The Art of listening

Digital audio workstations have been a fantastic addition to radio production over this past decade. We can now do more manipulating and ‘reflangerlating’ of sound than ever before, AND do it in lightning speed.


One art to our work flow that I fear has been lost within the new generation of radio producer is the ‘art of listening’. Yes, this sounds a strange comment to make considering that we are in the ‘audio business’. Let me explain:

In the mid-to-late 90’s when we moved from analog tape machines to computer workstations, the process of closing your eyes and really listening to the stereo image protruding from the speaker boxes, was replaced with computer-visual-mixing tools … Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Nuendo, DSP (for those of you who remember). We draw lines on a screen now, where we once touched faders and moved them to fit the music bed to the voiceover.

I’m shocked at how automated radio production has become. With commercials and promos now expected to be turned around at record speed to hit client deadlines I understand that it is not always possible to spend a great amount of time playing a mix through over and over.

One of the masters at mixing radio production, Steve Hunt, taught me many years ago the ‘art of listening’ to a mix. Steve would spend an enormous amount of time listening back to the mix. Loud, soft, through different speakers, he would finesse the faders until he was satisfied (and proud) with the sound mix.

So … my challenge to you today. Spend some time moving faders, not drawing lines on a screen, and you will start to reclaim this lost ‘art of listening’.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?



Daryl Missen is an audio branding professional in radio and television production.


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