It’s a bit of a stupid question but i thought i’de bring it up. We are advised to trust our ears when recording or mixing and to do whatever it takes to make it sound good. Knowing what sounds good or not is most of the puzzle. You could do things all day and not reach the “good“, unless you know what the hell it is.
On an unimportant note, I would suggest it is mainly a learnt attribute, although there is no doubt some genetic disposition in humans to like some sounds and dislike others. e.g. fingers on chalkboard. I don’t have any scientific research to back me up on this, i’m just guessing.
Anyway my point is that we have to learn what good is. How do we do this? Its a subjective thing so we can’t use our calculator.
You probably have a fairly good idea already, but we could probably all get better at knowing what sounds good during all the diff stages of production, like when placing mics or when mixing. It’s one thing to know that your favourite band’s latest proffesionally produced album sounds good, its another thing entirely to know when doing your own recording if the guitar sounds good when the mic is moved one inch to right or one inch to the left (‘I dunno they both sound alright i guess‘). There becomes a lot to take into consideration. When tracking you decide the guitar track you just recorded sounds great, but later when it comes time to mix you realise it’s actually way too dull and you have to add 5 EQ’s just to make it fit. Put that one in the memory bank, we have just learnt something. Context is very important. You have to have foresight and think about how each track will associate with the rest. The more tracks there are the more you have to consider this and it does get more tricky the higher the track count becomes. So maybe if your just starting out try fewer tracks and let the air do some of the mixing. I’m pretty impressed with some of the stereo recordings i get from my little Zoom recorder at my bands rehearsals.
This isn’t rocket surgery and the more experienced of you already know this but for the rest of us, we have to make mistakes and take notes. I would suggest critiquing some of the music you like and also popular recordings from all diff styles. Pick them apart and listen to each instrument. There are some famous multitrack recordings kicking around on the internet which will show you what single raw tracks sound like. It will help get your brain familiar with good. I’m still trying to perfect this “sounds good” business myself so if you have some tips for me please share.