I thought this would be a good one to start with. Think about the PA you use or own. Think about all the speakers, amps, mics, cables, DI’s, effects units. Then think about all the features in your desk. If someone pointed to a mic asked “what kind of mic is that and why are you using it” or to a dial on the desk and asked for an explanation, would you have an answer?
I’m always finding stuff on my rig I don’t know about, or familiar things I take for granted but don’t understand. With the amount of engineering that goes into even a basic peice of audio equipment, there’s always something more you could learn about it.
So why not just be content with twiddling knobs and plugging things in the way they always have been? Because you would be missing out. The more you know about stuff the better you can get it to sound, which means loads more personal satisfaction. You might find that life is much easier when you can find a hum and cancel it, or discover new possibilities when you realise that old unit in the effects rack is a saught-after reverb with loads more potential.
If you invest in your craft and respect the world of audio engineering as a melding of science and music, you will find an infinite world of possibility. You will never listen to music the same way. Even mixing a basic gig can become more enjoyable. And when you can really make a PA shine, you will be in demand. It’s very hard to find someone who knows music, knows production, and knows gear.
So if you don’t know what phantom power is, Google it. If you don’t know what mic the vocalist is using, check it out and research it. Do you know the difference between balanced and un-balanced signals? What frequency is your sub woofer crossover set to? Why does an XLR plug have three points?
Go ahead and learn your gear!