What’s Wrong With Using Presets?

So I was watching a video the other day that inspired this blog post. In this video electronic music producer, Sander van Doorn talks about his mastering process.  If you are unfamiliar with Sander van Doorn he is a popular electronic music producer who is on Spinnin’ Records (one of the biggest electronic music labels).  His music & videos have garnered millions of listens and views.  In this video, he mentions how he doesn’t use a professional mastering engineer and that he prefers to master his own music.  The reason he does this is because he has used a professional mastering engineer in the past, but he wasn’t satisfied with the results.

When he goes on to show his mastering process he does something very interesting: he uses presets. Oh, the humanity! After I finished watching the video I went into the comments and low and behold there are several criticisms of his mastering process. Here are a few of the comments:

“So he teaches how to use presets..”
“Mastering with only presets???? “
“Lol this guy is not satisfied with a professional mastering engineer, but he is with standard presets? What a joke.”
“I used to have some respect for Sander’s music many years ago but now I realize he doesn’t even know what he’s doing!”

Now here’s the thing that I find interesting.  None of these people would have criticized his mastering process if he didn’t reveal it to them.  A lot of these critics tend to criticize another person’s process only after they’ve seen it.  Never once did they listen to one of his songs and say “it sounds like he used preset *X* on the master.”

There is a video in which record producer Greg Wells (Adele & Katy Perry) shares some of his favorite plugins.  In the video he talks about how he used a preset on one of his mixes and how big of a difference it made to his client.  It was a subtle change, but that subtlety ended up being a difference maker to the client.  So if a multiple Grammy nominated record producer & mixer doesn’t have a problem with using presets, then why should you?

Presets are a tool.  They can be a great starting point in helping you achieve a certain sound that you are looking for.  Just because one person doesn’t use presets doesn’t mean that another person won’t find them useful.

Now, I am not saying that you have to use presets, just know that there is no right or wrong way to produce music.  Each person has their own process and approach when it comes to music.  All you can do is listen to your ears, trust your instincts, and do what you think sounds best.

In the end, the results are the only thing that matter.  How you decide to get there is completely up to you.

Stay creative, stay encouraged, stay inspired, and stay motivated.

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