A very good article on the 'Talent and Gear Fallacy'

A very good article on the 'Talent and Gear Fallacy'


though I mix on monitors AND headphones, the headphones I use are Audio Technica ATH M30x, they are flat response minimal leakage headphones, they are pretty good for mixing if you dont have access to your normal studio enviroment.

The biggest problems of headphone mixing is exaggerated stereo field and irregular bass response, some problems can be solved by mixing in mono on your headphones. I have heard of tuning software that can calibrate the headphones to feel more like a natural studio environment, but I have personally not used them.

When I mix on headphones, I am usually listening to stuff in mono, then verify to make sure its not sounding horrid on em, then switch back to my monitors.


I have Waves Nx and will usually turn the plugin on and off during mixing. I also have my headphones calibrated with Sonarworks. All in all it makes for a nice sounding system, I think. I’m far from an expert, but I will say that once in a while I’ll think that my speakers are on, when Waves Nx is on instead. So it must be doing something at least kind of right. :slight_smile:


cool, I was thinking about them at one point.I might try em

from an acoustic stand point, I have been in orchestra halls with phenomenal acoustics and control rooms with a lot spent inside. I think the goal of any kind of studio is the same - to have an accurate frequency response. Nothing more, nothing less.
@AlphaVictor could chime in here…
No matter how much you have invested in your studio, if you have not had your room tested and analyzed real time, you could either be over spending or underspending in your environment.

So there is definitely a possibility with headphones, trying to match expensive studio enviroments via software.


I appreciate the effort to cite a valid source. For real. I’m happy to acknowledge I had never heard of this done before and now I have. I have no idea if this would pass a US billboard and radio pop standard, but I’ll say kudos to that engineer for pulling this off.

But do consider this. That thing went to the radio charts with only 11K sales and it only took 35K to certify as gold. The ARIA is the rating is the #1 chart position which Sennheiser is referring to. ARIA is Australia only, which in and of itself does not invalidate the record as a sort of underdog technical achievement. But it was interesting that the ARIA seemed to award gold certification based on units PRINTED and shipped. Not units SOLD. When it comes to gold/silver/planium, the RIAA is the American association, an the only one that matters. Its requires 500K units SOLD.

You might say “Who the hell cares”? I do, partly because the validity of certifications of the records, trophies, and plaques that hang on someones wall is the sole distinguishing factor between the four digit pr song quote that Tom Lord-Alge gives and the three digit per song quote that most other people can.

Edit: Again, I give this one the benefit of the doubt, and acknowledging that Will Putney put out a sellable record using an extensive amount of outboard gear but mixing on headphones. But what I’m still not convinced, is if a US chart topper could go toe-to-toe with the other tracks that are 500 million + youtube spins yet mixed on a pair of headphones. I think its doubtful that the enormous firewall of bureaucrats who need to sign off on the funding to release a chart topper track in the US wouldn’t have send the Amity Affliction project back down the ladder for an overhaul. If it was a intended to challenge Justin Beiber or Lady Gaga in the open market, I’m CERTAIN it would have been sent in for some touchups. I’m not saying I could have done a better job on it, but I think Will Putney would agree that the mixes are not completely flawless.


Um…I’m pretty confused??? Are you talking about that Winds of Samsara album they took an award for at the 57th Grammys? Did Husky not mix that record? He appears to be credited for it.

That guys is an LA based prodigy who launched his career under Tchad Blake, has worked as the lead mix engineer for Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, and John Legend. He has verifiable credentials on those albums. Who said he doesn’t know much about gear and uses free plugins?

I’m confused.


Wait!!! Did that flute player try and take credit for something Husky mixed!?!? That’s not cool. Ouch. Not good.


I think what she is saying that he made a name for himself with his “initial” work being very crude. The composition was made without any prior knowledge of gear to be used. Just pure heart. Not the final mixed record. Ofcourse when he got attention, commercial grade engineers were involved. Wouter has quite a history, a home invasion that devastated his family, dedication to music, hard work that lead to his success not the gear (expensive instruments, recording gear etc.)


Yes whether a million dollar control room or a mother’s basement studio. Raw Goal is exactly the same “accurate frequency response” after that its just feel good stuff. Making the artist feel good and that accounts for most of the money.

When I hear the words “wow this room sounds so good” that is already an alarm because its not about sounding great, its about sounding accurate. There are exceptions to this though, some recording is done in echo chambers etc. but thats on purpose to record a particular sonic charactar. But the general idea is accuracy.


Those are one and the same for an experienced pro. A room is automatically shit if its not accurate. And its automatically shit if its accurate in some parts but you can’t properly form and balance your low end image. Hundreds of thousands of dollars go into soft costs, build out, and subwoofers to make this fast and efficient for the staff that works in it.

From now on when I rent big rooms I’m checking to see who built them. I don’t give a shit how fancy it looks, but from here on out, I’m doing my research on the design firm before pounding thousands of dollars out of my clients budgets to rent the place.


that is teh gist of it yes - it can look good but it could be shit bottomline.
But I have been surprised by smaller studios producing extremely close to accurate response with less than 5000 spent. Look like crap, made you feel like youre about to be mugged lol


Holy hell are you preaching to the choir here!! I’ve seen smart diligent people who do as much homework as you’d normally think they’d have to get their asses handed to them by rooms that looked very very well put together. I’m not an idiot, but I shit my pants when (a designer guy I have utmost respect for) told me how piss poorly some extremely well advertised facilities (which I probably shouldn’t directly name either) were nothing but well decorated clusterfucks. I couldn’t believe the famous (we’ll say infamous) studios he was advising me to say away from. But really, when I thought about it, it made sense. One in my area is particularly deceiving, because it has immaculately credentialed engineers working in it. But you know…if I was one of them, and needed a steady job, I’d probably go there myself and try to make the most out of it. I know there’s a number of things that go into making a good mix come together. But the day he called those bell-and-whistle studios out on their bullshit, was the day I swore I’d never get duped by this again.


no no, obviously not. What I get for eating and typing with 1 hand :stuck_out_tongue:

What I meant to say was it is talent, not gear that got him to greatness.
Once you reach greatness, talent and gear together can take you to where sky is the limit.


work with an acoustic analyst, ask these studios if you can bring in one of yours before you spend thousands of dollars. Most acoustic analysts can do RTA testing fairly cheap and get you out of being duped.


Andrew scheps seems to manage it on a laptop and headphones.
That is all he mainly mixes on now days .


As mentioned in the article, he’s building his pre-mix on headphones and finishing in a studio. If you’ve see anything that confirms otherwise, can we get a look at the source and the context of this claim?


He mixed a track once apparently on phones and when he sent it off to Abbey rd for mastering they said it didn’t need touching ,


All you’re talking about here is popularity, isn’t it? I would argue that’s not directly correlated with technical achievement. Aren’t there lots of examples of poorly engineered songs/albums that were hits? And I’m sure there are a million examples of technically great songs/albums that no one ever listened to.

And consider this: maybe the big pros with huge budgets don’t mix on headphones because it’s not as comfortable. If I could afford a high end mixing room, I wouldn’t use primarily headphones either. Why would anyone?


No. Not really. I wouldn’t say popularity. Textbook definition of ‘popularity’ would be a state of being liked, supported, and admired. Popularity in this case is basically a measure of respect for someones skill. Not a measure of their ability to monetize the skill. Someone can be highly popular, and exceptionally skilled, but if their credentials (say their recent number of media base credits) aren’t current enough, the market value of their services starts to drop. So take a guy who’s activity in the commercial market is completely dormant, but everyone still loves him because he’s so respectable and talented. In this case, the Grammy/Billboard credentials are the difference between being skilled and popular vs being able to actually demand $3500 to mix one song.

I think that’s going to be a tough argument to defend for a couple of reasons. Here’s why I think that: money and market. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on what we are conditioned to perceive as the top echelon of pop music (Gaga, Beiber, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Adele). The decision making process on how that money gets spent has a huge impact on who gets chosen to manage these projects. Executive producers assemble the absolute top teir of talent they can find. No corners get cut, and no compromises are made in the process. When the project is mixed, the production and mixes are so heavily combed over and reviewed by layers of personal before a release, that people who lack either the gear or expertise to execute a project at that standard get shit-canned long before stuff ever reaches the distribution level. I assure you from having been a small part of these processes at times, that a guy mixing on headphones in his bedroom will not EVER be entrusted with this kind of cash investment. Not in music, not in film, not in gaming, not in broadcast. I just doesn’t happen.

Yes and yes to both. But look at where are here and now in 2018. Songs that push a billion plus plays on youtube are delivered at a nearly flawless standard. We can say that in hind site about tracks in the past, but I feel its debatable if the logic still applies. The day may come where we have headphones that speaker technology that enables someone to achieve this from a living room in a mobile home, but not all commercially released mixes are the same. The award winner tracks that pass the billion mark in streaming plays always have top notch engineering. The investors (record labels) that front the money for this stuff can demand standard from the producers and mix engineers now more than ever.

That was why I challenged @bozmillar, @takka360, and Michelle @FluteCafe to show me an actual example of a track that pulled this off. The guy that Boz mentioned (Andrew Putney) really did pull off a work of genius here, but it that mix was never intended to be a competitor in the US mainstream market. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely am curious to see this happen. And I want to know when it does as I think it will signal a definitive change in the world of music and technology as we know it. Believe me, I’m in no way ‘anti-small-studio’. I’m a huge fan of the home based workflow. I just don’t believe the domesticated studio technology can quite reached that level, regardless of the engineers skill.


I think you are very heavily glossing over what makes a song hit the top of charts. The technical aspects are far less significant than the marketing machine behind the music. There’s a whole psychological aspect to music marketing that is far more important than any technical perfection.

Calling chart toppers flawless is sort of strange. There are large groups of people dedicating lots of time fighting against the technical aspects of popular music today.

It seems like you are having a hard time decoupling talent, popularity and money. They do tend to follow each other around, but they aren’t the same thing.


if you are not considering grammy but popularity and money, there are plenty of examples on youtube that ended up getting way more views than most top studio mixed songs, here is such example Sofia Karlber crazy in love, recorded at home, mixed at home, mastered at home, used free daws and plugins

Sofia made quite the popularity and $$$ , top stars shared her video and she got an opportunity to sing with the stars.

there are many such examples on social media where top notch studios were not involved.

and that mix is also not very ideal imo, didnt matter as much though 70m+ views