Seat an engineer behind a mixing console and ask him or her to do a mix. It sounds great. Then seat another engineer behind the same console and again ask for a mix. It sounds terrible. What happened?

The difference lies mainly in their ears—their critical listening ability. Some engineers have a clear idea of what they want to hear and how to get it. Others haven’t acquired the essential ability to recognize good sound. By knowing what to listen for, you can improve your artistic judgments during recording and mixdown. You are able to hear errors in microphone placement, equalization, and so on, and correct them.

To train your hearing, try to analyze recorded sound into its components—such as frequency response, ...

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