Hey, we've never covered any studios in the Minneapolis area, so here we go. Plus, usual interviews seem to take the format of history and projects done; this one covers some lively and useful topics on mastering, gear, technicians and such. The cast of characters are: Jason Orris, formerly of the band Polara, now with The Hot Brian Hanna, formerly of the band The Hang Ups, now with The Hot Dave Gardner, formerly of AMREP studios, now with the Selby Tigers Dave also writes a cool column on DIY audio for Punk Planet magazine.
How many electrolytic capacitors does it take to recap a Neve 8128?
JASON: Approximately 8000. Including de-soldering that's 32000 soldering joints.
BRIAN: And that doesn't include 4 resistors per channel, 3 regulators per channel, so that's 9 more solder joints per channel. Did we replace all of the monitor card regulators?
JASON: Oh yeah, all of them. (Jason grabs a calculator) 32576 soldering joints give or take a few. It would have made lesser engi- neers mad.
BRIAN: I don't even want to think about how many chips we wound up swapping and changing and putting back in.
When you are testing caps and doing critical listening is there an audible difference in sound or performance between manufacturers or is a capacitor a capacitor?
JASON: Yes and no, the first guy who came up here left us in such a great state of disrepair that our board sounded like fucking crap.
BRIAN: He will remain nameless.
JASON: It was 2db down at 40 Hz, 15 dB down at 10 Hz and 30 dB down at 15K. The thing sounded like fucking crap, we went through and did critical listening of each of the components and picked one channel and recorded kick, snare, cymbals, and electric guitar. We with Steven Laisi of Tachyon-Neve expert just evaluated each time, each change and just built it up to the point where it sounds godly again.
DAVE: The important lesson that we all learned is that, when it comes to technicians, really smart people are not small and defensive, and that really smart qualified technicians are willing to answer your questions. They do not try to use fear as a tactic. They're able to communicate clearly what's going on, and are realistic about the time frame. And they are special people like Dave Dretlaw. I think the most important thing, the thing that has impacted me the most is the tech that thinks he completely knows what he is doing in all situations — this is the guy you should not have working with your stuff, because he will wreck it.
J: And freely admit that they don't know everything.
B: The important thing you need to know about a tech is that he's got to be a cool person you want to hang out with, because you are spend- ing a month with this person and if you have nothing in common and can't get along...
D: With a number of techs I've interacted with, if they approach it saying they have the answers and that there are simple solutions, those are the ones who, magically, things don't show up in the mail, nothing quite works right, it's a pattern that I see.
That must be Dave Dretlaw working on the board right now.
J: Yeah, he owns a sound company called Barclay Audio out of Northfeild, Minnesota. He is really the only game in town. The only tech that can be faced with any problem and pretty much fix anything.
D: Dave has saved all of our lives on a number of occasions in a number of ways and in a number of different places.
J: It's so important to have someone like that around because there are so many components n the signal chain and things are going to break down. You've got to just keep the shit fixed.
D: Contemporary recording equipment is, for the most part, disposable and so you're com- pletely reliant on people like Dave to contin- ue to work on what is essentially obsolete technology. It's basically radio and television technology from the '40s and '50s.
J: I was just talking to a guy that was a high level Neve guy and he was explaining that there was planned obsolescence. They want it around for 5 to 7 years; you throw it away and buy whatever is new.
D: Hence Digidesign's willingness to give you a thousand dollars for your ADAT towards a Pro Tools system. I think certainly the best lesson I've learned is that there's a lot to know and there's a lot more you should know.
J: The sad state of affairs is: How do people come up with the money to get...