You can spend every minute of each day reading recording theories and discussing them. It seems if you spend any time in forums and social media that some people seem to have made a full-time occupation out of it.
Everything from mic placement to room design, gain structure to summing amps is talked about in microscopic detail.
Let's be clear there are fundamentals of audio, recording and acoustics that we should all know. For example, when recording in the digital domain, if you don't understand about clipping you're going to make some pretty bad recordings.
However theory can quickly become dogma and leave little room for experimentation or merely the fact that sometimes real life happens and some of the most repeated mantras go out of the window.
A few months ago I was in the studio of Grammy-winning producer Kipper, who has worked with artists such as Sting and Mary J Blige. It's a barn conversion and a beautiful space, but when it comes to room design and acoustics, it would send your average keyboard warrior into a tailspin. A few years ago the BBC ran a fantastic documentary on recording legend Jeff Lynne of ELO fame. It showed Lynne at home talking about recording... in rooms with little or no treatment, making great music.
Just imagine what would have happened if someone had said that leaving the talkback mic on was a bad idea and certainly breaking the rules. This event is how Hugh Padgham discovered perhaps the most iconic drum sound of the 80s. By patching the talkback mic on a SSL desk back into the desk and then putting a gate on across it he created the gated reverb sound. It started as a mistake, but Padgham took it and made it the gated drum sound of Gabriels 'Intruder' played by Phil Collins. Collins loved it so much he used the sound on his album 'Face Value', and then SSL modified the E Series console to enable recording of the talkback mic.
When I came to design my mix room, I got myself into knots working out a room design. Then one of my friends told me he'd designed several studios using all the angled wall theories and had concluded that a room with straight walls sounded just as good. I took his advice and did just that (I guess some of you that are reading this have stopped breathing), and it sounds great. Furthermore, I fire sideways across the width of the room, another unforgivable sin I'm told. I've had lots of engineers and producers in the room who all love it. Even more, I'm yet to have a mix sent back to me for amends, so it works outside of the space too.
I could go on all day citing cases of people breaking the rules and getting great results. Theories are essential starting points, but then life happens and sometimes pisses all over them.
I'm not suggesting all theories are up for grabs, but rather that we should avoid the language of absolutes. Words like 'always' or 'never' don’t leave any room for reasonable debate. I'm suspicious of certainty, be that in politics or religion and of course in the world of audio and music. Certainty leaves little room for exploration and imagination, it seldom gives space for other possibilities, and so it's best to avoid people like that.
My son graduated a few years ago with a First in psychology, for which I was enormously proud. However, I was blown away when, during his dissertation research, he discovered that a theory used in the field was wrong. Imagine being in the middle of a physics degree course and you find out that Einstein's theory of relativity may not be correct. This situation is where Jack found himself, and he spent time wondering if he had made a mistake. How could someone who had not even completed a degree find an error in the long-held teaching? However, he had, and it was such a revelation that after he completed his degree, he was flown out to a conference. There he gave a presentation to some of the world's leading scholars in the field of psychology to present his findings. Science allows for the possibility of theories changing over time as they are tested in the light of new experiences. Science may seem to be based on absolutes; it isn't.
We live in strange times, where it seems people will believe anything or anyone. Be that on subjects of the shape of the planet we live on to whacky theories about solar heating using up the Sun's power. It is essential to have an excellent fundamental grounding in the core principles of audio and acoustics. Otherwise, you'll believe anything or anyone. However, if we allow our beliefs to become dogma, then we leave little room for new possibilities.
So I encourage you to study; in fact, I implore you to do so it will help ensure you have a career grounded in sound science. However, stay open-minded to new possibilities and who knows you might be the next person to discover we were all wrong in the first place!