Letters to Mix

RING, RING MONEY'S CALLING The money is out there, and as always, it gravitates to skill and assets. If you want to succeed, then think of yourself as

The money is out there, and as always, it gravitates to skill and assets. If you want to succeed, then think of yourself as a survivor and arm yourself with both [skill and assets]. If you are a musician, then develop engineering skills, and if you want to fill a need here in L.A., study electronics and become a skilled tech. Learn to fix a Pultec and a Neve, and you will never go hungry in this town.

I have been collecting mics for the scoring stage and may soon offer a service assisting with Neumann M50s, spot mics, KM54s, M49s and ribbons and such. I am also putting together a package of vintage Universal Audio, Helios and Neumann consoles and EMI and Decca gear to hopefully find its way into a well-funded room. I work one night a week as a house engineer in West L.A. and two nights a week as a musician in a cover band — anything to stay active, meet folks and learn something new.

I know of a seasoned engineer/mixer, “David,” who is getting a steady stream of work from a parent company in the “download to cell phone” field. I currently assist him with my mics, outboard gear and such; as a musician, I help him with tracks for bass, guitar, cello, glockenspiel.

The content-to-cell phone market will soon explode, and the need for content and qualified mixers is there. David told me that I am one of the few people he trusts to mix for him, so I told him that if the big budgets continue and he gets backed up, get me a Pro Tools HD rig. I will learn what I can and I will mix stuff he gets backed up on. I will help him make his deadline. I am not a young pup, but new opportunities still excite me, and I still love to hang with smart and creative people — I still love music.
Jeff Sherman

Thanks so much for Maureen Droney's “Credit Where Credit's Due” (May 2006). Among other audio engineering duties, I'm also a freelance recording engineer. About 10 years ago, I was the recording engineer for an on-location project involving a full symphony orchestra and large choir, and had what I consider to be a unique experience precisely on the issue of proper crediting.

When the project was complete, I promptly received a contract stating that I agreed to never claim ownership of the recording project — all or in part, etc. Even though I had never seen that wording before, I concluded that it made sense and there were no stipulations regarding not getting credit for my work. When the first run of CDs was released, there were no audio engineering credits listed. This had me completely confused, as with the previous 10 CD projects I had completed by that time (for other individuals and companies), this was not an issue. As it turns out, that CD project became the most requested disc of all the recordings released by that recording company at that time. With this information, I wrote a letter to the record company asking why the first release of the CD did not include engineering credits. They replied that it was not their custom, and included a separate letter of thanks for my engineering services — on company letterhead.

About three years after the first release of the CD project, a second release was made and, again, no engineering credits. That entire situation continues to bother me. Back then, I did not want to make waves because I only had 10 CD projects under my belt that had been distributed on a national scale. However, in light of the fact that the CD in question was the most successful for that company up to that point, it really has become a slap in the face that they never included engineering credits. All other individuals involved in that recording were credited, including every member of the choir and orchestra. As a then-struggling audio engineer, having my engineering credits included would have really helped my up-and-coming career, not to mention being a morale booster for me.

Thankfully, this had never happened before and has not happened since.
Ralph Sanchez

I just read “Tech's Files: Are Commercials Really Too Loud?” in the April 2006 Mix, which I found interesting, but one thing was in error. [Eddie Ciletti] says, “Local TV affiliates face a particularly muddy, uphill battle considering the number of lapel mics that they use. Nearly all are cardioid for minimizing phase issues with other mics, as well as studio noise.”

Most lapel (lavalier) mics are omnidirectional. I've been doing TV audio since 1976 and have found that there are many reasons to use omnis. For example, if the presenter/host/on-air talent turns his or her head to the left or right, you can have a significant drop in level and a definite change of tonality with a cardioid — worse with a hypercardioid. This often happens with weatherpersons, who usually stand in profile to the camera, as well as during their presentation when they look at the “map” beside them on one side, the TV monitor showing the off-camera map graphics in front of them and the “audience” (the camera) to the other side.

Many shows have a panel of presenter/host/on-air talents who banter to one another throughout the broadcast. This could be a disaster if you aren't using omnis. The best way to combat studio noise is to have a mixing engineer who can ride levels, fade out unused mics and anticipate the flow of the conversation. Phase is a problem, but adhering (when you can) to the “three feet apart” rule helps eliminate the comb filtering that occurs; otherwise, you had better be quick with your fader moves.

Also, lavalier microphones used to be huge and were just “regular” small mics hung by a cord around the neck of the speaker. They got their name from a piece of jewelry — a pendant with a dangling stone that hangs from a necklace worn by the infamous Duchess Louise de La Valliere (1644-1710), a French woman who was a mistress of French King Louis XIV and was involved in many intrigues at court.
Douglas Kaye

Thanks for writing. I apologize for the lack of clarity regarding cardioid mics. My statement should have read, “Based on what I'm hearing — too much mud — it would seem that nearly all lapel mics being used are cardioid, which I would not recommend.” I, too, prefer omnis. You, at least, seem to care more about the audio part of the program; here in the Twin Cities, I am frustrated by what seems to be the complete lack of regard or care for what goes on the air. No one seems to be listening, or if they were, they'd attempt to reconcile the disparities. And thanks for the history lesson!
— Eddie Ciletti

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