Soft vs hard – an audio approach

If you find yourself constantly fighting to get good sounds, you need to look into the soft vs hard approach. Those fights can happen at any stage of music production. Sometimes it’s the recorded sounds that turn out different from what you imagined. Other times it’s during mixing when you end up having to tinker way too much. Bear in mind that the below described approach is not an ultimate solution to every single problem you encounter. Rather, it’s a general way of thinking and operation. It means if you handle everything with this frame of mind, you won’t run into surprises and big errors.

Ever tried soft vs hard?

soft vs hardSo how do you get into this soft vs hard stuff? Pretty easy. Whenever you get a sound at one point of the process, you only need to react accordingly. Let me explain. Let’s say you that for whatever reason, you need to work with harsh sounding vocals. That’s right at the source, and let’s say the singer cannot or doesn’t want to change his/her singing style. Maybe the genre requires it that way. So you need to tame the harsh voice, the hard part with something soft. You can either go for a microphone that has a smooth roll-off in the top end. Or you can EQ it. Either during recording or mixing. You can also put some distortion on it, or compress it. What’s important is that you react to the sound depending on its nature. But only if you consider its original nature to be a problem, or different from what you wanted.

Gear vs brain power

We could as well close this topic right now, but one thing has to be pointed out. Many people sort of use this approach, but the wrong way. They are the ones who want to solve problems by throwing more and more gear at it. And that usually means more money as well. In reality, there are smarter and cheaper solutions to most problems. Just to stay with the above example. Instead of throwing in another mic (for example using a ribbon instead of the condenser), you could just change the current mic’s angle and/or position. You always need to at least attempt to fix the problems with your first choice of gear. Especially if you don’t have anything else at hand. If it doesn’t work, just laugh it off, bro.

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