3 Audio Engineer Life Lessons

Recording, mixing, and life especially is just full of problems. As soon as you solve one, it seems an even bigger one comes along and you’re back to square one - like a constant uphill battle with no end in sight.

In today’s post, however, we’re going to talk about some major inconveniences that have become commonplace among my people's lives that I feel I might have a way to help guide you through - so let's dive in.

Learn to Solder

One of the main issues in the studio you’ll face is broken cables, and if you’re handy with a soldering iron, you’ll likely never have to buy a new cable instead of just fixing the connection and moving on with the next task at hand.

Cables are one of the most expensive things to invest in as well - just think about it for a second, a good cable is maybe $15-20, and you need several to hook up several microphones to the interface just for a drum session, let alone any connections to outboard equipment, insert effects, hell even a DI bass pedal output is an XLR usually.

All of these add up, and if you can save forking out on another cable rather than a one-off investment in a decent soldering iron (and the time to learn how to use it) then is that not worth doing instead?

The same can be applied for a faulty connection within a guitar or a bass. I can’t express the level of frustration you experience when you can hear an issue with the guitar but you can’t for the life of you figure out where in the chain it is - only to open up the guitar and find the grounding wire has come loose..

It’s enough to drive you insane, especially if like me, you spend money trying to fix the ‘problem’ and find out afterward it was as simple as using a soldering iron.

Below is a really good video I show to anyone looking to learn to solder - its a skill that will help in all parts of life and electronics, plus it opens the door to DIY kits, fixing more complicated problems, and maybe even learning some electrical engineering along the way.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

If you’re like me, then asking for help has always come hard. Whether it’s because you’re too proud, or just arrogant maybe (I’m both), it helps no one if you fail and don’t learn from the mistake.

Invariably, the mistake is thinking you can do it alone - and maybe you can - but the task could’ve been a lot easier if you’d confided in someone.

Take the above example: I thought I could solve the issue of the strange noise from my guitar. I originally thought it was the DI box, and so brought a new one and stalled the session I had till it arrived.

I had the option of asking another guitarist, or even using social media to ask, but instead of looking like I didn't know what I was doing and being worried about someone thinking less of me for not knowing all the answers when then-new DI box arrived, the problem was still there.

Only then did I swallow my pride and open up the guitar (because until then, I was adamant I was right about the DI) to find it was a simple problem someone more experienced no doubt will have encountered before and could’ve helped me much quicker.

So whatever it may be: a dodgy cable, computer issues, maybe even struggling to gain clients - don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one ever said you have to do this job alone!

Find A New Hobby

The entire reason I’m doing this as a profession is that I refuse to have a normal 9-5 job. I’ve always believed I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me what I can, and can not do.

And thus,I found music as a hobby, and guitar furthermore, which I developed and with a little luck, was able to form into a profession.

But now my hobby is my job, it’s a thin line between feeling like a job and still giving you that enjoyment like it did in the beginning, so having a second outlet is very important.

Now, I’m not saying it can’t be in audio still - I have 4 bands, I make music videos, and I teach on top of that - but my main enjoyments outside audio are movies (Star wars mainly), reading, cooking, and many more that I can focus on away from my audio world.

It’s important to have a soft-focus outside of your passion otherwise it can lose its appeal and wonder that drew you towards it in the first place. Better yet, if you have a partner, something you both enjoy that you can do together will make the second hobby even better - this job has long hours and is isolated more often than not, so make sure you stay healthy; both physically and mentally.