Trust your ears?

  • Paul Baggott

    Paul Baggott

    Music Producer at Paul Baggott Music Productions

    Trust your ears?

    'Trust your ears’, a phrase often used in connection with the creation of music. 

    Thing is, our ears can be fooled. 

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who has adjusted eq on an element in a mix and thought ‘Yes, that's better'. Only to realise I'd adjusted eq on a different track or channel. 

    Or, worse still, on an empty track or channel.

    How can it sound different when nothing has actually been changed?

    I’m no expert but I believe what we hear is inextricably linked to how we perceive it. 

    Our brains process sound to make sense of it. It’s the 'making sense of it’ bit that can fool us. Our surroundings, our activity, our experience, our intentions all have an effect on how our brains interpret sound to help us understand it.

    The assumption then is that the same sound can be ‘heard’ differently by different people depending on their perception of it. 

    These perceived differences are however, minute.

    If we agree perception can fool us into thinking audio sounds different even though it doesn’t, it makes you wonder what is the point and value of arguments about the supposed differences in audio quality between analogue and digital, expensive microphones and less expensive microphones, tape based studios and digital based studios, analogue modelled software and purely digital software, and many more.

    So when you hear someone say the VRM C2 has a warmer and better sound than the SECA 2000 does it really?