Obstacle Number 3 -

Sound is art
with a technical component


This is as important to understand as knowing how to describe the type of sound you want. Sound is art. Sound is more art than technology. The "art" dimension around buying and designing a system is hard to quantify and can never be listed in a sound system quote or proposal. If installing a perfect system could be reduced to some black box or computer program someone like me would have invented it years ago and made a fortune. It’s impossible to explain the nuances that go into sound designing. How do you define sound texture, depth, thickness, warmth, crispness and so forth without me pointing it out as I make adjustments? You can’t. You have to hear it to understand it. However, everyone knows good sound when they hear it. But they are left without a way to describe what they heard. Can you write a math equation that represents the beauty of a rose or the smell of a fresh baked cake?

I know how a certain speaker model sounds in the vocal range. I will hear textures in it I like and I know everyone else will too particularly vocalists and musicians since I’ve spent part of my life as a musician. But I can’t explain it to you. You won’t find it listed on the specification sheet either. It’s art. The masterpiece painting does not come from the best oils, brushes, and canvas. The masterpiece is in the mind of the artist. Just a bit of paint just so completes the masterpiece. I’ve always wondered how a painter knows when a masterpiece is finished. What last stroke of the brush makes it so.

I’ve heard pianist that played technically by the written note but couldn’t make the music flow. It had a choppy sound. I’ve heard pianist that couldn’t read that well but you knew the music came from the depths of their heart. It just flowed magically from one phrase to the next.

Mixing sound comes to me that way. I intuitively know where the next measure is headed as I hear the choir sing and make adjustments as needed ahead of it. I can feel the music build and I build the sound with them. Because of knowing how to hear the mix and texture, I know what I’m looking for in a mixer, amplifiers, speakers, microphones, and processing to get the sound I want to hear. You can’t reduce that to some electrical test and write a number on a spec sheet. It’s art.


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