Over my January break, I took the opportunity to get some new equipment and update some ancient hardware.  Brand new microphones, guitars, preamps; essential bits of kit that will make the songs I produce sound even better.

I also decided it would be good to build on my collection of software instruments and effects, and I bought a ton of them. The upshot is that I now have pretty much every conceivable sound under the sun.  You name it.  I have the pick of thousands of drum sounds that I can mix and match; countless lovely pianos; 28 reverb plugins and filters coming out of my ears.

However, if I’m quite honest, it’s too much. Way too much. In the past two weeks, I’ve learnt that having unlimited options is stifling, confusing, overbearing and ultimately very time-consuming.

For example, I had one compressor unit before; the one that came with Logic Pro.  Now I have 22.  Seriously, 22 compressors?  All it means is that instead of dialling up my one compressor unit and tweaking it to fit, I feel I have to audition all 22 and compare and contrast, and waste precious hours doing so.

Lots of Plugins

And that’s just compressors.  How many snare sounds do I really need?  Why do I have literally hundreds of synths when I rarely use synths?  And when will I ever get the time to look through 136 lengthy instruction manuals?

After a week of mild panic, that culminated a Doc Martin style mild nausea every time I considered opening a plugin, I decided enough was enough and I’ve drastically cut 90% of my options, keeping the really good sounds that I can use frequently and putting everything else onto a disk to call on if I’m truly stuck.

I feel much, much better about this.

I hate procrastination, and in the studio it can be tempting to get bogged down in petty details and not see the wood for the trees.

And after all, nobody has ever said, “Oh, I would have loved that song, but they used a Fairchild 670 plugin on the vocal which is my least favourite so I can’t listen to it.”