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eyes vs ears - your thoughts


Active Member
your opinions please?

So my wife's stepmom is blind and as a result like many other blind people she can hear very well. Which is quite common, when one sense is lost the others are heightened to compensate. This is important to me because my ears were severely damaged a couple years ago and have never fully recovered. So, i'm always thinking of ways to improve my hearing and therefore my mixing abilities. Anyway, I was thinking about this the other day and I started to wonder whether that same sensory compensation could happen in reverse. What I mean is that with the computer based systems of today, there is an abundance of visual aides to help you see what is going on with the audio you are listening to. Now despite cautions to use your ears and my concious efforts to do that, I know that I get sucked into what is going on visually way more than i would like and my mixing suffers for it. But it's hard when you have to look at the screen for every thing you do. Now, the \"bigger\" question I have is, can or will these visual necessities impede the engineers of tomorrow from developing the \"golden ears\" that the master engineers and producers of today have. I mean, the majority of industry veterans today came up using tape. They had to listen. In other words, their \"eyes were taken from them and they HAD to rely on their ears. Today, you don't have to as much. Unless, of course you want to sound good! So again I wonder how that will or will not effect the quality of audio production in the future. I however will do my part to preserve that quality by keeping my mixes far away from the public ear. So, what do you all think? - Lance


Venerated Member
Great question...

Im pretty much 50/50 on this one. If I can't get things to sound right, I jump for the old FreqAnalyzer... to see what's going on and start over. I'm not quite developed enough to be able to identify all frequencies.

I use the Waves-Postioner to adjust panning for stereo/doubled guitars. Works great and keeps them in phase with each other. As well as keeps them out of the way of the drums. Then I'll nudge them a bit by ear. but not all the time

I never really depend on them, but rather use them as a learning tool (for checking albums I like) or looking for problems/clear up my confusion.

My right ear has a little less high-end than my left. It's from years of practicing guitar right handed, facing the amp.

I have a little story for ya:
I work for an online music store and one day I got a call from a guy, working in a studio, for a Midi Sync Module by Motu. When I noticed a strange Womans voice in the background. Almost computer like. I asked, \"WHo's that in the background?\" He said he was blind and that that was his computer telling him what he was doing. Wow I thought. Neat!

Like an idiot I said, \"Wow, you must have great ears\"
to which he replied, \"Yes I do, but it's from being a recording engineer for the last 25 years and not because I'm blind.\"

me- BIG SWALLOW :oops:


Active Member
that's awesome. I've noticed alot of progress for me in the last month. suddenly I'm hearing things I did'nt used to. But sometimes I really wish I could turn off my display and just listen


Established Member
For that reason, I can't use plugin EQ's that have graphical displays on them. I used them for years with the waves stuff and I'd restrain myself when making huge boosts or cuts. Then I'd go on an SSL and crank the knob till it sounded right and never think twice about it.

the only time I really try to rely on my eyes is when I'm editing. Everything else I really make a conscious effort to do by ear.

Ever try doing a mix, and then turning off the monitor and listening to it? I really think it affects the way I perceive the mix because I can't make any changes to it while I'm listening

Give it a shot, it might help you.

I was thinking today that it'd be really cool if we could organize some way to critique each others mixes.... we'd probably all benefit from it and learn a lot from each other.



Venerated Member
To answer your question a little more directly...
I believe that over the years, recordings have gotten better, with out a doubt. That's just technology. Is visual aid apart of this? You bet. Is it souley responsible? Hell no. The Art&Science of recording music is still in it's infantile stage. Even those who have been recording for sometime, still will never admit to knowing it all, because that's impossible. Music and recording are in a constent state of Evolutionand & re-invention.
Would a mix mixed with your eyes be any better than one using your ears?
Who knows? MOst would say the Ears mix will always be better. But really, :? better for what and for who? That's a huge can of worms! :roll:
Recording and mixing music moves right along side of both creativity and technology. That's an amazing thing. That's why I love it. We can make beautiful music with these tools and toys or we can fight them. Either way, the end goal/results are alwyas the same. Regardless of anyone's handicap, there is no right way or wrong way of doing things. Whether we rely on a visual or not.

What we do have to do is stay on our toes and be completely aware of our surroundings. For example... Some one told me to turn off the Computer screne when playing back music for the band, so they would concentrate on the piece. Makes sense, right? Some times yes and some times no. I usually do that, but there have been times where some musians need that distraction for them to focus. Some people need that business to be objective. Weird I know.... I work with a lot of killer musicians, who are border line crazy. Their brains go a million miles per hour. I try everything I can to keep them where they feel comfortable. It's up to me to remain balanced and productive and not allow anyone to derail me or the task at hand and keep things flowing. Musicians are like children. I'm the same way with myself. I am constently obsurving there actions and mine. I'm just as hard on myself, with everything I do...

That's why I have a bald spot like my DAD, at 29. :lol:

I too am crazy, but manage to walk the line. 8)

Edit: funny... I didn't know Matt was posting.. and saw that he mentioned the \"turning the monitor off\" thing.... :D


Venerated Member
BTLG said:
I was thinking today that it'd be really cool if we could organize some way to critique each others mixes.... we'd probably all benefit from it and learn a lot from each other.

A buddy of mine has some extra bandwidth.. I'll see if he can help us with a place to post stuff.


Active Member
sounds cool to me. Like Scott said, all this stuff is amazing. I think I will try turning off the screen. Yeah my right ear has a little midget blowing a dog whistle into it and my left is on a perpetual airplane going up and down and never popping. reverb is my nemisis right now


Venerated Member
I just need to agree some more...

Music is a very subjective thing and for the most part, you can't measure good music. You can use an analyzer to see that you are in the ballpark, but most of your little intricate moves that make the music mix so much better are so small and usually beyond the limitaions of an analyzer. It's a good aid, but it only tells you technical data about the mix (which is very very important) but does not tell you anything about music.

I love those perspective gaining trix :)
Turning the computer screens off... GREAT!!

I even had a mixer who liked to have a turntable present so that he could turn off the screen and put the needle to the vinyl and listen to it like that that 8) Just to get the \"feel\" of how it would sound when putting that needle down and the track starts pumpin'.


all y'all with damaged ears check out the 'TinniTool' from a scandinavian company called Adisma sold through a website called audiorelief.com (i think) - clinically proven reversal of tinnitus and hearing loss by means of laser beam . i've been using it about a year now and it's worth it's weight in gold .


New Member
Interesting stuff here. Whenever I really want to hear the song to the best of my abilities, I just sit in the sweet spot, close my eyes and hear it best that way, for me anyways. I'm not an engineer but a guitarist, mostly bluesy stuff, and an audiophile and am new to this forum to pick up some tips to use in my home as I try to learn. Thanks for having me.
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