When less is more. And you hate that.
Today, I had a lesson in the immortal truth: less is more.
Damn it all, and Merry Christmas….
I’ve been dabbling in audio recording in my home for several years. I’ve gone through several iterations of a home set up, including speaking into a small handheld recorder, using a slightly better and more expensive handheld recorder, using a USB mic hooked into my computer, and finally, the most recent iteration: roughly $500 worth of audio equipment set up in a closet dedicated to the purpose in my house. No matter what, the sound quality has always bit.
After I moved into the new house two years ago, I thought the reason I was getting such bad audio quality was the fact that all of my floors were hardwood and that most of the ceilings were very high. To some extent, that’s true. These things will contribute to a poor sound quality if they are not addressed in advance of recording. I’ve tried several tricks including getting sound shields, using acoustic foam, putting carpets down on the floor or hanging them from the ceiling (yeah, that one took a lot of work), but it always ended up sounding like I was recording in a wind tunnel. Which actually would’ve been great, because my house often gets really hot and wind would totally have chilled me out.
Well today, as a “what the hell” experiment, I plugged a cheap $10 set of headphones with a mic boom directly into my iPad and hit record. Granted, the iPad ain’t cheap, but I already had it so I don’t really consider it an extra cost. And lo and behold, I got the best sound I’ve gotten in four years of recording using the simplest set up I’ve ever used and using it on a whim.
Now of course you know me. I’m gonna try to take this and spin it out into a larger life lesson. Or in this case specifically, a lesson on my writing. One of the more uncomfortable pieces of feedback I’ve heard from readers through the years was that my plots got too complex or that my writing was to highbrow. While I certainly think there is a place for writing of that kind, it’s not what I was going for. Which makes me think maybe, sometimes, I’m just to focused on the complexity to realize that what I’m trying to achieve is actually pretty simple. I’m sure others of have this type of experience. It sort of reminds me of the old – was an Amish song? A Quaker song? Something by the Bee Gees? – that reminded us that “’tis a gift to be simple.” Those lyrics also continue on to say that “’tis a gift to be free,” however. $10 ain’t exactly free, but what it would’ve saved me in headache and tribulations to just be simple rather than striving for unnecessary complexity would’ve saved me and everybody who ever listened to recording of me a huge headache.