ODE TO A FRIEND
I was sorry to read of the passing of Stephen St.Croix in the June issue of Mix. Stephen had already begun writing his column for Mix when I graduated from college in December of 1988. In those days, I somehow had time to read every issue cover to cover. As the years passed, I spent more time engineering and less time reading [Mix], although I always made time for “The Fast Lane.” It educated me, excited me, made me work harder, made me laugh and, of course, pissed me off — at manufacturers, at record companies, at consumers, at Stephen and even at myself. Stephen made me better at what I do, and he will be missed.
THANKS FOR THE KICK IN THE BUTT
Thanks for Stephen St.Croix's article “Life, Love and the Pursuit of More of It” (February 2006). I work in the recording industry: selling, instructing and supporting all the cool new software/hardware stuff. There was a point in my life when I was [so] obsessively excited about the technology, the possibilities and the power of the music that I've made it my living.
Lately, though, things have changed, and for many reasons, including the “ugly” side of the industry (illegal downloading/piracy, the demise of innovative radio), I started to ask myself why I was bothering to stay in an industry that I was no longer excited about. The article made me realize that if I don't like the way something I have always cherished is turning into, then bitching about or straight-up quitting the game isn't helping anyone. Thanks for helping me realize that I really am rather fortunate to have the career I have.
WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT
I am writing to congratulate you on another great issue and praise Stephen St.Croix for bringing out the human side of our equipment-focused lives and Paul Lehrman for his austere examination of the reality of making music for a consumer market (February 2006).
I would say in all areas of cultural pursuit, money (i.e., fame) has become the aesthetic for qualifying the merits of a work. Over the last several decades, who you are has become infinitely more important than what you do. I can overlook articles that cover hyped artists that are momentarily hot but will be forgotten within the year; after all, you need to sell magazines. Perhaps readers think if they follow the trend, they may somehow profit by it. I would say that Mix is caught up in the filtering process as much as any other media outlet.
You do articles on people who are popular because it reflects what is current in our culture, except you are not reporting on what machinery was used to make that artist popular. Are you reporting on how a group's album was mixed because your editorial staff loved the mix or because it shipped 2 million copies? If it shipped 2 million copies, how many were returned? How much did the label pay to market it?
THE UNSUNG HERO
I had the pleasure of working with David [Smith] at Sony Studios [August 2006 issue] for five years as a senior technician. My primary responsibility was SSL 9000 and later Neve 88R console repair to the component level. David was my supervisor John Williams' boss and his lab was next to John's office in the tech shop. David was extremely dedicated to audio excellence and regularly spent evenings and weekends working in his lab on new designs and modifications to improve existing equipment.
The console in Room 309 was designed by David (something your article didn't make clear, probably due to David's modesty) with Richard Boisits, who did all the drawings and PC board layouts to David's specs. Richard also assembled and tested the console with Marty Matyas, who contributed greatly to the mechanical and metal work design. Dominick Costanzo took over after Richard went to NBC in 2004. John Williams played a major role in the overall project management and procurement.
The console uses Massenburg ICs (and others) but is not a Massenburg- or GML-designed console. This project took several years to complete. Every circuit was painstakingly optimized for the absolute best possible performance. No corners were cut. No expense was spared. This console was built for the love of audio, not for mass production and profit. The result is the finest, cleanest mixing console in existence.
There is nothing like it at any other facility, anywhere. Unless Sony starts selling these consoles, no other facility will be able to emulate the Dave Smith Room. Nothing else commercially made equals its performance. It is simply not economically feasible. The mic pre's that David designed for it (Sony Studios has a couple of portable outboard versions) are in, my opinion, the finest, cleanest and most transparent I have ever heard, even at very high-gain levels.
Dave not only cared about audio, he cared deeply about people, too. He was the kind of person who would take time from his busy schedule to help others, even those who worked at other facilities. His passing is a huge loss for Sony and the audio community.
NOT SO FAST…
I am writing in regards to your March 2006 issue and specifically the article on Big House Sound [“Local Crew”]. In the first paragraph, there is mention that “Big House Sound is in talks with Austin Music Hall to handle its sound requirements.” That is not the case. As COO of Direct Events and its affiliated venues — The Backyard, The Glenn at the Backyard, Austin Music Hall and La Zona Rosa — I am involved in all aspects of concert and event production. We have not been in talks with Big House Sound as a provider of service.
We currently have a relationship with another sound company, Miller Pro Audio, and are extremely pleased with their gear, service and expertise in sound engineering. I would appreciate a retraction of that statement. I feel this portion of the article has done a disservice to Miller Pro Audio.
Barry M. Kohlus
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