Keith Everette Smith

Producer, Songwriter, Multi-Instrumentalist

The Right Tool For The Right Job

In any craft there are tools.  For the writer, it’s the pen, paper and the mind.  For the carpenter it’s a hammer, nails, table saws, etc.   These tools are useless unless you know how to use them and use them to the farthest extent possible. 

The same goes for your recording equipment.  Too many engineers buy plugin after plugin and really never learn the plugins they have.  Take time to learn every single function of a plugin.  Take it to extremes… find out what each compressor sounds like, describe it’s characteristics and know it’s breaking points.  

The reason this is important: While producing or mixing, we can spend a lot of needless time pushing and prodding a piece of gear, trying to get what we want out of it.  One reason we might struggle so much is because that particular piece of gear might not be well suited for the task you are asking it to perform.  One plugin might sound great on electric guitar, but sounds horrible on acoustic guitar.  This is perhaps more obvious when applying a microphone to a vocalist.  Most vocalists will not sound at their best in front of a C12, It is typically too bright… BUT every now and then you’ll experience a vocalist in front of a C12 and you’ll find a perfect marriage of singer and microphone.  

Application: As you’re mixing, if you find yourself struggling to get the right tonal character in the first few minutes, you may not need to twist another dial.  Instead, reach for another plugin.  The inherent differences in the equipment alone might be all you need.  The right sound might fall into place with ease.

Get to know you’re gear.  You’ll save yourself a lot of time, a lot of headaches, and your mixes will be better!