Zia Hassan

Tweak The Presets

I remember buying a walkman when I was a kid and getting to pick an audio preset when streaming FM radio.

The presets were genre titles, like pop, rock, rap, jazz. The idea was that you could select the appropriate genre and the device would make that particular type of music sound even better. Same thing with the TV – there’s a presets for different levels of saturation and color settings.

And when I started using synth and other audio equipment, I’d often find a preset to use as an instrument. If I wanted a glitchy sound for instance, I’d search the presets for “glitchy.”

But these presets were just specific settings for EQs and compressors, tools that non-audio folk don’t usually understand well. The presets were the manufacturers best guesses as to what the settings should be to evoke a particular sound or aesthetic.

And since the presets only covered a tiny fraction of the possibilities and combinations of settings, using them for anything other than a starting point became very limiting.

The interesting thing is that presets also exist in life. The jobs we get. The friends we make. The experiences we have. There is a nearly automatic path for almost any situation. There’s the lawyer preset, the Juliard preset, the travel the world preset, the marriage preset, the have children preset.

All configurations of settings that a person could choose and not feel like they are taking a huge risk or leap. These are paths that have already been paved.

It’s entirely plausible for a person to exist on nothing but presets. There are people that load a preset on their lives and think, okay, good enough.

And then there the people that use the presets as a starting place, but they play with all the buttons, sliders, and pots until the sound matches the vision in their head. We call this tweaking or tinkering.

To tweak is a choice, and it doesn’t require a lot of extra effort to do it… but it is worth it to create a life that is aligned to your vision.

That’s what breaking from presets can offer: a unique life.