I spend quite a bit of time scouring the net for usable information about anything to do with sound production. It’s always interesting to see the new stuff out there that’s going to better your sound, make your job easier, and prevent you from screwing up. But then it dawned on me. Can a piece of gear actually make you a better sound op?
Really, think about this. If I gave an entry-level shotgun and a high-end shotgun to someone just learning, would they record better tracks with the higher-end mic? My answer is no! In fact, the chance of them screwing up is probably greater with a more sensitive, more precise, wider dynamic range mic then an all round entry level one. The same argument can be made with mixers. Would the average sound op out there be able to get better results out of a 6 channel mixer with multiple outputs, numerous routing options, sweepable high pass, numerous monitoring options, and multiple metering options, but better mic-pre’s, over a straight forward 2-4 channel mixer? Again, I gotta say no. I taught location sound for 9 years and if there’s one thing that rings true, its “keep it simple, and learn how to walk before you run”.
Too many ops start out with mid to high-end gear. Gear that requires quite a bit of experience to get high-end results, and they never really learn their craft. Or they buy the “automatic everything” equipment that gives them a false sense of this is easy. Through my years of learning location sound, having to work around and understand equipment limitations of the entry level equipment taught me a lot about sound and even more about equipment.
“Just because you can afford a guitar, that doesn’t make you a guitar player”.
What do you think? Am I just being a “that’s the way I had to learn it” old fart, or is the “I can afford it and no screw up equipment” environment allowing operators to get a positive start in the industry? Is it furthering or hindering the abilities of the new crop of operators?
Talk to me seasoned pros and soon to be pros. Is this a good thing or just marketing to sell more gear? Or, is it technology moving forward and I’m being left behind.