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In this episode of Sound Design Live I talk with Kenneth ‘Pooch’ Van Druten, the FOH sound engineer for Linkin Park, Alice and Chains, Kid Rock, and System of a Down. We discuss:
- How Van Druten got his first job in audio.
- The number one skill that gets him in the door for every job.
- The value of microphone placement.
- Why speaker coverage is important beyond anything else.
- How to set gates using side-chains and virtual sound check.
- Results and trends from Van Druten’s annual hearing health check.
- Mixing monitors for Pantera.
- Van Druten’s SPL strategy for Linkin Park.
- How Van Druten managed to record and mix every Linkin Park show for two years solid.
- Whether mixing live show recordings is a viable second income stream?
- Good plugins for vocals.
Details from the podcast:
- All music by Linkin Park
- Van Druten on Twitter and Facebook
- Linkin Park community forum
- Berkelee College of Music in Boston
- SMAART school
- RTA = real time analyzer
- Interview with John Huntington
- Waves Max Volume plugin, Waves 1176 compresser
- Miles Kennedy
- LEQ = a single decibel value which takes into account the total sound energy over the period of time of interest
- “One of the things that you have to do to break into this industry is be willing to do anything.”
- “Often someone will ask me, ‘How’d you do that?’ And I’ll say, ‘I have no idea.'”
- “I worked with an engineer that made me spend an entire day moving an SM57 microphone centimeters around a guitar amp.”
- “The only kind of relationship I can have with an artist is an honest one.”
- “Being a great system engineer is a different skill set than the one I have.”
- “Coverage is important beyond anything else.”
- “The entire drum kit is an instrument. Not just the tom or the snare.”
- “There are situations when you just can’t win.”
- “I listen to 200 shows a year. It’s important to me not to listen to those at 106dB A-weighted.”
- “You mix at 100dB? That doesn’t mean anything.”
- “I don’t know if you’ve measured crowds recently. At a Linkin Park show, if there are 11 songs, there are 11 times where it goes to 107 dB A-weighted no problem.”
- “I feel responsible not only for my own hearing, but for the hearing of people that come to my shows.”
- Don’t wait till after college to get an internship. Van Druten started as a studio intern at a local recording studio when he entered school and by the time he graduated he was the head engineer.
- Learn social intelligence and empathy (i.e., how to talk to crazy people) because you have to be able to get along with them before you can get the job.
- Mic placement is important. Time spent learning it now will benefit you for the rest of your career.
- People can sniff bullshit, don’t just say what you think people want you to hear. In a world of yes-men, you can be remarkable by being honest.
- When talking to artists about making changes, remind them of the big picture of production quality.
- Be precise and referential when talking sound level. E.g., “I mix at 102dB SPL A-weighted 10min LEQ at FOH 100ft from the downstage edge.”
- The audience at a loud rock concert like Linkin Park can be louder than the show itself.
- Mixing the live shows of the band you are working with is fun, but you won’t make much more money and it is a lot more work than you expect it to be.