Do you feel tired after an 8-hour studio day? Do you know the feeling how by the end of a recording day all you want to do is lay down in silence? I made an interesting observation that many band members who’ve visited me have confirmed. Do you feel drained after a day at the studio? – Learn about the cause and how to avoid it.
You will benefit reading this post if you are a musician, vocalist or a sound engineer and have felt exhausted after a studio day. As with all my writings, the infomation here is based on my personal experience. What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for you. Yet, I hope you will find my experience interesting and I that it will help you too.
Do you feel drained after a day at the studio?
– Learn about the cause and how to avoid it
For several years the long studio days felt really consumptive. Even mixing, where were just literally listen to the music from morning until late in the evening was tiring. By the evening I felt that there was no energy left in me.
After each studio day I had to go lie down in bed for at least half an hour. Without the rest I simply couldn’t have done anything. Have you ever felt that way after a full day of recording or mixing?
Listening to music after a studio day was the last thing on my mind. It felt like I had overdosed on audi and just wanted to stay in silence to get through the next studio day.
Many musicians and professional sound engineers know this feeling all too well. Less than a few spends their leisure time listening to music. But has it always been this way or are the symptoms of a recent origin? Can you overdose on music and what is this phenomenon all about?
How studio day affects you
During the 90’s when starting my studio career I learnt that being focused is a challenge. Most bands couldn’t listen the recorded take through as they immediately started discussing putting their mind and focus to anything but the music.
It took a long time to succeed in the noble art of being focused. After years of training I could finally focus up to 10 hours straight. Nothing could get me out of the focused state of mind. Yet, being fully focused takes a huge amount of energy so maybe this is the reason for feeling drained?
You too might be familiar with ear fatigue. During the first years I noticed that when the day turned to an evening (read: in the middle of the night) there was the urge to start changing the mic position or tweak the sound. And in the morning as we listenedt to what we’d done, re-recording was the only option as the sound was pretty far from ideal.
When the ears get tired, what you hear isn’t exactly correct and you usually feel the need to start tweaking the setting. I soon learnt that you shouldn’t do that especially if you had found them to work like a charm with fresh ears.
On the movie Amadeus emperor Joseph II educates Mr Mozart by saying: “There are in fact only so many notes the ear can hear in a course of an evening. Your work is ingenious, it’s quality work and there are simply too many notes.”
The ears do get tired, yet I highly doubt such a quota or limitation actually exists. I noticed that how tired you get depends surprisingly on the sound source you use.
Make a simple comparison how music affects you
My good friend, the guitar player for Royal Max band Mikko Huopainen said that after listening to a few songs from the computer his ears get tired. Listening to music from a streaming service isn’t something he wants to do that often.
When it comes to CDs, he feels comfortable listening to one album and after that his “quota for music” is full. What makes this interesting is that when listening to a full analog signal chain vinyl records and cassettes Mikko can go on listening for the whole day without getting his ears tired. He says doesn’t feel drained at all.
What if after a long studio day you’d want to continue listening to music?
The guitarist for Erävesi band, Mikko Järvinen, arrived to me in October 2019 for an EP session. Click here to read the case study blog post about the session in detail. Based on previous studio experiences the band members had felt very tired during recording.
On the previous album session they felt exhausted after each studio day. Listening to any kind of music after each session day was the last thing on their minds. Mikko told me he expected it to be the same also at Astia.
It was a huge surprise to say the least when after a 10-hour studio day he didn’t feel exhausted. Instead we continued listening to music from original vinyl records at the studio’s listening room upstairs. None of us overdose on music as it was the opposite; the music empowered us all.
The phenomenon described above happens on nearly all of the sessions at Astia. So that made me wonder when did the “feeling exhausted after a studio” change to the urge to continue listening to music.
The answer is in the signal path; it must be full analogue. To me and both Mikkos it seems to work great. I recommend you to test and find out if you find it helpful too.
By full analog signal path I mean sound that has never been converted to digital. For example the original vinyl records and cassettes from the 60’s and 70’s when you listen to them using an analog amplifier. Our listening room Yamaha amp has digital circuit but luckily there is a Pure Direct button to bypass all the DSP’s.
In studio the full analog signal path means recording and mixing to tape without the conversion to digital. To enjoy it to the extent of the word “full”, the speakers should be without the digital circuitry. Unfortunately most new active speakers have the digital circuit that you cannot bypass.
Other observations about the effect of full analog signal chain
Did you know that cats and dogs tend to stay in the room with a full analog signal path music? Once you change the sound source to digital the animal tend to leave the room. They sense something which either appeals to them or makes them leave.
I’ve had several under one year old toddlers visit me with their parents to listen to music from different sound source. When playing a full analog signal path vinyl record, the babies tend to calm down and they stop the uncontrolled waggling. Once you switch the sound source to digital they continue the restless moving.
Some 30 years ago a full analog signal path music was all around us. Nowadays the sound that’s at least once converted to digital surrounds us. Is it possible that the sound which surrounds us today is causing nausea on a much larger scale?
When I put on a song from Spotify, I cannot sit down and focus on the music as I’ll immediately start multitasking. Then again with a full analog signal path vinyl record, something similar happens that the local music teacher aptly explains.
When listening to a full analog signal chain music the vocalist enters the room and demands me to concentrate. I have to stop doing any other tasks and focus fully on the music. It’s no-longer background music, but a comprehensive experience that you can feel with the whole body!
–Hanna Hyvärinen, music teacher/choir conductor
Why do you feel drained and how to avoid it?
I base this writing on the comments of several band members, people close to me along with my personal experiences and observations. Sound that’s been converted to digital at least once seems to cause restlessness and drains you out.
The animal and toddler behavior speaks volumes as they act purely on the instinct. Their reactions are genuine without the need to please the observer.
There was a significant improvement on the quality of life when I went back to listening to music from full analog signal path vinyl records. They in a way helped me to fall in love with music again in the same way teenage Anssi did back in the days.
In spring 2017 I made the transition to tape recording only. That was the turning point and since then I no longer feel drained after a studio day. Now the music feels again the best!
As the phenomenon is highly intriguing we are starting to study it with the local university professors, doctorades and teachers. I’ll keep you updated once we have concrete evidence that are up to the scientific standards.
Meanwhile you can test it on yourself, your pet or on your or your friend’s toddlers. It is essential that you do not use active speakers that have digital circuit, USB turntable and Bluetooth or other wireless systems. Full analog signal path seems to be the way to verify this phenomenon.
Each of us is an individual. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other. Make the test and let me know how the full analog signal path music affects you. To me and the bands who visit me it has turned out to make a significant difference.
Thank you for reading about feeling drained after a studio day and how to avoid it. If you find this post was helpful, please share it on social media. This way you will help your friends to benefit from the information.
To experience a non-draining tape recording session, click here and let’s continue the discussion. Thank you very much and all the very best!
Astia-studio is a full analog recording studio located in eastern Finland with 25 years of experience. Bands and artists from all over the world including USA and the furthest corner of Russia, Vladivostok have arrived to us for tape recording sessions.