The issue you hold in your hands is long overdue. Yes, perhaps we went over-the-top with our cover type, but we mean what we say. And we want all Mix readers to pause — if just for a moment — and think about what goes on in their daily lives, both inside and outside the studio.
In researching this special issue, we found that for many, there is no life beyond their job. And that may be just fine for some. Ours is an industry that's fueled by passion, and sometimes that passion translates into 24-hour sessions or six weeks without a break writing code for a new software release. Those who live a life inside the pro audio world are here because they simply can't imagine being anywhere else. The hours, the lifestyle, the take-out food are all part of the game. Or as Hunter S. Thompson said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
But that doesn't mean passion can't be balanced by a bit of common sense. In developing this year's themed issue, we were responding to two areas of concern. First, we noticed too many obituaries crossing our desk — men and women in their 40s and 50s who had plenty left to give. And second, we started thinking about ears. Last year, the mass media inundated us with warnings about how earbuds are wrecking an entire generation's hearing. What's really going on and how can we — who live a life in audio — save our own ears?
Not surprisingly, we found health and hearing to be taboo topics in professional audio. If an NFL running back pulls a hamstring, it's front-page news, but if an engineer discovers a notch at 3k, it's not meant for conversation. We know why that is, but that doesn't mean engineers should avoid getting their ears checked — or continue to ignore the hazards. Steps taken now can prevent further damage.
“When I talked to audiologists, they seemed perplexed that people who depend on their ears for a living are often the ones most reluctant to turn it down,” says Mix features editor Sarah Jones, who drove this issue from concept to completion. “But it's more than just hearing. Being aware means recognizing your own limits, whether it's volume levels or pulling a second all-nighter this week. People can find success without reaching their breaking point. It's all up to the individual.”
Each person's situation is different, and what causes stress in some may provide an adrenaline rush for others. But there is no denying that the world of professional audio presents some common lifestyle stressors, and some definite demands on hearing. Solutions for managing stress and for protecting your hearing are out there; it's a matter of finding what works best for you.
We're not self-help artists here, and we're not trying to tell anybody how to live a “correct” life. As Blair Jackson points out in our opening essay, there are plenty of glass houses here in our office. But we do care about this industry, and that means we care about the people who make it run.
Keep the passion. Keep the faith. Pump up the volume when the music demands it. Just be smart. And be aware.