The Role of Recording Engineer?

Given the love of music most of us have and the investment we make in the audio hardware we use to provide as accurate a representation of the music created by the artist, how important is the role of the recording engineer, producer, mixer etc in the final product we receive? I’ve listened to great music delivered in the highest audio formats but sometimes I struggle to understand the placement of microphones or perhaps the mixing of the recording. I mainly listen the Jazz and many recordings I find there is a bias in the way the recording has been made. Sometimes the piano for instance is stretched between the speakers or other times the complete recording is biased left or right. Often where the human voice is involved it’s poorly recorded whereas instruments in the same production will be well recorded. So my question is should we be placing as much emphasis in the talents or lack of in the recording engineer or producer as we do in the musicians that create the work in making a successful recording? Given the time and money many of us invest in our audio experience it would appear the answer is perhaps not. I find the recording engineer or producer rarely mentioned in the information we see in Roon or any of the streaming services such as Qobuz or Tidal.

I think they have an immense part to play, and many also contribute to the music as well

I’m rather a fan of Danger Mouse, doesn’t sound like he’s your thing, but he produces his own work and for many others - he definitely has a sound and a style that he brings to the bands. He’s consequently always in demand

He really helped The Black Keys on Turn Blue and his own work on Broken Bells is very good (to these ears)

What I find laughable are references to ‘great production’ on stuff like Led Zeppelin - Page’s main contribution seemed to be to pan the drums off to this side or that, same for George and the Beatles. To be fair, they were ‘experimenting’ mind

1 Like

I would never class the Zeppelin recordings as ‘great production’ or sound, nor does Jimmy Page have a reputation as a producer, great or otherwise. As for George Martin, there is only so much you can do with 4 tracks (but look what they managed to do) and stereo hard panning was the sound of the day when the primary format for release was MONO.

Google ‘Jimmy Page Producer’
There’s a dedicated wiki page on it

He was always cited when I was a fan in my younger days - now I just think LZ were very over rated - but not as much as the Beatles!