The Secret to Better Audio: Inputs Are More Important than Outputs

Here’s a tip you can put into action today that will immediately improve your audio endeavours across the board:

Inputs are more important than outputs.

That’s right, it’s simple science really: what goes in must come out. Or put bluntly: garbage in, garbage out. So, no matter whether you’re recording music, running a live sound gig, or just listening to your favourite tunes – it pays to remember this simple mantra.

Think about it this way: will it matter that you set up your PA perfectly and upgraded to the best speakers available if your wireless system cuts out?

Will your music sound better if you upgrade your earphones, but all your source files are poorly compressed MP3’s?

Will your guitar sound more in tune if buy a fancy new plugin or apply more compression?

Clearly, the answer is no, but you’d be surprised how many times people neglect the source and skip right to a ‘patching it up’ style solution. And, believe it or not, it happens at all levels, from music enthusiast to professional sound engineer.

microphone cables

Our Challenge for You

Your challenge – should you choose to accept it – is to pay extra attention to the source next time you’re doing anything audio related. As a microphone manufacturer, we understand the importance of getting great sound right at the start of a signal chain. However, it is the duty of each individual to make sure a mic is pointed at the best source possible.

For many of you, a philosophy of the source is key might sound obvious – and you might have great source sound already. All the same, we would suggest a process of continual iteration.

Kaizen Your Audio

Kaizen is a Japanese word, which translates roughly to ‘continuous improvement’. Its rise to popularity in the English speaking world comes primarily from Japanese business strategy and workplace improvement processes that enabled greater productivity and competitiveness. Translated into the world of audio, it could look something like this:

kaizen-your-audio

Research: Know your stuff before you begin. Plan what your ideal outcome will be. (The tech articles on this blog are a good place to start)

Try: Knowledge without action is merely fantasy – take your new found skills and put them into action.

Check: always question your approach. If you approach every audio project as ‘business as usual’ how to you expect to improve!?

Act: Take action on your findings from the previous stage. Rinse and repeat.

Through a process of constant iteration and improvement – focused at the audio source – your audio experience will improve no end.

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Marc Henshall

Marc forms part of our Pro Audio team at Shure UK and specialises in Digital Marketing. He also holds a BSc First Class Hons Degree in Music Technology. When not at work he enjoys playing the guitar, producing music, and dabbling in DIY (preferably with a good craft beer or two).

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2 Comments

  • Peter Chivers says:

    Yes, it is common sense, but for so many people common sense is the first thing that gets forgotten. Take your time getting to know about things – remember Rome was not built in a day (nor even in a year)!

    I cannot comment on whether Shure (and others could provide instructions in video format, but get to know other engineers. The good ones will help you understand, the bad ones it is probably best ignoring, anyway.

    Look at the Blue Room (www.blue-room.org.uk) It has a lot of experience packaged up in bite sized bits (see also its wiki – very useful)

  • Jim Coleman says:

    This all sounds like common scene, however, as I am fairly new to sound engineering, mixing, monitoring etc it can all get a little confusing and to make things even more difficult I find reading a lot of the information provided with sound gear is a little like wading through treacle. I have a condition called “dyslexia” which means it can take me a considerably longer time to wade through technical data and operating instructions. Could your company and the industry in general consider producing these manuals in the form of “Video” manuals on CD / DVD or other digital media to be provided along with equipment or as a downloadable file from relevant web sites and perhaps an easy to read international standard table that shows a scale of suitability of equipment for particular situations for e.g. what microphones a best for particular jobs and which should not be used in particular situations. I personally would love to have a discussion with “if possible” someone to discus my ideas with but I get the feeling that the industry is not that interested. (hope I’m wrong on this point)

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