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Author Topic: For MEs: What is your background?  (Read 2470 times)


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For MEs: What is your background?
« on: May 03, 2004, 07:28:53 pm »

Just for fun...

...What is your background as far as how it involves you becoming an ME? Musician, tech-head, AE convert...?

How many of you guys are affluent on one or more musical instruments and what are they? Do you actively play now?

I'll start it off:
My parents started me very early playing the piano (pre-K) and took lessons thru Soph yr in HS (can't play a lick now...!). In HS, I picked up bass gtr and then in college moved on to elec gtr. Played in lab bands & garage bands and now play Ld gtr in our church band every Sun.

I never gave engineering a thought at all 'til after I was done playing in the HS & college bands. One day, while at work at a desk job I hated (aircraft maint. industry - I do have my Airframe & Powerplant license...), I had the idea that audio engineering "might be pretty cool". So, I called around to local studios to find out how to get into it. I found an independent AE that does a one-on-one internship and decided to sign up. (I found out later that he engineered Willie Nelson's Red-Headed Stranger LP way back when - he had the gold record on his wall.)

After the internship, I did the AE thing for awhile until the ME bug bit me. Since then, the virus has run its course thru my veins & I'm helplessly hooked.

In short - I've come from a predominantly musical background.

Let's hear your story...
J Lowes ยท OTR Mastering
Professional Audio Production for Life

Ed Littman

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Re: For MEs: What is your background?
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2004, 04:15:56 am »

Good question.
I'm from a musician background too. i started playing guitar when I was 16 in 1978....havn't stopped.
I have a B.M. degree from Berklee in Boston. i graduated in 1986.
i joined a variaty of bands form Brazilian,reggea, top 40(lots of Boston mob joint & stories that go with them Twisted Evil ), & my own fusion & jazz projects. i moved back to the NYC area in 1994...still not yet into pro audio. I started teaching guitar & bass & doing gigs In NYC( with some fine players i must say) & recorded a few nice records. Three are released on my label Yeahman records ( err.. thats why they don't sell Crying or Very Sad)I have a few more albums to release on deck, but for now i'll just archive them. I've been written up in Vintage guitar mag (with george harrison on the cover)& many online rags.

When i realized i'm to much of a wuss to put up with the constant rejection of the labels , I dove in & bought an ampex mm1200 16 tk & vintage gear to go with it to do it my self. After a few years of recording/mixing/mastering against the odds with quartets in a small room with the big machine. i realized i liked mastering more than tracking, moved all the recording gear out & moved some dunlavy's & etc. in. Since i've been mastering on my own for 4 years & not getting the internships, jobs at other studios & or  having & on hand mentor, i must admit it's been a sharp learning curve. My clients love that i'm a musician & I have many excellent records on my belt ( I guess I wont mention the bad ones Shocked)


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Re: For MEs: What is your background?
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2004, 02:22:50 am »

*guitarist from age 12, 1979 to present. some basic piano. all by ear/self-taught. blues/rock base
*hobbyist engineer (not a Dave Hill!) teen years, computer programming in 1980 at age 13 in Basic on a Radio Shack TRS-80 (now in the Smithsonian)
* early teen-age, built Heatkits, taught computers in middle school, late teen-age - drugs and rock music
*full-time guitarist/singer by age 20 (1987), East Village-NYC
*studied musicianship/creative music making with Guitar Craft/Fripp ages 22-28 (1989-1995), in NYC, Germany, LA, W. Va.
*early jam band (regional) 1990, another creative rock band 1991-93 ... 1994-present guitarist/writer/singer in Nude, a rock band
*learned engineering by asking many questions of many engineers
while recording/mixing/mastering all over the country

*1997 began a home studio with ADATs/Ghost on a 2nd mortgage to make better records than what i had been paying for
*2000 Began to love mastering anything.  Saw more and more mastering jobs, decided to emphasize the service.

(still do occasional 2" 16 track recording for blues/folk/rock musicians who can play live)

(4 most influential live performances, 1st concert @ age 11 - Bon Scott and ACDC just b4 Highway to Hell ... YES 90125  (1984) ... Grateful Dead in Chicago, no acid! (1986) ... Marcel Marceau (first time he spoke from stage/the end of silence as commercially viable) 1992 - two indian drummer brothers with the late shawn lane (guitar) and jonas hellborg (bass) 2000
Brian Lucey
Magic Garden Mastering

"the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the ecology" - unknown


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Re: For MEs: What is your background?
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2004, 03:16:48 am »

Firstly in the late 60's, I was very intrigued with loudspeakers. Next, hitting all the hi fi shops to hear the "best" (71) Began playing lower brass in 69, it was music and sound. To gain chops, I bought 4 microphones, a small mixer and a nakamichi cassette deck and a teac 3340 and started hitting the clubs to record live bands. (75/76/77) kept developing the trombone, building speakers. It just was a path to buying more equipment and trying new things and inviting musicians in for recording sessions and all the free beer. Good times had by all. Basically, the same thing....did retail high end audio sales, consulting with the industry, more loudspeaker building...finally, gigs with major labels and now a contract producer, director and mastering engineer. That is about it.

"Listen and Learn"
---Since 1975---


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Re: For MEs: What is your background?
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2004, 08:44:45 am »

Worked with lots of bands in high school, recording and mixing stuff or various bands. Sold hifi in college and after until I got a job at a small mastering house outside my home town. Worked there until I got hired by Ardent Studios, so I moved to Memphis. Spent 7 years rebuilding Ardent Mastering, meanwhile doing a lot of work for Ardent Records, which was insanely valuable - seeing the inner workings and demands of label work. \Still, most of my work at Ardent was from outside clients. In 2002 decided it was time to do my own thing and started planning Euphonic Masters, which officially opened in March of 2003...
Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters


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Re: For MEs: What is your background?
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2004, 07:52:19 pm »

I'm not an ME, but can I still tell my story? Very Happy

Played guitar and sang in progressive rock bands in HS.  
Started building and repairing guitars and amplifiers.
Went to university and studied physics.
Minored in music.  
Started a little business building and repairing guitars.  
More progressive rock bands.
Got my BS in physics.
Got married.
Went to work for Alcoa doing materials research.  
Designed and built ultra-high-vacuum research equipment.  
Started a speaker business on the side.  
Went back to graduate school to study for my PhD in physics.  
Designed and built more ultra-high-vacuum research equipment.  
Put down the guitar and began exploring electronic music and recording.  
Kept my speaker business going on the side.  
Marriage fell apart.
Consequently dropped out of graduate school after three and a half years.
Moved west to California to start a new life (clich
Thomas Barefoot
 Barefoot Recording Monitors


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Re: For MEs: What is your background?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2004, 11:36:30 pm »

My background .....(since you asked....)

Well to start with I was raised by a "melomane" (a french word  which as no english equivalent, it's roots are "melo" from melody and "mane" from maniac). Anyhow, having been raised by such a person means, that by the time I entered 1st grade, I was introduced to pretty much all the musical styles that was ever put on records at the time.

To add to this experience, although he wasn't an "audiophile", he had what was by far, the best hi-fi system in the neighbourhood.

I started mixing live shows at 18, a year later I was mixing the best bands in town with the best P.A. available at the time.

I retired from the road in '96 ( nearly 20 years later). The bus bunk life eventually got to me.

Thrue it all I dabled in studios, but never pursued it seriously, until I hooked up with a semi successfull producer. The biggest problem we had was distances, he lived 200 miles away. So I decided to set myself up a "mixing suite", to continue my working relationship with this friend producer.

When I started looking around for mixing work locally the response wasn't very positive, as everyone thinks they can mix their own projects. (sounds familiar?). But almost all those I asked , asked me If I was planning to do any "mastering" as the only shop in town wasn't doing a good job !

Soooooo ........... I did lots research (which includes Brad's forum) and thought I'd give it a try. That was 16 months ago or so. The biggest problem was getting my room "under control". And that as only happended 4 months ago.

Being an ME is only a partime gig for me at this time (my full time gig being  technical director in a softseater). So far, with nothing else then word of mouth, besides multiple demo projects, I have a dozen CDs under my belt, half which got airplay. My investments as paid for itself thus far.

I love this gig. My past serves me well, and I hope this will  eventually develop to  a full time gig.

OFF TOPIC (two things)1- even being at the very bottom end of the totem pole, I get plenty of work taken away from me by kids and their WL crack !!!! As frustrating as it is for me I can just imagine how those of you pros with major investment feel about it all. 2- I too struggle with the volume war but I'm not giving up on making a stand against that stupidity.

Sorry about my long rant, but I figured I might as well give you the big picture then ....... "Hey I bought myself WL and I'm now an ME" !!!!!!!!!  

Denis Paquette


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Re: For MEs: What is your background?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2004, 06:31:11 am »

Started as a musician but always had been interested in technology and audio as well. Started playing professionally in high school and getting some studio experience as a musician, and after deferring acceptance to college, took a year off between high school and college to play full time, do some studio work as a musician, and do some touring. Spent the next 4 years at Berklee pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree as a piano principle and music production and engineering major, still gigging and some freelance engineering.

Interned at a big SSL room for a little while, then spent almost a year part time apprenticing at a mastering studio. Next I moved to Atlanta to accept a staff engineering gig at a post house that used Sonic Solutions. Futher honed my Sonic chops and got valuable experience with surround, sync, and video formats. After about a year there, bought my own Sonic and engineered freelance for a year and did "have DAW, will travel" work doing editing for some well known Atlanta based artists and mastering indie CDs. At this point, with a growing client list, I wrote a business plan, got bank financing and built Atlanta's first dedicated commercial mastering facility. After 3.5 to 4 years as "Atlanta Digital" (about 6 total in ATL), I moved to L.A. where I've been for about 5 years.

So to sum up, it was a pretty standard progression from musician to college to internship to assistant to staff engineer to freelance engineer to studio owner.


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Re: For MEs: What is your background?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2004, 01:14:59 pm »

I have some things in common with barefoot (physics).

Firstly I always felt a deep connection to music- from my very earliest years.  I remember writing to the major labels as a 12 year old asking about work as an RE.

Played sax in school bands in the late 60's/early 70's.

Bought a Gretsch chet atkins for 200 bucks with my paper route $ in 1969-. (I recently saw one on 47th street NYC for $5 grand). Played in a few garage bands of the time.

Studied Physics in college. Got a BS.
Went to work for Xerox in technology / product development. Then I got an MBA & went into product planning then business strategy / planning (still there).

Drifted away from playing music for a decade or two.

My job moved me to tokyo for 5 years in the 90's.
As a result of buying an electric keyboard to allow my daughter to continue study of piano in tokyo ( moving a real piano there wa too much cost/hassle) I got sucked into building a project studio and writing songs.  
(Yeah its a mid-life crisis thing)

7 years later Im still hooked - I do music mainly as a form of recreation/ a hobby.  However, i continue to try and get material placed.

After twenty something years away from it-  i just bought myself a vinatage sax as bday present.  Im diggin readin music again (Amazingly, the eye/brain/hand connections still worked after all these years) - and I'm enjoying working to get my tone back.

My studio has evolved to be fairly capable of decent project-level productions.  
One great pre, a  small but choice variety of mics, an AW4416 for 24 bit recording and a TC finalizer, several instruments /sound sources, a handfull of mid-level effects and comps.

If I could spend all my time on the above it would be great.
On the other hand, if i did so, i might never be able to afford any gear - or food. Hoy  hoy.

Ken Favata
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