This will hardly come as breaking news, but many home studio owners work on their own and hence take on the roles of songwriter, arranger, performer, audio engineer, etc. That's a lot for a single person! And it doesn't matter whether it is a voluntary choice or not, the issues remain the same in both cases: none of these roles should take precedence over the others because the end goal should always be to get the best result for the song being produced and this means egos have no place in the story. You could certainly have a word with yourself to control your ego, but don't be surprised if one day a couple of people dressed in white come into your studio with a straightjacket.... So how can you manage the situation without losing your mind? As usual, the best solution involves calling in someone external. "Sure, but who?," you are probably asking yourselves. "Nobody I know has enough knowledge to help me out." Well even better so, because as you've seen before, the audio skills of your "guest" don't play much of a role here.
The principle behind the method I suggest is very simple and discussing the problems you are facing with someone who has no relationship whatsoever with the audio world is more than enough. The only thing is that you will have to "vulgarize" all the technical talk so that he/she can understand better what you are talking about. And this is where the magic begins! In fact, this exercise of having to describe your problems in a more down-to-earth and simple way will force you to look at things from a point of view that is easier to grasp fro someone else. This entails being more objective, which ought to help you solve all the issues. The principle at play here is the same as in psychoanalysis. The solution lies in you, not the answers of the other person whose role here is to force you to take some distance from the whole thing. The cherry on the cake is that your "Guinea pig" might actually give you some damn good replies, given his/her naivety. In fact, this ignorance of the complexity of the processes behind an audio production will most likely make him/her opt for a direct, simple solution focusing on the essentials. What more could you ask for?
In case you still haven't really grasped the idea behind today's article, here's a more concrete example. Several months ago I was working on a song and I had an issue with the sound of the rhythm guitar. When I got home I discussed it with my girlfriend – who has absolutely no idea of audio but always is very patient with my ramblings (thank you!). What I told her was more or less the following: "Today I found a sound for the rhythm guitar that I like a lot, it is full and sharp at the same time, which goes very well with the spirit of the song. The thing is it interferes with the bass/drums groove. It makes it sound muddled and the groove is the core of the song. After all, the song came to be because of it...." And that was it! I had found the answer myself: my ego really loved the guitar but it wasn't really the best choice for the song. Besides, I knew I would be able to use that guitar sound I liked so much on another production, but just not on that one. Simple and effective. It was settled!
And that's it for today. Next time we'll start a new and very important chapter of this guide: vocal recording.