Light Fuse, Get Away.

Image Credit: Friedrich Haag, Visitors at the 2024 Easter fire in Rottorf, 2024 03 30.jpg, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Fresh off the heels of my last rant taking about some of the idiotic things you’ll find in AudioTubeOfYousLand we now have a ‘flameup’ about a Newcomer to the space, the ‘Old Guard’ calling them out for flaws in methodology and science, and of course the Newcomer now Doubling Down in the name of getting clicks and InFlUenCeR cred.

It’s typical Enshitticene Era (although I now prefer Ed Zitron’s ‘Rot Economy’), pitting the known and understood against the ‘controversy as a service’ wannabes – with none of the ‘Wacky Results’ as you would expect in a Sitcom Elevator Pitch. It’s symbolic of everything wrong with everything going on today and why you need to continuously brush up on your ‘Baloney Detection Kit‘ principles. Don’t Believe The Hype.

Beyond the sheer insipidness of watching this unfold for the better part of weeks, I’m truly amazed that absolutely no one (on either side) has brought up the Elephant in the Room question. You bet I’m going to address it here.

In the interest of time, I’m going to point out things as I watched them unfold, with the people I tend to follow. I’m sure others popped onto this Dogpile, but it really doesn’t matter since the links I will provide give a good enough representation of what’s happening.

I highly recommend watching the provided links to get a good understanding of what (and why) this occurred, and although the science gets quite heady, it’s not too difficult to understand for even the burgeoning Musician or Audio Producer.

One of the things I do at EduCorp® is busting a lot of bad information my students (and even staff) find out in the wild, so I’ll be doing that here along with chastising one of the ‘Old Guard’ for how this was handled and why this is really a ‘tempest in a teapot’ with questionable motives. The good news is most seem to have moved past this BS, but the Newcomer just dropped another bombshell into the fray that will probably ignite the dumpster fire all over again. My goal here is to not have to revisit this debacle ever again…

As always, everything here is my opinion based on my (approaching four decades of) experience and knowledge. I will always change my mind based on new information, so if you have anything relevant to add here I’d like to hear it, but remember that our industry is based on the science of electronics and sound which, although never perfect like any science, is based on principles tried and true for decades. I realize that everyone hears things differently, so I’ll need more than just subjectiveness here. Just sayin’.

So in late May, the Tube of Yous added this link in my Algo Feed. I had never heard of this Creator before and with a Clickbait title like this of course I had to check it out. There was nothing I didn’t already know talked about here and his science is pretty shoddy, so I simply filed it away as ‘someone’s trying to crash the YT Audio Science Party’ and forgot about it until I started seeing the ‘YT Audio Science Party Executive Staff’ pushing back on the video about a week later.

I’ve mentioned Paul Third here before. The first ‘pushback’ video I caught was from him about 9 days later. I like Paul a lot – his heart is in the right place and his science is sound, but if you look at the comments section in his video (Paul has kindly pinned it to the top) you will see the exchange with Alain that starts off as ‘here’s how you messed up and what you should look into’ and disintegrates into ‘hell mend ya honestly. I’ll let the Internet do the rest’ in a just a few clicks. This was a (IMO) big mistake on Paul’s part. You not only dismissed his remarks with essentially a hearty ‘fack off’, but I’m convinced you gave him exactly what he wanted – whether he consciously knew it or not.

And I’m certainly not saying APMastering (Alain) was without fault here. He’s jumped into the deep end of this swimming hole all while saying he had no idea there was anyone else in that particular part of the pond doing the science. I find it a bit hard to believe that he didn’t do any research before deciding he wanted to push his agenda on YT, but this exchange forced him to defend his position – even if that position was flawed – to get himself an invite to the YT Audio Science Community Party. Just take a look at the commentariat over at APMastering’s page – he’s a hero to a vast majority of them now while everyone else has had to move to something of a ‘defensive’.

On June 2nd, John Matthews (of the incredible TukanStudios Plugins) posted a shot across Alain’s bow debunking his claims with the science and engineering skills a trusted Plugin developer would know about. This was after Alain released a second video on this subject clarifying a few errors in the first video but continuing to Double Down on his claims. By now APMastering had found their niche and (again, consciously or not) was now driving the Audio Konspiracy Train® to notoriety. The remainder of APMastering’s videos since then are in the same vein, including dragging the venerable Dan Worrall in as fodder, causing Dan to put together a video slagging ‘Mix Like A Pro’ Courses as Snake Oil (because APMastering had used their videos as a lede to promoting their own Audio Courses) in which Dan debuted his own Course (I’m sure Dan has had this on the back burner for a while and this just might have been the ‘perfect opportunity’, but still…)

I’m sure there’s much more to this that I missed, but as I said above most of the hubbub has died down except for APMastering continuing to bang the drum. As I mentioned above he’s now onto Compressors and after watching that one (I’m a glutton for punishment today) it’s the same crep – you can match compressors, Plugin Doctor isn’t ‘good enough’ (and he made his own Plugin to counter this), and it’s just filling the Audio Science Space with stuff nobody really needs – as I’ll explain shortly.

He’s also developed his own Compressor and he’s giving both the Plugin and Measurement Tool away for free as long as you email him (nothing shady about that at all) which just confirms to me that this is nothing but a new career pathway. I’ll be curious to see if someone gets ahold of the Plugin for testing in the future – I have a suspicion Plugin Doctor will be good enough and might reveal some interesting details…

So I need to Sidebar here to say that when Alain debuted his first EQ Course I bought it. It was cheap (less than $20 – it’s $80 now!) and after those first two videos I really wanted to see what they were about. About the best I can say they are not terrible. There is some good electronics info to start off with, and some usable knowledge for the bulk of it, but you can find all of this on The Tube of Yous for basically nothing. IMO it’s nowhere worth $80.

I do like the fact that he talks about using EQ for (mostly) corrections and ‘problem solving’, but there’s a lot I disagree with (like Subtractive-only EQ and the really esoteric ‘filler’ examples that get rarely (if ever) used) but if it goes on sale for as cheap as I got it for there are worse things you could spend the money on.

So what was the Elephant in the Room?

Simple. This whole thing started with Alain telling everyone that all EQ’s (and now Compressors) are not special and can be replicated with modern digital tools. To prove this, he matched EQ’s (and now Compressors) from one brand to another. In almost 40 years of working with audio recording, editing, Mixing, and Mastering I have never had a single reason to need anything like this.

This whole premise is complete and utter Bullshit. Anyone defending it should immediately confronted with this exact question: Even if you can do it why on earth would you need to? What does this do to make Music and Audio Production better?

Repeat after me:

Every Song is different.

Every Track is different.

Every Mix is different.

Every Plugin you have in your DAW, have found for free, or paid extra for is simply a tool in your audio toolbox. I’m sure someone can build a house with a hammer, but they be a lot happier (and work a lot quicker) if they had some other construction equipment. You need to know your tools and what they can (and should) do, but there is no reason you need to know how to make the Stock EQ in your DAW sound exactly like a Pultec or that Freebie Compressor you got last week to replicate an 1176, or a Massive Passive, or a Curve Bender. You should know what is wrong with the track you are working on and how to fix it as fast and efficiently as possible so you can finish the job and get that art out into the world. If you make every single track you create or mix with a solitary processor type and they all sound great, then congrats – you win. But if you use 58 different EQ’s and Compressors and processors across a mix and it sounds great, then congrats – you also win.

As Duke Ellington said, “When it sounds good, it is good.”

And this is the Elephant in the Room. It’s a stupid argument with meaningless methodology. It’s distracting and time-wasting. It’s someone selling you a useless pile of shit by making you believe that what you have already isn’t good enough or your skills aren’t up to their standards. It’s controversy for profit. It’s Social Media doing what Social Media does best. Call it Enshittification or The Rot Economy, I’ll just say fuck that noise – make your art and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Because that’s what the ‘pros’ really do.

I need to stay away from YouTube for a while. Two posts on it back to back takes a serious toll on my mental health… 🙂

Until next time.

July 13th Update:

Alain (APMastering) has released the second part to the ‘All Compressors are the Same’ video. It started off with a bit of a ‘Redemption Arc’ until the end when he tried to match the sound of a stock EQ going into his free Compressor into one of the Airwindows distortion Plugins with an API Bus Compressor Plugin from Universal Audio (yes, just the API Compressor).



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