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John Harris Talks Awards Show Mixing

John Harris and Jody Elff mix music for a back-to-back-to-back set of televised awards shows out of the Gemini truck.

Las Vegas, NV (June 30, 2022)—John Harris, co-founder—with Jody Elff—of Harris-Elff Audio Resources (HEAR), has had a busy awards season, mixing music for the Grammy, Academy and CMT Awards broadcasts.

​For Harris, mixing the musical performances for the 64th annual Grammy Awards was business as usual, this being his 33rd appearance mixing the show. “I’ve mixed half the Grammy Awards shows ever made,” he says. “They all have similarities and differences, but I try to be the common thread.” 

This year’s show was the first to take place in Las Vegas, at the MGM Grand Hotel, having traditionally been held in New York City or Los Angeles, and Harris helped ensure a consistent sonic vision for the broadcast. “Working in broadcast for as long as I have, I have a really clear idea in my head as to what the mix should sound like,” he says. “You want to bring across the excitement of a live performance in a way that gives people the sensation of being there when they’re not. That’s the trick.” 

​Harris mixed the Grammy Awards only a week after HEAR used the Gemini audio truck—available through the company’s partnership with NEP Group—for the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. “Gemini is out handling some of the biggest shows in the world, and that’s both because of its technical capabilities and the experience that HEAR provides as its purveyors,” Harris says. “We have refitted Gemini with the latest gear and systems, but these systems need to be managed. Jody and I make sure that whoever is operating them is able to leverage their full capacity.” 

At the core of Gemini are a pair of Lawo mc² 96 consoles that Elff notes are both powerful and complex. “Even an experienced engineer may not know all the nuances of a particular tool like that if they haven’t used it extensively,” Elff says. “John really knows those Lawo consoles that we have in Gemini and can get a team up and running quickly. Not to mention he brings years of experience working in the most demanding audio environments to any role he undertakes.”

The CMT Awards, honoring the best in country music, may not yet have the international profile of the Academy or Grammy Awards, but aired on CBS network television for the first time this year. The show’s producers once again leveraged HEAR’s capabilities, bringing Harris on-site with the Gemini audio truck to mix the show live to air. 

“The CMT Awards had a thousand-percent increase in viewership this year,” Harris noted. “The producers wanted to step up the production level to match and absolutely did.” Rolling Stone magazine’s Jon Freeman noted in his review that the show was “mixed really well,” highlighting in particular that the “vocals sounded crisp.”