Audio Doesn’t Matter. The Impact of the Music is Much More Important!

impact of music

Let’s face it, good music will always be amazing even if the audio quality sucks.

In the end, the audio doesn’t matter at all. It’s the impact of the music that dictates whether it’s any good.

An average listener isn’t going to care that it was recorded with Neumann U87s, mixed with outboard tube compressors and mastered with Lynx A/D converters.

They just care if the music is any good.

So what does this mean for you?

It means less pressure for the home recordist. Just use whatever you’ve got and make some great music. An awful song is going to stay awful even if it sounds awesome. But a great song is going to stand on its own without any expensive gear. A great melody is still going to get stuck in your head whether it’s recorded with a cheap dynamic mic or an expensive condenser.

Don’t worry too much about the gear all the time. Just try to make the most of your situation and record the great music you have in front of you. If the music is great then people will listen to it.

Why do you think everybody loves bootlegged, shitty recordings. Because they love the music.

The early recordings of anything sound shitty compared to today’s standards. But nobody cares. Robert Johnson is a legend, but his recordings suck. But it doesn’t matter. The music mattered, and it transcended generations.

I remember way back when I was downloading bootleg recordings off the internet of bands I liked. Believe me, these bootlegs were legit. There was more crowd noise and static than there was actually music. The recordings were awful, recorded on the first generation cellphones that allowed audio recording.

But I didn’t care.

I wanted to listen to A Perfect Circle cover Crazy Train and Love Song at the same time in one song. It was awesome and since I couldn’t get it on an album it didn’t matter. I didn’t care about the audio quality. I cared about the music.

So just focus on the music and record with whatever you’ve got. It doesn’t have to cost thousands, or even hundreds of dollars. Just make do with whatever you have and have fun creating the music that inspires you, and pushes the buttons within you.


For practical and easy-to-use recording tips for any instrument, check out Recording Strategies:

Image by: ViaMoi

  • JB

    So true 😉

  • I agree and would like to extend the statement;

    How many well funded ‘master’ sessions have ended up as perfectly
    controlled and clean versions of primitive demos made previously
    but lacking any of the passion, atmosphere and energy of the demo?

    I am more likely to listen to Billie Holiday off an mp3 than vinyl these
    days – it makes no difference. Many of my favourite classical recordings
    were cut direct-to-disk for vinyl but those supreme efforts made by
    those engineers seem superflous once you’ve grown used to the low
    noise-floor and extended dynamic range of compact disk. Some of those
    recordings are still popular but I would argue that this is because of
    the inherant strength in the performance rather than the minute
    improvenments made by eliminating the half-inch two-track.

    The delightful thing about recording with computers is that we are in a
    position to record anywhere we like at high resolution before the
    inevitable self-conciousness of over familiarity creeps in. We can use
    the vocal cut when the ‘vibe’ was just right even if the format, key and
    tempo have since been changed. That ‘moment’ need never get lost.

    Anyone can make a clean recording; by allowing dirt and flaws to show in
    the right places we allow the music to communicate something beyond
    cratsmanship and architechture.

    Life isn’t perfect. xsx

    • Absolutely, thanks for the comment. Those are the thoughts running through my head as I was writing it. I mean, I like listening to great music on a great system, but great music isn’t going to be worse music if it’s played at a lesser resolution or with lackluster speakers…

  • Peter Najdzin

    Excellent posting, and I generally agree with you. There have been many times when I listened to a record or a bootleg, and said to myself “Damn, I wish that was recorded better, I can’t make out all the instruments or vocals”. There have also been many times (especially lately) where I have said “That is some of the best sounding crap I have ever heard”. We need to find a balance, and you are correct…it all starts with a great song, and (hopefully) talented musicians playing it with feeling.

    I can more easily forgive a fair recording of a great song, then I can forgive all the time and money wasted to produce great sounding garbage, and unfortunately the record industry is full of it (literally and figuratively).

    So I guess, the lesson here is…don’t waste your time trying to polish a turd, spend more time writing a better song, arranging it and playing it with everything you’ve got. Just make sure you record it (to the best of your abilities) once you do.

  • Kevin

    My most important piece of gear is what I have between my ears; my ears being the second most important.
    Buying more gear won’t buy more creativity or talent. Granted, it might make your job easier. We (humans) started making music singing and banging on logs and it worked. Go back and listen to the early Elvis recordings from Sun Studios. FIVE mics! Maybe twenty musicians but 5 microphones. I have a friend that came up in Nashville. He was an intern there when multi track recorders first came out. Says that the pros would record on the multitrack and a two track at the same time and 9 out of 10 times the two track would be the winner. Agreed, after all it’s the music.