There are sound tech’s who are great and there are those who are not. The difference is the great ones survived the dip. Seth Godin wrote a book about the dip and in reading this book, I discovered many of us have fallen prey to the dip in all parts of our lives. But it’s the area of audio where most of us can relate.
The dip is simply described as the point in which an effort produces lesser results than previously experienced and where in if the person continues working on that effort, the quality of results will eventually skyrocket. Or just look at this picture:
The audio dip occurs after a period of time when a sound tech starts learning. For a period of time, the more you are learning about live audio, the more results you are seeing; you receive positive feedback, the mix sounds better, and you find yourself knowing what you are doing (“oh, now I know how to use the sub-groups“)! Eventually, the results aren’t as great. You might even read a whole book and only see minimal results and feel that you are the only one who even notices the difference. Then it happens.
You find yourself in the dip.
The dip is the place where most people quit. You could close your book, stop reading the audio magazines and web sites, and say to yourself “this is the best I can do.” For many of us, we experience the dip in a hobby like playing tennis or golf or chess. We reach a point where we say “well, I’m not going to the be the number one seed tennis star so I should just be happy with where I am.” That’s jolly good and all but that means you can’t experience the rapid increase in results if you would have worked through the dip.
Let me talk practicality. Let’s say you’ve got the foundational audio knowledge down pat and now you’re in the dip. What do you do? You have a few choices:
- Quit. There is a time for this such as if you are nearing burn-out or your family life suffers greatly because of your extra work.
- Stay in and learn as much as you can about everything audio – this is great but you might find yourself flooded with too much information.
- (My suggestion) Stay in and focus on a different area of audio one topic at a time. For example, focus on learning as much as you can about drum mic’ing and mixing. In time, you can become the “expert” in your church on working with drums. After that, learn about acoustic guitar mixing and effects or mic’ing and mixing backup singers. You might spend a season learning about equipment repair.
The dip is real. The dip gives us reason to stop learning. The dip gives us the moment to pause and ask yourself, “am I happy with where I am or do I want to put in the time to be an expert?“