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- Word from the Prez: The Final Word
- DOUBLE REWIND: Dr. Pantelis Vassilakis at Shure AND Industry Panel event at Smart Bar
- Message from Presidential Candidate Eric Roth
- EARS Book Club reviews "Starting Over"
- APP WORLD...iPhone Audio App Reviews
- And more EARS in the news...

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

Principal Photography:
(The Eye) Christy

Volume 26, Number 11 • November, 2011

President – Blaise Barton
Vice President – Reid Hyams
Secretary – Bob Vodick
Treasurer – Eric Roth







Co-Sponsored By
Vintage King Logo

(Click here for more event details...)

For those who couldn't make it to the 2011 AES Convention last month in New York City, we have a special treat for YOU!! EARS and co-sponsor Vintage King will host a showcase of select products that were featured at the AES show. Chicago's local Vintage King Rep and fellow EARS member Jeff Leibovich will be on hand to help out and answer any questions about the gear. We invite you to bring a hard drive with your own multi-tracks and come twist some knobs and bang the board at this fun and informative event.
Strobe Recording is a full-service audio and video facility offering several acoustically treated recording rooms, world-class equipment and mics. Pro gear includes one of the few analog Studer 24 track tape machines in the midwest, running through a vintage and recently refurbished Neotek Series III console. Professional and comfortable offering the best sound engineers in Chicago.

Selected artists perform monthly in front of a seated audience as part of the exclusive 'Strobe Sessions' the last Thursday of every month.

Discounted recording packages available, book by 12-31-11: rates

You can friend them on FaceBook at


- This event is open to EARS Members and non-members alike.
- Light fare and adult beverages will be served compliments of EARS and Vintage King.
- ALL EARS memberships renewed as of this October 25th. We hope you will consider joining or renewing your membership. EARS representatives will be on hand to help. You can also join or renew anytime by clicking here.
- If are a new member and you joined after April 26th 2011 then your membership is good through October of 2012.

Many special thanks to Jeff Leibovich and Shevy at Vintage King and Angie Mead
and Jamie Wagner at STROBE RECORDING for co-sponsoring this event with EARS.

EARS is proudly sponsored by

Shure Logo      Vintage King Logo 

A Word From the Prez...

Greetings to you, my fellow audio professionals and enthusiasts,
It has been my great pleasure to serve as President of this incredible organization over the last two years... This has been and will continue to be a project of collaboration that begins and ends with members like YOU! EARS is not an exclusive club, nor does it serve an elite few... rather EARS is an open forum that exists only to serve its community, and for each individual, there is much to be gained merely by attending a handful of meetings each year.

Sadly, this will serve as the last "Word" you will receive from me as President and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed the programming and agenda this administration has conceived and executed over the last two years. It certainly has been a fun ride and I look forward to assisting the next administration in the transition.

I look forward to seeing you all at many meetings in the future.

Best wishes and warm Regards,

Blaise Barton


EARS PResidential Election 2011
EARS Pirate

We're in the final round to elect EARS next president and so far current treasurer ERIC ROTH is running unopposed. At the start of our event on Tuesday 11/29/2011, we will once again invite members to nominate candidates. Then we will briefly open the floor to nominees to hear from these candidates and their proposed platform. Immediatley following, the voting will take place via ballots. If no other candidates are nominated, Eric will be elected via a simple "Aye". Remember that:

- Both the nominator and the nominee must be a member of EARS with dues up to date and must be present and...

- To vote, you must be a member of EARS.

Eric Roth A Message from Presidential Candidate:
Eric Roth

Dear Members and friends,

I am humbled and honored to have been nominated to be the next President of EARS. Since 1999 when I first joined the group, EARS has always been for me a true source of camaraderie, friendship and knowledge. No other group of which I have been a member or know of has given me the opportunity to meet and get to know on a regular basis, talented and highly skilled working professionals in the industry. To be on familiar terms with relevant industry professionals and to have access to world-class facilities as diverse as Shure Inc., Chicago Recording Company, and Specimen on an ongoing basis, is a source of inspiration. It is for these reasons that I take with complete seriousness the opportunity to serve the membership.

It is my vision to make every effort to enhance and create a greater sense of community among recording professionals in Chicago, and in so doing, make Chicago a solid alternative destination.

To improve upon the already tremendous intrinsic value of the present EARS membership:

- I plan to actively pursue the creation of a group health insurance program exclusive to EARS members and their families.

- I plan to implement a comprehensive directory of EARS member services available to the general public on the EARS website.

- I plan to elevate EARS public profile through a variety of new initiatives including, but not limited to, a new 501(c) 3 “EARS Foundation” which will enable EARS to discreetly and more effectively pursue a certain public outreach agenda, (just one example: a Charity Roast). The creation of the foundation will also qualify the organization for an entire new tier of grants, donations, and contributions which heretofore we were not eligible.

- I’m organizing (and welcome your help) a historical exhibit highlighting the unique role of Chicago in the evolution of the craft of professional audio. Shure, Inc., Universal Audio, John Hardy, Neotek, Bag End, Steve Albini, and many many others who we count among our friends and colleagues – to mention just a handful of the innovators whose work has helped put Chicago on the map.

These are some of the ideas I hope to implement this year in addition to continuing the forward momentum we have seen in Blaise Barton's administration over the last 2 years. Blaise's visionary leadership has resulted in significant growth of our monthly meetings, events and industry visibility and has given the new president a wonderful launching pad from which the course of EARS will continue to be charted.

I want you to know that as President, I have an open-door policy and welcome your ideas, energy and enthusiasm. By all means seek me out if you would like to help with any of the projects that I mentioned above, or if you want to share your feedback or have ideas to enhance EARS. I will be seeking you out as well. During the day, I am a busy person, but feel free to email me at, and I will do my best to get back to you in a timely manner.

Thank you very much for your support. Eric Roth

EARS wants YOU as a member!

Dear Fellow EARS members,

Renewals for the 2011-2012 membership have been slow. Won't you please take a moment to renew your annual membership with EARS? Over 70% of our annual budget comes from YOUR PARTICIPATION and unless you did so recently, we could really use your help. It's easy to join, click the big red button below to join online OR you can join at the next meeting/event when you arrive. If you are unsure of your membership status, email us at Thanks from EARS and look forward to seeing you at a future EARS event!

Join/ Renew EARS button

Remember, ALL EARS memberships renew as of October 25th 2011. If are a new member and you joined after April 26th 2011 then your membership is good through October of 2012.


   PART 1

SHURE HQ Scott-Tim-Danny-Craig-Reid EARS President Blaise Barton
1) SHURE's HQ in Niles IL, home of the S.N. Shure Theater.
2) EARS members Scott Smith, Timothy Powell, Danny Christy, Craig Harding, and V.P. Reid Hyams meet in the lobby.
3) EARS El presidente Blaise Barton opens the floor for Presidential nominees and makes an introduction for
Dr. Vassilakis.

Dr. Pantelis Vassilakis treated EARS to a wonderful and very informative presentation entitled "What is really wrong with data compressed audio?"

At the start of the meeting EARS president Blaise Barton opened the floor to any potential nominations for the next President of EARS. Members David Moss and Timothy Powell, both wanting to be the person to nominate Eric Roth decided to utter the words "I nominate Eric Roth for President" together at the same time. Eric was the only nominee that evening.

Shortly after, Pantelis took the stage. His presentation focused on the methods that are used to achieve data compression and a background on how it works. He spoke on other related topics dealing with how the human ear functions and how the brain interprets sound and music. Dr. Vassilakis considers the digital format to be quite good, but the long term effects of listening exclusively to data compressed audio (i.e. mp3's) has a negative effect on the experience of listening to music by degrading the ability to detect subtle nuances and micro variations in tone.

Pantelis at the Screen Pantelis Demonstrating Pantelis at the board
Pantelis' in-depth program included a very detailed Power-Point presentation with real world examples.

There was a plethora of technical and acoustic theories discussed, far too much to list here in this article. Fortunately, a video of the event will be made available on-line to EARS members. Pantelis demonstrated many concepts using a very detailed power point presentation. A Q&A discussion followed with the 40 plus members in attendance. After a brilliant meeting, EARS joined Pantelis and Shure's Dean Giavaris next door at the Brick House for some further discussion of things not relating to acoustics.

A special EARS thanks to Dr. Vassilakis for this wonderful presentation and to Shure and theater manager Dean Giavaris for once again opening the beautiful Shure Theater to EARS.

Blaise Barton

Pantelis Power Point screen Pantelis Power Point screen Pantelis Power Point screen

EARS members in attendance Rich, Larry, Sam, Kerry Reverie at Brick House
1) EARS members mesmerized by a fascinating program.
2) Fellow EARS members Rich Martens, Chicago NARAS Chapter President Larry Sturm, Sweetwater's Sam Rogers,
and Chicago AES chair Kerry J. Haps
3) After the meeting, Pantelis and EARS slid over next door to BRICK HOUSE for some suds.


   PART 2

Mics on Chairs
EARS was extremely honored and enthusiastically excited on this Tuesday evening of October 25th to welcome this dynamic group of hard-working music industry experts and icons to the Smart Bar, for our round table / music industry panel discussion: “Perspectives on the Music Industry – Past, Present & Future!” – certainly a topic that could and did go in many different directions.

Panelists graciously took time off from their insanely busy schedules to spend an evening sharing brilliant insights with EARS members and all of our guests.

Round Table Panel
Left to right, Bruce Iglauer, Greg Kot, Frankie Hill, Gary Kuzminski, and Martin Atkins

This select group consisted of Martin Atkins (World renown musician, owner & producer of the highly acclaimed alternative music label “Invisible Records” & author of “Tour: Smart”), Hillel Frankel (Grammy nominated musician, entertainment attorney, and president of NoVo Artists Management and Publicity), Bruce Iglauer (Founder, owner and producer of the Blues Legacy Label “Alligator Records”), Greg Kot (Chicago Tribune music critic, co-host of the nationally syndicated NPR ‘rock’n roll’ radio talk show “Sound Opinions” and author of “Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music”) and Gary “JaGoFF" Kuzminski (Artist, activist, musician and documentary film maker – launching a highly successful guerrilla campaign against the Chicago Promoters' Ordinance & faculty member at Columbia College).

EARS President Blaise BartonEARS President Blaise Barton moderated the round table / panel discussion and as always, his insight and professionalism were exceptional. The panel was very informative and gave everyone thought-provoking insight as to where the music business has been, how we ended up on this crazy roller coaster and at the same time explored their unique perspectives, ideas, and predictions as to where we’re ultimately headed. They did not let us down, but without a doubt… left us begging for more!

Moderator Blaise Barton started the evening out by jumping right into the thick of things, starting with Bruce Iglauer asking a key question:

‘Given the history of record sales which you are quite familiar with having been in the business for the last 40 years plus, which is quite incredible – how has the current trends of selling records changed in the last few decades?’

Bruce IglauerBruce Iglauer immediately stated that sales have been similar as the first go around with the Titanic! Citing 1999 as being the specific year for the start of record sale declines. Sales in today’s world are around 50% of what they were just a little over ten years ago. Iglauer also stated that stores have eliminated the sales of music product and while video product is still up, it is on its way down. Consumers have migrated to streaming and digital download services. The results of this may not be obvious to the consumer, however despite the increase in streaming and digital downloads, revenues have sharply declined and are in concert with the decrease in sales at 50% as stated above. Other members of the panel concurred with these facts. Billboard, the music industry sales barometer, has shown beyond a reasonable doubt using Nielsen’s SoundScan, that these numbers are correct.

Barton then moved on with a question specifically relating to the content in Greg Kot’s book “Ripped” on P2P (Peer to Peer) file sharing:

‘How did the phenomena of illegal downloading come to fruition, something we all have to deal with, and why has it become so easy for people to steal music? How and why does it continue?’

Greg KotGreg Kot is most knowledgeable about this subject, as are many other industry pros, particularly the ones on this panel. There is not one single-simple answer to this question. Some insights that Kot shared with us include that this is an essential function of the Internet and what the Internet was created for, the [legal] sharing / trading of knowledge and information… often Intellectual Property. This so called phenomena of illegal file sharing has to be dealt with and a balance needs to be created in order for the arts to exist. This has become a real issue that this generation and future generations are going to have to deal with and figure out.

The general population is often not aware that what they consider to be a simple trade or a free download is not free or legal… if nothing else they don’t want to admit it. Behind every piece of music being stolen and shared, there exist a group of people and businesses that need to be paid for what they do. The record company, artist, engineer, producer, recording studio, publisher and many others that are part of this food chain and all of them consist of people who have families to feed. Simply put, this translates into the difference between the well being of the people creating these works of art, and the well being of the economy of this country and the world.

Many who are doing this do not even consider whether the property being taken is copyrighted or in the public domain. One could easily venture to say, a large number do not know the difference. What is also alarming and often not considered is that anything that can be transformed from a physical property to a digital property is subject to Internet piracy and P2P file sharing. In recent years, we’ve seen this moving into other major media markets, including, but not limited to the film, book, newspaper and magazine industries. As Greg Kot pointed out at one point during the panel, education is a key factor to fixing this problem. A large portion of the population has no concept that what they’re doing is theft, they understand the Internet as being a no man’s land of free… it is not.

Ultimately in the end, if the people creating art cannot make a living doing so, there will be no art. Along with this somewhat alarming / speculative statement there are definitely real problems that go with it. These are facts that exist and have already affected everyone in the music industry. Countless people have lost their jobs, careers and businesses because they were in an industry that could not support the need for what they were doing. With the sales of recorded music being cut in half over the last ten years, we’ve seen a large number of recording studios close their doors. Major record labels have been going by the wayside for many years, and although most of us agree that their business ethics didn’t exist and they needed a complete change of priority, known as taking care of their artists not their fat wallets, the results were the same ~ people were put out of work.

Record stores for all practical purposes do not exist. If you want to “legally” buy music the options are very limited. You either go to a Best Buy, Barnes & Noble or one of your local major chain stores, such as Walmart. The only problem with this is that the selections are limited, catalog is almost non-existent, certain genres are either excluded and or censored, and quite frankly none of these places are in the business of selling music …and shortly many of them will not. The other option is to buy Online. Hard copy sales of music product at Amazon works and they often carry a large catalog of product – real quality product. But, you can’t test the waters, touch the package or even hear the music before you buy it. There’s something missing in that equation and all of us record buying music junkies know what it is. The fun and excitement of finding something new, holding it in your hand and then running home to put it on your system with instant euphoria, doesn’t exist.

At the same time, we have Apple’s iTunes and other Online music stores that allow you to download music immediately to your computer and or whatever device you have that has Internet access, such as your tablet, smart phone or any device that has Internet access and a storage medium that’s part of it. The problem with this is most obvious for all of us audio freaks, We’re being forced to download inferior audio, known as lossy audio in the form of MP3 data files that are a far cry from the way music should sound vs. the high end recordings that we spent days, weeks and months perfecting in our studios creating superior audio productions. We live in the digital world, which is 3 part of what is commonly referred to as the “digital generation” and instant gratification and the ability to walk around with thousands of music tracks on a device no larger than a box of cigarettes (not that any of us smoke), far outweighs the benefits to the new generation seeking immediate enjoyment in a world where everything is disposable, and if not disposable it certainly fits in your shirt pocket! What is most interesting about this phenomenon is that it has spread across many generations and what once deemed the “digital generation” now includes the “baby boomers” and many others.

As much as these new trends have hurt the music industry and other related media based industries, fortunately times are changing, and we’re emerging with new technologies. Technologies that will allow for great sounding audio in a little packet will be available sooner than you think. Higher Internet speeds are being tested as this is being written, while storage devices, particularly Flash is becoming capable of storing hundreds of gigs in a format the size of a standard SD card. If you can think it, it will happen… remember hearing about the days when people thought we’d never travel in space, well we do.

Presently, we have new revenue sources to compensate for what has been lost to Internet piracy and P2P file sharing that are being driven by the imagination and innovation in the artistic domain. Although this is not moving as fast as we’d like, it is moving in a good direction. As Martin Atkins pointed out, and all the panelists agreed, in today’s world we need to innovate and create new revenue streams. One example that has nothing to do with the music industry, but everything to do with creating new revenue sources is that Gas Stations do not make their money selling gas anymore. Every gas station is tied to a convenient store that houses numerous items that people want and need. Cross-pollination of gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants is common. The only constant is change and we need to learn how to deal with it through innovation and creating new revenue streams… and not just a few, but many different revenue streams!

Gary KuzminskiGary “JaGoFF” Kuzminski not only concurred, he emphasized the point that the paradigm of free can be good and often leads to opening the doors to new revenue sources. According to Atkins, studies have shown that for every free download or CD given out, one of the same is purchased along with other items known as merchandise. These include T-Shirts, videos and even coffee mugs. One of the most important revenue sources is playing live and touring, which generates monies not only from ticket sales, but works extremely well with merchandising.

Martin AtkinsAtkins’ book “Tour: Smart” dives directly into what artists can do to make a living playing music. What is most interesting is that although this book was written for the touring artist, the methodologies used can be applied to many other concentrations, as long as the individual develops and applies creative entrepreneurial skills. What is most applicable to state is the only constant is change, and in today’s world one must be prepared to go with the changes and make them work.

Of course, as good as this may sound, there is another side to this. Iglauer brought up an excellent point: in order to capitalize on the free goods using additional revenue streams, they need to exist for the individual artist and many do not. One example is the artist that cannot tour and has no merchandise to sell. Not every artist out there is physically capable or wants to tour. Many entering the music industry were drawn in as artists who love making music, and are not business oriented, do not sell merchandise… they make music. These are some of the people that these new paradigms do not work for and need to be considered when discussing “free.”

Frankie Hill In light of that, Hillel Frankel brought to the attention of everyone, the Performance Rights Act, known as the PRA. Under previous law, the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act, sound recordings have a limited public performance right in digital transmissions, such as Webcasting, creating royalties for the musicians’ performance being transmitted. There are other revenue sources for musicians that have existed for quite some time, such as performance and mechanical royalties paid to the publishers / writers. This new bill would expand the performance right to cover terrestrial broadcasts, such as AM/FM radio. The PRA, would create a royalty for music played on terrestrial broadcasts, allowing for the musicians who played on the sound recording to be compensated with royalties when they previously never were. This is certainly a step in the right direction and one that is long past due. This was a brilliant panel and a milestone event put on by EARS. Stating that each of these gentlemen is a self-starter and out-spoken proponent of the music industry is clearly understated. Each individual brought to the table an amazing level of focus, expertise and together, represented a broad perspective of the issues facing our industry ~ without a doubt.

Bruce Iglauer Greg Kot Frankie Hill Gary JagOFF Kuzminski Martin Atkins
A note from the writer: This panel went for close to two hours and this article is only touching the surface of what was put on the table and discussed, not to mention the elaborations. This was an excellent evening and it is not possible to extend this article any further. The good news is that shortly, EARS will be creating an Archive of all of our events for our members to view on our upcoming website. Hang tight!

To view a more in-depth bio for each of our panelists, click here
Panelist Group Shot
Many special thanks to Joe Shanahan and Stacy Marquardt at the METRO/SMARTBAR for opening your brilliant - legendary music venue and club to EARS. An additional thank you to Smart Bar Manager Lenny Lacon, Assistant Music Manager Kyle Woods and the entire Smart Bar staff for making this event go flawlessly – you are truly pros!

Of special note… the Smart Bar hosted the after-services going away party for EARS Founder Michael Rasfeld in 1989.

Reid Hyams
EARS Vice President

App World iPhone Audio App Reviews

Last month my Blackberry Storm finally died. I got a Storm because my carrier didn’t handle Apple IPhones. Well that changed this year. I replaced the Storm with an Apple IPhone4GS. I had heard that there were some pretty cool audio programs out there so I thought I’d try a couple and see what was to them.

One of the first I checked out was the Backine DDP by Audiofile Engineering ($2.99). This app enables you to be able to examine and play DDP image files (Disc Description Protocol). The DDP Image is a more robust master that can be delivered over the Internet with all spacings, IRSC codes, and CD Text intact unlike a regular CDR master. A DDP can only be played with specialized software. I have a $3000 program on one tower and a $1000 one on the other tower that can handle DDP Image files. Here, for $2.99, you can check the integrity of the file, ISRC codes, CD Text, there is even a button for fast forwarding through ends and beginnings of the tracks to check Start and End IDs….all this on your IPhone. It’s done through Itunes; You zip your DDP folder, connect your IPhone, select the DDP on the IPhone page and sync it. You can check it with the internal speaker, headphones, or, via the optional audio interface, your monitor system. For me it was pretty bulletproof. Even though it was loaded onto the IPhone using ITunes it is a clean transfer with no conversion. The audio integrity was not affected. I pulled a tune off and did a null test with the original file in SADiE. It nulled perfectly. I have used this program to check several DDPs before uploading them to the duplicators. A VERY cool app.

Another app I checked was The Decibel Meter Pro by Performance Audio ($0.99). It is pretty good DB meter. Its graphics are similar to an old analog studio piece. Gunmetal grey with green metering and red overload settings. It has average, peak, and max readings. It also has 4 frequency weighted settings (A, B, C, Z unweighted) It has sensitivity and calibration controls. I found that regular to high sensitivity was pretty useless as the numbers fly by so fast you can hardly read them and I found I had to set the calibration pretty high to make it match the settings on my reference, A Radio Shack Digital meter. Other than those few “quibbles” I think it’s a pretty good DB meter.

The SPL Meter by Studio Six Digital is a direct “knockoff, graphically, of the old Radio Shack Analog DB Meter. It has an analog meter for average readings and numbered readouts for peak and max readouts, A and C weighting, fast and slow response settings. There is an accurate calibration control but no sensitivity control. To be truthful, it wasn’t needed as the readout is very readable unlike the Decibel Meter Pro at regular settings. There is also an SPL chart on the settings page (130db is the Threshold of Pain while a Jet plane 50 meters away is 140db) Both meters have settings to correspond with the type of mike your IPhone has. Both instructions talk about how the IPhone 3 had a steeper low end roll off than the 4s and how the software automatically detects the phone and sets the filters accordingly. The SPL meter also has settings for using an external mic with the optional audio interface.

One app I got out of curiosity was the Stereo Mic Position Calculator by Piano Joe Software (Free). This app calculates the perfect position and angle for a stereo mike setup using XY, A/B, or ORTF miking. You just input the width of the ensemble, the distances of the mike array to the group, the angle of the array and the software will draw you a diagram of where the mikes should go to get the best pickup. In other words no “Hole in the Center Stereo” or “Big Mono”. There is also a handy glossary of terms and techniques and a direct link within the software to their homepage.

Another cool app is Quiztones by Audiofile Engineering ($2.99). It is a frequency ear trainer for audio engineers and musicians. It has several sections; you can test your knowledge of fundamental tones or you can try to identify frequencies being changed on different instruments (Piano, drums, acoustic guitar, strings, vocals, etc. and it set up for easy (+10db), Hard (+5db), Harder(-10db cut). You can set up your own tests to test your comprehension. It’s fun!

The last app for this month is Audio Tools by Studio Six Digital ($9.99). This is a suite of audio processing software. Some of the modules include an SPL Meter, Acoustics, Line Inputs, Speakers, Utilities, and settings. Within these there is a Real Time Analyzer, Oscilloscope, Signal Generator, Recorder, mike monitor, etc. I have one “quibble”. You can open up some modules and you see an “Info” button. This info button means you have to order and pay for the module to be able to use it and they are not exactly cheap. I mean, do I really need to pay $3.99 for a module to check speaker polarity when the overall app costs $9.99)? There are a LOT of useful modules they are asking you to pay extra for. I’d rather just pay a big sticker price and be done with it. This almost feels like I’m being “pimped”. Over all, though, a lot of the basic stuff was very useful.

Well, that’s about it for this month. As I find more interesting apps I’ll review them here and if you have an app that “Floats Your Boat” tell us about it or write a review so we can print it in the EARDRUM.

Danny Leake

Book Club Logo

Some dates and occurrences have special meanings for people of a certain generation. The assassination of JFK and Martin Luther King, watching The Who and Sly and The Family Stone’s performances at Woodstock were pivotal moments in my life….and I know exactly where I was when I heard of John Lennon’s assassination. I was in the “Backroom” studio of Universal Recording trying to overdub a non singer into “sing-ability.” My assistant crashed in, said somebody killed John Lennon and the entire starting-over-making-john-lennon-yoko-onos-double-ken-sharp-hardcover-cover-art session ground to a halt. John had been with me since the “beginning”; from The Beatles first US appearance on Ed Sullivan through Sergeant Pepper and through his solo “Lost Weekend” period. I had grown up in the Industry listening to and analyzing Beatles and John Lennon recordings. I felt like a huge part of my youth had been lost forever so it was with great interest that I read “Starting Over: The Making of Jon Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy by Ken Sharp. (Gallery Books 2010)” This is an oral history of the making of the last recordings of John Lennon. They interviewed EVERYBODY who had anything to do with this recording. By everybody I mean the production team, engineers and assistants, record label Presidents, musicians, photographers, promotion people, you name it, they are all here. They even have quotes from Lennon through interviews given during the recording of the album. Some of the chapters include Cast, Secret Sessions, Meet The Band, Practice Makes Perfect, In the Studio, A Lost Song, Sonic Architecture, etc.

This a textbook for production techniques on how session were put together back then; song selection, musical considerations, how musicians were chosen, how arrangements were done, the relationships between the Artist and Producer, why engineers were chosen, how rehearsals were ran, etc. One interesting section was where they brought in Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick to cut two songs. They brought a more hard rock/punk sensibility to these songs which totally did not fit the rest of the album so they were recut with the session players. “Double Fantasy” was definitely not a collection of singles. It was a true album. The songs were like chapters in a book.

What I missed, however, was hardly ANY technical information on the session. They did mention near the end that they used two 16 track machines and an API 16 input sidecar to mix but no mention of the main consoles, recording setups, mikes…nothing. This was sort of disappointing to me as an engineer. This definitely is not “Recording The Beatles” but in defense of “Starting Over” you won’t learn as much about the reasons for the artistic choices that were made from reading “RTB”. This is definitely a more artistic, musical production outlook rather than technical.

You’ll find the great John Lennon was a man immensely insecure from having laid off for five years raising his son, Sean. He really didn’t know if he still had “It” and this affected everything, from the choice of recording studios, musicians, to the intense secrecy surrounding the sessions. One thing you do get from reading this book is what people often forget: What a team John and Yoko were and how much they supported each other. For instance the album sequence intersects John’s songs with Yoko’s so in the days of vinyl records you had to listen to Yoko’s tunes also. You couldn’t just listen to John’s. Yoko handled the record deals and, in what I find pretty funny, mixes had to be finished by a certain time because of Yoko’s belief in numerology. Anything concerning this recording had to pass John AND Yoko’s muster.

This was a very good read. Not very technical but If you want to get inside the artistic heads of people making a classic recording then this is your book.

Highly recommended!

Danny Leake



Live Sound & Broadcast:
Danny Leake did the FOH for History Makers “Ashford & Simpson” Tribute at Northwestern University’s Thorn Auditorium. It is to be broadcast on PBS. Chris Sheppard’s American Mobile handled the recording.

FOH for Bette Midler’s Hulaween Charity Ball 2011

FOH for Stevie Wonder at the Star Casino in Australia

CDs and Digital Download masters for Terra Guitarra, WRIL, Cherisa, Dan Cray, Jesus Blue Eyes

Vincent DeMille, Syl Johnson, Aisha Adair, Brazillica

Rax Trax logo From Chicago's RAX TRAX RECORDING -

Rick Barnes reports, "There's a lot of great projects ongoing at Rax, too numerous to list but I just finished the latest Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra record."

Tone Zone from Chicago's TONE ZONE RECORDING -

Roger Heiss reports, "DuSable to Obama was recorded and mixed at Tone Zone and just received an Emmy."
Emmy Blast

Also, recorded and mixed this year at Tone Zone is the just released CD from Mark Colby. Featuring Jeremy Kahn, Eric Hochberg, Bob Rummage and Mike Pinto. Available in December.
Mark Colby

JoyRide Logo From Blaise Barton's JOYRIDE STUDIO -

Ed and his rambunctious band blocked out 4 days to track 23 songs for a new ALLIGATOR RECORDS release. Label owner Bruce Iglauer produced the session with Blaise Barton on the boards, cutting live to 24 track analog. This will be Ed's third album recorded at JoyRide Studio with Bruce and Blaise as the production team. As an interesting side note, for all three recordings, Ed's vocal mic was set up in the control room with his guitar amps in an adjacent iso room to help the communication process between artist and producer. Of course, the doorbell became a consideration while tracking and Bruce suggested that if Blaise disconnected it, he would win the "No Bell" prize.


Guitar slinger Michael Burks and his busy touring band blocked out 4 days with the usual production team of Bruce and Blaise to knock out 13 songs for a new Alligator record. This is Michael's second album recorded and mixed at JoyRide Studio and third release for Alligator.

Other projects in the works at JoyRide with engineer BRIAN LEACH
- THE PLANEAUSTERS (This band flew all the way from Germany to work with Brian)

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