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I'm a seventeen year high school student from Canada and I'm
very interested in the possibility of pursuing a career in the
recording business as a recording engineer.

What I'd be interested in knowing is what would all you pros
do if you had to do it again and were in my shoes and could change
things?

Right now I'm apprenticing at a recording studio in Ottawa
(Capital of Canada ). It's a mid-size analog/digital 24 track studio
with an automated vintage Neve (8014 with 1073's) as its centerpiece.

Here I'm learning a lot, and the staff are good about taking
time from their busy schedules to show me the odd thing.

I go in every Saturday, do the chores and watch people at
work. I understand everything that's going on but I have trouble
hearing things sometimes. For example, I can tell when something is
being compressed but I would have trouble hearing the difference
between a Neve 2254 or an 1176 compressing a signal. And I couldn't
tell you if an instrument was tracked with an API or a Neve pre.

In the last couple months though I've been recording an old
lady that comes in to record herself singing to the arrangements that
her husband does on their $200 Casio keyboard. I would usually use an
87 to record her voice but when it was being used next door in the big
room I would resort to a TLM 170. When I was doing vocal comps the
difference jumped out at me. This surprised me that I could hear the
difference.

My dilemma is that I could walk into the studio and set up a
band to record, dial in good levels to tape so nothings clipping, and
so on.... but I could never do as good of a job as any of the staff
because I can't hear the small but important things they hear and its
hard to teach myself to hear things. Its not like I can go pick up a
manual and learn to hear all the little subtleties that are in a mix.
What's frustrating is that I don't know how to teach myself anything
more about recording. Before I could go home and teach myself what
every control on the console did, and teach myself what the ratio knob
did on a compressor. Now its like I'm stuck and I just have to learn
at a slow rate which I have very little control over. Comments
Appreciated


Last question- With your current knowledge of the recording industry,
what would you do in the next 10 or 15 years if you were in my shoes
right now and wanted to become a successful recording engineer? (In
regards to education, and basically anything and everything)

Thank you in advance for your advice,

Sincerely,

Jason Fee

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Jason,

I would recommend going to school. There are a few really good ones near you, and the one I would reccomend is in London, ON. It is called OIART, ( Ontario inst.of Recording Tech.)and I have friends who have attended, have seen the campus, and have heard great things about the quality of thier graduates from a number of pro studio owners in Toronto.

http://www.oiart.org/

Steve Smith


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i went to a school and found it to be a total waste of time and money. but because i already knew what they were teaching. sometimes i would pick up something but not certainly worth the money.

now im not some super famous producer but my advice would be just keep recording people. every project i work on i learn something new, something different happens. pleasant suprises like you plugging in the mic and hearing the difference. but thats just the school i come from: the only way to learn is to jump in and just do it.

you're lucky at 17 to be in a studio like that. i was stuck with a 4 track and whatever mics i could get a hold of. setting them up, hit record and playback the results. recorded many bands happy with the sound. but thats nothing compared to what people have at their disposal now.

as far as telling the difference in a 2254 or 1176 compressing, who cares??? one might work for something one time and not the other. you gotta use them and hear what you think of them. there is no manual telling you what the differences are even if you could put into words. you can look at the tech specs but thats as good as benchmarking a computer, meaningless in real life.

and keep asking questions, pick peoples minds. you might get an idea from something they said.

and practice.

also i try to visualize sound. it helps tap into the sweet spots when micing. and mixing for that matter.


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Learn:
Pro Tools
Logic
Buy a book called modern recording techniques.
Learn all about MP3, internet audio, downloads, streaming, distrabution. Website management & creation. Keep the job at the studio but learn the above and you will be dynamite!

Jules


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I STILL learn something every day, as I believe we all do.

If you can't tell something is being compressed, you're probably doing it right.

To hear the subtleties in the differences between and API and a 1073 pre-amp can only be learned by time invested, and then again, it is all relative, since no two identical model mics or pre-amps sound the same, especially when used by different engineers on different players, and different instruments.

And, even though AlphaJerk knew more than the teachers at the school he went to, if you can find a FOUR YEAR school, where you get an actual Bachelors Degree when you Graduate, I think that's the BEST way to get an Education. Why I think Mr. Massenburg even teaches at McGill in Canada!!

I don't care HOW many other people tell you how much success they've had without a College Degree. LISTEN TO YOUR PARENTS AND GUIDANCE COUNSELORS. THEY ARE CORRECT!!

But the biggest piece of advise would be: Go to Law School!! Lawyers make all the money in this business, anyway.

Bob


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And don't forget those biz and accounting classes.. might as well learn to stick it to the taxman whilst you are at it....


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Jason, I'm looking back now with mixed feelings. When college time came round for me, I KNEW what I wanted to do, I just couldn't figure out what to take. I thought all those Arts Institute/Full Sail-type places seemed like a cheesy, unaccredited degree. I didn't know schools like Berkely taught Recording Engineering. And I didn't know that a very good school for it was twenty minutes away from my house (I probably couldn't have afforded it anyway, but, I could've found a way...) I ended up becoming friends with lots of Rec Tech students from the school, because they would use our band for projects all the time. It was a solid program. By then I was in my twenties and already knew a lot of what they were learning, so I couldn't justify the cost/time of starting there. But they have something I don't: a piece of paper that says they know it (not to mention great formal education). Believe me, that piece of paper means everything!! Most of them have jobs in the field now, maybe not recording, but something audio/technology based. And quite a few of them are in unrelated fields but the degree got them there.

A buddy and Rec Tech grad is a web technology specialist working for the State making great money and liking his job. Is he smater than me? Not really. More talented? No. But he has the degree. The job requires a Bachelor's. Period. Are you noticing the direction of my advice to you??

My guidance counselers and college advisors were no help at all. I'd say: "Here is what I want to do. I think I need a mix of Electrical Engineering, Communications, and music theory." They would say, "It sounds like a good plan, Curt."

So I took up Engineering. Calc classes at 8am five days a week seemed a million miles away from an SSL. So I switched to Communications (TV production)and found it to be too much fluff. I didn't care who bought NBC Blue; show me the control room. Got my AA, but couldn't see the point in going for the BA in that cirriculum. Switched back to Engineering and still taking classes here and there. (I might get my Eng. Bachelor's in ten years!) At that point I was recording a lot, so school became less of a priority. If I had it to do over, I'd:

1.) Go to a school with a solid rep for Rec Technology, and get a Bachelor's. When I graduated, before my standard of living got too high, I'd get a job being a runner/gopher- like you are doing now (great!) but I'd have that degree. Get it in while you're young.

2.) Get any degree, then do the same as #1.

3.) I would have at least finished the four year in Communications.

4.) I would have gone for the gopher job much sooner.

I've taken the do-it-yourself approach, and I'm hoping it'll work out. I've learned TONS on my own, by reading the trade mags cover to cover every month, studying (reading anything I can get my hands on), and by experimenting in my humble studio (doing). I just turned 30 and guess what my goal is this year? To get a job as a runner at a great studio (thanks Jules).

Keep interning. Get that White piece of paper. Immerse yourself in music. Best of luck.

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Jason;
keep doing what you are doing and read everything you can get your hands on if you are not already, listen to all the records and live music you can and figure out how they got that sound, learn all the new technology that you feel will get the job done and learn to use that Neve if you feel that you must go to a school go but it sounds like you are on the right track... Read through this board most these guys have made my favorite records and they still have projects that give them fits...

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yea, what do i know. i just dropped out of college, started my own businiess and hired some people who did graduate. but i also have others who didnt, they just know their shit. i also went into a better paying field than an engineer.

if you are going to do the school thing, definately find a GOOD school to go to. if you dont, you will just be learning what you already know and paying out the butt for it. education only enables you to do something. talent takes you the rest of the way. school is a blast anyways. concentrated with people your age going after a similar interest. parties arent half bad either.


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Jason:

Listen to C. Cash. I couldn't agree with him more.

AlphaJerk may have been lucky enough to drop out of school, and start his own business that lets him "Make more money than any Rock Star", and then hire people who DID graduate with a Four Year Degree, but that is usually not the case. Most people can't start their own business right out of High School, or as a College dropout because, their Daddy isn't rich, and they can't get a loan to start a business, unless Alpha knows of one that takes no money to start, and still lets you make "More money than any Rock Star". If he does, I wish he would tell us what business that is, because that would definetly be his MOST valuable contribution to these boards!!

BUT, I thought, silly me, life was about more than just MONEY.

There are PLENTY of good schools where you can learn an SSL AND get a Four Year Degree.

Like Middle State University in Tenn. Or University Of Miami in Coral Gables, FLA.(although I'm not sure if it's on a SSL, or more Digtally based recording).

I know I really shouldn't do this here, but another publisher has a Magazine that has a yearly list of virtually ALL the Recording Schools/Programs in the Country.

I don't think ED will pull this message if I tell you to go to http://www.mixonline.com and order the August 1999 back issue. That is their most current directory of the Schools.

ANYONE who says ANYTHING negative about getting an Education, is just plain wrong..

HOW could one possibly know TOO MUCH?

Except someone who knows everything about everything, like Alpha.

I know Roger has an Education. He used to run Nuclear Power Plants. Contrary to popular belief, Homer Simpson is not hired to be in charge of a Nuclear Reactor.

George is a Professor at McGill University, another Good School, unless you think George's contributions to this Industry are worthless, and then you can dismiss "Recording Schools" as "Teaching you what you already know."

I would have KILLED to be able to go to school with a guy like George teaching class when I went. I'll bet Alpha wouldn't have "Ended up taking over the classes, and teaching them" if George was the Instructor. Otherwise, if Alpha "Knows more than all the Teachers they had there", why does he asks any questions on these boards?

As far as ED, I'm not sure of his Educational background, but I'll bet he does have a Four Year Degree in there somewhere, hidden behind the Gold, Platinum, #1, and Grammy recordings.




Bob.



[This message has been edited by THE MIX FIX (edited 05-06-2000).]

[This message has been edited by THE MIX FIX (edited 05-06-2000).]


Bob Buontempo.

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Jason:

These boards are still being worked on, so I couldn't edit my previous message.

The link should be http://www.mixonline.com

It put the comma in the link, after ".com", which, of course, won't work.



Bob.



[This message has been edited by THE MIX FIX (edited 05-06-2000).]


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They've updated the Boards, so I got rid of the comma in the URL two posts ago (from me), so it is now correct.



Bob.

[This message has been edited by THE MIX FIX (edited 05-06-2000).]


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And, lets not forget that trusty 500 new car rebate for college grads....

Jason, BOB is right.

And if I remember correctly, Isn't McGill local for you?

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SVT:

Thanks for agreeing with me.

It REALLY pisses me off when people think they know everything, and can't benefit from an education.

Just think of how many new software/hardware operating systems you've had to learn in the last year!!

Thanks for being a Smart Guy.

And yes, McGill is near Jason, who should go to George's board and ask him what he thinks of the school.





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Bob.


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bob: youre just being an ass now. no wait, jealous.

there is nothing wrong with the word education, but schools fail because they arent properly funded or the money is misappropriated, a lot of the times lag behind. especially with the current speed of advancement in technology. beside i dont need a class from GM, you can just ask questions right here. this board alone has more education than a lot of schools besides actually doing it. even from you bob.

i dont see the future of recording especially for a 17 y.o. dealing with SSL's as a mainstay. shit, once you learn a mackie, you should be able to jump on an SSL. it might take a minute to get your bearings, but if you understand the concepts, then its not a big deal. the big studios will dwindle, one must become a computer geek now.

i didnt say ANY rock star but the majority of them dont make squat. even some you would think make a bit dont. people working at mcdonalds made more than tribe called quest did in a year and they were a better producing hiphop act.
ill post it again http://www.arancidamoeba.com/mrr/problemwithmusic.html

my total startup investment was $3k in my company, my mind is the most valuable, and talent i suppose. and yet my life is so much more than being about money... but it helps to pay bills, house, cars, etc. but you seem to act like you know it all an awful lot bob. if you did, you wouldnt need my idea for a successful company now would you.


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Alpha:

The ASS here.

I don't want your idea for a startup company. I've had plenty of my own, thanks. I just never mentioned it (well I did now, but that's just in reply to your post).

Of course we all need to make money. There were times I had it, and times I starved, and having some is sure better than starving.

But, if I really wanted money to be my main objective, I'd have followed many of my friends who made a killing in the Stock Market, or have become a Music Business Lawyer.

I don't know everything. I don't know shit, actually.

I learn a little bit every day.

And, like it or not, these boards will NEVER replace having George as a teacher in person.

We all are computer geeks, to one extent or another, or we wouldn't even be here now, would we?

I bought a Timex Sinclair in 1983, and a Commodore 64 right after that, but as much as my life revolves around THIS stupid computer now, I still consider myself a Musician/Producer/Engineer first.

I, and I'll guess a lot of you, had to learn about the Web, MP3, Streaming Audio, DAWs, Digital Recording, Mastering, MIDI, Samplers, Sequencing, Automation, etc., etc., etc., and who knows what I'll need to know Tomorrow?

If I can figure it out myself, which I, so far, have, then fine.

If it's more than I can handle myself, I'll jump to ask questions, or take a class, if that need ever arises.

I LIKE to be educated.

Got a problem with THAT?



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Bob.

[This message has been edited by THE MIX FIX (edited 05-07-2000).]


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Quote:
If I can figure it out myself, which I, so far,I have, then fine.


see, you just like to disagree with me but you know what im saying is true. do you think having picasso in front of you will help you paint any better? no, this is an artform and it cant really be taught. artists who go to school arent really artists or they are delaying for some reason. you just gotta dip the brush in the paint and paint something. it isnt brain surgery, that guy i insist he have an education. throwing a mic up is no different than throwing a brush up. and it doesnt even take a good brush if youre good.

im just saying. i dont have a college degree. i dont have to wear a suit. i can set my own hours. when i do work, its more like play than work. formal education means very little, much less than you make it out to seem. but you cant be a burnout either. you gotta know what you want and go after it.


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Alpha- then you are one of the lucky ones! Things worked out for you and that's great, but advising Jason here (that's what this thread is about?) to skip college is in my experience bad advice (I'm not saying that's what you're doing, but I got advice like that when I was younger... and I just pray that my do-it/learn-it-yourself approach will actually allow me to reach my goals).

The fact is, where I work, 20 new corporate-wide postings go up a week. 19 of them require a Bachelor's. The one that doesn't pays $17,000 a year. We can't all become self-made engineers... a fallback plan, at the least, would be a VERY good idea. Plus, school is just too valuable for many other reasons than just learning your trade. For example, I credit any writing ability I might have to my excellent English Comp classes.

Jason here can get it done in four or five years, keep interning at the studio, and have security and options when he gets out. At 21, that'll be a great start.

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I think STUDYING a Picasso will help you paint better. Knowing what he did, the theory behind it, etc.

You, yourself, have said how much you liked Hendrix. Weren't you influenced by him? Study what he played, and how he got his sounds?

Still an Education, albeit, an informal one.

I DIDN'T want to go to school, but now, looking back, I'm glad I did.

OF COURSE you need the talent. But some of us are born with it, and some are not. I'm thankful for ANY talents which I may have.

And, I don't do the suit and tie thing, and make my own hours, etc., too.

It's called freelancing in the Music Business.

I just have to HONESTLY advise kids I think they should get a Formal Education.

You're lucky, like C. Cash said (And I totally agree with you, C.), but, (and take NO offense to this Jason, I DON'T know you), Jason may NOT be one of the lucky ones like you, or, I'd like to think, I.

There is NOTHING wrong with a Formal Education.

It's not imperative, but it's not a detriment, by any means, either.

I HAVE to stand by that.



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[QUOTE]Originally posted by alphajerk:
do you think having picasso in front of you will help you paint any better? artists who go to school arent really artists or they are delaying for some reason. you just gotta dip the brush in the paint and paint something. it isnt brain surgery, that guy i insist he have an education. throwing a mic up is no different than throwing a brush up. and it doesnt even take a good brush if youre good.

You are either totally dilusional or....well, you do have the sense to call yourself 'jerk' and that certainly is what you are making of yourself. You remind me of people who live way out of the mainstream and then just 'make up' all of these theories, thinking because that say it, it is now so. Guess what sparky, it ain't so! Notice how George and the others do not respond to the crap you spew. You and your "I make more than any Rock Star", shit. What, did you read an article somewhere about a good band not making any money? It's one thing to argue with MIX FIX, but stay out of this kid's way. And you called me snobbish.

Benjy


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And one more thing re:"just pick up a brush and paint", etc. Again, you don't have a clue. In order to paint people you must study anatomy. This can be done on your own but will take much longer than with an instructor. You may arrive at something great eventually, but you will get there much faster with an instructor. Did you ever play any sports? Tennis? Teaching yourself to serve? Anyone who has played, share the story of taking ONE lesson and leaping forward in their ability. God, now you might influence a budding painter on here to quit their 'perspective' class.
P.S. If the quality of brush doesn't matter then why should a mic?


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whatever you say banjy. talk to anybody, bands dont make shit compared to most people. even successful ones. the superstars might make quite a bit, im sure bowie never has to work again. and it was most, not any.

but in the real world, my advice would be find another profession if youre looking to make any decent living, or pray some big artist comes into the studio and wants you as their personal engineer. thats the truth, and im sure ed, gm, and roger would agree. it isnt part of my made up fantasy world from left field. its from the mouths of working engineers with and without degrees. you better do it for love and not for money. or be one lucky bastard.

no, my eyes are just open banjy. when you take your blinders off you would see clearly also. but then the blind would call you dillusional also. just because my picture of life differs from yours doesnt make it any more wrong than yours, but you dont even know me and to call me out makes you a meddling asshole. i aint screwing up this kids life. im just showing a different road to take.

whats the saying, "the road to hell is paved with least resistance but those less travelled by shall make a world of difference."

besides you dont post shit here and i rarely ask the moderators questions so why would they respond to me?

[This message has been edited by alphajerk (edited 05-08-2000).]


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thats shows how dense you really are, the quality doesnt matter when you use it properly and effectively.

and you might of heard golf lessons chronically ruining peoples game.

you have very limited creativity i think. art is so much more than anatomy. i guess biology classes are in order then. painting is ONLY seeing lights and darks and picking a color or hue to represent them. ive been doing it for a long time so dont push me on this. it doesnt matter whether its a person or an apple. and it doesnt even have to be accurate. and teacher influence for ART, not sports, gets in the way more than helps. simply because if you dont please their eye, its not correct. even if the rest of the world loved it. ive even come across hypocrite painters, one claimed i worked too fast when he did 300 paintings in a month, ten a day for mathmatically challenged. they looked like shit and he was the head of the department. just because they teach doesnt make them any more of an artist. actually makes some less of ones because some were never successful enough to live off their art in the first place.

[This message has been edited by alphajerk (edited 05-07-2000).]


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Wow, did this get out of hand......


Jason,

If you ar estill even reading this, here is yet another story.

When I was was 16 ( now I 'm sounding like a dad...) I started 2nding and traveling with a producer / engineer combo in my free time. Project studios, big studios, Neve/SSL/P.O.S. whatever i could do.

OI learned alot about mic technique, balance, EQ, etc. when i got out of High School, I wasn't sure about college, and I got an offer to go overseas to do a record in Germany, so I took it. there it was , my big break. ....Sure......

once you start to work, college is gone, and now that I've been around the block, I realize that knowing ohm's law off the top of my head beats the hell out of looking it up, and that since I can't afford a full time tech, those electronics classes would have sved me a bundle in basic repairs. furthermore, I would have way more credibility with people who havent heard my work. ( this sucks, but corprate work pays great, and it's hard to get, and a degree ilokks great on a resume.)

SO, go to school, learn lots of math and science ( weird useless facts amuse the bands..)

and remember, when you are 25 and graduated, you still have like, 40 + good years left, so don't feel like you lost an edge.

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Sorry I didn't check in here over the weekend and thus missed the degeneration of this topic.

Please guys, if you're going to engage in nasty in-fighting, take it off-line to private email. Let's keep it constructive and civil here on the boards....

Thanks

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Mitch Gallagher
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i hope no hard feelings to anyone. just got a little mad my opinion on education wasnt taken with a grain of salt. but its what happens when you get a bunch of artists together. i apologize.


alphajerk
FATcompilation
"if god is truly just, i tremble for the fate of my country" -thomas jefferson
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OOOh, I like it when you guys mix it up. I have been working in a studio in Hollywood, a very famous room. Phil Spector used to make a lot of records there. I was told (I hope it's true) by some that was there about a session one night, a tracking date, with the usual Spector crew, 2 drummers 4 guitars, percussionists, 3 keyboards, many singers, etc. etc. For some reason, the whole night was filled with disagremments, arguments, strong differences of opinion, and as a result, nothing was accomplished musically. As he was leaving the studio at the end of the night, Mr. Spector was heard to comment..."Was that a great session, or what?"
Jason, it has been my experience that everyone that does this for a living got to where they are by a different road. There is no one way, right way, wrong way. The other thing that everyone has in common is a compulsion to do this.....most of us really are compelled to do this work. When you do something that you love, you have a great life. The money, success, satisfaction, respect, feelings of accomplishment, etc. will follow. That I know for sure. As to your other questions, I think it best that I create a new post....especially about your question concerning how to learn to listen objectively. Be patient, it takes time, maybe even a lifetime, but if you are in the studio, it comes.
ed c

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jason...youre a very fortunate kid....watch and learn. accept all challenges and dont be afraid to ask stupid questions....and dont spend all your time in the studio...learn to have some fun..keeps the head clear.

good luck


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