Letters to Mix

WORKING WITH HISTORY Your article in the September Mix, The 2005 TECnology Hall of Fame was right on! Especially the piece on Western Electric/Bell Labs,

Your article in the September Mix, “The 2005 TECnology Hall of Fame” was right on! Especially the piece on Western Electric/Bell Labs, Electrical Recording (1925). I think your readers might like to see some pictures of this recorder. They are from our upcoming book, which will be a companion to our two videos on disk recording, now in production. This will be in addition to our series Classic Microphones From the Golden Age of Radio.

In October 1931, at a meeting of the SMPTE, H.A. Fredrick of Bell Telephone Laboratories presented a paper, “Vertical Sound Records — Recent Fundamental Advances in Mechanical Records on Wax.” In it, he described Bell Labs' progress in improving the fidelity of current records and the advantage of vertical over lateral modulation. Both World [Broadcast Service] and Associated implemented these improvements in their 16-inch transcriptions. Mentioned in the paper was an improved D-Spec vertical cutter that went out to 10,000 cycles. The enclosed pictures of the D-95230 recorder are of this hi-fi cutter. I have cut records with this cutter, and it actually goes out to 15,000 cycles with low distortion.
Barry J. Brose
Highland Laboratories
San Francisco

I just finished reading the TECnology article (“The 2005 TECnology Hall of Fame”) — excellent! Are you a history buff? If so, my grandfather, the Albert in Uncle Albert's, worked with Edwin Armstrong in France during World War I. They were in the Signal Corps; Armstrong worked on airplane radio design and Duke Silva designed the first tank radios. I have the original requisition papers, [dated] 1918, for the first superheterodyne set. Armstrong stayed in Paris after the war to study electronics and Duke brought the set back to the States. I have most of his work papers.

Did you know that David Sarnoff (RCA) set Armstrong up in the Empire State building for his FM station? RCA didn't see a use for FM until TV. They took his system. Armstrong sent his wife to her sisters', put on his overcoat and hat and walked out of a 13-story window. Ouch! He passed away February 2, 1954; my grandfather died on February 14, 1954.
Kevin Silva
Uncle Albert's


Thanks for the great letter and info on your granddad!

It's sad, but audio history is transitory and fades quickly. Part of our push behind the Hall of Fame was to recognize some of these innovators before they're forgotten. These days, there are engineers and producers who have never worked outside of a multitrack DAW and never felt the rush of setting up a couple mics on a hot band and letting the tape fly.
Thanks again,

I read Mark Frink's article (“Making the Wedgeless Transition”) in the August issue of Mix concerning in-ear monitors (IEMs) with interest and found it to be very informative. However, I felt that guitar players were taking more heat than they deserve by stating, “Guitarists are the hardest bandmembers to please.” [The actual quote is, “Guitar players have the hardest time because they're used to having a sweet spot that they can step into and it's a whole new way of listening.” — Eds.]

I made the decision to use IEMs about 18 months ago as a logical and ergonomic choice to employing wedge speakers/amps for my monitor setup. I use a very simple system comprising Shure E5s powered by a Shure FP-22 fed by a mono source from a Mackie board. My primary gig is performing live using an electric guitar through a Line 6 P.O.D. accompanied by backing tracks recorded on Pro Tools in my home studio. This works extremely well, as the balance and clarity of the IEMs perfectly mirrors the FOH, requiring little or no adjustments during the entire performance.

Although I don't face the adversity of multiple musicians competing for sonic territory or complex stage monitor mixes as per the article, I feel that anyone (especially guitarists) should give IEMs a try. They will never go back!
Dave Pryor
Starlight Productions

First let me say that I have been enjoying Eddie Ciletti's writing now for about 10 years — pretty much my entire professional career. Thanks for all the fine work.

I have a question/observation about his article in the (August 2005) issue about time alignment and multi-mic drums (“The Slide Rules”). First, he didn't provide a starting point for alignment. Do you align the overheads to each other and then align everything to them? Do you align everything to the kick? Snare? It can get confusing. Because the kick and snare are never directly in the center at the same time, what do you do? Usually for me, the snare is dead-center and the kick is a tad left or right, depending on the overhead mic positions. Then what? The kick will be a little ahead in either the left or right overhead. Also, what about cymbal smearing when you start moving the time relationship between the overheads? What about a 14-mic setup on a five-piece kit? It gets crazy.

None of this is criticism; it's just stuff that runs around my brain and I rarely, if ever, get to share these with any engineers who give a crap. Glad to see that there are others that think about these things. I would have posted this topic in Eddie's forum but could not find a way to add a topic.
Anyway, thanks for all the great insight.
Andrew M.

(The June 2005 issue was the) best issue ever. Stephen St.Croix's writing (“The Fast Lane”) has never been more on-point, conscience and strong. Thank you (to him) for having the courage to stand up with his own opinions and say, “Screw that” to the b.s. that sometimes comes with the territory of song and music production.

Also, (Paul) Lehrman's article (“Do You Hear What I Hear?”) was just as fascinating, very insightful, very helpful to all who strive to accomplish a product of quality and good work.

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