Tinkeritis

"Tinkeritis is the disease where you don't stop futzing around once when you have something good, and tinker around until it's complete crap.  Happens all the time."
Fletcher, on rec.audio.pro in response to the following article:

One man's grim experience - by Doc West

this is a very long post about my own work. But hang on, there's a moral that might be useful to other newbies.

When I heard my own cuts on Bohemian rapCD [a compilation CD with cuts from several members of the rec.audio.pro newsgroup, red.], my heart sank. They sounded so lousy and small compared to the other work. Some people were kind enough to say good things about the music, but I noticed a certain tactful silence about the wretched recording quality. I was embarassed enough to find the long-lost original 4-track cassette of Naomi Eisenberg's "Bridge To Bridge", and to borrow a portastudio to play it on.

And guess what? The tracks are not ugly! They really ain't half-bad.90% of the sibilance problems don't exist at all. (and there's only 2 guitars, not 3 as I later mis-remembered). What happened? In my liner notes, I detail the various times a copy of this mix was transferred to new media. And. each time, I couldn't resist trying to "rescue" it further, by a light application of whatever wonderbox I'd most recently purchased. In particular, I think 2 or 3 passes through a BBE maximizer over bad monitors could have a lot to do with the extra harshnesss and sibilance on that cut. And "just a little reverb" adds up when ya do it several times.

I stayed up about 20 hours to do that track, handed over a mix, lost the master and collapsed. And for 10 years I've been fucking it up worse every time I tried to save it. What I'd always thought was "making the best of a bad situation" was really making the same mistake over and over.

Curiously, I actually got some paying work out of my new-found "go back to the original and leave it as alone as possible" skill. What's especially telling about this is that the tape I was remixing had been mixed by a guy who is much more talented than me. But, like me, he had also sweetened the tracks with a little too much of a workstation that was then new to him.

So maybe I'm not the only one who makes this mistake. Note to self: if tracks are even close to acceptable, avoid attempts to beautify with technology. Especially new technology.

So this story has a moral: R.A.P and R.A.P-CD's are good for the soul and the chops. Listening in public freshens the ears.

I want to get this note public because I'm about to drop large money on newer, better technology. This stuff, I know, really will work so good that I better use it on everything...bring on the plug-ins!

But maybe now my words can come back to haunt me, and I can at least start making different mistakes.

Doc West

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