Conversation with a 19 year old "Mixwiz"

From: Ron Pellegrino <>
Subject: Re: Engineer Bashing
Date: August 25, 1998


Pellegrino - Thanks for taking the time to send me your thoughts. I take it they were triggered by my essay Why are audio engineers the enemies of our ears? but I´m not certain because, except for a few words in one sentence, your message doesn't refer to that piece's issues. Please revisit the Quest for Audio Excellence section of my site in about a week and check out a new subsection called Conversations with Audio Engineers which will cover all the questions you raise in your message.


Raymond - I am a 19 year old professional audio engineer, and am saddened by your
>poor misunderstanding [Pellegrino - that double negative smooths my feathers] of the live
>sound field. Young as I may seem I have many credentials.
>I am working on my 5th large scale sound reinforcement
>installation (I design, bid and install systems starting at 70,000 dollars).
>I freelance audio engineer for Time Warner, ESPN, FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, QVC, to
>name a few. I just completed an entire rebuild of the audio room for Time
>Warners Largest Remote Productions Truck in NY State. I mixed the 14 piece
>Mario DeSantis Orchestra for two years, as well as countless jazz, rock,
>blues, disco, and bad bands. I could continue but why waste time. Now before
>I continue I must say that I am in agreement that live amplified events should
>not be deafening, overly harsh in the high-mids or contain ungodly amounts of
>distortion. I can tell you have never actually worked of experienced a
>production from the perspective of a mix engineer. Let me see if I may
>enlighten you, There several key players the engineer has to deal with in the
>course of the production: talent, talent management, venue management,
>audience, security and crew. The talent wants it loud onstage, they usually
>don´t care what it is like any where else (not all talent but by far the
>majority). The talent management is usually yelling in your ear all sorts of
>junior producer type things ("it sounds to squishy", "it is a bit quiet don´t
>you think" (("no i think it sounds "F"ing great")) or worst of all "could take
>a little of that 324.23 hertz out" ((they wouldn't know 324.23 Hz if it was
>biting them in the eye)). The venue management wants to but you in a utility
>closet to mix the show as not to take any prime seats. The audience is full
>of people much like you only not nearly as educated in the pursuit of good
>audio. The security er..........uh..........well OK so they don´t do to much
>except get in your way when you need to get to your power amps that just
>overheated next to the stage. The crew isn´t that bad either except they all
>eat to much and can be extremely bitter. These are all thing that impede my
>ability to mix a flawless show.

Pellegrino - Words can´t express how much I enjoy being "enlightened" by a 19 year old professional. And if you think your life is complex now you´ll just love how simple it gets with each additional decade. Hang onto the thought.

Raymond - As you quoted from David Robinson in Audio Report 6 about "achieving that
>high level of delineated sonic realism", about using all condenser mics and
>never a mic in front of a bell all good and well but for some music genres
>this becomes impossible. What works for a Jazz Orchestra my not work for a 15
>piece steel drum band. I do understand your concerns and they are mine as
>well I just hope this help you understand that it is more than deaf engineers
>causing your ailments. (But don´t get me wrong there are plenty of horrid
>engineers also) I hope I have the chance to mix for you in the future.

Pellegrino - Actually you´re quoting me not David Robinson. I´m happy to hear you recognize that every musical genre has its own specific audio engineering requirements. A few weeks ago I attended a day-long blues festival with groups that ranged in style over the blues gamut. The clod at the board never changed his aggressive signature bass drum sound during a show that featured seven bands, none of which benefited in the least from the thumping chest-wacking bass drum sound that audio engineer was inflicting on the audience. Twenty rows back in the center the person sitting next to me was having trouble breathing because that aggressive bass drum sound was resonating in her lungs and upsetting her natural respiration rate. She came to enjoy a day of music but ended up in physical pain because an audio engineer was insensitive to the requirements of the music and had his own ill-advised immutable idea of how a bass drum should sound.

>Peter E Raymond

Raymond - PS: I do wear plugs all the time if I am mixing of if I am at someone else´s
>show. It only takes 5 min at 96 dB (which is not very loud) to cause hearing

Pellegrino - If you´re going to wear plugs while you´re mixing, you ought to pass out the same plugs to everyone in the audience; otherwise you´re bound to be the "enemy of their ears".

Raymond - PPS: After 120 shows this year I have received one complaint "hey buddy could
>you not make those lights so bright" as I proceeded to point to the lighting

Pellegrino - You´re 19 and seemingly flying high. Don´t settle for the status quo and the mediocrity it will bring. Commit to a lifelong study of music, physics of sound, and psychoacoustics. If you do, your life in and out of the audio engineering arena will be far richer.

Ron Pellegrino

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