I'm not hearing sound objectively.

For example when I produce music, even after the final mixdown, I think my brain is actually adding things that aren't objectively there. Not entire instruments and parts, but layers like ambience, effects, and even a crucial mood behind it. It's like, they were already in my head when I began writing, and they were there through every stage of the WIP, and so I never even had a conscious hint that they were never there.

But, I can't think of how to begin to "disconnect" my perception from... my perception.

One thing I've noticed is that people I've seen write music, write differently than me. Often they begin not knowing where they want to end up. Art emerges via keen decisions they make, starting on a random medium. I wonder if this allows them to "hear" more objectively, since they themselves are asking at every step, "What am I hearing here? What am I feeling here?" In contrast for me, sometimes "complete" scores come to me in a dream and I have to rush to my desk to write what I remember in short-hand. Or more often, an idea evolves over days and weeks in the shower and during walks, but it's still a "complete" entity before I begin producing. Am I never going to have an objective feedback system as long as I begin with a definite thing in mind?

For those who've experienced or are experiencing this, what advice or techniques helped you? Was there a shift in perspective that helped you accept these circumstances and motivate change?

2 Answers 2


Listen to music you like (not your compositions, but any other music). Which instruments can you identify? Use headphones and try to imagine where those instruments are located around you. Which notes and chords are those instruments playing? Can you write down this music? And if you play what you have written: Did you miss something in the background? It is easy to separate the leading melody. But listen to the drums: did you get everything?

If you think you did it well, try more complex pieces of music.

And when you listen to the music in your head: Do the same: Which instruments do you "hear"? Are they located left or right of you? "Listen" careful: Are you really aware of all instruments, chords and melodies?


My only advice on this quite difficult issue is to complete the recording and (assuming you have no deadline) don’t listen to it for a few weeks. Then when you go back in to listen it is much easier to be objective on the sound and quality.

Also read up on EQ, mixing and some of the tools (eg graphic analysers) that will help you to identify ‘good’ sounds more easily. This will generally help frequency and volume spikes in the mix you’re used to from over-listening but might be spotted by a listener.

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