Trouble viewing this email? Click here...


- Next EARS meeting at Groove Master Studio...with MOOG !
- Word from the Prez(s)
- EARS collaborates and creates events & panels with
CIMM FEST 2013...
- EARS revisits meetings September thru January in the
- On the road to NAMM with John & Danny Christy
- The LIVE! Corner Examines...
What Went Wrong?
- And MUCH MORE !!!
EARS pirate logo

Volume 28, Number 1-2-3 • January/February/March 2013

(The LJETPRO) Allen-Leake
Danny (The URBAN G) Leake

Principal Photography:
(The Eye) Christy and Danny (The Muse) Christy

Co-Presidents – Reid Hyams & Blaise Barton
Vice President – John Christy
Secretary – Danny Christy
Treasurer – Eric Roth

EARS is proudly sponsored by:

Shure Inc.
GEPCO logo


MOOG at Groove Master recording April 30 2013

Be sure to mark your calender for this fun and educational event...
more info coming soon !

Presidents Blaise Barton & Reid Hyams
Word From the Prez(s)

Greetings Fellow EARS Members & Fans

First, we welcome you to the new year and the EARDrum! We're moving forward as we endeavor to create more great events and meetings for you every month throughout the year, and now you can read about them here in the EARDRUM.

Blaise Barton and myself (Reid Hyams) would like to thank you for your support and voting us in as the Co-Presidents of this great organization, we're honored to serve you. So far, every month has been a great month and we have many new outstanding events / meetings planned for you. We have an excellent Cabinet, the support of dedicated Steering Committee made up of award-winning music professionals and of course you, our esteemed membership.

As you know our past President, Eric Roth, is having serious medical problems and stepped down as President to deal with his health, but has joined us as the Treasurer. He is presently undergoing treatment for cancer at MD Anderson in Houston. Eric has many new hurdles in front of him and it is important that all of us give him a show of moral and spiritual support as his friend throughout these most difficult times. There is a Facebook page titled "Cure Eric - A Benefit for Eric Roth" (, which is an excellent place to visit and show your support. He is truly a remarkable person ~ Kudos to Eric!

EARS has recently ventured into new territory and is now an official member of SPARS (Society of Professional Audio Recording Services); collaborated with the Columbia College's Audio Arts & Acoustics Department, recording all the panels for the city's Chicago Creative Expo, as well as EARS exhibiting there at the Cultural Center; this month EARS has partnered with CIMMfest (Chicago International Movie & Music Festival) on their new annual CIMMcon (conference), where EARS is presenting five great music panels! In addition, EARS is proud to announce the official kick off for the Women in Audio, Music & Media Arts program, starting up in the coming months.

Of special note, the EARS Steering Committee made a decision over the past year to start an EARS academic initiative, known as Modules! EARS is not starting a school, in fact we intend to work with the academic institutions in Chicago and compliment their curriculum using our own award winning / music industry EARS professionals. We're establishing a new mentoring program to students, professionals and enthusiasts alike, with a series of ongoing short workshops, master classes and clinics that are designed to raise the bar by introducing the music / media community to great content. Any person who takes a Module class will be given a one year EARS membership as part of their first class. The CIMMfest panels being presented by EARS is our launching point, a small sampling of Modules ~ welcome to EARS Modules!

Special thanks to SAE Institute Chicago and particularly Bill Smith, James Thomas, Annalise Freytag & Marc McClusky for allowing us to show "Sound City" in their brilliant theater. Special thanks to Marc McClusky and our own Danny Leake for the excellent educational presentation before the movie began!

Well, as everyone is aware, we mourn the passing of our good friend, industry icon and the 1st recipient of the "EARS BLACK DIAMOND HONORARY MEMBER" Award, Phil Ramone. It is with great sadness that Phil Ramone has left us, and at the same time he will never be forgotten. He gave more to the world than he took, and because of Phil Ramone this world is a better place. His music lives on in our hearts, lives and souls to all the world.

Looking forward to another great EARS year and never forget‚ EARS IS FOR YOU, EARS IS ABOUT YOU, EARS IS YOU!!!

Blaise Barton & Reid Hyams

HAPPENING NOW...4/18 - 4/21/2013


*Note: EARS Members and fans can get discounted full 4-day passes to the festival by clicking here and entering SPECIALGUESTS into the promo code area.

The 5th annual CIMM FEST (Chicago International Music & Movies Festival) collaborated with EARS to help create events and panels for this year's festival with the talent and resources of our very own members. CIMM FEST is a four-day showcase of outstanding films, energetic concerts, visually stunning VJ/DJ sets, lively Q&A’s, daring live score performances…anything to show just what movies and music mean to each other.

Each April filmmakers, musicians, and their passionate fans alike, descend upon Wicker Park and Logan Square, two of Chicago’s most eclectic, vibrant neighborhoods. That’s where CIMMfest takes place...the films by day, the live music by night—at theaters, galleries, bars, concert spaces, and some of the city’s most storied venues.

Here are the events and panels created by your fellow EARS members, just a scant few of the many things going on during CIMM Fest: (CLICK on the photos for more info).

EARS MIX-OFF CHALLENGE Saturday, April 20th, 11:30am @ Logan Square Recording Studio
Admission: FREE


THE Playback Party for the EARS Mix-Off Challenge. Here we will play and VOTE on the best mixes from all entries in the 5 different music categories: ROCK, POP, R&B, HIP HOP, and JAZZ. The winner of each category will win some great prizes. We will also vote on the overall best sounding mix and that winner will in addition receive a custom trophy created by artist David Faccini to be presented at the CIMM FEST awards on Sunday evening at 8pm. Event will be moderated by EARS Co-President Blaise Barton.

EARS MIX-OFF CHALLENGE Saturday, April 20th, 3pm @ Logan Theater Lounge
Admission: FREE


Music Licensing...Learn what you need to know about getting your music into film, or getting music into your film. Our panel of experts know the ins and outs of licensing music for TV, film, commercials and more, and will fill you in on the best ways to get the most out of your deal. Panelists include EARS Member Rob Gillis of Waterdog Music and Gillis & Brill Music Management, Dean Anderson of Music + Pictures, Jim Romano of Revolution 9, and Hillel Frankel, CEO of The Entertainment Law Office, PC.

Billy Branch Saturday, April 20th, 8:15pm @ ROSA'S LOUNGE
Admission: With ticket to COREY HARRIS


Grammy-nominated artist Billy Branch leads us on a historic tour of the living heritage that is the Blues. Having worked with legends like Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Albert King and so many others, few are as qualified to perform and talk about this vast history. EARS Co-President Blaise Barton moderates. Branch adds to an already impressive night at Rosa’s with Guy Davis, Corey Harris and a later show with Sugar Blue to follow.

Recording the World Sunday, April 21st, 12pm @ Logan Theater Lounge
Admission: FREE


The very best come together for this informative and interactive live recording and mixing panel. EARS very own Danny Leake, Timothy Powell, and Hudson Fair share their wares and techniques on making top notch live recordings as well entertaining stories and anecdotes from the trenches.

WAX TRAX panel Sunday, April 21st, 2pm @ Logan Theater Lounge
Admission: FREE

Founding members of this ground breaking Industrial record label recount stories and anecdotes during it's heyday with music clips and videos of it's most prominent bands...Discussion will likely include lots of sex, drugs, and Rock n' Roll...Some material presented may not be suitable for younger audiences. Featuring Julia Nash, Chris Connelly, Ken Waagner, Sean Joyce, and Chicago Trax CEO / EARS Co-President Reid Hyams.




Leslie Ann Jones On the heels of its successful PHIL RAMONE, UP Close & Up Front event last spring, EARS hit yet another home run with its September special event entry. SKYWALKING: An Intimate Conversation of Art, Audio & Audacity, featured the iconic Leslie Ann Jones, Director of Music Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm, Ltd. company. ( The multiple Grammy Award-winning audio engineer enthralled more than 150 producers, engineers and students at Columbia College, whose Audio Arts & Acoustics division co-sponsored the event.

Mike Freeman, Leslie Ann Jones, Fran Allen Leake
1) Flanked by EARS’ Michael Freeman & Fran Allen-Leake, Leslie Ann Jones begins fielding audience questions during the Q&A portion of the evening; 2) Attendees listen in rapt attention to the LA Jones discussion onstage at Columbia College.

EARS founding member Michael Freeman and EARDRUM co-editor Fran Allen-Leake, co-moderated the evening that included snippets of Leslie Ann’s best known as well as lesser-known recordings; plus an in- depth discussion on the role of acoustics & recording now and in the future. Affable and engaging, Leslie Ann gave us a glimpse of the recording processes of old, highlights of her storied career, and the oftentimes interesting issues of being a woman in the traditionally male-oriented acoustics world.

Leslie Ann is also past Chair of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Board of Trustees, the organization that awards Grammys. Jones is on the advisory board of Women's Audio Mission, an all-volunteer, women-run organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the recording arts. She also serves on the Recording Arts Advisory Board of Expression College of Digital Arts.

Mary Mazurek SKYWALKING-Leslie-Ann-Michael-Freeman,-Eric-Roth-&-Fran-Allen-Leake
1) Former EARS President (and Columbia instructor) Mary Mazurek pitches a question. Mary is joined by Columbia AA&A chair Pantelis Vassilakis; 2) Leslie Ann with the Black Diamond Award and (left) Michael Freeman, EARS President Eric Roth, and EARDRUM co-editor Fran Allen-Leake.

Leslie Ann Jones was also awarded EARS signature Black Diamond Award. Following the presentation, attendees repaired to The Hilton’s Kitty O’Shea’s for continued discussion and much EARS Cheer!

-LA-Jones-and-Beth-McKay-and-Reid-Hyams John-&-Danny-Christy-with-LA-Jones
1) Beth McKay and Reid Hyams enjoy a moment with Leslie Ann at the after-party; 2) John & Danny Christy sharing a moment with Leslie Ann as well!

Lynn-Orman,-Gary-Kuzminski,-and-Mayne-Stage's-Joe-Prino-and Tim Shoen LA-Jones-with-Reid-Hyams-and-Michael-Freeman Mary-Mazurek-&-Kerry-J-Haps
1) Gary Kuzminski & Lynn Orman with Mayne Stage honcho Joe Prino and Tim Schoen; 2) Reid Hyams, Michael Freeman, & Fran Allen-Leake with Leslie Ann; 3) Past EARS Presidents Mary Mazurek & Kerry J Haps.

Fran Allen-Leake




Electronaut Labs

EARS members had the privilege of spending a fun and educational evening in the laboratory of the ELECTRONAUT COMPANY, the brain child of inventor/audio designer Rob Roy M. Campbell. Tucked away in an industrial Chicago neighborhood, the lab is the birthplace of the handsome meticulously hand built M63 dual channel tube microphone/instrument pre-amplifier.

M63 mic dual mc pre-amp
The M63 dual channel tube mic pre-amp, a real work of art inside and out

Rob Roy is quite knowledgeable about how tubes function in audio circuits and spoke at length on how thermionic emission works, how it was discovered and how influential Chicago was in the development of the tube and audio technology. (Most people don't even know that the vacuum tube was invented right here in Chicago!)

Rob Roy M. Campbell
Rob Roy generously shares his vast knowledge of tube audio design with a rapt and inquisitive EARS audience.

We got to see several of these mic pre's in various stages of assembly on the bench. Each one is hand soldered, wired, assembled and tested at Electronaut. These sturdy units are works of art to look at both inside and out.

M63 assembly
Several M63 chassis and circuit boards in various stages of assembly.

Rob Roy had a surprise for EARS members with an in depth narrated slide show that began with Edison's discovery of "The Edison Effect" and followed the history of many inventors and discoveries culminating in the mass production of tubes by the Westinghouse Company in Chicago's Hawthorne neighborhood. Highlights also touched on Georg Neumann's development of his condensor microphones, still considered some of the the finest mics ever created.

Slide Show
Rob Roy surprised us with a fascinating narrated slide show about the early pioneers of audio design and Chicago's important contributions.

Electronaut Space
1) Electronaut certainly is an eclectic and comfortable space to work and make stuff. 2) Hanging out (literally) with my EARS buds Jeff Frankel & Harry MF Brotman. 3) EARS also conducted Presidential nominations in the large hanger attached to the lab.

Eric, Sam, Valentine, Stranger in costume
1) Eric Roth and Sam Rogers share a cold one. 2) Our friend and Class Clown Valentine Azbelle aping the camera. 3) No one told this guy the halloween party was moved down the hall...

Many thanks to Rob Roy M. Campbell for opening his lab to EARS and generously sharing his knowledge with us...

(Photos by Danny & John Christy)

Blaise Barton
EARS Co-President




Danny Leake Timothy Powell & Danny Leake
1) UGE’s Danny Leake kicking things off for the Mayne Stage audience in a Q & A; 2) “Masters of Live Audio” Timothy Powell & Danny Leake confer just before the beginning of the event.

Our November 2012 meeting was EARS Presents An Evening Of Recording Live At The Mayne Stage ~ An Interactive Event At A Major Music Venue! held at the acoustically and visually pleasing Mayne Stage venue in Rogers Park, and showcased the talents of Danny Leake as he worked Front of House In a unique interactive experience. Danny Leake and Tim Powell lead the evening’s discussion with a very wide spectrum of topics. This event was a great opportunity for both EARS and non-EARS members alike to learn hands-on about what is actually involved in the making of live sound.

With a humble smile, Danny Leake took the microphone and captivated us with a great presentation on his experience as a professional Front of House engineer. He quickly made us aware that there is a lot more depth to being a live engineer. You have to be very versatile, not only in the audio world but also juggling the interpersonal relationships between the band and its representatives, the venue manager, and other engineers.

On the flip side of the microphone, Timothy Powell gave a very animated speech detailing the aspects of remote recording live sound. Tim described in great detail regarding various topics, such as the infamous mobile audio trucks, mic techniques, proximity effect, the detriments of in-ear monitors in the wrong hands, Mic splitters,and a whole slew of other various things. I had lost track of time but was finally brought back to earth when Fran called for the meeting to move on.

Timothy-@-Mayne-Stage Razorhouse-@-Mayne-Stage Danny-Leake-and-Blaise-Barton-@-Mayne-Stage
1) Metro Mobil’s Timothy Powell addresses the enthusiastic audience; 2) Chicago’s Razorhouse takes the MAYNE (stage, that is); 3) Danny Leake (with Blaise Barton) knows what Live Recording is all about!

Chicago's very own Razorhouse closed out the night with some exceptional music. The event had a great turnout and as always, was a great opportunity for networking. I would also like to thank Photographers Rob Benetti, John Christy, and Videographer Vince J Collins for the coverage of this event.

Danny Christy
EARS Secretary






EARS rolled out of 2012 and into 2013 in fine fashion! We presented the 26th Annual Jeff Hamilton Memorial Holiday Party on 12/21/12 at Chicago’s Cafe Iberico with AWESOME fare, great wine and most importantly ~ You! The Audio Stars were out & in alignment for one of the best EARS Holiday bashes EVER!

Holiday Party Collage




Starting the New Year off with YOU – EARS members – specifically in mind, EARS (along with our friends at Chicago Recording Company) held an excellent & a fun night of music revelry, camaraderie, and possible buffoonery with your friends and colleagues as we listened to YOUR music tracks in CRC's expansive studio 4 control room on Tuesday, January 29th! As we bid adieu to the Neve Flyer Faders board of old, it was the first time many of us were to see & hear the Pro Tools controller set-up.

The idea was simple: a track is played and attendees guess who DID it! We got an idea of what turns you on (or off); what you’ve done, how you did it ~ and to some extent, what you are currently working on. A little bit of classical, rock, pop, hip/hop, with Zydeco thrown in for seasoning! The EARS membership is a collective of immensely talented artisans…I could have stayed another few hours just soaking in the wide-ranging variety! WAY TO GO EARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to CRC honchos Chris Shepard & Sarah Hamilton for their continued support!

Big Playback Party Collage 1
The New Pro Tools controller board replacing Studio 4’s Neve console takes pride of place while attendees come forward in “What’s My Line” fashion to discuss their works; Mojo’s Zydeco entry added spice!

Big Playback Party Collage 2
John Hardy and John Christy take a pause; Mary Mazurek has just enough time to discuss a beautiful recording she orchestrated in a cathedral; Anastasia Gasca, Blaise Barton & David Hertaus are all smiles.

Fran Allen-Leake

Food For Thought...

Food For Thought…….An Editor’s Opinion

An Observation…

The other day I received Good news and Bad news:

On the Good news side I mixed a Country/Pop single for a Taylor Swift type artist. The mix came out WONDERFUL! I compared it with Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”, one of my favorites, and they were equal. They both ROCKED! I was pretty proud of myself. (I guess the “old Guy” still has it )

I was busy patting myself on the back when I spotted an old CD I helped mix over 17 years ago. Just for grins I put it on to laugh at how I mixed tracks almost two decades ago…..

The Bad news…….It kicked the ass of both my new mix AND Katy Perry’s track! It had lower lows, more defined mids, Silky top end, more dynamics, it sounded expensive…….and it crushed both of those tracks even at low level. Just about all of the tracks on that CD sounded like that….what happened?

I put my coffee down, poured myself a stiff shot of scotch and tried to figure it out. I didn’t feel it was the “Old Analogue vs Digital” thing. Even though the new tracks were cut on Protools and the old tracks were done 24 track analogue it was mixed to a 44.1K/16bit DAT machine using its own onboard converters, something that a lot of us did back then. (“Old School”, Low Tech). It was mixed at two studios; My old Mindscape Studios with minimal outboard gear and Craig Bauer’s Hinge Studios, the OLD Hinge, with massive amounts of quality outboard gear available, the same monitors (NS10s)……but it didn’t make any difference, it crushed the new mixes. The Music performances were equal on all of the mixes but the older ones just sounded better….what happened?

That’s when it hit me……this CD was recorded in a real recording studio by a “Card Carrying” studio Ace: our own Blaise Barton. I remembered the session; I pulled up the tracks and they were perfect. I spent the bulk of my time Painting the Sonic Picture the Producer and Artist wanted (UGE Motto – “We Paint Pictures with Sound”)….not repairing bad engineering. The Vocals were dynamic, pristine, not over- compressed; the drums were solid and in phase, not mid-rangey and flabby; the percussion was pristine: the pianos and guitars sounded rich. Even the synths had a “thing”.

This CD came out the way it did because of the quality, let me repeat that, the Quality of the recording and the Power of the Music. Don’t get me wrong but I know that a lot of recordings today are self made by Musicians. All well and good but the main problem I have is the adversarial relationship I see threatening to rise up between Musicians, Producers, and Engineers.

At the EARS exhibit of the recent Creative Expo I met an upcoming Producer who complained about “Engineers” changing his stuff or not giving him the sounds he wanted. Reminded me of a gig where the Producer emphatically ordered me not to change the kick. After layering 5 samples on it, he told me it was perfect and not to change a f*cking thing about it. Cool with me, I printed it……then I asked him to “indulge” me; I took his compiled kick and ran it through my Massenburg EQ, an SPL Transient Designer and a touch of an analog DBX 120SDX Subharmonizer. His eyes got as big as teacups as the kick got bigger and bigger….finally I asked, “How does this work for you?” He asked, “Great! How did you do that? It sounds like my kick only bigger!” I told him I make my living manipulating sound. Because of my experience his idea of a cool sound was a little lower than mine. Where he saw a perfect kick I saw a shallow, no vibe kick that sounded like a telephone book screaming to be beaten into shape. I knew he wanted the bigger sound because I listened to what he was really saying to figure out what he really wanted and how I could make it happen for him… other words, I wasn’t the enemy.

Unfortunately I’ve also seen situations where the engineers are not really listening to the Artists or Producers. Because the Artist or Producer hasn’t studied sound they dismiss their desires.

The best projects happen from collaboration….the magic that happens when people work together toward a unified end. Artists who work with Producers and Engineers who are sensitive to the Art they are trying to produce invariably end up making better sounding Music. Producers and Engineers who don’t patronize Artists and listens to what they are actually trying to accomplish invariably make Music that not only sounds good but is better musically.

There is not a lot of collaboration happening in Music today. I’d love to see Musicians, Producers, and Engineers working more closely together again.

Who knows? It could lead to some great Music that sounds Awesome.

Danny Leake

(The preceding opinions are the opinions of Danny Leake and do not necessarily represent the views of The Engineering and Recording Society)

On the road with John & Danny Christy

John and Danny Christie’s Fine Adventure

What follows is a photo log of John and Danny Christy’s adventure touring the Nashville 2012 Summer NAMM show. (The Summer NAMM show was once held in Chicago)

Instead of flying they took the “Old Road Dog bonding” experience of driving. You could say that they followed the paths of the REAL “Road Dogs” in their travels..”Old Dogs” like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson……”On the road again, Oh Yes I’m on the road again”…...(okay, I won’t sing.)

Nashville is TRULY Music City and has quite a few Chicago transplants. People like Bruce Gaitsch (Guitarist Extraordinaire, Madonna) and Justin Niebank (Former Streeterville Recording Ace, Taylor Swift).

NAMM collage 1
They had some interesting observations:
- Nashville summer NAMM is really small compared to winter NAMM in Anaheim, CA.

NAMM collage 2

Danny In Ear Monitors
Danny getting ear molds for In Ear Monitors (IEM)                            A New Young Superstar

guitars / club sign
(This is small??) - Nashville really is Music City. The Broadway Street (Music Row) music district has more live music venues (mostly bars) than anywhere else I've ever been. Every other doorway is an entrance to a place with live music... it goes day and night! 99% of the time the music, bands, singers and musicians are really good. No auto-tune necessary for these performers.

Nashville Bands

more nashville bands

Girls playing live
- As large as Chicago is, we should have 2 or 3 concentrated music districts where live music goes day and night!!! Also, in Nashville even the streets Rock!!
Street musicians

And what would an EARS orientated piece be without the omnipotent studio shot?” Studio Shot

Street Shot
John, Danny and two unidentified friends (Thanks John!) looking for trouble on the streets of Nashville. Homeward Bound
And Homeward Bound!

Photos by John "The Eye" Christy

I'd like to thank John and Danny for sharing their experience with our EARS members.

Danny Leake

AES logo

EARS AES 2012 Photo Log

OK: we know that this is a bit late, but here is a sort of “Travelogue” for the 133rd AES Convention in San Francisco. Your erstwhile EARDRUM Editors attended and enjoyed the conference!

Take a look at what we experienced………..Hope you enjoy it.

Danny Leake, EARDRUM Co-Editor
Fran Allen-Leake, EARDRUM Co-Editor

Everybody loves the “Toy Store” (The Exhibit Floor) but there were other wonderful things like the panels and workshops:
Platinum Engineering w Frank Fillippetti, Ed Cherney, Al Schmitt, Elliott Scheiner, George Massenburg, and Chuck Ainley. The Grammy SoundTable with Ryan Hewitt, Leslie Ann Jones, Dave Pensado, Salaam Remi, and Elliot Scheiner.
Women's Audio Mission
The Women’s Audio Mission Women of Professional Concert Sound Workshop
Including Fran & Danny.

And you can meet & re-connect with some really cool people Danny & friends Danny with Dave Hill of Cranesong……….........…..Frank Fillipetti……….......………..Fellow Chicagoan Ed Cherney

Fran visiting with her old buddy … George Massenburg

John Hardy @AES booth
Our own John Hardy

Dan & Fran at Clast Studio formerly Coast Recorders

And the exciting “Toy Store”
The Slate Controller which is a life sized 50 inch touch screen display

API 1 at AES
The API exhibit

And here are a bunch of misc shots to give you a feel for what it’s like at the AES.
MISC shots

Hope you enjoyed this look at the 2012 AES

The LIVE corner logo

What Went Wrong & Why

Hi folks. This column usually talks about a wonderfully successful show.(“It was a great show”, “The audience was wonderful”, “It was technically arduous but we persevered”, “Blah, Blah, Blah, Yada, Yada”….well this time we’re going to talk about a show that turned into a “Pumpkin”, went down in flames, crashed and burned….and the reasons why….

Have you ever wondered how a pilot with over a thousand hours of flying time forgets to switch to a fuel tank that has fuel in it?....He forgot the rules (“Don’t get overconfident and check your gauges frequently”). Or how the Red Baron managed to get shot and killed by an Australian grunt during WWI?....he forgot the rules (“Never fight at low level and NEVER EVER fly in a straight line for more than ten seconds in a combat zone”). In flying and War to ignore the “rules” means death. In the audio business it means the death of your career or at least intense humiliation. This production was problematic because I didn’t follow my own rules for a successful show. Let’s investigate some of these rules:

1. NEVER take last minute jobs if possible
It’s been my experience that clients will not remember the problems a last minute call will entail. They will only remember the outcome. Also, you will not be able to prepare the way you normally would. I usually advance gigs weeks in advance. In this case I was called 3 days before the “Hit” and I couldn’t make the first two days of rehearsal because of a prior commitment so I was left out of a lot of vital decisions; Console selection and position, PA company and configuration, input lists, musician placements, guest artists, etc….which brings us to rule #2 …
2. The concert sound design is a top to bottom operation with the FOH as the top
The reason is quite simple; if the monitors are broken, the artist has trouble hearing and will be pissed off but can probably get through the show as they did years ago…if the FOH has a “bad day” the audience wants their money back! In this case there were not enough SD7s for monitors and FOH and since I wasn’t there I was left with a lesser console that none of my setups would work on. Because of this they hired a programmer to do a setup and help me deal with it during the show. Unfortunately, even though he had toured Music in his youth he was now a corporate guy and to a corporate guy the podium is God. However, for me the Music and the sound of the room is God so even though I had programmed the console to bring up the Room Graphic EQ when the Graphic button was hit, he programmed the Podium Graphic EQ to come up out of habit. This meant that when I perceived a room problem and hit the graphic to fix it the podium EQ came up instead of the room EQ. This was exacerbated by the cheap metering on the console and the fact that its position meant I had to sit which made its settings even harder to read. (I usually stand)

As the FOH there’s no way I should have ended up with the weak console. And I wouldn’t have if I ha followed my own rules.

Also, there was not enough time after the PA setup to tune the room as extensively as I would have liked. (“Stop! The piano tuner needs silence to tune the piano.”) I found out later the system engineer, without telling me, had reangled the cabinets after what little soundcheck I was able to do so they “washed” they stage. This was problematic during the show.

3. Get the PA company to do a proper and timely line check
In this case the PA company took an inordinately long and inept time wiring the stage. When we finally started the line check we started finding all kinds of incorrect and nonworking inputs. By the time we finally sussed everything out there was barely enough time for a proper soundcheck and no time for a show run through. (It was a TV taping) This caused problems for everyone during the show.

4. NO POSERS! And if they insist on hanging ignore them and do what needs to be done!
A poser is a person who hangs out at the FOH trying to look important. This can include girlfriends, manager types, people who think they’re sound engineers, artist relatives….in fact, ANYONE who isn’t at the console mixing. In this case there was a poser who was supposed to be a sound engineer but was standing slightly behind and to my right side clapping in time with the Music, in fact clapping one inch away from my right ear. Ordinarily I would have turned and punched his lights out or at least called security but there was no security and I was too focused on the show to seriously hurt this guy. Another poser was a TV guy talking about he couldn’t hear the guest violin player during the finale. I listened and turn the violin fader up. Bad move because even though he was playing, he was unfamiliar with the rented gear and had plugged in the wrong hole. When he found what he thought was the right hole he fed back the stage…..while I had his fader up. I, in turn thought it was a vocal mike (There were eight going at the time) I hit the room Graphic, unfortunately it was the Podium Graphic. (See Rule 2) All this while one of the posers was yelling “Hey Man, just turn down the high end”…… I hadn’t thought of that.
5. Never Work When Fatigued!
I am very quick. I put my shows together like military operations….however, I’m not as quick or detailed when fatigued. The base reality is that I would have figured out all of the problems if I had been on my game. Two days of 18+ hour sessions and flight time had me almost completely out of “gas” at the start of the broadcast. (See rule 1)

If not anything else I would have followed my own rules. I had a perfect show up to the feedback but nobody will remember the perfect parts. They will only remember the feedback (See Rule 1)

On my next show (Aretha Franklin at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC) I followed my rules and had a perfect show even though there was an “Oh, by the way” that involved an orchestra. (“There’s an extra 14 string players coming and I know your console only has 48 inputs and is full. Can we make this happen?”)

But, of Course!

Danny Leake


Welcome to the very first EARS Movie Review! (Our chance to play Ebert or Roeper). And, this first review is very special to me.

I’ve worked at a lot of LA studios; some extraordinarily slick and “Hollywood”, some “grassroots”, and some just plain shabby. Sound City was one of the latter. It was dusty, cruddy, made you wonder if you were in the right place until you saw all of the Gold and Platinum records on the wall. Reminded me a lot of Paul Serrano (P.S.) Studios here in Chicago. It had a homespun, family type atmosphere that was seriously conducive to making great Music and, of course, it had a sound….make that Sound with a Capitol S. Some of the biggest Rock acts of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s moved in and made their hits there; groups like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Cheap Trick, Metallica, Nirvana, Pat Benatar Santana, Weezer, The Wallflowers, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slip Knot, Nine Inch Nails……and this is just a partial list.

People who worked there loved Sound City (I did.) and one of those who loved it was Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame. When the studio folded he bought the Neve 8028 console and decided to tell everyone about the Magic that happened there.
The result is the wonderful new documentary, SOUND CITY, directed by Groel and written by Mark Monroe.

He starts out telling the story of his first impressions of the studio when arriving to cut Nirvana’s now Classic Nevermind album. After describing the cultureshock of their arrival he goes into the history of the studio and the history of some of the major acts who recorded there. (Did you know Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were recruited by Mick Fleetwood for Fleetwood Mac on the strength of the first album they cut there? Mick needed a guitar player.) There are wonderful interviews and comments interspersed throughout by some of the greatest Rock musicians on the Planet.

And what interviews! They talk about the utter Joy of coming together to make Music; The power that happens from collaboration, The Magic that happens when a bunch of Musicians get together and play in the same room. That impressed me more than anything else about this film. It describes how that particular kind of Magic started to fall away with the coming of the Digital Revolution.

As much as I loved it I think its maybe 15 minutes too long but I loved the part during the last jam where Dave asks Paul McCartney, “I wish it was always this easy”. McCartney replies, “It is, isn’t it?”

There is a lot of discussion about the Magic Neve in this film. (One of the funniest sequences is the Rupert Neve interview with the Dave Grohl subtitles.) Some of the other film critics seemed to have a problem with this. Maybe they didn’t see the same movie I saw. It was more about the creation of Music than anything else…the Neve was just a small part of it.

I cannot recommend this documentary enough for anyone who loves Music and the making of it so download it or order it, plug your player into a serious playback system and ROCK ON!

Postscript - I do know how Dave feels about that console. Here in Chicago Universal Recording had an 80’s Series Neve in Studio A. I wrote in an EARDRUM article about finding my beloved console at The Village Recorders in Hollywood. Back in 1982 after a 20 hour marathon session I set up a camera shot across the Neve at 4am. 20 years later I set up that same shot at The Village.
Neve console at Universal 1982 and Village 2002
Universal Studio A, 4am 1982 The Village Recorders, 4pm 2002
Danny Leake



Mike Freeman & Terminus Control Room
Our very own Michael Freeman seems to be living on planes these days. The EARS founding member and Grammy-award winning producer/engineer is now Managing Director of Terminus Recording Studios – a gorgeous facility -- in mid-town Manhattan. For more info, check out the following here: motion-terminus-recording-studios-arrives-atop-723-7th-avenue/

Additionally, Michael is in studio (in Austin) with The Peterson Brothers, 14- and 16-year-old siblings from Bastrop, Texas. By all accounts, these youngsters are the “real deal.” Get ready for some amazing sounds from the “Lost Pines” brothers with two hearts and one sound.
Let’s see: Living in Illinois … doing biz in NYC … recording in Austin. Work it Mike!

Mike Kolar & Karl Tatz

Mike Kolar of Soundscape Recording has upgraded his control room A with a Phantom Focus System (PFS) designed by Carl Tatz of Carl Tatz Design in Nashville. A sweet sounding setup.
Check It Out!

Fran-Allen-Leake-&-Lynn-Orman LJET Productions’ Fran Allen-Leake and Orman Music Group’s Lynn Orman are at it again! Fresh off a successful Election Night Event @ the Mayne Stage with the CHICAGO BLUES MAMAS, the pair jetted to NYC in January for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) convention, where they showcased 2 of the Mamas – Hollee Thee Maxwell and Nellie Tiger Travis. Fran also handled compilation production/editing of the Blues Mamas for Obama CD, while Lynn worked on the same-titled DVD. Stay tuned for more Chicago Blues Mamas offerings locally and abroad in the months to come.


Danny Leake’s Urban Guerrilla Engineers added JOY (artist: Ryan McDermott) to its roster of mastered track’s for Craig Bauer’s Hinge Studio. Other recent projects include Matthew Ryan’s STIL, a new album for R&B’s Otis Clay, and LIVE mixing for Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin @ Constitution Hall and Stevie Wonder at the recent Presidential Inaugural Ball in D.C.!


August 7, 1937 – February 21, 2013

RIP Magic Slim Magic Slim (aka Morris Holt) ... was one of the last purveyors of electric Chicago blues who was there when the infamous South Side clubs were still rockin' and the blues luminaries were still defining the genre. Slim's contribution to the blues, infusing his Mississippi country blues roots with a gritty urban electric sound solidifies Magic Slim's place as a legend in his own right.

Click here to see Slim in action...

Since his days playing bass for his boyhood friend Magic Sam back in the late 50’s, to forming the Teardrops in 1967 with his brothers Nick and Douglas (Lee Baby) on bass and drums, to making a name for himself across the US and Europe in the 70’s, Slim has been one of the toughest players around. Magic Slim has won multiple WC Handy/BMA awards and recorded for Alligator, Blind Pig, Wolf, and various other record labels. He was touring Europe right up to the end at age 75 and is probably still touring strong somewhere out there.....

-Blaise Barton

Magnifying Glass We Want to Know…

What have you been working on lately (and with whom?!) Do you have an idea for an article in an upcoming EARDRUM? How about lending a hand on our Events or Public Outreach Committees? Do you have a tech tip? How about an idea for an EARS event? Don’t be shy… contact us:

Fran Allen-Leake, LJet Productons – 312.405.4335 or e-mail

Danny Leake, Urban Guerrilla Engineers –312.310.0475 or e-mail eardrum.editor@ears-

Check out our FACEBOOK page(s)

And Log on to the New & Interactive EARS Website!!

ears microphone logo

To stop receiving stuff like this from EARS click here