Trust The Ear
We all as human beings can only detect the sounds through our ears so they’re the only tools that let us do that. New discoveration bruh!! Of course, this is pretty obvious but sometimes people who are learning audio engineering or producing totally forget about it.
I’ve seen lots of people that really depended on the visuals they had on their screens while working in studio… and yes! Some new plugins have some cool ass looks but that can be tricky! Don’t get used to that! In fact, they can be like The Odyssey Mermaids sometimes, or your ex!
Therefore it’s best to always remind your self that you’re messing with the sounds, not the visuals and graphics! It doesn’t matter if the EQ visualizer is going crazy, or the compressor threshold being way too low, as long as it sounds pleasant and right to your ears as an engineer or producer.
Just like actors who always pay attention to different people’s reactions and behaviors, we as engineers must pay so much attention to all the sounds we hear around us… (It can bother sometimes when you’re trying to sleep though)
When you go outside and you hear that annoying bird sound from the top corner, focus to see if its sound needs some compression or eqing. Perhaps the mid-high frequencies are bothering? So imagine using some de-esser on that! It all might sound a bit silly but that’s how you improve your main tool’s sensitivity.
You could try that on every sound you hear. Then, when you’re in the studio and hear that kick drum, you quickly start to believe what the hell is actually wrong with it and how you could fix and mix it with the texture in a nice and smooth way. All this ear practicing will make your ear seem more reliable to you thus you start to trust it more often while working.
It would make your mixing/mastering process much quicker and accurate. Plus the final product will be 10 or sometimes 11 times better!