Val Gamarnik: B.B. King Club Production Manager Extols The Merits Of Audix Mics Doing Double Duty At The Always-Busy NYC Venue
Audix Mics Satisfy Demanding Audio Requirements For Sound, Feedback Control, Design, And Engineering
Val Gamarnik embarked on a career path in his native Russia, studying music theory and choir conducting. It was a Moscow Pink Floyd concert in 1988 that got him “hooked on audio, sending him down a parallel path.” That route led him to study sound at a private school in Israel and applying those learned principals working for a regional production company. An opportunity with a little-known touring band paved the way to New York City, where he continued as an engineer and co-producer working with multiple artists (and briefly, with Def Jam Records). In 2005, Gamarnik retired his passport, for the most part, taking on duties as production manager at B.B. King’s Times Square club. He also freelanced with productions at other renowned venues including Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall in New York, Los Angeles’ Kodak Theater, and Red Rocks in Colorado.
He has introduced to Audix mics over a decade ago, while employed at the now-defunct nightclub, Tramps. He was at once impressed with the dynamic range of the mic and made a mental note to further explore what the company had to offer. “It was on a show with Alanis Morissette,” Gamarnik recalled. “I think she was using an OM3 back then… I remember being very impressed with the mic.”
Since then, Gamarnik has incorporated a range of Audix mics for countless applications on both stages at the acclaimed BB King’s Blues Club in New York City —from the D and i-Series dynamic instrument mics for drums/percussion and bass amps, to the OM Series dynamic mics for vocals and horns. Sound, clarity, consistency, SPL handling, feedback control, design, and engineering are the deciding factors for his overwhelming favoritism.
“The first question an engineer must ask about a mic,” says Garmarnik, “is, ‘How does it sound?’ All of Audix’s mics sound great and you learn to appreciate them, especially during a live show. Live engineers compete daily with over-processed studio masters. They want to get the same audio impact and clarity from live sound as from studio creations. Audix brings you one huge step closer to the promised land!”
As far as feedback control, he’s sold on Audix’s capability of handling the inevitable. “Feedback, also known as the curse, is every audio engineer’s nightmare”, he says. “If only we could live in the world without it. But the reality is we can’t. Audix mics provide remarkable control. A few more dB without feedback is an engineer’s dream realized.”
Speaking to the design factor—or what he calls ‘a sound guy fetish’—Garmarnik confesses that the Audix mics are, well, sexy. “They’re slick and black…. and everyone knows that black equipment works better!” he jokes. “Artists love a mics appearance and performance. I just tried one out with the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis. His voice is a little softer than it used to be and I wanted to try an OM7 to help it cut through. He is very particular and usually likes to stick with an SM58, but I asked him to try the OM7 and if he wasn’t happy, I’d gladly switch it back. He sung a few lines, smiled, tapped the grill, and said, ‘I like it. Good-looking… sounds and feels good.’
As far as engineering, “we engineers are geeks and we know how to appreciate well-engineered products,” he laughs. “Audix is very satisfying in the nerd department.”
Overall, he says he’s been very pleased with the products – and the service on those rare occasions that an issue comes up. “I have at least 15 Audix mics in my case, and after 5 years of hard-core use—doing like 12-14 shows a week—I have only had a problem once and the service was quick and pain-free. Durability is key in live sound. As far as I’m concerned, Audix holds up all four pillars of live show satisfaction: for the artist, engineer, owner, and particularly for the audience. It’s very hard to satisfy them all, but Audix does it. I just saw the new CabGrabber accessory and am looking forward to trying it out. Audix provides innovation and we engineers hunger for it. It’s a winning combination!”