Beachwood, OH — As the original drummer and a co-founder of Chicago, Danny Seraphine is also a GRAMMY® Award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. With Chicago, Seraphine was the backbone of the band, keeping everyone in time and on balance; he set the pace and carried it through to the end, no matter what.
Today, Seraphine is at a great place in his life and has gone back to his early musical beginnings, rebooting with his new band, CTA – an abbreviation for California Transit Authority. “I’ve gone back to my roots, and I’m really enjoying what I do, and I’m going to ride it as long as I can,” said Seraphine. “CTA is a throwback to early Chicago, which was originally called the Chicago Transit Authority. So, the pedigree of this new band is very much like the original Chicago when we first began. And everybody in CTA is a really strong player.”CTA has been described as “Chicago on steroids,” and it’s exactly the music Seraphine loves to play. “We basically perform and concentrate on the material and the sound of early Chicago, because we ultimately came to the conclusion, just by trial and error, that’s what people want to see me play,” stated Seraphine. “I mean there are other elements, sounds and grooves mixed in of course, but it’s predominantly Chicago in the spirit of the original band, which was very musical and a ferocious force.”
Throughout his career, Seraphine has always used a form of head-worn monitors during live performance. “If you look at early pictures of me playing live, and I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, but I was one of the first guys to use headphones on stage,” said Seraphine. “Back in the day, headphones were the only way I could really hear what was going on in a controlled environment, and still be able to play with the finesse I needed, yet not blow my eardrums out from a monitor wedge pointed directly at my head.” Eventually in-ear monitors became viable, and Seraphine was among the early adopters.
Currently Seraphine is performing using ASI Audio’s 3DME Music Enhancement IEM system. “I’ve used in-ears monitors over the years, but when I first heard about the 3DMEs, with ambient mic’s as part of the system, I said, ‘That sounds like something I need to check out.’” ASI’s 3DME Music Enhancement system incorporates a tiny electret MEMS microphone in each Active Ambient™ earphone that combine to provide users with a binaural 3D perspective of their surroundings. The bodypack mixer/headphone amplifier accepts input from any wireless IEM receiver (a stereo jumper cable is supplied) and includes DSP to offer limiting and EQ (channel independent or linked) and to enable users to customize ambient mic levels in their monitor mix. Settings can be saved as presets on the 3DME BT app for easy recall and repeatability. Seraphine reached out to the company and ended up speaking with Dr. Michael Santucci (audiologist, founder and chairman of ASI Audio) and his staff. “I tried a unit, and I thought, ‘This is a great concept.’ To be able to adjust the system so you do not have very much of your own drums in the in-ears, just the other instruments, and then use the built-in ambient mics to pick up most of the drums, especially my overheads – that was something I always wanted and could not have before.”
“You need isolation, especially if you’re in a crazy, loud environment,” Seraphine continues. “With the 3DMEs, I like that if you’re working on a really loud, bad-sounding stage, you can just go full in-ear and turn the ambient mics off. That kind of versatility is really important. The 3DMEs permit me to play my natural style comfortably and with finesse with all the dynamics, and yet I can play with a lot of power too. Depending on the song, I can get big, and then I can get very quiet. And that’s so important for what I do – to have that kind of control, and yet be able to feel the power of the music without losing my dynamics. Additionally, they’re made really well and the sound quality is good. Not only do I love the concept, but also the price; the average working musician can afford this system and use it. I think that’s a great feature.”
Seraphine promotes another benefit of using the 3DMEs – hearing health and the importance of protecting yourself from loud music when playing live. “I wish I had these back in the day, as all of us need to be conscious of protecting ourselves from hearing loss. Fortunately, I have been careful over the years regarding volume levels, but I know there are a lot of players out there that could benefit from the 3DMEs long-term. I always talk about hearing health when I do clinics around the country for the likes of DW Drums and Zildjian. Protect yourself, protect your ears, wear protection. What if there is something out of your control, like if a monitor guy, who out of nowhere, unleashes unexpected feedback, or pulls a plug without muting the channel? You should have control over your mix and your own hearing. The 3DMEs are the ultimate tool for that, especially if you use them correctly, and then depending on the situation, you can always use the 3DMEs’ limiter.”
The bottom line, according to Seraphine, is “hearing the clarity, and hearing the separation. I love being able to hear things in stereo, which is what I always strive for when I get a mix. The 3DMEs give me that and allow you to not be so isolated if you choose so. They give you the best of both worlds, the ambient world, and the clarity and separation of in-ear monitors.”