Just occasionally we receive emails asking what credentials qualify us to dispense wisdom on the methodology of recording or to undertake critical equipment reviews. This is actually a very fair question, though, in the words of politicians everywhere, perhaps that's not the question you should be asking. We at Sound On Sound all have studios at home and many of us have worked with some very high-profile musicians, but as most of our time goes into producing a magazine, the editorial staff (as opposed to our many freelance authors) don't get as much 'feet on the ground' time as those engineers and producers working full time. Perhaps the question that should be asked is, 'Where does all this information come from?'
Many of the ideas and opinions we put down on paper do indeed come from our own extensive prior experience and qualifications in related fields (both Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns and myself qualified in electronics), but I don't see our role as being to dictate the rights and wrongs of the recording process. Rather I see us as a conduit for disseminating information gleaned from those people who are true experts in their field. One of the privileges of our line of work is having the opportunity to spend time chatting with the engineers and producers who have been instrumental in shaping the landscape of popular music. The majority of audio professionals are very happy to talk in detail about their approach to recording, mixing and production, and whenever we learn something new and worthwhile, we pass it on in print so that everyone can benefit. Of course, we also assimilate any relevant techniques for use in our own projects so as to build up our own expertise. I have no time for those (thankfully few) people who believe that what they do is some big secret that is too important to share.
When it comes to our product reviews we are fortunate in having access to a wide selection of freelance skilled specialists, working professionally in the field, who know a great deal about their chosen subjects, and this is one area where the magazine environment works in our favour, as our reviewers are extremely well placed to cultivate a strong sense of perspective. For example, Hugh and I must have reviewed literally hundreds of microphones and monitor loudspeakers between us over the years, so we have built up a very clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the different brands and models. Our electronics background helps as we can usually gauge the cost implications of adding features or improving performance that someone without an engineering background may not appreciate. We also spend time at trade shows talking to the engineers who design the products that we all use, and just occasionally some of our comments and suggestions have an impact on the next generation of production models. Above all we try our very best to be fair when it comes to appraising products, which means taking price, build quality and functionality into consideration.
Having said all that, music production is a blend of art and science, and while we can be fairly definitive about the science side of the process, all we can do on the art front is shine the spotlight on those people who achieve remarkable things and hope that you soak up some of their magic.
Paul White Editor In Chief