Load up one of your best tracks and play it through at a good healthy volume.
Doesn't sound 'pro', does it? That's a problem every home recording studio owner has. It's one thing to make a recording that sounds good, but getting it to sound pro is something else entirely.
OK, let's try turning up the high frequencies. Nope, still doesn't sound pro. Now let's turn up the low frequencies. No, still no pro. Try the mids – turn them up, turn them down…
We're still not getting anywhere near a pro sound, are we?
OK, let's try something different. Let's try a compressor. Let's try a whole mastering suite of software. Hmm, it sure sounds different, but dammit, it doesn't sound like a pro recording yet.
Clearly, what the equipment needs is a simple control that you can turn up and your recording sounds professional. No equipment yet has it, but its invention would be the one most desired thing in audio – and make its inventor a fortune!
Here it is… the control that we all want, and with it we can make our recordings as professional as we like…
Yes, that's right, an 'upfrontiness' control. That's the one feature that makes pro recordings shine out and make home-made recordings sound dull and lifeless in comparison. The pro recording sounds 'upfront'. Everything sounds closer to the listener's ear.
Of course, even professional equipment doesn't (yet) have an upfrontiness control, so how do they achieve that?
Well, it's a combination of microphone selection, EQ, compression and all the other tools in the studio, coupled with a great player and a great instrument of course, or a great singer with a great voice.
Pro engineers develop an instinct that allows them to operate the equipment and blend their techniques and processes to achieve the upfront sound that we all want to listen to.
Unfortunately, there isn't a simple way to do it. How did Turner create such a sense of light in his paintings? How did Michelangelo see David within an unformed slab of marble? How did Leo Fender find the insight to create an instrument that would influence the heart and soul of music for the next half-century and beyond?
But rather than say that there isn't an answer, let's imagine that there is… that one day there really will be an upfrontiness control.
How will it work? What will it do to the signal?
Would anyone care to share their 'upfrontiness' tips with other readers?