Is the bass too loud?
Is it loud enough?
Is that snare too quiet?
Can you even hear the lead?
Is the mids in the master overblowing everything?
How is pluck sound in __________ so much more crisp than mine?
These are just a few of the questions that you ask yourself everyday as a producer. Perception and Reality are 2 of the hardest things for myself to work out and figure out. It is so easy to listen to a track from an artist you like or are using as a base for the kind of production you are wanting from an original track and feel automatically as though there is something superior about their production, that they must know something more than you. And they may, but they also may not and a lot of times there are simply not that many options that lead to wildly different outcomes (within a corridor of generally quality production)
After thinking about this every day for years I have come to some conclusions. As vague as they may be, they are conclusions nevertheless.
There are some choices in songs that are better than others
There are some tracks that are produced better than yours and you should look to them for inspiration
This case is the exception, not the rule.
There is not a linear line of production quality, there is different kind of production and different results which vary depending on the kind of sound you want
There is no magic sound sample set
There may not be any magic, but there are tools you can learn and employ
These are the things I have learned and come to these conclusions about. They are not conclusive and some points conflict with each other, but I believe them to be true. As a producer, accepting your own production and your own voice as your own while also learning from others, and having a healthy view of what you need to learn and what is just "your style" is one of the hardest things to come to peace with.
Hearing sounds for what they are and separating what is taste and what is quality can be so incredibly difficult especially when listening to music which you have already attached presuppositions about in regards to the quality of the artist which then results in a tendency to mythicize the production/ composition etc... to a degree that doesn't reflect reality.
Sorting this all out is a balance and a struggle every day. It takes your time, and deep thought.
The Balance of Accepting vs Learning....its a hard balance to strike
/ Uri AVi