To experience the magic for yourself, first set up this image to be your computer’s screen saver1, with either a hot corner or keyboard shortcut to trigger it. Then, whenever you need to get a fresh perspective on a mix, fire up the darkness.2
I’ll give you five bucks if your mix doesn’t instantly reveal itself (for better or for worse). Just as we “eat with our eyes,” this little trick makes it quite obvious that we hear with them as well. There’s something almost magical that happens when the pixelated waveforms disappear, as if the sound suddenly starts coming not from your DAW, but from directly from the speakers. The best part: Years after I’ve started using this brain hack, it still works.
- Of course, this assumes you’re mixing in front of a computer—an increasingly safe bet these days. ↩
- Yes, you could just turn off your monitor, but I, like many, prefer to work fast and from the gut when I’m mixing—so the four second lag it takes to power on my Dell display to tweak that guitar EQ is a first world bummer I can do without. Also: iMacs and laptops would otherwise be outta luck. ↩