digital audio workstation, is specialized software that we use to record, mix, edit, and master audio. There are a handful of options out there like Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Logic, Cakewalk, Cubase, FL Studio, and Reaper. Each one of these has its advantages and disadvantages. Deciding which one to invest your time and money in is daunting. I struggled to find which DAW is right for me, and I won’t be the last!

One huge misconception is that some DAWs sound better than others. There is no such thing as superiority or inferiority regarding this topic. It’s all a matter of preference, end of story. Some professional engineers prefer Pro Tools; others prefer Logic. The DAW you choose will depend on workflow, features, and affordability. A DAW is just an empty box until you route audio through it. It doesn’t sound like anything.

Try them all and stick with the one you like best!

3. Louder is Better When Mastering

Mastering is a very complex process that follows the mixing stage of music production. Usually, a professional mastering engineer is hired to get it done. One of the recurring conversations around most forums regarding mastering is the end-goal. Again, like everything else in this field, there’s a ton of debate about it. Basically, mastering is the icing on the cake, as they say. It’s a process in which the mastering engineer finely tunes the mix to ensure it has a polished stereo image, among many other things.

During the mastering stage, there’s usually a bump in loudness. Naturally, many assume its for to achieving louder mixes. I admit, I shared the same assumption when I first got started too. Although mastering can help, it’s important to understand that its primary use is to enhance the final mix before the song is ready for distribution. It takes years to be considered proficient, so don’t expect to hear drastic improvements in your mastering skills overnight.

Use the mastering stage to enhance your mix, not to make it louder.

4. If a Mix Sounds Good in a Car, It’ll Sound Good Everywhere

Here’s another tip that gets tossed around a lot. Although its a useful strategy, a mix needs to sound good through several different outputs (earbuds, home stereo, studio monitors, headphones, computer speakers, etc.)

Play your mixes through as many systems as possible.

5. Stock Plugins Can’t Get the Job Done

Some producers swear by stock plugins, while others rave over designer third-party plugins. There’s a lot of hype over third party plugins the better results they offer. I won’t argue too much with that angle. I have a few go-to tools myself. In reality, you don’t really need to pour money into piles of plugins. Paired with a stock plugin and a good ear, you can operate like Picasso.

Learn to use the bare essentials!

Make sure to check out my other related posts on audio production!

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