The first computer I owned had a 286 processor, a few MEGS (not GIGS) of hard drive space, and it ran a DOS OS called GeoWorks. I’d spent a number of months changing software settings and making OS changes when, one day, I decided to start deleting the “un-necessary” files. In the root directory was this file I didn’t recognize, so I deleted it. Upon the next reboot, my PC was dead in the water.
The AUTOEXEC.BAT file was the most important file on the computer. It told the computer what to do once the computer was powered on. I frantically called my close friend, Bob, and explained the whole situation. He started laughing when I told him what I did and then said, “That’s ok, I did that myself, once.”
A problem with having an ever-growing amount of production knowledge is two-fold; you can either start believing you know more than you actually do OR you start assuming you are above making simple mistakes. As far as that computer screw-up, I believed I knew what I was doing. In fact, I believed I knew exactly what I was doing was ok.
My bone-headed production mistakes:
1. Simple mistake. Working a different venue, everything worked except the monitors. Meters showed monitor outs were passing audio. After few runs back and forth checking cables, i was at my wit’s end. Had I bothered to even look at the amp in the floor-to-ceiling rack, it would have been obvious IT WASN’T POWERED ON! Turns out that the cable coming out of the back of the unit had worked out just enough to be unplugged.
2. Simple mistake. The Yamaha MG mixer series has built-in effects. You pick the effect, select the amount of the effect you want, and then turn up the effect on the channels you want. This works great as long as you remember to turn ON the effect’s channel. Being so comfortable with the board, having used it for 8 years, it was easy to select the effect and start to adjust the effect on a singer’s channel and then realize I forgot to turn on the effect.
3. Knowing better. Close mouth, open mind. I’m glad this one is from a long long time ago. A wired vocal microphone started going in and out during the last worship set. After the service was over, I talked about the issue with the worship leader and what should be done the next time it happens.
I’m embarrassed to say what I told the worship leader but here it goes; “Next time, stop the song, I’ll fix the issue, then you can start the song over.” Go ahead, call me names. I deserve it for that one. But it didn’t stop there. We had such differing ideas that we got into a heated argument for about 15 minutes. I was in the “I’ve-learned-all-this-production-stuff-so-I-know-what-I’m-doing” phase. We finally agreed to disagree.
A few minutes later, his wife (also a musician) told me the perfect solution to the crackling microphone problem. Had I not been so closed-minded in the argument, I should have thought about myself.
My Warning to You
Take heart and be warned, my brethren!
- The more you learn, the easier it is to think you know best.
- The more you work in audio production, the more you’ll see you don’t know everything.
- The more you learn, the easier it is to assume you only make complex mistakes.
- The more you work in audio production, the more you’ll see that most mistakes are caused by the simplest of reasons.
Do I dare even ask for your bone-headed mistakes?