If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had a really bad case of GAS at some point in your career.
No, not THAT kind of GAS. I’m talking about Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
I remember when I first started engineering, I would read all sorts of posts online and in magazines saying “you need to have [insert piece of gear] to get the best quality sound”. Being young and naive, I totally bought into it. I started buying all sorts of mics, plugins, outboard gear, and preamps… pretty much anything I could afford.
I truly bought into the idea that the reason I couldn’t get pro results was because I just didn’t have all of that fancy gear. I figured all of the stock plugins I had were useless and that I needed to upgrade to premium plugins if I wanted to get results. I was a marketing manager’s dream!
But after a little while of buying all this gear, I noticed something pretty shocking… My mixes weren’t getting any better.
I felt deceived. Weren’t all of these new toys supposed to make everything sound instantly better?
The reason they weren’t was because I didn’t know how to use them properly.
I caught myself still guessing how to EQ and compress tracks.
No magic plugin or outboard gear was going to do all of that work for me. And even if it could, I’d be doing myself a huge disservice not learning how or why it did what it did.
Eventually, I told myself “no more gear purchases for another 3 years”. Guess what…
In those three years, my skill level grew so much!
It forced me to really learn how to listen properly and actually learn how to use the tools I already owned. I started getting better mixes and more clients started approaching me for work. It was insane. I couldn’t believe how much I had improved.
I no longer had to waste hours, sorting through plugin preset lists, trying to find something that sounded close to what I had envisioned. Instead, I could open up a compressor or EQ plugin and know exactly which controls to adjust and how to set them properly.
I even learned that I preferred some of the stock plugins to the “premium” ones I spent extra money on.
So what’s the point of all of this?
It’s one thing to have a nice gear; but without knowing how to use it properly, you’ll never get the maximum potential out of it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype. But if you’re still struggling with your mixes, chances are it’s not your gear that’s holding you back.
These days, programs come loaded with some amazing stock plugins. Some of which I still use all the time even though I have some “nicer” gear.
I urge you not to develop a bad case of G.A.S. yourself. Instead of purchasing new plugins and relying solely on the presets to get result, spend some time giving your current gear the love it deserves. Educate yourself on the proper techniques and mindsets needed in order to turn your vision into reality; using what you already own. It is possible.
I promise you – your skills are going to grow exponentially if you just dedicate some focus to learning rather than constantly chasing the newest equipment out there.
Have you had a similar experience? I’d love to hear about it.