- AES 2010 Convention Report
- EARS own John Hardy's products at AES
- EARS own Michael Freeman to receive major award from IBC
- More details on upcoming meeting at CRC
- Re-cap of meeting at Jim Tullio's Butcher Boy Studio
- Mastering Tips from audio (and service) veteran Danny Leake
- And much more...
EARS logo

(The LJETPRO) Allen-Leake
Danny (The URBAN G) Leake

Volume 25, Number 10 • November, 2010

President – Blaise Barton
Vice President – Reid Hyams
Secretary – Bob Vodick
Treasurer – Eric Roth



Master Class: Mixing in 5.1 Surround
A Hands-On Workshop hosted by Chris Shepard and Chris Steinmetz
With special guest Paul Stewart from GENELEC

Word From the Prez...

Hello fellow EARS members and fans, here's hoping you enjoyed a very warm and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

I don't know about you, but I am really excited about this next EARS event. Chicago Recording Company and CRC manager Chris Shepard have generously opened the facility to us for what will be a very interesting and “edukashonal“ evening.

A vaguely understood area of audio mixing, 5.1 has quickly become the standard audio format for movies, live concerts, and many album releases. Chris Shepard and Chris Steinmetz will both participate in demonstrating some techniques and methods for spreading a mix out over 6 speakers. Using raw tracks recorded by Chris Shepard and his American Mobile™ location recording truck, we will watch a surround mix built from scratch. Besides having the exact same initials and both being named Chris, Shepard and Steinmetz have extensive experience working with this format; in fact Chris Steinmetz designed and installed the 5.1 setup at the former Chicago Trax Neve room. We will have on hand a 5.1 mix of a Mickey Hart album that Steinmetz mixed there. (RIP Chicago Trax ... we'll never forget you!)

The evening will begin with a presentation from Genelec's Paul Stewart, who will unveil for us GENELEC'S DSP monitors. These advanced digitally-controlled monitors have some amazing features including tri-amplification, AutoCal, an automated room calibration and sound system alignment, and GLM (Genelec Loudspeaker Management) software. Genelec has come a long way since the 1019's we used to mix on at Tone Zone Recording back in the day. The monitors will be arranged in a 5.1 set-up, a carefully aligned physical and audio arrangement of 5 monitors + 1 subwoofer for optimal listening. The advanced features of the GENELEC DSP monitors makes this process a snap. To get familiar with Genelec DSP, watch the Video Tutorial here...

Genelec 8260 DSP Genelec 7071 Subwoofer

As a reminder, due to limited space, this is an EARS “Members Only” workshop. You must be a member of EARS and your dues must be current to participate. It will be a bit of a challenge as it is to squeeze, fit, and rotate many people into the "5.1 box", so if you plan to attend, please take a moment to join or renew your membership by clicking here.

If you have been thinking of joining, now is a great time. Of course, you can join or renew upon arrival at the event by seeing our illustrious Treasurer or Secretary, Eric Roth or Bob Vodick. We welcome you aboard.

This month's meeting is also made possible with help from Moe Paulson from Spoiled By Technology who reps and distributes GENELEC products. Many thanks to Moe, Genelec, Paul Stewart, Chris Shepard, Chris Steinmetz, CRC, American Mobile, and Spoiled By Technology for putting this event together.

While we're in the season of giving thanks, on behalf of EARS we have several people to thank for their generosity and support. Let's start with Jim "Tools" Tullio for opening up his beautiful Butcher Boy Studio for a delightful evening of music, stories, and vintage gear. Same goes for expert tech Mike Giampa for sharing his unique philosophy of vintage gear restoration. And special thanks to William Dillon for sharing his music and riveting life story. What a fantastic evening it was!

Big thanks to Timothy "Truffle Pig" Powell and Mike "Wheel Man" Konopka for filling in as EARDRUM editors and educating us in a fun and humorous way. It never occurred to bribe other "professionals" to do a good job, as outlined in Timothy's "Where's The Beef" column, but if it works, it's well worth the money. Could that work with our elected officials as well? If so, I'm officially open for business … I promise to do an extra good job as President of EARS (meet me under the console at CRC).

Lastly, it is really great news to hear that our EARDRUM co-editor Danny Leake is back in action in a fierce way after undergoing heart surgery. Way to go, Danny!

See you at Chicago Recording Company
Warm Regards,

Blaise Barton
EARS President

REWIND: EARS @ Butcher Boy Studio

Jim Tulio's Butcher Boy Studio 1
Jim Tulio's studio 2
1. EARS President Blaise Barton introduces two-time Grammy Award winner & Butcher Boy studio owner, Jim “Tools” Tullio to attendees, (2) Some of the more than 50+ people checking out the Butcher Boy digs.

At an unassuming corner in Evanston stands a very unassuming two story building. It’s very old, and you know it’s seen a lot of wear and tear over the years but who would have guessed that it houses one of the most unique recording studios in Chicagoland. Record producer impressario and Butcher Boy studio owner Jim Tullio welcomed EARS into this unique space on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 to share what he did with that 90+ year old former butcher shop. As Jim “Tools” Tullio explained, it took years to find a suitable space and when he came across this building, it was in such bad shape, it required a lot of imagination to bring it to where it is now.

Butcher Boy Recording Studio

When Tools came across this building, there was ice on the walls in the winter, a bad plumbing situation, and questionable electric... all turned around to produce a world-class studio. With help from good friends like Shelly Yakus, Tullio effectively created a recording space that combines the control room and studio into a singular area with no walls, a truly revolutionary approach to studio design.

Butcher Boy Studio includes a pristine Neve 8058 console, a boat load of vintage microphones like RCA 44's, 77's, and several Neumann 47's and M49's, and a matched pair of vintage Neumann 67’s (all meticulously rebuilt by Mike Giampa with the help of ... Neumann GMB!) you just want to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Tools elaborated on his move to Chicago as a jingle writer and producer, for which he is infamous. Now, in his current space he works on the music projects he wants to. To that end, Tullio discovered William Dillon: A singer songwriter falsely accused of murder in 1981 who subsequently spent 27 years in a Florida jail under extremely harsh circumstances before being exonerated, mostly thanks to advances in DNA and many appeals to that end. Tullio first heard of William's story on Bill Curtis' "American Justice" ..... upon seeing the segment, Tools contacted the broadcast station to find Dillon.... with the goal of giving Dillon a leg up by helping fullfil his dream of making a record. Thanks to William Dillon for sharing with EARS how he came to this point in his life and detailing his incarceration and ultimate release.

It is an engrossing story and his music has all of the intensity of the trials and tribulations that he has endured. It is a great testament to his artistry as well as the skill of “Tools” in translating that art.

Our thanks go to Jim Tullio and William Dillion for inviting us in and making this such a special event.

EARS also thanks all that helped make this another successful event with 50+ in attendance with many first timers and new members!

-- Bob Vodick, EARS Secretary

AES Logo

AES Convention Report 2010

Hi Folks,

I’ve been going to the Audio Engineering Conventions since 1975. (When I got out of the US Army) I’ve seen the AES grow from a couple of ballrooms at the New York Hilton to the Mega sized event that takes up the huge Javitz Center today. I’ve seen it take up the huge Los Angeles Convention Center but one of my favorite places to attend the show is at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. I didn’t make it this year because of a “prior commitment” (A triple heart bypass operation). I didn’t make it this year but with the help of some EARS buddies with their unique outlook and a soon to be member we’ll try to give you some idea of what was happening at this year’s show.

Our first report is from our own Hudson Fair; Former EARS President, NARAS Trustee and the principal cat at Atelier Hudsonic (Ed Note: Such a cool name)/Ealing Mobile Recording, Ltd:

I probably have a different take on things than some others so please realize I am writing as an acoustic recording guy in the dusty old classical business. Myself, I concentrated on mics and methods to make large set-ups sound better.

For mics I liked the new AEA unidirectional ribbon mic. I also like the Lucas mics and the Cloud ribbon mics. Cloud has an in line amplifier that boosts the level of low output ribbon mics to useable level. Seemed like a nice tool.

I also was studying MADI and how to implement a set-up that will help here. RME and Direct Out Tech from DE had nice MADI tools.

I hung at the Nagra booth and saw their new two channel mic amp. It is very compact and can be ordered with a recorder INSIDE IT. So there is a new compact recording solution.

Sound Devices had their new fader panel hooked up to one of their recorders. It looked comprehensive although I suggested that they damp the fader movement some more.

Lots of small manufacturers offered new boxes--primarily compressors and some mic amps too. Build quality ranged all over the map. Millennia, Crane Song, Audient and other had new converters and mic preamps. Thermionic Culture showed their new 4 channel mic preamp colored red. It is based on the Earlybird series.

Gepco, Shure, and The John Hardy Company, three great Chicago companies, had new products and Gepco was testing their cable against other cable right in the booth. The test gear showed that their X- Band cable had great specs.

Shure had a ton of new mics including new instrument mics aimed at drum micing. All are made in Wheeling, IL USA.

AMS-Neve did not exhibit although their new 500 series "so called 1073" module and 70's era 2264 compressor were on display at the Vintage King booth. These both looked like nice tools for those who get in to using "N-Word" gear. I like it. (ED Note: “Real Men Mix on Old Neves”)

Mercenary Audio, one of my fave dealers, did not exhibit, Just so you know they are the main Mikro Tech Gefell dealer and repair center in the USA. (This told to me by Gefell themselves.) They are also the repair center for Thermionic Culture gear in the USA. If you need repair on your Gefell mics send them to Mercenary who will send them on to the Gefell factory in Germany.

Schoeps has a new managing director, the innovative and charismatic Dr. Helmut Wittek. Dr. Wittek shared his thinking with me in private conversations and I was very impressed with this young engineer who has a LOT of innovative and future proof ideas. He and representatives from Neumann and Direct Out Tech led a panel discussion on digital mics that was quite well done. It answered questions about the two types of digital mics out there and what the future holds as far as mic performance being bettered by the help of DSP techniques. When I asked him who is using digital microphones, his response was, "almost nobody."

Big name engineers from the world of pop and rock music (East coast and Hollywood) were roaming the aisles of the show telling tales of woe and how their fees structure had collapsed. All were looking for work. Alan Parsons told a tale of woe as well.

Various classical engineers shared juicy gossip with me and we all agreed that the show had little exhibit space that addressed our type of recording. However, the papers and excellent workshops DID have very useful content for those doing recordings of acoustic music.

If the attendee did not hit the papers and workshops sessions, they missed over half of the show.

Hudson Fair
Altier Hudsonic/Ealing Mobile Recording

Our other “Cub Reporter” is Michael Freeman; Grammy Nominee, EARS Founding member, NARAS President, NARAS Trustee, one Hell of a Producer, and a nice real guy:

Here are some things that caught my attention, some that our members may know about, others, perhaps not.

First was the Primacoustic monitor platform that many will have seen advertised and endorsed but their demonstration of monitors with and without these platforms was remarkable. The foam foundation is covered by a steel platform, itself covered with acoustic rubber that the monitor sits upon, thus completely de-coupling it completely from whatever it might reside upon. The detail gained from this is system is eye-opening. See and the rep is Jay Porter - . Everyone should investigate this.

Second were the Focal near field monitors, in particular their Solo S6 monitor that was also a part of the Primacoustic demo and also to the VoVox cable demo that I will refer to. This little monitor packed a huge punch with excellent detail and is also worth looking at. Not cheap at MSRP $1385.00ea but a huge contender for a new monitor vision (see Genelec fatigue). Perhaps we can get them to bring demos to Chicago for everyone's eval. See

VoVox cabling also had an impressive demo using the Solo S6 and major release tracks played with and without their cabling. The Swiss company's website is

Our own John Hardy was there with his Flagship M1s and his new 500 Series Mic preamps. I am very fond of his pre's. Their transparency and headroom have done wonders for many recordings of mine - see

Uber salesman Dan Zimbelman was also at hand at API as the Director of Sales for the company for the past 20 years and some will remember him as the proprietor of Jor-Dan Studios in Wheaton, the beautiful George Augsperger studio that was home to a salvaged 80 series Neve console retrieved from a studio in Spain that resided above a greasy café, had to be stripped to the rails and reconditioned for use, and then later sold to Dockside in Louisiana where it was married to a sister console.The API 1608 16 channel console is excellent and has been very well received worldwide and has seen over 150 customers purchase. Interestingly Dan has recently opened up the Indian market for API where the audio market is exploding. Food for thought. See and Dan at zimbel@aolcom (ED Note: API is owned by Larry Droppa who worked with me for years as Stevie Wonder’s Ear Monitor Engineer.)

A timely addition to an arsenal given the way we may work sometimes, was Source Elements, based here in Chicago at 515 N.State Street. The software allows realtime remote sessions with uncompressed audio and can connect two parties worldwide with direct to the timeline recordings and with broadcast quality audio. See Robert Marshall is the Pres tel 312.706.5555. I would highly recommend a demo at an EARS meeting for this software.

One interesting piece is the Pulse Technologies LLC faithful re-issue of the Pultec EQP-1A. Anyone who has used the originals will delight in this re-issue. Hand wired and made to the exact original specs, these units are truly exceptional.

Alas, so is the price.

I rue the day I sold a pair of original Pultecs to someone 30 years ago for $250 each when we all never realised how valuable they would become. Later I did sessions at The Power Station in NY where each studio had 24 channels of these EQs parked next to and patchable to the 24 track recorders.

Unbelievable! +See or

Yes, you missed half the show if you didn't attend some of the presentations.

Most revealing and pleasingly so for any of us who began their careers in the age of vinyl was a presentation by Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering and Doug Sax of The Mastering Lab, undoubtedly the two greatest Mastering Engineers of our time. They played a CD version and an original vinyl pressing of a classic Pantera album, both mastered from the same 192 archive. The CD crushed the program material. The Vinyl sounded amazing. Jaws dropped. More food for thought - and that followed by Bob's "loudness" demo (do we really need to be mastering in the distortion for level) just resonates with anyone who wants to uphold a tradition of high quality audio for the listener without compromising the source.

Now if we could only destroy every ear-bud factory, we might gain some headway. Show your clients what high quality audio sounds like at every opportunity. If they get it, they'll tell their fans to listen to it and demand it and perhaps we'll get back to a happier place.

Lastly, yes, all the big guns are crying about the collapse of their income streams due to the state of the industry which is and always has been, bottom-line driven. In our market, we've been working with that reality for many years, sorry big guys. We could teach you a few things.

If we were ever to do our members a great service, it would be to present a meeting with professionals who could guide, and talk about entrepreneurship. There is no parachute folks and we all have to learn how to work as enlightened businessmen and as audio professionals at the same time and from this point forward. The big guns have to get into the trenches with all of us now and I'll bet we'll give them a run for their money!

Michael Freeman
Coachouse Music

Our last report is from Chris “Godxilla” Taylor, a young man who interned at my studio a while ago and has now graduated and has progressed into a fine Producer/Engineer. He is also an accredited Protools instructor at the Madison Media and someone I’m very proud of:

One thing I found that was very interesting was the deverberation plug-in created by Tac System Inc. and can be seen at Its one sheet has it listed as the World’s first plug in for speech deverberation. The Plug-in's name is NML RevCon-RR. It is audio suite only, not real time and it works like bias sound soap. You designate the space in between transients where you can hear the room and tell it to detect. It then calculates that and allows you to remove what has been detected on a percentage basis. He is also developing the opposite of this plug in under the name NML RevCon-RS. This plug in will make the room behind a person sound bigger and give you more reflections.

The last piece I saw that had my interest was a company called Under Tone Audio. They are visible at They have developed what they are referring to as an Acoustically Transparent Work Surface (Patent Pending) They basically built a console out of brass windscreen materials. It has one of the most versatile E.Q. sections I've ever seen in a large format console and it has a tube stage at the mix bus and the control room outs. I was able to get the owner to demo the piece for me and took a video of it. (ED Note: This video is available for anyone to who is interested. Just email me.)

Of major interest at the show this year was the release of the Avid Protools 9 and as of writing this email, I have it running on my laptop. I haven't tried to push it yet, but it loaded up and ran like a dream. There’s no more LE and M-powered and the three tool kits have been combined into one completely new production tool kit. The biggest thing is that it is native so you no longer need an interface to run Protools. If you take the ilok out of the computer and put it in a laptop with the HD software on it, you can run HD Native. What I have found out is that the type of license you have just tells pro tools how to load up.33 You can also tell the software on the HD system that you want to run it Native and it will do that for you as well. It will only run in HD where it detects hardware though. TDM plug-ins will also only function in HD not HD Native. The Dave Hill "Heat" Plug in will not work unless there is a full HD system with card/s. PT9 also has Automatic Delay Compensation. This is something LE users have been clamoring about for years. PT9 is now sold separately from the interface and has a price tag of $600.00. So to wrap this up, anyone who was considering Protools should go get like an Mbox mini or something ASAP. The upgrade to 9 is free if you bought an interface and it came with 8 after 10/04/10. (According to Guitar Center) even if the upgrade wasn't free or you bought it before 10/4 you can "Crossgrade" from LE 8 to PT9 for $250.00 which means you get the whole thing with the smallest interface for $550.00. This will probably work great for someone wanting to get into Protools quickly. (ED Note: I run PT 8.04 with the Music Production Toolkit 2. I can upgrade to 9 for $250 with an upgrade to the new Ultimate Production Toolkit for another $250.) Oh yeah, you must have an ilok account with a key to run 9, the software searches for the key and license every 10 minutes. If you unplug it during a session and it searches, you will not be able keep working, it will make you reboot the DAW.

Chris "Godxilla" Taylor
Madison Media Institute

I have to reiterate what Hudson and Michael have so eloquently stated: If you go to the AES only to go to the “Toy Store” you’ve missed at least half of the show. There is serious knowledge and insight to be found in the clinics and workshops of the show. I remember in the 70’s attending a workshop about the coming ability to generate reverberation with complete control over all parameters without using live rooms or EMTs…..Digital Reverb. A full three years before it came to market.

If you only went to the “Toy Store” or didn’t make the show, here are some of the Panels and Workshops you missed:

Platinum Producers & Engineers:

Platinum Mastering:

Special Event: Grammy Soundtable

Session W5 How Does It Sound Now? The Evolution of Audio

Session W8 Mastering: Art, Perception, Technologies

Session W14 Rethinking the Digital Audio Workstation

Technical Tour Session TT2 Fantasy Studios

Tutorial Session T2 Equalization—Are You Getting the Most Out of this Humble Effect?

Tutorial Session T6 Managing Tinnitus as a Working Audio Professional

Game Audio Session G3 The Wide Wonderful World of 5.1 Orchestral Recordings

Poster Session P14 Loudspeakers and Microphones

Product Design Session PD4 Grounding & Shielding - Circuits and Interference (Part 1)

Workshop Session W19 The Challenge of Producing Blu-ray

Paper Session P27 Room Acoustics

Master Class Session M4 Hybrid Mixing: A Step by Step Class on Mixing The All-American Rejects Hit Single "Gives You Hell"

And this is a heavily truncated list of what was happening that week.

IMHO, anyone in this business should attend it at least once if for no other reason than to have a chance to be in a huge building filled with driven Engineers and Producers like yourself and to make connections with equipment and software managers to let them know what you really need to make things happen.

I really hated missing this year but I will definitely be there in NYC next year.

See Ya There,

Danny Leake


Webster University Logo

Speaking of the AES and outreach, I got this from Gary Gottlieb of Webster University:

“Riding on the success of the first, ever, anywhere Student Summit four years ago and three more successful follow-up events, the Webster University Student Section of the Audio Engineering Society presents the Fifth Annual Central Region AES Student Summit, March 18th - 20th, 2011, at in St. Louis, MO.

Last year's Summit was a raging success, with hundreds of students, educators and audio professionals from eleven states converging on Webster University.

We’ve already contacted numerous guest speakers. Students have been approaching manufacturers as exhibitors and sponsors, and many have already confirmed. We are asking for presentation ideas (see Call for workshops and tutorials. In past years these topics have included Internships and Entry Level Positions, the Analog Audio, Aesthetics, and Women in Audio, to name a few, and we plan to host a Mixing Competition, just like last year only better, based on your suggestions!

We are modeling it on the AES conventions, except on a smaller scale. Unlike those wonderful, sometimes overwhelming conventions in New York or San Francisco, we have arranged inexpensive accommodations, and registration is practically free. We still think you should go to the AES conventions, just think of this as something else student-centered for you to do in the off season.

Whether or not you can make it to New York or London, this will be a great opportunity for students from the Central Region to mingle with their peers from other educational institutions as well as professionals. It will give you the same opportunity to put your hands on gear, just like on the exhibition floor at the Javits or the Moscone Center.

We hope you will attend. We also hope you will spread the word to everyone you know in the audio community: students, educators, pros, AES members and non-members alike.


Gary Gottlieb
Associate Professor of Audio Production
Author: “Shaping Sound in the Studio and Beyond, Recording on the Go & How Does It Sound Now?”
(Winner of the 2010 ARSC Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research)
Program Coordinator, Audio Production
Webster University

I attended last year’s Student Summit as a panelist (I shared the stage with George Massenberg) and it was a Blast! Gary is right. It’s not the AES but it is close. More student-orientated with a lot of engineers and gear……and, unlike NYC, LA, or SF, the rooms were $10 a night with registration. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Danny Leake


Congratulations to EARS Founding Member, Michael Freeman!
(Way to Go, Lord Michael!)

coachouse music

11th November, 2010

Keeping the blues alive logo

The Blues Foundation has announced that Producer Michael Freeman will be the recipient of its prestigious Keeping The Blues Alive Award in the Producer category at the IBC - International Blues Challenge - in Memphis in February of 2011.

Michael Freeman’s work as producer or engineer appears on sixty Blues album titles recorded over the past three plus decades. Freeman’s introduction to Blues was as teenager in London in the 1960’s when British DJs were introducing American Blues and R&B to British audiences. He first came to the US in 1973 to manage artists and eventually emigrated here in the late 1970’s. His recording career began in the suburbs of Chicago at Hedden West Studios.

Freeman has been the producer of 16 first class blues records including Blind Pig records by Deborah Coleman, Eddy Clearwater, and Studebaker John. He’s also been at the controls for Mississippi Heat, Sharrie Williams, and was the co-producer on the Grammy nominated Pinetop Perkins’ & Friends album for Telarc in 2009. As the engineer, he as worked on Alligator’s Vu Du Menz for Corey Harris & Henry Butler which received two WC Handy / Blues Foundation nominations, John Primer’s The Real Deal, Bo Diddley's Grammy Nominated 40th Anniversary Album A Man Amongst Men, and many others.

In 2010, Freeman has co-produced Delmark's Mississippi Heat’s Let’s Live It Up and produced Telarc's Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith’s Joined At The Hip.

His professional associations include membership in The Blues Foundation, The AES, a founder member of EARS; and member of The Recording Academy where he has served as a Chapter President and national Trustee for Chicago and currently sits on The Advisory Council for The Producer's & Engineers Wing.

For more information please contact:

- Jay Sieleman
Executive Director, The Blues Foundation
49 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN
901.527.2583 ext. 12


Michael Freeman
Coachouse Music
P.O.Box 1308
Barrington, IL 60011-1308
224.622.6521 / 847.382.7631

Question Mark Food For Thought…….Mastering Tips

There are a lot of opinions about what mastering is these days. Some people say it’s making things as loud as they can be, some say it is making things “Radio Friendly” (whatever that happens to mean to you), some people even think it means getting rid of all the dynamics and transients with whatever crude compressor that happens to be available, and some people (Myself included) think it is the last chance to finite the presentation of the Musician’s art in the most commercial format possible.

Mastering sessions like most studio sessions can tend to be a little pricey if uncontrolled 3so whatever you think mastering is you can make your session with the mastering engineer run a lot easier by taking a few obvious steps:

1. Documentation
I know it’s obvious but writing down the artist’s name and the title of the tunes helps. You’d be surprised how many shiny discs I get that are not CDROMs (Which would have titles with possible “Read Me” text files), or are Redbook 44.1/16 bit disks without CD text so there are no titles, just “Track1, Track2, .cda files, etc.”. I have to either try to figure out the title or try to find the producer who has conveniently left his or her cell off……… time wasted. Some guys like to master in sequence so having a sequence is always good. It also helps to get the proper titles for any CD TEXT. I hate to say it but sometimes I get less information in this Digital age than I did back in the Analog days.

2. Be organized
If you’re bringing a Hard Drive or a Flash Drive know what folder your final mixes are in. Don’t laugh! I once spent an hour (On the “Clock”) with a client searching for bits and pieces of mixes spread out across 78 folders. And this may be the best, “LISTEN TO THE MIXES YOU ARE BRINGING TO THE MASTERING SESSION AT LEAST ONCE”. I can’t tell you how much time has been lost playing a mix and then having the client say “Uh,That’s not the mix I’ve been playing in my car” or “I didn’t hear that before”. If your mixes are on a dozen CDRs, know what mixes are on what disks and which are valid and which are not. If you are being charged by the hour it can get a little expensive to lose time searching for mixes when you could have done yourself for free.

3. Don’t Fall For the Myths
Myth #1” The overall level of your mix dictates how loud your CD will be”. It doesn’t! If your mix is so low in level that it is “in the weeds” most Mastering Engineers have the processors and plug ins to cleanly bring it up to commercial level and more. If you send an overly loud, overcompressed “Brick” we will just turn it down so it will get cleanly through any processing and then turn it up to commercial level on the “back end”. The only problem is that if you’ve crushed it in advance, we cannot uncompress it. The transients and dynamics are already flattened or chopped off and we can’t change that. If the project has dynamics and transients, it will sound better and if you want it crushed, most mastering guys have processing that will do that for you but with a more musical and pleasing result.

Now let me clarify something.

I am not saying never bus compress your mixes. If you are using 2 buss compression for a type of sound (For example: like the ”pumping” 2 buss compression Shelley Yakus used to do on Tom Petty songs), cool! If you’re doing it just to try to make the track louder, don’t bother. As I said before, crush it in advance and we can’t uncompress it. If it is done in the mastering you have the option of trying several different variations until you find something that’s works musically and sonically for you…….AND you have the option to change your mind if you don’t like what you’re hearing.

Myth #2 “The end product will be better if the mix is premastered”. Sometimes mixers will process a track so the producer can play it in his car and have an idea of what it will sound like on the radio or mastered. That’s fine… Just don’t bring that processed mix to the mastering session. Bring a “Clean” copy. Why? The reality is the average Mastering Engineer has specialized processing that will probably do the job a lot better. Example: I once had a client bring in a mix that started out real low and got real big in the end. To “premaster” the mix for him the mixer turned up the front and rolled the back end into a plug in that controlled the overall level of the back but sort “smooshed” the frequencies together. (the sort of compressor “burn” that a low to medium quality plug in does) The client thought the front sounded fine but the back sounded “cloudy”. He brought this mix to the mastering session…..He didn’t have an unprocessed copy. At that point I was fixing something that was seriously broken. (“Polishing a Turd”) The reality is that with a clean copy I could have processed the back of the mix with a Cranesong STC-8 which is World Famous for doing that kind of compression cleanly without wrecking the original sound. The bottom line is that a $5500 dynamic processor or a $1500 Serious Digital Mastering processor plug in is going to beat a $300 bundled plug in sonically every time. Most Mastering houses tend to procure the High End Mastering equivalents of any hardware or software that they get. Contrary to popular belief there is a difference.

I could probably go on for another 20 pages but I don’t want to wear out my welcome

The opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not reflect the editorial opinions of EARS or the EARDRUM

. For any questions, help, or discussion feel fresh to contact me at

Looking Forward to Hearing From You,

Danny Leake


I was minding my own business one day when I heard a chorus refrain from a live album I had worked on in the 80s: “Surely The Lord Is in This Place” by The First Church of the Deliverance. A Flood of memories came to me as I remembered working with the Producer (Fred Nelson III); an A Team rhythm section that contained part of Chicago Catz, (Wayne Stewart –Drums, “Downtown” Tony Brown- Bass); it was also the session where I first met my BFF Timothy “Roadie Sushi” Powell and the first time I worked with his company, Metromobile Recording. I also remembered working many hours at the old Universal Recording as Fred played an orchestra onto the track using the Synclavier System (Programmed by yours truly) and the loving care we took in editing and mixing this Gospel Classic. Not having heard the entire album in years, on impulse I went on ITunes and BANG, there it was. Lousy compression be damned, I bought the album download. The music was there but something was missing. Something important….there were no credits whatsoever: No Producer, No Songwriters, No Musicians, No Engineers, No Studios….it was if the album made itself! I searched and found an old CASSETTE liner that not only had all the relevant credits but also had the lyrics. Out of curiosity I checked out a lot of the more recent releases. Nine out of ten releases had no credits, no Digital Booklets, no Metafiles, no nothing. I even saw a recent Rod Stewart LP that had no credits.

In my younger days, knowledge of the creators of my favorite albums helped me learn my craft. I fear that up and coming music professionals will lose that option as downloads increase in market share if the current trends continue. More importantly, how do you know who to hire if you don’t know who did it? As Producers, Engineers, and Musicians are our contributions to the Entertainment Industry considered so trivial that they don’t bother to even acknowledge us? Of course that leads to not paying us what we are truly worth. In a World where “Credit is Money” we must put ourselves in the forefront of the movement demanding that our contributions be acknowledged.

Danny Leake
EARDUM Co-Editor


As a lot of my friends know, I underwent triple heart bypass surgery this October. I’d like to thank everyone for their prayers and thoughts during this emergency. The effect of so many emails of encouragement cannot be overestimated. My EARS family really came through for me during this trying time (especially Timothy Powell who transported me from the hospital!) You can’t buy friendship like this and I will never forget it.

Thank You,

Danny Leake

To my EARS Family:

I can’t thank you enough for your calls, e-mails, flowers, etc., following the recent passing of my Mother – Jean Allen. As most of you are aware, we just lost my Father, Silas this past March; Mom’s totally unexpected passing was particularly heart-breaking given the short time-frame between these two losses. Mom left us the evening before Danny’s bypass surgery; as you can well imagine, this threw both me for a loop! I must ditto Danny’s extra special thanks to Tim Powell, for TRULY Being There for both of us during this difficult transition; kudos to Tim and Mike Konopka for picking up the EARDRUM ball for us last month; and, thanks to Blaise & my fellow EARS officers for your understanding.

Again, Thank You.

Fran and Jean

Fran Allen-Leake

Magnifying Glass 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

Danny Leake, Urban Guerrilla Engineers –312.310.0475 or e-mail eardrum.editor@ears-

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Look for the New EARS Website!! – COMING SOON!!

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