FET, Opto, VCA, Vari-MU…..you’ve probably heard these names to describe types of compressors, you sort of know which type is right for what, but what do they really mean? Each name represents a different type of circuit design that the compressor uses to react to the signal you put through it.
In the modern recording era, getting clients to travel more than an hour is a big ask, but in 1980, not so much. After a trip with his wife, George Martin decided to open up a secret studio on the rural, non-modernized, secluded island of Montserrat. Recording artists flocked to the island not only to record in one of the most sophisticated studios in the world at the time but also to enjoy the peace and tranquility the island offered.
In my earlier years of recording, I used to post mixes to home recording message boards with the hope of receiving positive feedback. I made these early recordings at home with a small interface I’d purchased, which came bundled with an early version of Cubase. After finally getting the hang of using a DAW and after a few unfinished demos, I eventually had a track ready to post for mix critiquing. The first reply I got back was, “drums sound phasey.”
When I started my first internship at Sabella Studios, the place was littered with strange things I’d never seen before. But nothing looked as strange as this black and red box that looked more like a spaceship control panel than recording equipment. That box was our EMT 251 that had been sitting in the corner of the control room and had built up an impressive collection of dust.
I turned 28 a few months ago, and if, at age 18, you had told me my audio career would be where it is at this point in my life, I’d have been extremely disappointed. I’d imagined I’d have at least ten gold records by now, and I’d have been to the Grammy’s at least three times. Well… that didn’t happen.
What do you buy first, a good mic or a good preamp? If you’re a new engineer looking to start building your studio, this is a question you’ve likely struggled with. If you’re a more experienced engineer and you haven’t asked this question yourself, you’ve probably heard it asked on one of the many audio message boards, forums, or Facebook groups.