It was time…end of year plus the need for some small home monitors. I had been thinking about the small Yamaha and JBL speakers but they still seemed too large for my desk area. These little guys from IK had been getting some great press and endorsements (both Lord Alges!!) and they featured a slimmed down version of their ARC technology.
What does that mean?…well.. the Holy Grail of ANY speaker is Truth and Translatability. No one likes that feeling of playing your recording/mix outside of your listening environment and being horrified at how it sounds on another system..lost vocals!! Screechy guitars!!No BASS!!too much BASS!!…let’s face it..it’s your worst nightmare.
The general culprit (assuming that it’s not you) is the combination of a bad set of monitors and a bad sounding room. IK has built a technology (ARC) into these speakers that allows you to plug a microphone (included) into the back of these speakers and press a button that runs an audio sweep and calibrates the speakers to your listening environment. The listening area (or “sweet spot”) is pretty narrow but seems to be pretty accurate.
I haven’t done enough listening/mixing on these to see how they stack up yet….more to come
A new release is always a thrill and this one has been a long time coming. I had the pleasure of working with Keith on this collection, co- writing and producing 2 of the songs here.
“Trial Of The Century” features one of my favorite singer songwriters, Chris Merola. Chris has been active in the NY Americana scene since the beginning and he continues to record and perform with his band Tumbleweed Mile.
Jeff Young sings “Bank Of Worry” with the soulfulness that he is well known for and, like Chris, is great to hang out with in the studio.
I also had the opportunity to mix some of the songs with Keith and was completely blown away by the vocals of Maya Saxell.
The eclectic nature of this album is an anomaly in today’s musical landscape…which I like.
So back in the day, when I was an aspiring musician/songwriter, I looked for the closest recording studio to where I lived..and it was almost walking distance..Willowmill Recording.
It was in a converted garage of Gilbert Jullien’s house and it was outfitted the remnants of the Track Recording’s studio (API/Ampex) . I was so green at the time that I had no idea of even what those names meant. The asking price there for 8 track 1 Inch recording at the time was $ 25 an hour so I booked the session and brought my brother Rob and our drummer in to record a song. When I inquired whether Gilbert might have some better mics (like a Teac or Tascam..not these WWII looking mics)..he said that all he had were these 5 Neumann U 47 Tube Mics for Vocals.
When I asked Gil for his opinion on our performance, he responded with a chuckle “Compared to what..?”. I was naturally incensed and I vowed two things then and there..
1. I am learning how to do this, it can’t be that hard..
2. I am NEVER paying for this again.
Two months later, Gilbert wound up turning the studio over to me to run and wound up being a great mentor and friend…and one of the people that I can truly call a Genius…as well as introducing me to Franco Falsini.
In our recent conversation, Chris Gehringer (Sterling Sound Mastering), one of the most sought after and respected mastering engineers on the planet, stressed the importance of an accurate and balanced listening environment (speakers and room design). I redid the cabling and monitor placement in my room at The Loft Studios in Bronxville, NY a few weeks ago and decided to bring in an expert to help get it as flat as possible…so I called Steve La Cerra.
Armed with his handy Phonic Room Analyzer, Steve ran the room through its paces as we identified audio “peaks and valleys” that were causing issues across the audio spectrum. It was fun, balancing the art and science of sound with Steve, as we adjusted the volume, EQ and crossover controls on the main speakers and sub woofer.
In addition to a flatter response (The Holy Grail of any control room), we also achieved a wider sweet spot…listeners in the back of the room are hearing pretty much what I am hearing in the mix position. Every one of the musicians that I worked with over the next week noticed the improvement. All I need now is a Lava Lamp!