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In this episode of Sound Design Live I talk with Robert Scovill about the importance of good training, subjectivity vs objectivity, the dangers of becoming tribal around a brand, and how to earn the respect of John Cougar Mellancamp and Prince with excellent relationship management. I ask:
- How did you get your first job in audio?
- In 1985, you were 24 years old and you learned that there was an opening in the monitor engineer position on the John Cougar Mellencamp tour. You write: “I was certain that this was my shot. I lobbied VERY hard for that position.What does lobby very hard mean? What exactly were you doing to try to get the job?” You did end up getting that job, but then lost it. What happened?
- After you lost the job you had a very difficult decision to make: go home or attempt to stay in a place where you had just been rejected. I think most people would not have given it a second thought. Losing the job means you go home. But you saw an opportunity here. Take us to that moment in your life. Describe what was happening and what was going on in your head.
- One of the most helpful pieces of advice you give in the book is: If you want to be a FOH mixer, build relationships with artists. If you want to be a monitor mixer or systems technician, build relationships with sound companies. Tell me more about this. It sounds like maybe the artist wants to choose the FOH engineer, but not the monitor engineer and system tech. Is that correct?
- I want to talk about how you like to set up your mix console. You have an excellent training video online called Console Management & Live Mixing and in it you describe the signal flow of a typical input going from the preamp to Preamp saturation emulation to tape compression to EQ and then all of your channels go into groups before they hit the master bus. Is that correct?
- What’s wrong with setting all of my mic preamps in such a way that all of my channel faders will sit at 0dB?
- What outputs do you send to the PA? Subs on an aux?
- What’s in your work bag?
- What is one book that has been helpful to you?
Can you learn it all on the job? You can, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.Robert Scovill
- All music in this podcast by François Leclerc.
- Robert’s workbag: Headphones – Shure 840, polarity checker –
- Console Management and Live Mixing
- Robert’s “sometimes applicable” process for aligning front-fills:
- Send test signal to the drum-fill.
- Time align at first row so that the front-fills match the drum-fill.
- Time align matrix sends from console subgroups to front-fills so that all instruments arrive with drum-fill.
- Books: The Revenge of Analog, The Perfectionist
- Can you learn it all on the job? You can, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. It’s the slowest hardest path. Find the people to get quality insight from and find good work to do. It’s a real challenge for our industry right now.
- The technology has outpaced the user group, especially in this IP based world.
- The thing that I fight so many times with younger guys or fresh guys is confusing subjectivity with absolute truths.
- I’m so tired of this: Just use your ears! Well, I do use my ears. I just also use science to back up what I believe.
- It doesn’t serve anyone for all of the users to become tribal.
- All of a sudden I became keenly aware of that relational aspect to the job and I was watching like a hawk and learning every time I watched someone interact with an artist.
- If you’re on the list of mixers who have been fired by Prince, you’re on a pretty elite list.
- We have the terrible tendency to try to provide you with a silver bullet. If you use this, you’ll have the analog sound. No. If you go back and look at what caused that sound with analog, it’s a lot of things. Not just one thing.
- It’s important to understand where line level is on your [consoles’ input].
- I like to keep the faders between +6 and -10 because that is the highest resolution of the fader.
- My LR buss is only band. My vocal bus goes directly to the matrix. This allows me to tonally and dynamically address that music mix without ever affecting gain before feedback on the vocal.
- If you’re gonna be the mixer, you should also be the system tuner.