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Music Mix Mobile at Tony Bennett’s 90th Birthday Celebration

M3 co-founder Joel Singer uses Waves DiGiGrid MGB and Waves Tracks Live for Bennett's duet performance with Billy Joel.

Music Mix Mobile’s Joel Singer’s setup for Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday: a Waves Audio DiGiGrid MGB interface and an Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt SSD drive. Singer recorded the Billy Joel/Tony Bennett duet using Waves Tracks Live.

Music Mix Mobile was recently tasked with capturing the broadcast audio of a duet featuring Billy Joel and Tony Bennett for an upcoming NBC Special celebrating Mr. Bennett’s 90th birthday. The 2-hour special Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come will air on December 20, 2016 9 p.m.on NBC and features an all-star lineup including Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Elton John and others.

Joel and Bennett performed the classic Billy Joel song “New York State of Mind,” which Bennett and Joel originally recorded for Bennett’s 2001 album, Playin’ with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues, which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 2002 Grammy Awards.

Bennett and Joel performed the song again at New York City’s Shea Stadium during Joel’s concert in 2008 to commemorate the closing of the stadium. M3 also captured the audio at that event, which eventually was used in the documentary Last Play at Shea.  

Due to severe space limitations and time constraints, M3 co-founder and Engineer-in-Charge Joel Singer had to put together a compact, high-quality recording system that was made up of a Waves Audio DiGiGrid MGB interface and an Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt SSD drive; he recorded the duet using Waves Tracks Live.   

“Waves Tracks Live is so intuitive and easy to use it’s almost like the cassette deck of years ago, where you’d press record and play, and just go,” Singer says. “If you want to dive deep into it, you can, but it’s just such an easy, quick program to use, it lets you get what you need and then just go record.”    

But the space limitations that challenged Singer at the Madison Square Garden concert forced him to rethink how he was going to get the best quality audio from a system that occupied minimal space.

“The most unique parts of this gig were space, compatibility, audio quality and ease of transport,” says Singer. “I had to develop a bullet-proof, mobile recording solution that fit into my backpack, that I could take on the train back and forth to New York City from our headquarters in New Jersey, and capture a once-in-a-lifetime performance for one of the largest broadcast networks in the world. The combo of using Waves’ MGB interface, my MacBook Pro with the SSD drive and Waves Tracks Live simply worked. Tracks Live is so simple to use; the GUI is intuitive and easy to work with. It’s a great compact system. When I think back a few years ago, before DiGiGrid, Waves Tracks Live and my Mac, I would have had to bring an entire rack of equipment to get a similar result, and in this case, that would not have been possible. Without Waves, I could not have taken on this remote recording session.    

“Since I got the call to record this duet at the last second, I couldn’t find a MGB rental in the city because no one has them,” Singer continues. “I guess that’s because they are so popular (laughs). I called Waves who had Luke Smith, their North American Sales Manager, deliver one to me at the Garden as I was walking in the door to do the session. So again, it’s Waves support to the rescue. I keep saying this: they make wonderful products, don’t get me wrong. But the people in the company are just great, and they truly understand what we do for a living. They bend over backwards, and I’ve heard this a number of times from many professionals that use their products. They can call up Waves and get answers really quickly if they have a problem. And in my business, sometimes that is the difference between being able to do the gig or not.”   

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