Quality audio production is often under-appreciated and not even recognized by the general public and many music fans. It really is a complex and intricate art all on its own, separate from writing or playing music in any sort of way. That being said, there are many post-production techniques that can be added to recordings that can make or break a song.
This is one of many computer programs (Cubase being shown here) that gives the user the ability to digitally manipulate and edit audio files. You can adjust the different frequencies of the files, resulting in harsher or softer sounding levels across the spectrum of low, middle and high frequencies that can be detected by the human ear.
You can also add effects on top of recordings varying from something as simple as reverb to pitch correction and auto-tuned sections of audio. Post-production really has a huge influence on what any song can sound like. Without the ability to digitally “enhance” sound, there would be no new wave movement in the 80s, there would be no techno; almost certainly there would be little to no electronic music at all.
With all of that being said, sometimes producers get a little too ambitious. They want to makes their own contribution to a song or album, heavily imposing on the raw essence of a song with different types of post-production techniques. When a song is written with heavy effects and filters in mind, it often works with the song instead of against it. In other situations, this is not always the case. Post-production is really a double-edged sword in that sense.
Here are several studio recorded songs alongside live performances of the same song. I will not point out any specific intricacies or my preference for each case. I want you to listen to the differences while considering everything I mentioned before.
The Royal Concept – On Our Way
Zeus – Are You Gonna Waste My Time?
Allen Stone – Unaware
Arkells – One Foot Out The Door
Every song shown here was affected by being recorded in a studio or being performed live in some way, shape or form. What do you think? Which songs were improved using studio production techniques and which songs were better live and left untouched by these same techniques?