Altered perceptions


New member
Here's an example . I redid double tracked vocals . In fairness they are tighter pitch wise and with phrasing . However my initial perception is they were amazing . Consequently I'd have them way too strong In the mix . After they'd settled in my head for several days I realise more objectively they are perhaps 15 percent better at best rather than 100 percent better and still really not that good . Also then progressively backed them off in the mix . It seems impossible not to amplify in your mind the extent to which something is improved until you've got used to it . Anyone else have this problem ?
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If only for a moment.....
Sometimes, yeah. A thing recorded years ago, when listening to it now, can sound pretty ropey. But by the same token, can still sound really good and sometimes even better. I've no explanation for why, other than our experience is ever increasing and so is our range of ideas. Also, when one records something, especially a part that we might find tricky, it's often such a relief to get it done and it doesn't sound terrible. But a few days later, when one's ears are fresh and critical faculties are reset to reality we might start to see the flaws that were clouded by our initial relief !


Active member
I'm with Grim-after a bit of reality returns i find a part is neither as good or as bad as I might have thought and can mix it accordingly.

Doing all the bits of recording , mixing etc. does make it both important and difficult to maintain complete objectivity, so it's something i try to work on regularly.


New member
Yes I'm kind of scared to retake for the sake of a couple of wobbles . I dont have pitch correct or computer . And don't really want to have to punch in a word . I take a verse at time and could end up going backwards with it

gecko zzed

Grumpy Mod
Your brain is a liar. It will make you hear what you want to hear, rather than what you are hearing. Time and space are what can bring the return of reality, i.e. listening to it a week later, or in a completely different environment.


Well-known member
Oh yes....what gecko zzed ^^^^^^ says !! Our brain is marvelous!! It can make you play guitar better....sing perfectly in tune....drum in perfect timing....and so much more. Just think about those singers who sing out of tune and are sure they're not. And those guitar players who rival Eric Clapton but can't get the volume...or the...phrasing....or many of the notes right. And need I remind you of all those drummers you auditioned who tell you they're totally in the pocket....but are not even close.

Now.....I'm referring to examples that are usually easy to spot.......but trust me....if there are small or very small issues with a personal performance.....your brain will correct them on the spot.....badda bing!

Oh yes....our brain is such a con artist.



'Walk away' - let the mix sit for a few days or a week, and come back to it. trying to A-B a mix too often can really mess with your ears/brain.

I'm working with a singer-songwriter friend, recording her first album. For one song, she suggested a xylophone (she has a real one) adding some notes that duplicated the already-there violin notes in a couple of places. So I tracked it - 3 different items to get all the notes equal as possible. Also tracked a keyboard-done xylo and a glockenspiel. Tried various mix combinations, she didn't like any of them. So I muted all of them and did an electric piano sound, octaves. No, she didn't like (right after listening to the other versions). Gave it a week, then had her come into my studio yesterday and listen to the electric piano version. I brought down the EP level by a couple of dBs and she loved it.


Active member
Fully agree with the above sentiments: we lie to ourselves. Time and distance are the only cure to "get your listening brain back". The only thing that never lies is the click track :-)

Reference tracks are good. Stick one in the project and mute it. Once in a while solo it. Ugh...

I find myself accepting some pretty awful things when I'm a couple days in to tinkering with something. Taking a day or two away can help, but another set of ears can be good, too.


COO of me, inc.
My initial takes always sound great while I'm monitoring through closed phones. Taking a break and returning a week or more later, they sound as if a wet blanket was thrown over them.


If only for a moment.....
Fully agree with the above sentiments: we lie to ourselves
That may be so for some people but that's too absolute for me. I mean, think of the songs that you once did not like or even parts of a song that you once did not like but like now. Were you lying at the point at which you disliked them ? I think we nowadays use the word 'lie' in a way that {ahem !} belies its actual meaning.
No, we change our minds, we reconsider, we dig deeper. Sometimes we are happy and satisfied and sometimes, with a little further reflection, we are not.
Time and distance are the only cure to "get your listening brain back"
There's some truth to the notion but words like 'only cure' are just too absolute. If something sounded good to you and you gave it a week and it still sounded good to you, was your listening brain not working or was it working OK the first time you listened and pronounced it good ?
On the other hand, you might give something time and distance and pronounce it good and then years down the line wish you'd re~done the part !
The only thing that never lies is the click track
That is way too absolute. And it's supposed to be and I agree ! :giggle: