THE PRICE OF GOLDEN EARS
I felt compelled to write and add my voice to the chorus (“Critical Listening,” December 2007)! Having just finished recording and mixing The OaKs' upcoming album, and working with Alan Douches of West West Side Music in New Windsor, N.Y., who mastered it, I can't imagine trying to go through that final step alone — or worse, not taking it at all. The cost of mastering is so small compared to what the overall project cost can be, and the results are priceless.
The great thing with Alan was that he worked with us, starting with the initial mixing. We would send sample mixes and he would send back sample masters. It allowed us to tweak our mixes, which then let the final masters have exactly the sonic character that we were after.
His advice and help were invaluable. So my advice is, don't wait until mixing is finished; get a mastering engineer who understands your vision and is onboard right from the start of the project.
COAST TO COAST…TO COAST
Just read “From the Editor” in the December 2007 edition (“The Reluctant Mastering Engineer”) and had to e-mail about one sentence: “Over the years, Denten has developed relationships with top mastering houses on both coasts…”
Hopefully, I don't have to pull out the map to remind you that there are three coasts to the United States. Otherwise, nice story.
Essential Sound Mastering
Mix continues to receive letters about “30 People Who Shaped Sound” in the October 2007 issue, which profiled producers, engineers and musicians who significantly influenced the pro audio industry or consistently stood out among their peers during Mix's 30 years of publication, as chosen by the Mix editors.
Where's Tom Dowd?
My God, you left Rupert Neve off the list! No list is creditable without having Rupert Neve on it.
What about Bill Schnee? What about Sheffield Labs? Doug Sax and team?
Your list is fun to read, but the title is misleading. I suggest instead: “30 People From the U.S. (Some From the UK) Who Shaped Non-Classical Sound in the U.S.”
But I guess there is nothing wrong with listing people who are known only to you in the States. At least then we'll get to know them better here in the rest of the world. Cheers!
Because Mix's January 2008 issue features a guide to personal monitoring systems, we asked our readers, “Have you recently turned an artist onto in-ear monitors or are you trying to figure out how exactly to broach the subject with a musician?” Here is one response that we received.
We are a small regional production company located in Kansas that has worked with several touring acts using in-ear monitoring. I was not extremely impressed with some of the early models; we usually wound up putting wedges at the artist's feet, un-muting them and ducking an occasional tossed receiver from a disgruntled artist.
When my company started producing Christian rock bands a couple years ago, we re-evaluated using in-ears.
Reason one: Sound pressure levels in some church sanctuaries, which are designed to project sound, were getting out of hand. There were constant fights between artist and engineer in these venues, and in-ear monitors seemed like the answer. Getting the artist to understand this took some selling. Common complaints were the loss of “feel” onstage and an inability to communicate onstage on a one-on-one basis. I donned a pair at a rehearsal and found some of the complaints to be true. The “feel” problem was easily eliminated by facing a couple of mics toward the crowd to pick up audience reaction and the house system. Simple fix.
Reason two: Weight and space savings. With diesel production trucks needing gas that costs more than $3.50 per gallon, every pound we can save in transportation is important. By leaving most of the wedges and monitor amps at the shop, we can save nearly 1,200 pounds. That equates to a big savings in fuel and labor.
Reason three: Eliminate stage clutter, something that is extremely important in churches and small club stages. Enough said.
We tried several brands before deciding on the Shure PSM 700 system. Cost and quality were concerns, and the Shure system seemed to give us the biggest bang for the buck. A large percentage of the touring acts we worked with seemed to be using the Shure units, and generally leave their transmitters in their truck and use ours, or at least use their own in-ear devices and our transmitters and receivers. We racked up 10 transmitters and 20 receivers, and they have served us well now for about two years.
The story that it's “all or nothing” when it comes to in-ear systems is not necessarily true, especially outdoors. We have found that a couple of sidefills along with the in-ear monitors work great.
Trying to strike a balance between tech and artist is an ongoing battle. While some have truly embraced the technology, others refuse to even try. As a front-of-house engineer, I love them. I even keep a pair at FOH to punch into an artist's mix if it looks like there is a problem.
Segue Sound Company, USA
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