On Monitoring…

Scene: My dad’s study/music room, which is furnished with some top-notch recording equipment. DAD and ME are sitting there, each with a pair of headphones on, attempting to get his recorded vocal and guitar to sound right.

DAD: The voice sounds too thin. Why doesn’t it sound warmer?

ME (twiddling EQ knobs): How’s that?

DAD: Still too thin. It’s almost brittle.

ME (scratching my head): Wow. Sounds almost muddy to me. Let me try this. (Twiddles more knobs.) How’s that?

DAD: There’s no fucking low end.

ME: Jesus. The song’s in E, and you’ve got your guitar capoed clear the hell up on 5. What more do you want?

DAD: More low end.

ME (cranks up a shitload of low end in the 150-200Hz range, where I don’t think there’s a single fundamental. Surprisingly, a bunch more low end comes out. It’s now almost overwhelming.): Huh. How’s that?

DAD: Can’t we make this sound warmer?

ME: Jesus Christ, you have to be kidding me! (Stops. Stares. Considers). Ah, fuck me. Trade headphones with me for a minute. (We trade headphones. I put his on.) AAUGH! Fuck ! This sounds like high-pitched, brittle Hell!

DAD: Wow! This sounds great! Maybe too much low end! (Looks at me.) Um. We’re not listening to the same thing. At all.

ME: No. No, we’re not.

Moral of the story: Mixing on headphones sucks, but two people mixing the same song on two different models of headphones is idiotic.