Neil Diamond sound engineer since 1967, Steve Miller received the Parnelli Audio Innovator Award at an awards ceremony in Orlando on November 20, 2009.
“Stan wasn’t on the cutting edge, he was on the bleeding edge,” says Larry Italia of Yamaha Pro Audio, who Miller consulted with in developing digital audio technology. “He is fearless, has remarkable instincts and possesses a wonderfully curious mind.”
“Stan has his own take on technology,” adds Patrick Stansfield, a Parnelli Honoree himself who worked with Miller for Diamond for many years. “He has his own personal way of doing things that marked him as different.”
With Diamond, Miller designed the sound system and worked the sound console for all of his world tours. He was also behind the recording of Hot August Night, recorded at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in 1972. Miller has also worked with such acts as John Denver, Johnny Cash, Sonny & Cher and Bob Dylan, among others. He was audio designer/consultant Pink Floyd’s The Wall–Live concert in 1981.
He was one of the first to hang speakers through a steel cable drum winch system of his own making; and he was the first to use multi-core snakes allowing for easier cable hook up. He was the first to take a graphic EQ with third-octave Altec passive filters on the road. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was also an audio product manufacturer owning Stanal Sound, where he created the high-powered/high-end Stanley Screamers for Altec. Later, he also consulted with JBL to create advanced speakers and rigging for touring. He pioneered the used of Fiberglas covering for road cases and loudspeakers, many of which are still on the road 30 years later.
In digital audio, his desire to recall specific audio settings led him to take 14 small Yamaha digital sound consoles and hook them together with a computer to suit the needs of arena concert touring. Miller developed a relationship with the company’s pro audio division that has lasted for 20 years, which led to today’s PM1D and PM5D pro audio all digital consoles.
Recently, he got Diamond’s band to abandon their monitor speakers and onstage amplifiers. “Entertainers didn’t always understand that by getting rid of all the speakers onstage, you can dial the sound system to the environment better and easier, and achieve a better experience for the audience.” says Miller. The last two Diamond tours have been 100-percent digital. “I’ve always tried things throughout my career and that made it fun. Each time we get ready to go on a tour, each time we get ready to rehearse for a tour, I’m on the edge. I’m thinking out of the box and sometimes out on a limb with a saw next the trunk.”