Al Schmitt: An outstanding career in sound. One of the most impressive CV's in the business
Producer/engineer Al Schmitt started his love affair with audio way back in 1956, so when The Rolling Stones played their first gig, he was already 6 years into his career. When describing his impact on the music business, we might start with a couple of numbers, such as 21 Grammy Awards and more than 160 gold and platinum records.
Scanning his discography – which would take a long time, by the way – it’s tough to settle on a singular high point. That’s because Schmitt’s decades of award-winning work read like a trip through musical history.
From the early days, there's Frank Sinatra, Henry Mancini, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Miles Davis; from the golden age of rock, there's Jefferson Airplane, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers and Steely Dan, and of more recent times we could mention Barbara Streisand, Natalie Cole, Madonna and Quincy Jones/Michael Jackson, Diana Krall, Celine Dion, Michael Bublé and the new Paul McCartney album "Kisses on the bottom".
Al Schmitt on Tube-Tech:
With a resume like his, Al Schmitt is a guy whose opinions matter a lot, which is why we are ever so enthusiastic about having him aboard as a Tube-Tech user.
In his own words, “I use a lot of the TUBE-TECH equipment, but I use the SMC 2B on everything. That’s my favorite, although I love all their gear. I usually use it when I’m mixing. I use it on specific instruments and sometimes I use it strapped across the two-track buss.
I use very little compression; just a tiny bit – maybe 1dB all the way across. I use it more for the sound, because it just sounds so good. What I basically like is the warmth.”
Al has had his SMC 2B for about four years, he reports, but has been using TUBE-TECH equipment for decades.
“I did a Willie Nelson recording years and years ago where I used a TUBE-TECH preamp and compressor on his vocal, which worked great.” Going full circle, Schmitt is currently working on a new project with Nelson, as well as one with Barbra Streisand, both using the TUBE-TECH stereo multi-band compressor.
In April 2012, Al Schmitt conducted a one-week "Mix With The Masters" seminar, making good use of his tusted SMC 2B, and after the course, all 14 participants stated they would go and buy one!!
Hear Al Schmit commenting on the SMC 2B
At the 2012 AES show in San Francisco, we had the opportunity to talk to Al about his use of Tube-Tech,
in particular the SMC 2B - his view on the SMC basically boils down to, "It sounds wonderful - I use it all the time".
Check our interview with Al at AES San Fransisco 2012
The Blue Boxes on Tour
Whenever you see interior shots from professional studios, something very distinct and blue is likely to be present in the effects racks. That's why many people are thinking of Tube-Tech as a supplier of studio equipment. And they're right - we are - but we're also way more than that.
This news article is about the use of Tube-Tech gear on the road, and as you'll discover, there are some pretty amazing names using it.
Muse and Paul Simon touring with Tube-Tech
Muse's FOH engineer Marc Carolan at work in his "office"
Whenever hugely succesful trio Muse go on yet another stadium-filling tour, Marc Carolan is responsible for the FOH sound. Marc also works with the band in the studio, and both here and on the road, he is very adamant to get the sound just right, using exactly the gear that works best for him and the band.
Marc is an avid fan of the LCA 2B Dual Channel Compressor - he even has one in his own studio - and he states: "I couldn't do the Muse live sound without my two Tube-tech LCA 2B's"
Currently, Muse is rehearsing for another mammoth world tour where, aside from the LCA 2B's, Marc is intending to use the SMC 2B Stereo Multiband Compressor for the final polishing. We'll keep you posted, when the show hits the road.
Fohonline article about Marc C and Muse
TPI Magazine article about Muse Resistance tour
Marc Carolan, Patrick Hocken and Tube-Tech
A very well known sound guy who is in fact already using the SMC 2B live, is Michael Conner, FOH engineer for Paul Simon.
Michael has the SMC inserted on the mix bus just before the signal hits the PA. In his own words, "a fabulous piece".
Michael Conner in front of his Studer Vista 5 Console used for Paul Simon
James Blake: Tube-Tech is the Sound of my first Album
"Young genius"- that's how the reviewer described James Blake in Danish newspaper Politiken.
James is an English singer/songwriter, whose first album has had considerable succes on various charts, and he has a rather unusual approach to sound.
As he describes it, "My music is fairly eccentric in that I enjoy the audible side-effects of DIY recording, by which I mean mic noise and background sounds, the tail of drum hits that aren't quite rounded off, the sound of the rain pattering on the skylight that made it's way onto the recording, etc."
James is a long-term user of the Softube Tube-Tech plug-ins, stating "The plugin, I realised a while back, was the sound of my entire first album and most of the things i've released so far. I would say on my first album I used the CL-1B on almost every single track, and on the mix bus. In between mixing that first album and writing my second, I've experimented with UAD compressors etc. and I felt for a long time something was missing, until I put that stereo CL-1B plugin back on the master bus and everything just opened up in dynamics and stereo width."
Recently, his success has allowed him to purchase 2 CL 1B's of the kind you can actually touch and feel. He has some interesting remarks on the difference: "So far I'm noticing that both the hardware and software can breathe dynamic life into anything. They both achieve a sound that has larger and more interesting stereo image. However, the hardware version can do it without compromising any single part of the mix.
A good example of this would be an electronic track that has a kick drum that just doesn't sit quite right, but a snare that does, and a set of vocals / organ on top that are sounding flat and arbitrary. The software version will nicely breathe life into the entire mix. The vocals will sound wider and fuller, as if they're not coming out of the speakers at all but like they're in your own head, but the transients of the kick and the snare will suffer a bit, and at that point you have to make some sacrifices.
With the hardware I can have my cake and eat it! On top of all the other dynamic things it does, the kick and snare will magically align to make me look like I know what I'm doing, and they'll sound full and fat (and all combinations of analogue descriptives that equate to 'good')".
So, there you have it - plug-ins can be good - but hardware is just better...
Read more about James Blake
The Blue Boxes make their mark on French reality TV
"Survivor"is the classic reality TV concept ”put-a-bunch-of-people-through-their-paces-on-a-desert-island-and-see-who’s-the-last-man-standing”. In France, they have their own version and last season, that was filmed on the exotic Thai island of Koh-Lanta but of course, all postproduction took place in France.
The French Survivor is extermely popular; The average audience has been more than 7 millions viewers each friday and about 40 % of people watching Tv in France, is watching this show!
Having heard the Tube-Tech SSA2B summing amp at a seminar earlier, mix engineer Fabrice Chantome decided he wanted to see if it would make any difference on this specific type of material compared to in-the-box mix. So, he sent 4 stereo stems (dialogue, music, FX and narration) through the SSA2B and recorded them back into Pro Tools using a standard 192 I/O for D/A conversion and an Antelope Audio Eclipse for A/D.
”The difference exceeded all my expectations”, Fabrice notes, ”in fact it was so obvious that the artistic producer of the show immediately noticed, asking me, "What have you done to the sound? It sounds fuller, richer and sweeter to my ears..." Personally, I would add "wider, deeper and, most important, it brings the human voice in front of you, out of the speakers with greater accuracy and without any harshness". It sounds amazing and I really love what it does: Make the listening experience much more enjoyable!”
It would seem, then, that in the future, the blue boxes will also be used for reproducing the hardships of living under primitive conditions on tropical islands. And why not? After all, everybody wants to sound as good as possible - even reality TV…
Listen to the difference: Download PT session
The session contains two versions of Fabrice's mix:
A: ITB Pro Tools. B: 4 Stereo stems summed through SSA2B. ( Dialogue,music,FX and narration.)
The audiofiles of the session are labeled and can easy be imported to other DAW's or just listened to on your computer.
All samples courtesy of Adventure Line Productions, a Zodiak media group company
Nightingale String Quartet records with Tube-Tech
The all-female Danish Ensemble Nightingale String Quartet was formed in 2007 by four students at the Royal Danish Music Academy.
The idea was to revitalise the classic string quartet format by using modern methods in recording and promotion. A number of prestigious prizes has since proven the validity of the project.
In 2010, the quartet embarked on a project recording the string quartets of famous Danish composer Rued Langgaard.
The project is now finished and the CD is released.
All mic preamps were supplied by Tube-Tech, and what a difference that made! Listen for yourself by following the link underneath, where you may also watch the spectacular music video made for a Shostakovich piece recorded by the quartet – also a very new and fresh approach to sharing classical works.
Check out the video and audio here:
Audio Days at Studio de la Grande Armee, Paris
In late March 2012, our French distributor Audio Addict hosted the “Audio Days” arrangement, where a select group of audio professionals talk about and demonstrate stuff from their specific area of the field.
Among others, the well-known producer/engineer and owner of FLUX Studios in NY Fab Dupont recorded and mixed the very talented Will Knox, using MP1A, PE1C's and CL1B.
Needless to say, the result was no less than stunning.
Avid's video crew came out and videotaped the whole thing, and soon, you can watch the video and listen to the audio files
from the session.