Skip to Content

Recording Studio Pet Peeves That Drive Me Bonkers…

You know what really butters my biscuit? You know what really grinds my gears in the studio? Let me tell you…

The Worst Things Musicians Do In The Studio

In no particular order, these are the things that drive us recording, mixing, and mastering engineers bonkers:

Not wrapping long cables in the over-under fashion

I’m aware that not everyone is aware that there’s a better way to wind a cable in a circle. Ignorance is no excuse. A 50 foot Mogami cable isn’t cheap, and you’re stressing the internals and pulling the wires away from the connectors. Coil my cables right or pay the price:

Being a fake beat producer

You thought you’d waltz in here with your pre-made beats from 100% loops and then expect the rest of us to respect you tacking your name on it as if you did anything? Trust me, we’ve heard all of the loops from all of the sources.

You aren’t kidding any of us. It might fly on the streets… I mean, Polow Da Don made millions doing it. It just depends on what your goal is, but at the end of the day you aren’t fooling the pro’s, so don’t try.

Sure, we can polish that turd

It’s going to cost you the same and it’s still going to be a turd. Recording in the noisiest environment with the noisiest gear and thinking the mixer can fix it without leaving you sounding like a robot is delusion.

We can noise gate it, but guess what’s still embedded in every part with any volume? The noise. You can’t skimp out on tracking and expect to get anything good out of mixing.

Noise Floor in Music

Over-the-shoulder mixing in a no-go

It’s like a backseat driver trying to tell a professional NASCAR driver how to drive. No, I won’t turn you up in the mix. You can comment on every other band member’s performance but your own.

You don’t have enough distance to not make biased mix decisions. And even then, you need to wait for a more complete version before commenting. I know the vocals are low, I haven’t even touched that fader yet…

You didn’t rehearse? Too bad

We can cram in more takes and hope to composite something good together, but you don’t get extra time. The people in here before and after you have business to take care of too, which is why they came in prepared. It literally pays to be prepared and costs to not be.

I’m not your producer but someone has to be

You want to know why I muted your doubles? Because you couldn’t play tight enough. You know why we muted the harmonies? You couldn’t sing in tune.

guitar volume swell

How about instead of these crazy chord inversions, you use something more standard that you can manage to actually play? It’ll sound better too.

Your self-sabotage reflects poorly on me

We set your levels and all agreed on it. So why did I just see you pinky your volume knob and turn up during the solo?

I’m going to turn it down in the mix anyways and you’re messing up your own gain staging. It’s not remotely sneaky, but hey… it’s your record. It will sound as good or as bad as you allow.

Put the guitar down and put your hands on your head

Hey guitarist, quit playing the guitar for 3 full seconds if possible. It’s quiet time. You don’t see the drummer smashing the cymbals non-stop. We know you like attention, but there is such a thing as bad attention.

Some of this is actually science and engineering

It’s not the late 50’s. I don’t care how hipster or avante-gard you think you are. The bass, kick, vocals, and lead are staying right up the center. Keep your hands off the pan knobs.

No, compression is not evil. Yes, it’s still authentic if you punch in. No, mistakes aren’t purity and they aren’t staying in the mix.

There’s a reason your comparisons are silly

Why doesn’t the mix sound as good as your favorite artist’s million dollar budget album? Maybe they didn’t record their parts in their bedroom on their iPhone chilling on their desk. Maybe they paid to use a tracking room full of acoustic treatment and high quality outboard gear.

Your recordings will never sound good. It’s not because of the mix. You don’t need to spend more money on a new interface. You need acoustic treatment, and lots of it. And you might actually need a mic and not just your cell phone.

iphone music recording

Setting me up for failure is setting you up for failure

How am I supposed to mix this when you bounced stems with drums and synth together and they’re both washed in reverb? Thanks for not even bothering labeling the files for me.

No, rappers, you brought me a stereo mix-down of an instrumental. I can’t surgically separate the sounds.

What’s the point of being a purist?

What are you paying me for? No, you cannot replicate “that sound” with your voice, pick, bow, etc. No, the pro’s don’t do that either. Not Pat Metheny, not Joni Mitchell… nobody.

They all use this magical technology you’re refusing, called compression. They use reverb. They use equalization. Grow up.

Get that food out of here

Get your breakfast sandwich outside. I don’t care if you’re eating it in the wrapper. Get your coffee mug off of the preamp. I know you don’t think you’ll spill, but I know that you can’t afford to pay for this piece of gear that’s not even on the market any more.

That’s what butters my biscuit. It’ll never end. There will be a constant stream of stupidity coming through the studio forever.

recording studio pet peeves

Lord, please help me to accept that which I can’t control, lest I bust a blood vessel and catch an assault charge.