Over the last weeks, we’ve done a lot of sound design stuff so today I want to remind everyone (myself included) that the best way to tweak a sound to perfection is in the mix. In other words, sometimes you have to listen to a sound in isolation, but once you’ve got it in the ballpark it’s a really good idea to keep sketching in the other parts of your song so you can hear how the sound works in relationship to the other parts.
For example, fine tuning the attack and decay of a bass sound can have a huge impact on the overall groove of a song, so getting too deeply into it without hearing the drums will only get you so far. Or, you may find that a bass sound with very little high frequency content sounds dull when you listen to it by itself, but in the context of a complex arrangement with a lot of layers, it sits just right.
So that’s it. The next time you find yourself tweaking a sound for ages, consider moving on and shifting your focus to building the rest of the arrangement. This approach leads to better decisions and less wheel spinning.