Home Recording Lessons – 3D Thinking

In my previous post I covered some lessons I learned about recording with my friend who is an experienced recording engineer.

I learned about getting rid of bad sounds, especially before a sound wave moves the diaphragm in the microphone, and how important that is to the process.

But I had always thought about my mixes in a two dimensional form until my friend sat down with me and did two quick mixes with me watching and learning.

When I sit back and really listen to my favorite recordings on a good audio system or good headphones, I always listen to the placement of the instruments.   But it was from a two dimensional point of view.

The placement was front and back or left and right.

If you would use the X,Y,Z axis you would say I was only thinking about the X and the Z axis.

Well in my mixing sessions with my friend I discovered the importance of the Y axis as well.

I always thought about the X axis which is panning left and right, and I thought about the Z axis which is volume levels to bring the sound to the front or move it to the back.xyz-coordinates

Now I am aware of the Y axis.  What I mean by the Y axis is the frequencies, high and low.

I learned about the issues created by instruments that share the same frequencies playing at the same time.  I learned how they will fight for the same piece of real estate in this 3D world and something will get lost.  What may get lost is the good sound.

I know what a good, clean, tight recording sounds like, but what I discovered is why it sounds so clean and tight.

The engineer, producer, writer must know that each piece has to find its place to live and they have to help it find its way home.

I used to picture this music puzzle like a chess board on a tabletop.  You moved pieces forward, backwards, left and right to get them out of each other’s way.  If you hover over the board you can see each piece and its placement.

But you don’t hover over music to listen to it.

chess-board-closeupIf you bring your eyes down to the board level you only see the pieces right in front of you and maybe some of the back pieces as long as other pieces are not getting in the way.

You might see parts of other pieces in the middle but some completely disappear.  You are not seeing some real important pieces and can’t play your game.

Do you remember the three dimensional chess game on Star Trek?

That’s how I learned to think about music and the placement of each piece.star trek chess

The Y axis is now brought into play.  Not only do you watch left and right (X), front and back (Z), now you have to think about up and down (Y).

It is yet another piece of the puzzle to think about and plan before you “roll tape”.

I now try to think about what frequencies the part and instrument I am choosing to play occupy in the Y axis and how will it live with the other parts.

Will it be a good neighbor or a squatter you can’t get rid of and ruin the neighborhood.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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