The ability to listen critically affects every aspect of the recording musician’s endeavors, and is an absolute requirement for the successful producer or recording engineer. Who among us has not had the experience of trying to record or mix something, only to find that it sounded too muffled or thin, or that the vocal was suddenly buried under the rhythm guitar, when played back on a different system? Short of apprenticing with an Elliot Scheiner or a Michael Brauer, how does one learn what makes our favorite artists’ mixes sound so full, detailed, transparent, and, well, professional-sounding? One answer is critical listening. We must learn to listen to recordings in such a detailed way as to allow us to learn directly from the masters.