How did you get your start as an engineer?
I grew up playing music and forming bands with my friends. We couldn’t afford a studio so I got into buying recording equipment and doing it myself. I really started to enjoy it and found myself spending more time trying to make things sound better and less time trying to become a better musician! Needless to say, all my friends became much better musicians…. I moved from home to take an internship as a studio assistant in Nashville. I learned a LOT about sound and music sitting in those sessions, watching killer engineers and studio musicians. Eventually, as natural progression would have it, I became the engineer. I was strictly a studio engineer for years. After a while, I was asked by a band whose record I had just recorded to step out of the studio for a “one off” (single show) and mix front of house for a festival. Well “one offs” turned into “short runs,” into “full legs,” and into “entire tours.” So the live thing snowballed out of control in a good way. I now find myself doing entire record cycles. Meaning I engineer the studio record, FOH the tour, and then work on the live DVD. I’m doing that now with the Winery Dogs for their record Hot Streak.
What groups have you worked with?
The Winery Dogs, Sabrina Carpenter, Transatlantic, Twisted Sister, Haken, Metal Allegiance, Flower Kings, Neal Morse Band, Flying Colors, Richie Kotzen, Between the Buried and Me, Sons of Apollo, Keith Carlock and many others, as well as a long list of A-list studio players.
How did you hear about Audix?
Word of mouth. I have always been aware of Audix, but I first personally used Audix on the road. In the beginning of touring I was not carrying any type of mic package with me. So I would just use whatever the venue had on hand. I would come across the D series mics time and time again and always loved them.
What was the impetus for switching from the mics you were using previously?
As I said, I didn’t have a touring mic package in the beginning, so there came a point where I needed to make a purchase. I wanted to get some quality microphones that sounded great, were priced right, and could take a beating! Audix immediately came to mind. I was mixing large drum kits at the time so my main concern was having enough drum mics. I needed to know I had what I needed upon arrival at any venue. Unless you are in a festival setting, most places don’t have enough mics to go around two bands (much less kits larger than five pieces). So I bought two Audix DP7 mic packages-yes, I needed two!! For this particular tour, I was miking Mike Portnoy’s 15-piece drum kit. So that’s a minimum of 15 mics without counting overheads, two hats, ride, and any other zones (outside kicks, bottom snare, etc.).
Any noticeable results?
Sure! One thing I love about Audix microphones is they do some of the work for you. On a properly tuned system, the mics come up sounding just like the source.
What are your favorite features of the mics you’re using?
Aside from the obvious sound of my Audix mics, I like the durable capsule on the i5. The “typical” snare mic has a plastic capsule that ALWAYS takes a hit and breaks off. I also have to throw in the hardware. The CabGrabbers and the DCLAMPs are great!
Have the Audix mics helped solve any particular challenges for you?
I can think of at least three:
1. I was looking for a drum vocal mic for a long time. Cymbals have always plagued that mic and make it difficult to get the vocal loud and clear without bringing up all the unwanted harsh cymbals and making the drums seem loose. After trying a few brands, the Audix OM7 won the shootout. There is no mic to my knowledge that can eliminate the issue, but the OM7 preformed the best for me.
2. There was no room to get my mics onto the toms because they were covered with splash cymbals and other toys. The typical small clip on mics were unreliable. One out of three would always cut out or fail. When I found the Audix Micro-Ds, they worked and were solid!
3. I have been able to get out of a bind more than once by having a few extra DCLAMPs in my bag.
Any special tips to share on how to use the mics?
Before getting sounds or being quick to blame a mic position or grabbing an EQ for something, understand your situation. Make sure as an engineer that you are not trying to make an instrument sound like something it’s not. Same with the speakers. Make sure you are not trying to make the PA or studio speakers do something they can’t (or shouldn’t) do. Play some reference music and understand what the PA or reference speakers sound like. Walk around the room to understand what the room is adding or taking away from your mix position. Once you understand what’s happening in the room and tune it to best complement the acoustics, you are ready to have fun and make smart choices behind the console.