Surely you've heard the saying, “There are two kinds of people in this world,” as it has been creatively applied to most any discipline, topic or argument one can think of. Does such divisiveness have a place in serious discussions? Can one’s behavior really be boiled down to two diametrically opposed opinions? Are there exactly two kinds of audio engineers, or audio engineering styles? Sure, probably, and course there are! ;)
Linear Vs. Color:
Some folks seek to capture without harm (which sounds more like the theme of an Animal Planet show) with a strategy of harnessing ideal audio with transparent, ultra-high-fidelity precision and keeping it that way throughout the entire production process. Distortion be damned; full bandwidth or death; and dynamics forever!
The “Color” camp passionately pursues every audio evil rejected by the linearists. Give us your tired; your dirty; your frequency mangled because we'll over compress them, jack the EQ and hit the stompbox ... until it’s all a huddled mass, yearning to be free.
Subtractive Vs. Additive:
The EQ’ers -- Intellectually, we likely all agree that you should reach for one well-placed dip before you start a bunch of smiley-faced boosting. Yet many a curve cowboy still reaches for that low (or high) shelf and starts riding it until she bucks. Truth be told, even if you cut first, you're likely to boost next.
The Crap Finders -- Still technically EQ'ers, these bizzaro-tweakers ridiculously crank graphic bands or sweep heavily-boosted frequencies until they hear the nastiest frequency response possible, then gruffly attenuate the hell out of it. So, what camp do they belong in? The world may never know.
To Sub, or Not to Sub ... That is the Question:
We all want our bottom end to translate well wherever it may bump, but these two camps will never see port to port:
“Just let me hear those last two octaves and I'll deal with the placement, phasing and crossover issues,” the bottom-feeding sub-lovers exclaim.
“I'll take two carefully chosen monitors, my trusty pair of Brand X headphones and a little thing I call ‘experience,’” the full-range camp counters in their trademark holier-than-thou manner.
Lots of Plug-ins Vs. The A-Team:
Some engineers collect everything soft they can get their hands -- er, thumb drives -- on. From freeware, to natives, to PCI-powered powerhouses, these folks have 25 good solutions to any given problem. While choices are nice, weaker engineers have been known to die of boredom waiting for their “12-plugs-per-channel” sessions to open.
The other side has one prized boutique plug-in for any task; running with one choice of each popular flavor (tube, opto, blackface, etc.), they know every advanced function intimately, swearing by their processors. FYI, DO NOT use stock plug-ins in this camp’s presence!
The End Justifies the Means Men Vs. Pro Audio’s Honest Abes:
Decisions, decisions! Should I click track, quantize, drum replace, virtual amp, pitch correct, guide track, ghost vocal, producer dub, AND sample borrow ... or, not?
Maybe there's more than two kinds of engineers on this one?
Analog Vs. Digital:
Blah, blah, blah.
Any more you can think of, PSNetwork readers? Add your thoughts to the comments section below.
Rob Tavaglione is the owner/operator of Charlotte NC’s Catalyst Recording.catalystrecording.com