Welcome to issue #83 of Tape Op.
It's such a simple thing. Maybe some people don't think about it. Maybe others honestly don't hear it? But everyone needs to know about it.
Most days I sit in front of a decent set of speakers and listen to music. If I'm editing Tape Op, I'm checking out new CDs and downloads. If I'm in the studio I'm obviously listening to what I'm mixing or tracking, unless we take a break. But the point is that I'm always listening to music. And, as I've spent years training myself to discern sounds and make decisions based upon what I hear, I pick up on possible issues in other people's productions.
The most common problem that I've heard lately are massive phase errors in mixes — the horrible sound of left and right speakers carrying signals that are 180 degrees out of phase. This makes my ears squirm and I'm hearing these errors on a lot of current CDs. If I kick on the "mono" button on my monitor controller, massive amounts of information disappear. This is not good.
If you are making records and don't know what I'm even talking about, you are part of the problem. You need to educate yourself — I had to learn this simple procedure years ago. Perhaps you're in need of better monitors? Be sure to double-check your work, even if you think your mixes never suffer from poor phase relationships. If you're aware of what I'm talking about and you're using this as a trick to make elements sound wider or crazier, then more power to ya — but I have a distinct feeling this is usually not the case. I'm finding this problem on so many albums lately that it seems like a virus spreading across recordings. Let's all try to get this right.
Hit the mono button, please.
Larry Crane, editor