Letters to Mix

LESS STUDIO, MORE FAMILY TIME I just read Rick Clark's Nashville Skyline in the December 2006 issue. I am one of those who are blessed to do what they

I just read Rick Clark's “Nashville Skyline” in the December 2006 issue. I am one of those who are blessed to do what they love and love the ones around me. Before I got into the studio business more than 25 years ago, I had recorded at several studios and observed that many engineers had lost touch with their families. I determined that no amount of success or failure was worth that high a price.

Every project will take a certain number of hours to produce. Planning those hours with your family is as important as those hours [spent] recording Sting or the Wauhob Family.
Randy Bugg
Twelve Oaks Studios

I read of the passing of Stephen [St.Croix] and am saddened by the news. He was an amazing man, and I'm so very glad that I knew him. In an article by Tom Kenny [“From the Editor,” June 2006], it said, “He hosted Stevie Wonder in his home for six months during their work together on Songs in the Key of Life.”

I just want to set the record straight about Songs in the Key of Life. I was the engineer on all of the sessions and can assure you that we spent no time at Stephen's house and they didn't work together. Stephen did spend time visiting with us at Crystal Sound in Hollywood (of which I was an owner), but he was never a collaborator, producer or engineer. However, we loved the Time Modulator and used it on the album.

Eddie Germano of The Hit Factory told everyone that the album was done there, when in fact we spent only three months at his studio out of the two-plus years of work and only used one basic track recorded there. The album was done at Crystal Sound — recorded (except for the one basic track), mixed and even mastered in our mastering room.

It is amazing how many people say that they engineered that album, but it was just me and Gary Olazabal for the more than two years of recording. It is simple enough to look at the album credits to find out who the engineers were. I'm just trying to ensure that the history of this historic album isn't tainted by false statements.
John P. Fischbach
Piety Street Recording

Kevin Becka writes in his “Field Test” of Dave Royer's new condenser mic (Mojave MA200, December 2006), ”I really like this mic, but if you're looking for pristine reproduction of your selected source, look elsewhere, because the one word that defines [the Royer mic] is personality.”

Evaluators of high-quality professional microphones keep trying to distinguish between “accurate” mics and those with “personality” (or “color,” or whatever attribute they use to describe a type of pleasant — but what they perceive to be not really true — rendering of the sound source).

On the surface, that seems to be a logical distinction: Here is a mic that renders true, and there is a pleasant but euphemistic mic that fudges a bit around the edges. But if the “accurate”-type mic were really that capable in representing how we hear the sound source and capable of translating the timbral and spatial detail, as well as emotional weight of the performance, why would we even need a “personality” mic?

My answer is because the accurate mic introduces at least as many artifacts in its representation of the sound source as the personality mic. The difference between the two approaches may simply be that the accurate mic is splendid in performing for our analytical mind, but its imperfections leave our emotional needs to connect with the music wanting, whereas the personality mic may not live up to certain measurable specs, but may render the emotional core of the performance intact.

Which mic's imperfections and approximation of reality is preferable may simply depend on your needs. If I need to analyze the hall resonances created by the second violinist's foot tapping, I'll grab the accurate measurement mic. But for music recordings, I'd prefer to feel the music and will demand from a very good mic that it reconnects me with the feeling I had when listening to a good performance.
Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks

I spent 32 years onstage as a performing musician. In 1995, I retired from playing, entered re-education and became an audio engineer and owner of a sound company. Since changing sides of the console, I've learned so many things I wish I had known as a musician that would have made me a better performer — things like microphone technique, monitor dynamics (where to place your monitor for the type of vocal mic you are using) and how to properly roll cables to preserve their useful life.

I urge all my audio brothers and sisters to be gentle teachers. Many musicians want to know these things, but they just don't know it yet because they are onstage. You can be a real mentor to the musicians you work with, and some of them may thank you for it. If you reach one person, it is so worth the effort.
Teri Hogan
Sound Services, Inc.

After watching this year's Super Bowl halftime show, my friends and I were very surprised by the lacking quality of audio. We expected nothing but top-notch quality for this event. The biggest sports event of the year and a major performer with Prince, yet the audio was, to put it bluntly, lame.

What really bothered myself and my friends was that it didn't improve at all through the whole of the performance. It seems odd that the last several Super Bowl halftime performances have had sub-par audio mixes. Where was the quality that our industry is capable of?

Come on, we can do better than this.
Bob Spangler

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