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Best Vintage Audio Blog

I know I need to get some fresh posts on my blog. I’ve been very busy at the studio and all my free time has been devoted to finishing up my Analog Tape Machine Alignment Instruction video which will be out soon. In the meantime, check out Preservation Audio Blog. Click on the articles to load up pages full of old pro audio brochures,schematics, and studio pictures. Really great stuff!

Glenn Berger Recounts Working On Dylan’s Classic Blood On The Tracks at A&R Recording

This is a link to my friend Glenn Berger’s blog.
Glenn and I have a few things in common. We both started our careers very young, right out of high school. We both were trained by Phil Ramone at the peak of his career. Glenn preceded me by a few years and was already a staff engineer at A&R when I started, I doubt he was more than 22 or so at the time. After many years in the music business Glenn became a shrink, I just went to one.
Enjoy it!
It is a great read!


I’m Back!

This past year has been a very busy one for me. We have been very fortunate that the studio has been  booked solid. I moved a couple of months ago and have been buried under boxes ever since.
I enjoy writing this blog, and it bothers me that I haven’t put time aside to keep it up to date.
So if you are checking in, check back in a week or two and some new ideas that I have been working on should be posted.
The great innovator and recording engineer Roger Nichols passed away this week. He was known most for his work with Steely Dan but he was an incredible inventor as well . I only had the pleasure of working with Roger once during the Quincy Jones produced, Phil Ramone engineered Sinatra album ” L.A. is My Lady”.  Inventor of one of the first audio samplers, and engineer of some of the greatest records of my time, he will be missed.

What I think Makes A Great Sounding Recording

Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection 
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of the Moon 
Yes Fragile
Les Mcann and Eddie Harris Swiss Movement
Allman Brothers Live At The Filmore 
As a teenager listening to these albums ( In my huge groovy Sennheiser headphones ) I was transported to another place. I would close my eyes and I was no longer in my room. Musically excellent but also sonically beautiful. For me it was the sonic aspect that moved me deeply. These records inspired me to become a recording engineer.
Below are my thoughts on the elements needed to make an excellent recording.
These items are listed from most critical to least important.
This list assumes all factors are reasonable, no defective equipment, or poor microphone placement.
1) A great song or wonderful arrangement.
Wait! Wait! this is supposed to be about audio engineering! frequencies, decibels and  phase! Op-amps vs. discrete circuits, analog vs digital! For starters, recording quality isn’t all about gear.
Years ago I noticed something odd. One day I was at the beginning of a tracking session and I was struggling to get what I thought were good sounds. As the band worked on the arrangement,  boredom set in and they started to play another popular song. Suddenly all the sounds changed, everything opened up and became clearer and punchier. Each instrument had it’s own space, and I was moved by what I heard. I had changed nothing, yet the sonic picture changed completely.
When I’m mixing I usually start with the bass, drums,lead vocal and a single instrument that has the chord changes. In this simple state it is easy for a song to sound powerful, but as more tracks are added if the song is poorly arranged it can sound smaller, not larger.
When I listen to really great recordings I am often floored at how simple they can be.  A good arrangement can give the impression that a song is large and complex when in actuality it is very simple. The key is that every note and sound is so well placed they conspire to move your emotions in a certain direction. For some reason it can be hard for the brain to unglue these elements when listening to a stereo mix. At the studio when clients come in to remaster old recordings and we get to hear the original multitracks we are always floored at how simple the tracks are when the sounds can be isolated.
Often less is more.