As someone working in today's aural space, I often find myself over taken over with gear envy or another, even more sinister force: thinking I can find the "perfect" piece of technology that will solve all my problems. (For the purposes of this blog post I will call this "perfect tech.") These are issues anyone who works in this particular field has to contend with.
One of my moments of gear envy happened early on in my theatrical design career. I was working as a freelance audio tech at a regional playhouse when a designer from Chicago came in with four reference microphones, each worth well over a thousand dollars. I helped focus and hang speakers around the production space. He sat in a comfy chair chewing gum and making small EQ and delay adjustments on the Yamaha speaker DSP. If only I had those four reference microphones I could move from hanging speakers to tuning systems, right? Obviously no. They knew much more about sound system creation, system tuning, phase alignment, and, perhaps more importantly, this person had spent twenty plus years doing this many, many times. Looking back at my inexperience, this was a valuable learning moment.
Obtaining the piece of "perfect tech" is something I have to remind myself myself to push out of my head. There is no such thing. I know I am not alone, and that it is a mark of true passion for the art to make it work with the tools immediately available to you. Professional musicians often spend thousands repetitively buying the same instrument over and over in a world that creates upgrade after upgrade, always making the second newest version seem outdated. How many guitarists buy a few guitars a year? A lot. Similarly, audio engineers are often found jonesing for microphones, preamplifiers, sequencers, plugins, audio interfaces. The reason, I think, we feel this urge is due to two reasons: the first is clever marketing campaigns by music companies, and the second is the healthy urge to consistently improve one's contributions to our art form and collaborative space. A workable kit is important. New gear is luxurious and amazing. I think we all should try to maintain a healthy personal balance both for the sake our collective bank accounts and our own sanity.