Fran (The LJETPRO) Allen-Leake
Danny (The URBAN G) Leake
John (The Eye) Christy
Volume 26, Number 7 • July, 2011
EARS Meets Mastering Mega-Guru
WEDNESDAY JULY 27th 7p.m.
at JOHNNY K'S GROOVEMASTER STUDIOS
1719 S. CLINTON ST. CHICAGO 60616
Hosted by Johnny K & Crystal Olson
What do all these classic records have in common?
They were all mastered by this man
This month, EARS is privileged and honored to meet with quite possibly the finest and best known mastering guru on the planet, Mr. Bob Ludwig. Having garnered many multiple Grammy and TEC awards as well as hundreds of Gold and Platinum records, he operates Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine specializing in audio mastering and DVD authoring. Bob has graciously taken time out of his busy schedule to meet with EARS via the marvel of skype for an evening of revelry, mastering lango, and an insight on his personal philosophy about record production and mastering. EARS is so very fortunate to welcome this industry icon as our special guest.
Bob Ludwig began his professional career in 1967 at A&R Recording as an assistant engineer working with Phil Ramone, Roy Halee (who worked there for a short time), Don Hahn, Roy Cicala, Shelly Yakus, Elliot Scheiner and other A&R Recording staff engineers. Bob learned the art of vinyl record mastering at A&R with Mr. Ramone as his mentor. He started on the fixed-pitch mono Neumann lathe and worked his way up to the first stereo Neumann computer controlled lathe owned by an independent studio. He was the first engineer in North America to audition the revolutionary SX-68 cutter head Steve Temmer brought over from Germany. His first big single was “Kentucky Woman” by Neil Diamond.
After 7 years at Sterling Sound he moved to Masterdisk Corporation where he was Vice President and Chief Engineer. He continued mastering many hit records including U2, Phil Collins, Sting, The Police, Bryan Adams, Barbra Streisand etc. As Chief Engineer, Bob continued being involved with many firsts. Bob cut his first album from a Soundstream digital recorder for Telarc in 1978. Masterdisk was one of the original 3 mastering companies that commissioned Neve to produce the first all digital mastering console. In 1987 Bob was one of the first engineers to master using speakers designed for audiophile use, the Duntech Sovereign. Today, most mastering studios use audiophile speakers including John Dunlavy (Sovereign) designs. Masterdisk took delivery of the first CDR-90 Compact Disc Reference System in America, which was the first practical recordable CD system (1989). The system incorporated the Sony 1610 as a playback source along with special PQ Senior software developed by Harmonia Mundi. Masterdisk became one of the few mastering studios in the US to own the Teldec/Neumann DMM (direct metal mastering) lathe where for the first time one could cut directly into a copper substrate instead of a lacquer acetate. These coppers could be used as “Fathers” to electroplate “Mothers” and “Stampers” and eliminated the difficult silvering process that was the cause of so many ticks and pops on vinyl pressings.
“Mastering” evolved during the days of vinyl, when the translation from analog tape to the vinyl disc and the inherent physical challenges that entailed, became a specialty. It soon became evident that all translations from source media to consumer media could use some attention and care. Mastering can enhance and preserve the sound quality in different playback scenarios. Since the mixing process is such a different focus, and is usually a time consuming process for all involved, it’s helpful to have a new perspective on how the project sounds. The mastering engineer has the knowledge of what can be changed or amended from the mixed stereo or 5.1 tracks. They are focused on the final touches.
A HERO'S WELCOME HOME:
EARS would like to congratulate and welcome our own Johnny K home from his jaunt out in San Marcos, CA where he has been hard at work producing the new record "TH1RT3EN" for MEGADETH at Vic's Garage Studio. We have it on good word that Johnny has been busy mixing the record here in Chicago at GROOVE MASTER RECORDING STUDIOS. Johnny K is the producer of hard hitting records such as Disturbed, Three Doors Down, Finger Eleven, Kill Hannah, Plain White T's, Simple Plan, Avenged Sevenfold, Fallout Boy, The Academy Is, Sum 41, and Mudvayne to name a few.
Our meeting will take place on the big screen at Johnny K's vast recording complex Groovemaster Studios, located at 1719 W. Clinton St. in Chicago. .... If you attend one EARS meeting this year, make it this one!
- Please note this meeting is on a WEDNESDAY, not the usual Tuesday.
- Groovemaster Recording has a big parking lot with plenty of parking.
- The meeting is open to non-members and members alike.
- Adult beverages and light food fare provided courtesy of EARS.
- 7 p.m. Start time
A Word From the Prez...Greetings EARS members and Fans,
First, I would like to say thanks to all those that came to the listening party at Soundscape Recording in June and shared their work with the group. You can really find out some amazing things just listening to other's work and discussing their recording techniques. The evening was a blast ... many thanks to Michael Kolar for opening his establishment to EARS as well.
WE would like to thank SHURE Inc. for sponsoring EARS for so long now and we continue looking forward to seeing their new products as they roll off the line. Dare I say every studio in the world owns some kind of SHURE product of one type or another.
EARS is happy to announce that we have a new sponsor, the one and only VINTAGE KING, the place to find vintage gear, consoles, and some great new gear as well. They even have an in house tech shop where they clean and refurbish your gear. We are looking forward to working with Vintage King over the next year.
I would like to second Danny Leake's call to arms (see below)... c'mon folks, let's hear from you. What's happening in your studio these days? We have a section in this EARDRUM where you can post your projects for all to see. Remember the I.E. "Studiophile" column? Are we gonna have to start calling you up?
Very much looking forward to meeting with Bob Ludwig tonight... see you ALL there!
REWIND: EARS 25TH ANNIVERSARY MEETING/LISTENING PARTY @
(THE NEW) SOUNDSCAPE RECORDING STUDIOS
Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 –
Finding Michael Kolar’s SoundScape Recording Studio (2510 W. Chicago Ave.) felt like something out of a film noir. The address leading to a side door down a gated alley-way and a special phone number to gain entrance helped to emphasize that you were entering a special place. Soundscape Studio is indeed a uniquely special place and on this day, 35+ EARS members descended upon SoundScape to celebrate EARS’ Twenty-Fifth Anniversary!
The traditional EARS faire of food and libations were in abundance, but this meeting was particularly distinctive in that there were no guest speakers…no formal agenda. Rather, we harkened back to our “roots” and gathered for our 2ndListening Party in as many years, were we complimented, critiqued and generally discussed each other’s recent works. After all, when EARS was first conceptualized in 1986 by Mike Rasfeld, its initial format was as a monthly social get-together where competitors could meet in an atmosphere of fun and friendship, to talk about gear, business, and music. Surely, the spirit of Mike – and all of our dearly departed EARS members -- was present in the place as they gave their heartfelt approval from the Control Room in the Beyond.
All were asked to bring samples of their work to play at one of SoundScape’s two control rooms. SoundScape is a two level space with main control (with 24 Flying Fader Avid ProControl Mixing console with Full Recall); live, and isolation rooms downstairs and a secondary control (with a Focusrite designed Avid 24 flying fader mixing console) and isolation room upstairs. A kitchen, hangout loft, and two bathrooms complete the “Den of Kolar”. The red and black décor along with the trance-inducing spinning light “thingy” added the finishing touches to allow all to relax and share some music.
Simultaneously in both A & B Rooms, attendees shared samples of what they played on, recorded, mixed, produced, or otherwise had a hand in creating. It was truly inspiring to hear the timber of violins to the crunch of metal guitar: a true representation of the diversity that is EARS.
Each person was given time to play a track and then everyone commented. The comments, from this esteemed group, were a mixture of production notes and general observations. It was a healthy give and take with many pairing off to discuss many points in more detail.
FOLLOWING IS A SAMPLING OF WHO BROUGHT MUSIC TO LISTEN TO:
John Christy: a superb recording of God Bless the Child featuring vocalist Holly Maxwell
Jamie Carter: a well produced project that he recorded recently
David Moss: an excellent jazz piece recorded in his home studio which Mike Kolar called “Baby Make’n
Karl Bighther: an excellent recording of a Brahm’s piece, recorded at St. Paul’s on Fullerton Ave.
Mike Kolar: Summertime, Kid Band – Apple Juice Kid
Blaise Barton: a roots band he recorded named Sanctified Grumblers, well produced as usual.
Rio McBride: a superb bass response remix
Kerry J Haps: S Joel Norman, Everything is Alright album produced by Kerry for his own record label.
Valentine Azbell: a recording of Rainy Sunday Evening, acoustic guitar with Singer
Jeff Frankel: great sixties sounding version of Tears of a Clown featuring vocalist Hedi Groulix
Hudson Fair: Great sounding Classical piece – recorded at Chicago’s Rubloff Auditorium
Larry Beers: Ralph Covert’s Bad Examples recorded at Waterdog
Benji Gold: our hard-working student member from Western Illinois U. brought a couple of well-done
samples. Bravo Benj!
EARS would like to thank Michael Kolar for his graciousness & hospitality! Our 2nd annual Listening Session was a resounding success; thanks in no small measure to you and your staff.
This is mainly for the “Newbies” out there. The old grizzled, dinosaurs like myself and others have learned the “Hard Way”:
Don’t get in the rut of doing everything the same way every time. Be adventurous. Don’t be afraid to try different things.
Years ago I was producing and engineering a Punk-WAVE band. I had heard them performing live and they were great but they never had the same fire in the studio. I really didn’t want to cut them live in a club for several reasons; I didn’t want an audience and all the problems they can cause, I wanted the option of cutting multiple takes, and, quite frankly, most of the clubs they were playing just didn’t sound very good. They did have a rehearsal space that was once an old Woolworth department store and when the snare was hit, it sounded like…..gorgeous anarchy. Hmmm…could we cut the album there with buses, people, and ambulances going by? Why Not! Timothy Powell brought his Metromobil truck out and wired the place for sound. We hung carpet from a few ladders to slow the standing waves down a touch. I also setup a Calrec Soundfield mike and captured the room in surround. When the band played it sounded like what Rock was supposed to sound like: Big, Raw, Raunchy, and Powerful….Hell, I felt like Sam Phillips when he first heard Elvis. The band was as comfortable as at their home and I was more than happy. It would not have happened like that in a studio -- even a studio like the old Universal Recording. The old Woolworth’s is now a Chipotle Restaurant but it solved my problem that day.
Sometime by looking at things in unorthodox ways, interesting things can happen.
For instance, a general live rule is NO OMNI MIKES WHATSOEVER!!....Why? You won’t be able to control the leakage, they’ll feedback the PA, and most good ones are too delicate……Bullsh*t! I’ve been using omnis live (B&K 4006s)for the last 20 years.
When I started doing live work, I brought along a lot of the techniques and equipment that I loved from my studio work. I didn’t believe the “Laws of Audio Physics” suspend themselves just because you are live. I had read a book, “Microphones: Theory and Application” by Lou Burroughs, that proposed the theory that omnis were a much better microphone pickup as it mimicked more precisely the way the Human ear perceives sound. Also, because it had no proximity effect, you could actually get the microphone closer to a sound source without the sound changing, thereby negating a lot of the leakage problems. And, more importantly, any leakage that remains would be good “On Axis” leakage that would add to the sound rather than hurt it. On overheads, they don’t just pick up the cymbals; you also got a real good image of the drum set, which adds to the sound. By rolling off a little of the low end and getting the mikes in a little closer, low end feedback and monitor rumble doesn’t become factor. In fact, I currently use omnis, one a piece, to capture one half of each of the two percussion rigs. I use them in Sectors rather than individual instruments and it sounds like I have a lot more mikes up there than I really do…….and any drum leakage is on-axis. (Good)
The same goes for ribbon mikes. There was a time when you never saw those live because of their fragile nature or the figure 8 pattern polar pattern. That’s not the case now. The Royer, New Shure, and Se Electronic ribbons are very robust and as long as you don’t do something crazy like run phantom down the line, they’re pretty robust. There is a great article in Mix Magazine’s July 2011 Digital Edition HYPERLINK "http://www.mixonline.com/live_sound/howto/ribbons_on_road%20/"www.mixonline.com/live_sound/howto/ribbons_on_road / on thinking “Outside the Box” and using ribbons live. The same goes for studio work.
A lot of recording is happening in home studios now. Don’t be afraid to try other miking techniques. One mike on a sound source to one input is not always the way to go. Try some XY or MS Stereo techniques sometimes. You’ll find that “Real” Stereo, which includes timing cues in addition to amplitude cues, sounds infinitely richer on some sound sources than turning a panpot. When stacking vocals, try having the singer change their position on the mike for each pass. The end result might become more interesting. I picked up a trick from Jack Douglas that involved putting several different mikes on the cone of an amp. I thought that was crazy until he started flipping certain mikes out of phase which radically changed the sound. By doing it differently on every pass the guitar got “Huge” instead of just “Stacked”.
“Thinking Out of the Box”
I once had a singer who was extraordinary on stage but was a timid singer in the studio. I finally figured out what the problem was; she wanted her phones loud with her vocal out front but when she hit a high note, it hurt her ears so she sung soft on those notes. If we turned the phone down she didn’t get the “feel”. My solution? I strapped an 1176 set for “Death Crush” across her phones. It was loud and rocking but when she hit a high note, the limiter clamped it down so it didn’t hurt her ears. She said it sounded like her monitor wedges at her live shows. I had never used an 1176 like that before but it worked. I had Japanese singer whose voice was so erratic I couldn’t get her in the mix properly. I ended up using the old Eagles guitar solo, all ratio buttons pushed in trick on an 1176. When she was too soft it was “IN YO FACE”; if it was too loud it was “IN YO FACE”…..she said, “Oh Danny-san, you make me sound like Madonna”…..go figure.
Don’t be afraid the experiment. Sometimes try something that seems crazy. It might be, but it also might be Magic.
“ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO PRINT”
Hi Folks, this month’s EARDRUM was almost cancelled because of a lack of interest!
Just kidding But really, Fran and I have been asking for contributions and ideas for articles for two years now and the response has been…well…underwhelming. The fact is that none of us wants the EARDRUM to appear like Blaise, Fran and Danny’s personal Blog so let’s hear some more from you, our membership.
We want to know what kind of articles interest you, what do you want to read about, what “Floats Your Boat.” If you want to impress your fellow members with your knowledge and expertise on anything, now’s your chance. And, if you want to get the word out about what you, your studio, etc. are up to...here’s your vehicle!
The EARDRUM is your publication; we are only the current Caretakers.
We want to hear from you.
Twenty years ago I was going to write a book on my experiences and advice for people starting out in our business. Of course, I ran out of time and never finished it. (Perfecting my craft, renewing my relationship with my kids, marrying the vivacious and multi-talented producer Fran Allen….living my life kind of took precedence.) Well, to make a long story short, I was introduced to a fellow engineer named Dave Hampton who asked me to look at a book he had just written……”You Son of a B*tch! You wrote my book!!” His book, So You’re An Audio Engineer...Well, Here’s the Other Stuff You Need to Know” Foreword by Jerry Greenberg of the Village Recorder (Outskirts Press – 2005) should be required reading for anyone entering our business. Dave Hampton is a Mixer/Technician/Studio Designer working out of Los Angeles. His client list includes artist like Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Chicago, Babyface, George Duke, Maxwell, our own Percy Bady, Prince, Raphael Saadig, Whitney Houston, Adam Sadler, Eddie Murphy (Ed Note: I’ve worked in Eddie’s New Jersey…unbelievable!) and Shelia E to name a few. This guy is no novice. He started out as a studio Tech to get in the door, moved on to setup and repair of massive MIDI rigs when that became the norm, moved up to tracking and mixing and is now doing Surround Mixes for Herbie Hancock. This book is like a Boys Scout Handbook for Engineers. The first chapter says it all –Introduction – (Audio Business = 90% Psychology + 10% Music) Other chapters include Picking Clients – (All Clients are NOT the same.), Selecting Jobs – (Some Kind of Money Costs too Much to Make), Alliances – (Be Careful Who You Stand Next to.) And the book is written with a wicked wit, “I have seen people who don’t know anything about Music or a certain artist come in and create a career because they are surfing on the wave called “control the budget”. Is it Right? No. Is it done? Yes, all the time. How many people ever bought a ticket to see a lawyer? None, yet our business is filled now with lawyers who are also producers. The ever-changing World of slick keeps getting slicker.” (ED Note: OUCH!!!) He then proceeds to give you ideas for handling these kinds of people. There are some great lessons and advice to be found in these pages. He also talks a multi-tasking your career. There is an excellent introduction to Live Sound and Recording, the actual differences between working for someone and working for yourself, how to gauge your actual worth so you know what to charge, and, most importantly, how to get paid!
This book is pretty much “color blind” as its advice and suggestions can be of use for any engineer, White, Green, Female, Alien or other. Chapter 15 – Dealing With Racism -- was written with the Black, African-American Engineer in mind. Dave Hampton, being an African-American Engineer working at the level of “The Game” he’s working at is highly qualified to talk about the issues of respect and lack thereof that sometimes come into play. A lot of what he says applies to Female Engineers, also.
Here is the Bulk of the Book Broken Down by Bullet Points (Chapter 16 - Tips):
EARDRUM Co- Editor
THE BEAT: IN & AROUND CHICAGO’S AUDIO SCENE
A Reminder for our EARS Members who are U.S. Veterans… LJet Productions (Fran Allen-Leake)and Orman Music Media Group (Lynn Orman) -- a.k.a. The Brat Sisters -- are in final preparations for their next Big One: The 4th Annual Welcome Home Celebration Concert for the August 23-25 Illinois Warrior Summit and Midwest Valor Games.
4th Annual Welcome Home Celebration Concert
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
12:30 – 9 p.m.
Welcome Home Concert (for U.S. veterans and their families)
Stadium Green at Soldier Field (southeast end of the stadium)
1410 S. Museum Campus Drive
Music acts to include: Wayne Baker Brooks Band featuring Sugar Blue and Peaches Staten; The Blues Brothers; Color Three (former members of the band, Boston); Rockie Lynn; Joan Collaso & Larry Hanks Band; Gabriel’s Last Breath (comprised of Marines recently returned from service in Afghanistan & Iraq.); Joey Glenn; ExoSkelton Band; and many others.
Concert Producers: Fran Allen-Leake & Lynn Orman
P.A.: Ernie Greene (Sound of Authority)
Event FOH: Danny Leake
Additional Highlights of the event include:
*VA providing ONSITE registration for health care
*VA providing ONSITE physicals and examinations
*VA providing ONSITE eye screens
*IDES providing ONSITE registration for unemployment benefits
*100 Veteran organizations that provide FREE services and programs to veterans
*70 Employers providing job opportunities with interview capabilities
*50 VA program/service stations providing assistance to veterans
*30 Universities in attendance providing education opportunities
The Illinois Warrior Summit and Welcome Home Celebration & Concert is sponsored by The Illinois Supporting All Veterans Equally (ISAVE) and partnered by both the Federal and Illinois Departments of Veteran Affairs, State of Illinois, City of Chicago, Chicago Park District and other organizations, the event will kick-off at Chicago’s Soldier Field and will include performances by national acts, as well as local favorites spanning several music genres. Designed as a Thank You and Welcome Home to our troops, the event is open to all U.S. veterans and their families.
Danny Leake of Urban Guerrilla Engineers …
Mastered bass player extraordinaire Frank Russell’s new CD which featured guest artists Darryl “Munch” Jones, Robert Irving III, Mike Logan, and Henry Johnson;
Mixed Disney Artist Shealeigh for Frayne Lewis’ OneStop Productions at CRC Studio 4;
In the process of rewiring UGE to accommodate the additions of an SPL Mixdream and a Lynx Aurora Digital InterfaceMixed and Mastered a single at Urban Guerrilla Engineers with Producer Syl Johnson for Vicci Martinez. Vicci is also a contestant on “The Voice”, the NBC-TV vocal contest show featuring Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green.
Danny also Mastered a 14 song CD for Eddie C. And, he Mixed and Mastered a 9 song Hip Hop project for Big O. Both projects being done at Urban Guerrilla Engineers’ Mix/Mastering room.
Lynn Orman Weiss recently completed work on guitarist/singer Albert Bashor's debut CD, Cotton Field of Dreams on Earwig Music. Produced by Michael Frank & Lynn Orman Weiss, Cotton Field of Dreams features; Albert, Bill Payne, Forest Rodgers, Pat Travers, Larry Jacoby, and Ron Holloway. It was engineered in the Red Room in Apopka, Florida by Sean Shannon of Molly Hatchet fame! The new project will be released in a few weeks.
New happenings at JOYRIDE STUDIO as of late...
PAUL BURCH AND HIS WACO BROTHERS...
Jon Langford and the Waco Bros. checked in to JoyRide for some well deserved vocal-organ-guitar-tambo overdubs as well as some mixing and mastering on the new record due out on Chicago's Blood Shot Records. Only this time around, the brothers enlisted the talents of Nashville producer/songwriter Paul Burch to bring some (more) rock and a bit of Nashville into the fold. Jon, Dean, Tracy, and Joey were on hand to help flush out the tracks. The title and lead track of the album is "Great Chicago Fire". Recording, mixing, mastering contributed by Blaise Barton.
JON LANGFORD AND SKULL ORCHARD
And yet another Langford production, Skull Orchard has created some very clever songs and interesting arrangements for this album with axeman/guitarist Jim Elkington. Tracking took place at JoyRide Studio with Blaise twisting the knobs.
Engineer Brian Leach recently produced and mixed new records for:
fast and furious all girl punk band 8 INCH BETSY.
Hard rockers BLACK ACTRESS
German rock outfit THE PLANEAUSTERS
Anthony has been producing some nice records at JoyRide and brought along some of his toys, including his Neumann U67 and collection of Daking mic pre's.
Recently he completed tracking for EASTERN BLOK as well as records for bassist MATT ULERY and sultry jazz vocalist GRAZYNA AUGUSCIK
Blaise has been working with Jerry DelJuidice of Blind Pig Records on some previously unreleased material by PINETOP PERKINS. The record was recorded in 1986, but included tracks that had some problems and couldn't be released at that time. But today, thanks to the magic of the modern workstation, these tracks can now finally be heard.
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 email@example.com
Danny Leake, Urban Guerrilla Engineers –312.310.0475 or e-mail eardrum.editor@ears- chicago.org
Look for the New EARS Website!! – COMING SOON!!
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