Legacy of Sound at Capitol Studios
Date: November 2018
Hollywood’s iconic Capitol Records Tower hosted an evening of tribute to the talents that render the portraits of song. Presented by Maurice Jung of T.H.E. Show, the gala allowed guests to mingle with the likes of engineering legends Al Schmitt, Nika Bolas, Bill Dudleston, and recording producer Rafa Sardina in the hallowed Capitol Studios A and B.
The event promoted as X Marks the Spot was an opportunity for visitors to experience the west coast debut of the Legacy Valor speaker which was dramatically staged in Studio B, a question and answer session with the honored panelists and a tour of control rooms A and B with their classic analog Neve consoles.
Moderator Emiko Carlin opened the panelist Q&A session:
“Genius is displayed when scientific methods are infused with artistic creativity. Each of these pioneers exhibit true genius.”
Following introductions Carlin probed each panelist regarding the factors that were most important in capturing and playing back the recordings.
Al Schmitt noted “recording may look easy – but it is far more complex than it appears. Knowing where to position the artist, which microphone to use and how to place it requires a lot of experience.” Niko Bolas emphasized capturing the energy of the performer in each recording. Bill Dudleston advised not letting technical matters get in the way of the emotion of the performer and the song. “We need to make it real for the listener, virtually transporting them to the artists world.” Rafa Sardina stressed the importance of keeping it fun for the artist to maximize their performance and the importance of the groove.
Control Room A provided a unique opportunity for guests to directly compare an original tape master, an original LP master, an iTunes download and a CD remaster of a Frank Sinatra Capitol recording. The attendees agreed differences were far more dramatic than one would have expected. The LP master was closest except for a section when the violins reached a crest that had to be limited for the pressing. The CD remaster had been fully denoised with more bass and brilliance, but the vocal lacked the spaciousness of the original. Some subtle instrumentation seemed to be lost in the denoising process. A great first-hand experience of the technicalities involved with the art of music- from recording to playback.
Al Schmitt is the only audio engineer presented a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Recordings of Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan are but a few of his historic achievements. Racking up 150 gold and platinum albums, and over 20 GRAMMY Awards, 88 year old ‘the kid from Brooklyn’ emphasized microphone selection and placement over soundboard manipulation to achieve an open, natural sound. His new book On the Record: The Magic Behind the Music was available for signing.
Bill Dudleston is the founder of Legacy Audio and Legacy Pro. Dudleston has engineered playback and mastering monitors for renown producers Rick Rubin, L.A. Reid and mastering legend Herb Powers Jr. (Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson). He recently completed sound design for the Michael Jackson conference room at Epic/Sony. His innovative speaker designs are recognized for precise, dynamic sound while portraying a transparent window to the recorded event.
Rafa Sardina has received 13 Grammy Awards while recording and producing top talent such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce and Shakira. Besides producing numerous film scores, Sardina as a musician emphasizes intense individual collaboration to assure each artist achieves their vision.
Niko Bolas has recorded and produced Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, Beth Hart, James Taylor, Billy Joel. He is best known for clean vocals that stand out in the mix. Bolas works out of Capitol Studios and Nashville’s Blackbird Studio. He has also been an innovator in internet radio with products such as Sonicbox.
Featured recordings from Capitol artists and Capitol Studios included: "Stardust" by Nat “King” Cole, "It Was a Very Good Year" by Frank Sinatra, "Blue Moon" by Dean Martin, "Fever" by Peggy Lee, "That Lucky Old Sun" by Bob Dylan, "In My Room" by The Beach Boys, "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt, "Use Me Up" by Jose James and "All or Nothing at All" by Lyn Stanley.
Legacy Valor speaker system powered by 2750 watts of internal amplification
Legacy Wavelet preamp processor
ATC SCM40A floor standing monitors provided by Lone Mountain
Technics 1200 turntable
Event date November 4, 2018