Vector animation of a hierarchy pyramid

First Things First (Audio Production)

May this serve as a constant reminder...

To capture and create better audio, invest in the first things first.

Use this simple visual formula to align your priorities and focus on what matters most.

Let's break it down...

Hierarchy of Audio Production - Skills

Skills

A tool is only as good as the hands that wield it.

Never stop learning.

Never stop teaching.

Nobody is too good or too old to be better.

It is difficult. It requires intentionality and patience. But, it ultimately reaps priceless rewards.

Above all else, invest in yourself and others.

Hierarchy of Audio Production - Content

Content

Content is a sum of many parts...

  • Script
  • Arrangement
  • Talent
  • Voice
  • Tone
  • Pacing
  • Tuning
  • Underscore
  • Sound Effects
  • Mood
  • and more

Content doesn't require fancy equipment to be compelling.

And fancy gear rarely, if ever, makes poor content better.

Start at the source.

Hierarchy of Audio Production - Control

Control

Signal-to-noise ratio is one of the most important factors in all types of audio production.

The more signal and less competing noise you have, the better the results.

Control details like ambient noise, reverb or echo, and environmental influences like buzzes or interference as much as possible.

This is an important first step to capturing clear sound.

Hierarchy of Audio Production - Microphone

Microphone

The microphone is arguably the most critical step between the source and the listener's ears.

The wrong mic can make a wonderful sound all wrong.

The right mic in front of the right sound can create beauty.

Start with the right microphone for the task.

A common, and often egregious, mistake I see is a shotgun mic used to capture spoken word in a small interior space.

Hierarchy of Audio Production - Position

Position

There is a unique dance that happens in the physics between a source of sound and a microphone.

Mic placement drastically affects how sound is captured and perceived.

And the positioning of instruments and musicians has a significant impact on the final outcome.

There is a world of opportunity alone with positioning.

Spend the time to make it right.

Proximity, sweet spot, signal-to-noise ratio, angle, axis, and tone are all key terms here.

Hierarchy of Audio Production - Gain

Gain

The amount and quality of gain given to an audio signal affects it in major ways.

Too little gain often results in noise, a lack of fullness, or a lack of clarity.

Too much gain often results in clipping, distortion, or harshness.

Again, signal-to-noise ratio is an important factor.

The right amount of quality gain can bring transparency, character, and warmth.

Gain structure in a multi-channel mix can also quickly lead to failure or success.

Focus attention on getting proper gain before anything else downstream.

Vector illustration of the Hierarchy of Audio Production

Details

Congratulations, the critical work is done!

Everything else is in the details.

Learn, create, evaluate, then repeat.

Go make something great! 💪

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