IN THIS ISSUE:
- EARS meets with the one and only RUPERT NEVE at Mayne Stage
- Word from the Prez: A Cool Customer
- REWIND: A smashing time at the March Networking Event V.2 @ Schuba's
- "The Live Corner" The Gospel According to Paul Hollis
- THE BEAT: IN & AROUND CHICAGO’S AUDIO SCENE
- Adventures in "Neveland"
- Tribute to Roger Nichols
- And more EARS in the news...
Fran (The LJETPRO) Allen-Leake
Danny (The URBAN G) Leake
Volume 26, Number 4 • April, 2011
with Special Guest
AT MAYNE STAGE
TUESDAY, APRIL 26th 6:30p.m.
1328 - 30 W. MORSE AVE. CHICAGO, IL 60626
(EARS MEMBERS ONLY EVENT)
EARS is very pleased to welcome once again our special guest this month, iconic designer and audio legend Rupert Neve. Often credited as the Father of the modern recording console, Mr. Neve hardly needs any introduction, even to the most casual of audio enthusiasts. His creations such as the 8058 and 8068 mixing desks remain in high demand now more than ever, even 40 years after they were built. Today Rupert continues to push the envelope of pure analogue design with his latest products such as the 5088 Discrete Analogue Mixer.
EARS is also very honored to welcome Josh Thomas, Director of Sales and Strategic Alliances at Rupert Neve Designs who has worked closely with Rupert in implementation and marketing. He will be bringing some new Neve "toys" to show off, demo, and display. While Josh will be joining us live and in person, Mr. Neve will be joining us via the marvel of Skype in the state-of-the-art Mayne Stage theater.
Rupert Neve was born a British national but spent much of his early childhood in Argentina. Growing up during the days of shortages in WW II, he recognized the need for people to hear the news on radio. He mended radios, built radios and sold them to friends, studied the Radio Amateurs handbook, knew the valve catalogues by heart, and haunted the local radio shop building a store of practical knowledge. At 17, he volunteered for the British navy and served in the Royal Signals. He settled in the West Country of England and bought a used Dodge US army ambulance and built and installed his own equipment to convert it into a mobile recording and public address control room. He recorded choirs, amateur operatic societies, music festivals and public events on 78 RPM lacquer disks. He provided public address for Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth) at the opening of St. Andrews Church in Plymouth City Center rebuilt after the blitz. When Winston Churchill came to support the political campaign of his son Randolph in Plymouth, Rupert was there with a massive PA system covering the whole city center, microphones and loudspeakers feeding in and out of amplifiers he designed and built.
In the 50s he worked for Rediffusion, a maker of transformers and loudspeakers. Neve left the company and formed CQ Audio and manufactured HiFi speaker systems. In the early 1960s, he designed and built a mixing console for a composer named Desmond Leslie, from Castle Leslie, Ireland where the original desk is still housed.
By 1964 Rupert had developed high performance transistor equipment that replaced the traditional valve designs. The first client for the new transistor equipment was Phillips Records Ltd. Neve was commissioned to design and build a series of equalizers to enable them to change the musical balance of material that had been previously recorded. This was before the days of multi-track tape machines and rebalancing a 2-track recording usually meant a new session with artists, producers, and engineers re-convened at great expense. The success of the equalizers led to orders from Phillips and other recording studios for mixing consoles. These attained a reputation for sonic clarity and excellent workmanship. Demand grew rapidly. Neve started a life of manufacturing and designing audio recording equipment and has founded or been involved with several companies including ARN consultants, AMEK, Focusrite, and Taylor guitars. Currently he runs Rupert Neve Designs, based in Wimberley, Texas.
- This is a cash bar event
- Food will be provided courtesy of EARS through ACT ONE Pub at the Mayne Stage.
- Valet parking is available for only $5.00. Street parking is also available.
- This is an EARS members only event
- 6:30 p.m. Start time. The Mayne Stage will conduct tours of their state of the art facility
- 7:45 p.m. Josh Thomas begins presentation
- 8:30 p.m. Rupert Neve joins the meeting via Skype
- 10:30p.m. Meeting wrap-up
and your membership must be current to attend.)
If you have considered joining EARS, this is an excellent opportunity. We are working hard to bring more events like this to our members..... and your membership makes it possible. It's easy to join, click the red button below to join online OR you can join at the meeting when you arrive. Thanks from EARS and hope to see you at Mayne Stage!
With a nod to the historic past of this grand facility, Mayne Stage features a restaurant (Act One Pub) and performance space that reflects the unique and diverse history of Rogers Park. Mayne Stage is happy to present a variety of terrific acts in its 230-seat multipurpose entertainment venue.
The theater opened as Morse Theater in 1912, a vaudeville and movie house. In the 1930s, the facility was remodeled using an Art Deco theme and renamed the Co-Ed Theater because of its proximity to Loyola University. The Co-Ed closed in 1954, and from 1956 until 2008 the building served in various capacities from synagogue to a shoe repair store.
Now, with a recent multi-million dollar restoration and renovation project, the entertainment and dining venue is poised to be a magnet for significant development in this north-side neighborhood.
In addition to live performance, and utilizing its state-of-the-art audio and video systems, the venue offers space for studio recordings, rehearsals, educational programs, corporate events and private parties.
EARS would like to thank Chris Ritter, Kat Krzynowek, and Tim Schoen for their assistance in organizing the event in this fine space.
A Word From the Prez...Dear fellow EARS Comrades,
Like you I am really anticipating our next meeting with Josh and Rupert this Tuesday night.... infamous guest, big venue, beautiful space, and of course great company .... that's where YOU come in! A Big thanks to Josh Thomas for traveling all the way up from Texas to meet with us.
We'll get to spread out for this one with some elbow room to spare. If you would like to have an early dinner prior to the meeting, the Mayne Stage's restaurant Act One is taking dinner reservations for 5pm at www.actonepub.com. For you late night types, if you would rather eat AFTER the meeting, they will keep the restaurant open if enough EARS members sign up for the late night reservation. We will have a sign up sheet at the door when you arrive if you would like to take advantage of this option.
Esteemed fellow member and former EARS president Harry M.F. Brotman, by now a household name for even the newest member (ok maybe not yet....but just give it time) has made the very generous offer to MATCH any donation made toward the Miracles for Michael Fund, for the benefit of Michael Giampa and his wife and kids. Michael is a wonderful studio tech who spoke at the meeting at Jim Tulio's Butcher Boy Studio and did most of the tech work there. He was recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer. We hope you will consider taking Harry up on his generosity and help out. Donations can be made at the event itself or by going to http://miraclesformichael.com/.
A Cool Customer-
As studios, facilities, and venues look for ways to further cut operating costs and overhead, new technologies have presented yet another simple yet cost effective solution: Sharply reduce your electric bill by replacing inefficient incandescent light bulbs with the latest generation of LED lighting.
On the surface this may seem overly simplistic so bear with me as there are several layers to consider. Studio live spaces, control rooms, and overdub booths are basically very tightly sealed "boxes" often with many thick layers of heat trapping insulation behind the walls. As such, these rooms build up heat very easily, especially from heat generated by light bulbs. A 65 watt incandescent flood lamp will get very hot, the filament can reach 3500F and the glass bulb itself can get as high as 400F or more.
At my studio, we heat the space with just the lights alone in the winter, even if the temperature outside drops below zero. Our live room alone has over fourty 65W bulbs... this scenario works out great, cause we never need to turn on the furnace.
In the summertime however..... Holy Habernero, Batman! We have to run the AC at full bore from morning til night....and THAT gets $#?&$ expensive! It seems counterintuitive to be running the AC half the year just to keep the lights on.
LED bulbs to the rescue! These semiconductor marvels are just as bright and clean but use 12%-15% of the same power. A typical R30 LED bulb uses only 8 watts and also runs much cooler than a 65 watt equivalent. A typical incandescent bulb lasts 2000 hours before it burns out. In contrast, an LED bulb can last for 35,000 hours or more and each save $200 over the life of the bulb. They are RoHS lead free compliant and contain no toxic mercury like compact florescent bulbs.
Note the 8 high power LED's embedded on the heatsink
The major downer for LED lights is the cost. A dimmable R30 LED bulb at Home Depot costs $45.....this will add up fast if you retrofit your whole operation. Granted, you will reap the savings over time but the initial layout seems hard to justify.
Fortunately, us tekkies know there's more than one way to skin a cat..... go to the source! Get the parts and build them yourself for less than half the cost. Soul Semiconductor makes the revolutionary Acriche LED module powered directly from AC line voltage with no driver circuit required. The Acriche AN4214 sells for just over $19 at Mouser Electronics. The optional dimmer pack allows operation with a standard triac dimmer for $5. I am working on finding a good source for a suitable bulb housing with standard Edison threads.
Pardon my zealousness, but I am really looking forward to putting these bulbs to use, helping the environment, and saving money at the studio. I installed some at home and they are bright and clear and wonderful. If you would like to find out more about this project or have some ideas of your own, send me an email at email@example.com
Thanks for indulging me,
REWIND: EARS NETWORKING EVENT V.2 – AN EVENING @ SCHUBAS
Mazurek, Kerry J. Haps, and Danny Leake mix it up with Harry Brotman at the V.2 event
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 -- EARS held its second annual networking get together at Schuba’s on March 29 in the upstairs event room and at least 70 people came to enjoy good food, drink, and conversation. Dubbed "Ground Zero," where EARS 1st started in 1986 when the venue was known as Gaspars, this friendly north-side neighborhood locale was the place to be and to be seen. The room filled up quickly and everyone seemed to find themselves in conversations the moment they walked into the room.
Our President, Blaise Barton, dressed in his best John Travolta (circa 1979) attire (ED Note: Blaise, You gotta will that red shirt!) greeted everyone as they walked in and did a fine job of introducing members and guests to each other. The purpose of a networking meeting is to connect with people who share the same interests and to form new relationships.
I found myself discussing recording “philosophies” with some old friends and sharing the EARS mission with students and other “first timers”. I also heard about some great upcoming shows and events. With such an upbeat and energetic atmosphere, it was easy to drift between conversations and pickup useful nuggets of information.
I’ve been to many formal “networking” meetings for my computer services business and found myself walking out at the end of the night with a stack of cards and no real contacts. This is the way it should be; food, drink, and good conversation, where EARS members share and share alike.
Swississippi Records’ Dave Katzman flanked by John2 (a.k.a. Christy & Hardy!)
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL (Hollis)
But, THE MAN behind The Man doesn’t sport the glitzy apparel of Charlie Wilson; he rarely dances or sings, and few audience members even remember seeing him. No matter. They HEAR him; rather they hear the excellence of his work. THE MAN is a mild-mannered 38-year-old Chicago sound engineer who – despite his boyish looks and quiet demeanor – is becoming a household name in the world of FOH audio engineering. His name is Paul – Last Name, Hollis.
So, drenched in the euphoria of my recent “re-Gaptism,” I caught up with Paul at Merrillville Indiana’s Star Plaza Theatre last month following an electric and eclectic Charlie Wilson performance:
Hey Paul, How are you?
I’m doing great, Fran.
Now Paul, I know you, through our association at Apostolic Church of God. But, I don’t really “know” you. So, 1st off tell me a little about yourself.
I grew up on Chicago’s south side – I still live there. I graduated from Hyde Park Academy.
Did you take any classes in Audio Engineering?
No formal classes. Just baptism by fire!
So, how did you get started?
I’m a member of the Apostolic Church of God and back in 1998 – Evangelist Ivory Nuckolls asked if I wanted to get involved in church’s audio ministry. I said sure. So I started by doing the basics: being support, riding shotgun, wrapping mic cables, straightening up, etc. One Sunday we were doing a Saving Grace Ministries Anniversary concert with Take 6 and Ernie Greene (Sound of Authority) was bringing in an additional board for Take 6. I was there to help set-up. Then Ernie asked me “hey are you working at this time?” I said no, so he said, “come by the shop on Monday.” I did and began the usual: doing mic inventory, wrapping mic cables, etc. I did that for awhile, then, he asked me to help unload trucks, then patching the stages. Then we did a show at the 50 Yard Line with the Ohio Players; later, I became a pit engineer – did that for about a year. Then one of the engineers had surgery and that elevated me to FOH. My 1st FOH show for Ernie was the Chicago Historical Society’s Jazz Series for WNUA. That was my 1st show with a major artist, and it was jazz; I’d never done jazz before! But, I learned.
How and when did you start going on the road?
My 1st experience was in 2004 to LA for a play, “He Said, She Said - But What Does God Say?” They were doing the video taping of it (it’s now on DVD). My 1st experience mixing monitors was for that play. The next year, I was asked to fly to DC to do rehearsals with Stephanie Mills in preparation for her show. Here’s where the fun begins: I flew in on a Tuesday, next day went to rehearsals to get a feel for everything, then back to the hotel -- when Terry called and asked about a meeting. I knew nothing about a meeting and told him so. Terry called back and said, “so, what time do you want to fly out in the morning?” What? Terry then explained that the guy who owned the rehearsal hall did FOH. Stephanie had been there for the last 2 weeks and wanted to keep him on as FOH, but they’d like to keep me on as stage manager. I agreed to the change. On the day of the show, I’m in the wings with Stephanie’s mic which I hand to her. The musicians begin the intro; she begins singing the number, but doesn’t hear any reaction from the house. I went out to the monitor console to make certain the mic was working. The FOH engineer then catches on and brings up the mic. But, it still wasn’t right: the production manager then asked me if I could fix it. I assured him that I could. The manager then said he’d leave the guy on FOH through the end of the song, then put me on. The 3rd song begins, I ease onto the FOH console, put in my mix – it went from night to day. I replaced him, and was with Stephanie from Feb. 05 to November 2005. Around New Year’s 2006 the Whispers hired me. From Jan. to mid-Feb I did an Atlanta show with them, only to find out that the other act on was Stephanie Mills! She recommended me for another gig. Later, I got a call from Ernie Greene to do the New Orleans Jazz Festival (stage patching and mixing for some of the smaller groups.) I was then called to work Tom Joyner’s Fantastic Voyage Cruise (leaving in May.)
So, let’s go back to your “Roots” – Apostolic Church of God. What is your exact title there?
My current position is “Johnny, Jack of All Trades.” I do FOH, act as Systems Engineer, broadcast engineer, post-editing for audio, and I do the Sunday morning services (when I’m in town.) One Sunday I’ll do FOH, another Sunday, I’ll do TV broadcast. The services are being broadcast & dubbed. We record on Sundays, and now edit on Tuesday, post-caption on Wednesday then off to the station on Thursday. For duplication, we record the services live in the tape duplication room; after duplicating to DVD, they are sent to the bookstore for sale.
So, you still manage to hold down the church job in between all of the Charlie Wilson stuff you’re doing?
All the Charlie stuff…whew! We just got back from Kuwait and Iraq last Thursday. We flew in to Kuwait, had a day off, did the show, then did another show on another base in Kuwait. Then, we flew into Iraq, had the day off, did a show in Baghdad, did another show in Baghdad the next day, flew further into Iraq and did another show. These shows are for US servicemen and servicewomen – to boost their moral -- and we do them on the actual bases.
So this is a kind of Charlie Wilson USO-type show?
Not USO, but yeah, it’s the same concept. This is Charlie’s 3rd Kuwait/Iraq Tour. And, the troops! They really enlighten us; just hearing the stories of what they go through and knowing that they’re happy that we came all that way to give them a little taste of home that they normally wouldn’t get. Normally, they get country & western, rock, and comedy shows, but we were the 1st main R&B artist to go there.
You handle FOH for Charlie?
In the States, I’m his main FOH engineer (Chicago sound engineer Paul Abrams handles monitors.) On the Middle East shows for the troops, I handle monitors. You see, Charlie wears in-ears and mixing that is a totally different beast from mixing wedges.
For the benefit of those engineers who do primarily studio work, why is mixing in-ears so different?
When you’re mixing wedges, you can cheat a little bit; you get sound (background vocals, guitar, etc.) from the stage and some off the house. So, the artist wants to hear his/her vocals and you can put that plus a little keyboard in the wedges. But with in-ears, he needs to hear a full mix (background vocals, guitar, drums, everything)-- especially to stay on pitch. Now I have a really good appreciation of those monitor engineers who have to do both in-ears and wedges on the same show! They are just two totally different principles.
How is mixing – monitors or FOH – affected when your venue is not stable…say, on a cruise ship like the Fantastic Voyage Cruise?
It isn’t affected until the ship starts rocking!
What kind of Artist is Charlie Wilson to work for?
He’s great; basically, we’re like a family. I was just filling in for an engineer for a couple of days while he was in Baltimore, and saw Charlie sitting in the restaurant. I went over to say HI, and he told me to take a seat. He started interviewing me, telling me that he needed someone to be more consistent. That was in June 2007, and now it’s 2011. I’m still with Charlie.
So, it’s been a good fit. How often are you guys on the road?
We typically do 2-3 shows per weekend. That’s not including the overseas stuff. So basically, we’re traveling 40-50 times per year in the States.
Tell me about your preferences for FOH & monitor consoles.
I love the “old-school” feel, and understand why Danny loves the Midas Heritage Console—it is extremely warm & wonderful. But, I wind up working digital consoles 90% of the time. The best of these for me is DigiDesign Venue. I find that I’m using PM5D’s a lot. But in talking with some of the guys (Bill Barnett, Glenn Odigawa) I’ve found that if you clock it with an external word clock it warms up the console. Actually, doing a comparison in the shop with a word clock with a digital console (word clock in, word clock out) you really hear the difference.
Any tricks or tips you’d like to share?
What I’ve started doing recently is with line arrays. I run my subs on an aux, and I crossover the system at 125hz letting the subs take over everything basically from 30 all the way to 125 – I take it all the way out of the array. 125 I may cut to about 3 db down, but everything under 125 is out. That way, I hear the clarity of the PA, and the warmth of the subs. I’ve heard the difference, especially with the JBL line arrays.
What do you think it takes to really be an effective FOH engineer?
Well, it takes Patience. That and taking advice from those who have been in the business for 20 or 30 years. Having a critical ear; listening to music and different studio mixes. The customer who buys the ticket for a live show wants to hear what’s on the record. The artist wants to give a live version of the recording, but the customer wants to hear the clarity that’s on the record: like they’re sitting in their living room listening to it.
Paul: I know you have to get back. Thanks a bunch for taking time out to speak with me! And, I hope to see you at the next “Gaptism!”
Adventures in “Neveland”
My first experience with a Neve was in the mid Seventies at P.S. Studios. (Yes! In addition to the first automated mixing, Black owned Paul Serrano Studios had one of the first Neve’s in Chicago.) It was an 8028 “Battleship Gray” (as I called them) loaded with 1073 modules, 28 inputs and eight mixing busses. I got into the habit of hard patching direct inputs and only used the mixing busses for things that needed mixing. (How Logical…What a Concept!) The ability to bypass any amplification with a patch chord provided a very pristine, clean sound. I grew to love that sound. I continued that habit when I moved over to Universal Recording which had a bigger Neve (32 inputs, 4 band EQ.). I built whatever reputation I have on that console.
We had a Full Sail graduate working as an assistant who thought he was smarter than the “First Chairs” who, like myself, were self taught. One day I took him into Studio A where the Neve was and said, “See that 47 out there? Set this console up so I have the mix on the faders and that mike ready to send on a buss to the tape machine.” He looked a little bewildered and asked me where the “remix” button was. I said, “Son, there is no “remix” button. This is an Engineer’s board. You have to build it yourself!” With that I went out on a long lunch. Two hours later, I came back and he was still standing there fluxed. Just then one of our female assistants walked in and I asked her to do what I had asked him. She immediately punched up 9&10 on all the inputs except the mike input which she set for multiple busses to the multi-track, turned up 9&10 on the monitor side, hit play and BANG! There was Music. I turned to him and said, “When you can do that in 5 minutes, talk to me about being a Sound Engineer”. With that I put him back on the truck moving boxes. He eventually turned into a pretty good engineer……after an attitude change.
After Universal went under, my Neve was sold to MTV where it was used on the “Unplugged” series. After that I lost track of it. I was attending The TEC Awards when I was seated at a table with Jerry Greenberg, the owner of The Village Recorders in LA. We got to talking about consoles and I cried the blues about how much I loved that console and how I hoped to God it wasn’t cut up for parts (It’s EQ). Jerry just smiled and said, “I know where that console is.” Turns out it was in his B studio and T. Bone Burnett was using it to cut all of his Grammy Award winning recordings. Funny how things worked out…
I made some of my best recordings on Neve’s. I worked on Neve’s from Universal to Castle Oaks Studios in Calabasas, CA (two 2048 frames welded together)to AIR Studios in London. I loved them. I loved them so much I had a T-Shirt made that said, “Real Men Mix on Old Neve’s.” I used to love wearing that shirt to the SSL booth at the AES Conventions. One day while having a beer at the bar of the AES I heard this quaint English accent, “I say, Old Boy, I couldn’t help noticing your shirt.” I turned around and it was RUPERT NEVE, the Quadfather, the Jesus Christ of Audio, you name it, there he was. I was speechless. You would have thought I had run into the Beatles or the President. We shot a bunch of pictures together which I have lost but I made up for them two years ago when I ran into Rupert again through the kindness of my buddy Josh Thomas.
Like just about everyone else these days I mix on “Tools” but I still love passing it through my first love….an Old “Battleship Gray”….. a Neve.
THE BEAT: IN & AROUND CHICAGO’S AUDIO SCENE
AES Chicago Section April 2011 Meeting Notice
Not a member of the AES? For information about joining, go to http://www.aes.org/info/join.cfm
The next meeting of the Chicago Section of the Audio Engineering Society will be held 7:30pm, Wednesday, April 27, 2011, at Shure Incorporated in Niles. Members and non-members are welcome.
The HTML version will be available soon
at our Chicago Section website: http://www.aes.org/sections/chicago/
TOPIC: Increasing Sample Rates for Digital Audio: Benefits and Tradeoffs
PRESENTER: Matt Newport of Black Lion Audio (BLA); http://www.blacklionaudio.com
DATE: Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
TIME: 7:30pm; Dinner (optional) at 6:30pm
Price is $10 for non-members and $8 for members and students.
LOCATION: Shure Incorporated, 5800 W. Touhy Ave, Niles, IL 60714
ABOUT THE PRESENTATION: Some recording engineers have been moving to higher sample rates for digital audio as systems that support them become available. Is 192 kHz the end of this trend? What are the benefits of moving to higher sample rates? What are the tradeoffs? Performance of selected systems are characterized and examined. Theoretical aspects as well as practical issues are explored.
CHICAGO SECTION LinkedIn SITE:
A LinkedIn group has been created for the AES Chicago Section. If you are interested in joining this group, search groups on linkedin.com for “Chicago AES”.
Kerry J. Haps-
Hey, Darlin' Records and I are finishing a debut pop/funk/fusion record for S. Joel Norman. We're also in the middle of a big project for Becca Kreutz (I like to describe her as Tom Waits inspired by the little schoolgirl inside him to make inverse silent movies of forgotten fairytales and little birdie storybooks). And on deck/in pre-pro is a vocal tracking/mixing (finishing up the project) scenario for a very Sufjan- esque project for another new artist named Steve Slagg.
Danny Leake Mixes Usher O2 Surround!
Danny Leake of Urban Guerrilla Engineers mixed a 5.1 Surround mix and 2.1 mix of “Usher Live at the 02 in London” at the Chicago Recording Company. The project was done for Hank Neuberger’s Third Wave Productions.
Danny also recorded and did the postproduction mix on Apostolic Church of God’s two-hour “The Joy of Easter” broadcast. Artists included “Forever Jones”, Heather Headley, and Byron Cage. Assistant Engineer was Fran Allen-Leake. The two-hour special airs Easter Sunday, 8 p.m. on WCIU-TV.
Fran Allen’s LJet Productions and Danny Leake’s Urban Guerrilla Engineers joined forces yet again on the production of Chicago jazz/pop vocalist Joan Collaso’s latest recording endeavor. Tracked at Blaise Barton’s JoyRide Studio, “OOO Whee (My Favorite Things”) CD will be released on May 1, 2011 on the JRAS label. Produced by Joan Collaso & Larry Hanks; Mixing/Mastering is by Danny Leake; with additional Vocal Production and Album Coordination by Fran Allen. Fran is also serving as Production Director for Ms. Collaso’s upcoming “TRIBUTE TO NANCY WILSON & SHIRLEY HORN” on Sunday, May 1 at the DuSable Museum of African-American History. For further information, log on: (www.joancollaso.com)
Memorial: A Great Recording Engineer and Friend, Roger Nichols (1944-2011)
In April I wrote an editorial about an article Clive Young wrote on the “Freebird” of audio…..ANYTHING recorded by Steely Dan by Roger Nichols. It was true. Go to ANY concert during PA setup and you’ll undoubtedly hear “Nightfly” or “Gaucho” being used to test the system. I remember standing on the corner of Wabash and 22nd Street while they were tuning the PA for the last Rolling Stones Tour and I remember hearing “Nightfly” wafting through the air.
In my editorial I said I would check and see if an email I received about his illness was true. Unfortunately it was. Roger Nichols, one of the great recording engineers of the last 40 years, passed away from Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer on April 9, 2011. He was diagnosed in May 2010.
Why is everyone still using his tracks for testing Live and Studio systems?
Gary Katz, Donald Fagen , Walter Brecker’s quest for sonic perfection. They wanted perfection and Roger provided it.
This quest for perfection led to his inventing one of the first drum replacement units, The Wendel Sampling Computer, which could be heard on Gaucho.  He invented and produced a rubidium nuclear clock under his company name Digital Atomics. (Like Tom Dowd he started out as a Nuclear Engineer) The purpose of the clock was to provide the accuracy of nuclear timekeeping to better synchronize digital recording equipment in the studio…..this at a time when most of us cutting Digital barely understood the importance of clocking.
He was as obsessive in the quest for perfection as Mr. Fagen and Mr. Brecker. “It’s late, that’s good enough and nobody will hear it anyway” was NEVER good enough.
His troubleshooting skills were legendary: He diagnosed a flaw on the master tape of the band's biggest selling single, “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number”, (a workman's gob of mustard on the tape was found to be the problem). He also helped recover the sound on their fourth album, “Katy Lied”, which had been recorded at ABC Studios and had suffered when the master tape was processed through a faulty DBX noise reduction system while mixing. He would go on to win three Grammy Awards for his work with the band in these years, and 3 more for his efforts on the Steely Dan comeback album, “Two Against Nature” (2000); and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
Roger is survived by his wife, Conrad Reeder, and two daughters, Cimcie and Ashlee.
The truth is that his family was financially wiped out by the fight to save his life. The fight went through his Health Insurance. A lot of independent engineers don’t even have Health Insurance. Consider this a serious wake up call.
In my editorial I said that if the email was true, EVERY engineer who uses a Steely Dan tune to tune a system, at least a 100+ that I personally know of, ought to send Roger’s family $10 just on “General Principle” to help offset his medical costs.
I sent in my $100….what about you?
Links to donate can be found at www.rogernichols.com
We Want to Know…
What have you been working on lately (and with whom?!) Do you have an idea for an article in an upcoming EARDRUM? Do you have a tech tip? How about an idea for an EARS event? Don’t be shy… contact us:
Fran Allen-Leake, LJet Productons – 312.405.4335 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Danny Leake, Urban Guerrilla Engineers –312.310.0475 or e-mail eardrum.editor@ears- chicago.org
Look for the New EARS Website!! – COMING SOON!!
Log on to: http://www.ears-chicago.org
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