I've pulled together a collection of recent thoughts I've had about the recording process. You can agree or not agree. The important thing is to use your ears, mind, and creativity to make great recordings.

  • Recording equipment matters, but it doesn't really matter.
  • It may take you years to learn, or outgrow, some of your gear.
  • At a certain level of recording gear, every $500 step buys you tiny, incremental benefits.
  • Vintage gear is a mirage; not something you really need, but maybe something to conceptually strive for.
  • Some random chain of vintage equipment isn't what really made those records worth listening to 40 years later.
  • Considering every possibility in front of you is paralyzing.
  • Just because you came up with a new overdub or part doesn't mean it's good.
  • Percussion overdubs are 90 percent unnecessary.
  • Backing vocals are 75 percent unnecessary.
  • It's not possible to steal someone's recording tricks; they never work the same for you.
  • Fidelity means everything and nothing, at the same time.
  • Sources that sound natural might not be natural at all.
  • "It was recorded live" doesn't indicate anything about the quality.
  • A simple recording is not a bad recording, nor is it underproduced or lo-fi.
  • Recorded simply does not mean recorded poorly.
  • Using more mics doesn't always equal great sound.
  • Anything that "looks" in time is likely not really in time.
  • Anyone casting doubt on the way another person records is a fool.
  • Great songs sound better, no matter what happens next.
  • Excellent arrangements make the instruments and vocals sound better.
  • Quality instrumentalists make their parts sound great and fit together better.

  • The best singers make the mic sound better and the song more compelling.
  • A great engineer can make a recording sound better, but they usually can't affect the five scenarios above.
  • A great producer can put the right people in the right situations and make them shine.
  • A bad producer can make everyone uncomfortable, pick the wrong people, choose the wrong takes, and still make great recordings despite all this.
  • Recording equipment doesn't make records; people make records.
  • Nothing else matters when people get to enjoy the music.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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