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My Take on Music Recording is a podcast that covers many different aspects of the recording process, with a focus on the intersection of art and technology. Although recording is a technical process, it also involves music and musicians, working with engineers to create a satisfying experience for the listener.
Doug Fearn has made his living from professional audio since 1966 as a recording engineer, studio owner, record producer, and pro audio equipment designer and manufacturer.
21 - My Conversation with Mike Miller, Mix Engineer August 2, 2020
Mike Miller is a great example of the latest generation of recording mixers. Mike started as a musician, playing piano at age 4, later switched to guitar and as a teenager he began touring with bands whose members were much older. Recording with those bands introduced Mike to the studio and he was instantly captivated and knew that was what he wanted to do.
His early success as a producer doing most of the tasks involved in making records eventually led him to specialize in mixing. Mike started out in his home town of Rochester, NY, not noted as a recording center, but he was able to capture success there. Eventually, however, he needed to move to cities where the business was, including, New York and Los Angeles. He has moved to LA and developed relationships with many people in the music business who were impressed by his talent and ambition. They offered him advice and guidance, and Mike feels that it is important to pass that knowledge along to those who are just starting out.
Mike recorded his side of the conversation in his studio in Los Angeles using a Flea 47 microphone into a Hazelrigg Industries VLC mic preamp, and recorded to Pro Tools. My side was recorded in my studio in Pennsylvania using a Flea 49 mic into a D.W. Fearn VT-2 mic preamp, Merging Technologies converter and recorded in Pyramix. The final version was processed through individual VT-4 equalizers and and VT-7 Compressor.
Thanks to all of you who have dropped me notes about this podcast. Those has been very valuable to me. You can reach me at email@example.com, or through my podcast web site, dougfearn.com
Your comments and suggestions are always welcomed
Updated 14 August 2020
copyright 2020 Douglas W. Fearn
Microphone preamplifiers are essential for almost all recording. In this episode, I look at the requirements for a quality preamp, and how preamps are designed and used.
Although this focuses on the D.W. Fearn VT-1, VT-2, and VT-24 mic preamps, the principles are applicable to any preamp.
We look at the extreme range of levels a preamp has to deal with, and the techniques used to accommodate this range.
Why is there a 20dB pad on most preamps, and how best to use it (or not)?
Many modern mics have a transformerless out, and a non-standard output impedance. How do we deal with that?
Do mic preamps introduce distortion? What kinds? And which add to the sound and which distortions are annoying?
How does phase shift through the mic preamp affect the sound? What can be done in the design process to minimize phase shift?
How do we use the "Phase" (polarity) switch on a mic input, and where is it most useful?
What exactly is “phantom power?” How did that come about? What are the advantages, disadvantages, and potential problems?
Using a mic preamp on a mix buss is also covered, along with the special requirements for that application.
How about installation of your outboard preamp? What do you need to consider in cooling, wiring, and AC power in order to get the maximum audio quality?
How can mic patch panels create potential serious problems, not only for the audio quality but also for the safety of your expensive microphones?
I take you through the history of the design of the VT-1 preamp, which is the basis for all the D.W. Fearn mic preamps and also influences the sound of our equalizers and compressor.
Understanding some of the technical details will help you to use your preamps better. I avoid a lot of technical jargon and theory, and just focus on the aspects that will be helpful for most recording engineers.
Thanks to everyone who has contacted me with your comments and suggestions. I have already added some topics for future episodes, based on listener feedback. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org