Back in the Dark Ages (The 1980’s) recording engineers would religiously await for the latest issue of our favorite industry rag: Mix Magazine. A well designed, magnificently printed and very helpful audio publication dedicated to the hardest working and least appreciated sector of the recording industry. Amongst its many writers, there was one weird fella named Roger Nichols who never failed to make us laugh with his wit and drool at the chances he had of testing and abusing the greatest and latest in audio gear.
Recording Engineers are (were?) a very weird bunch. They are animals with no apparent biological clock which allows them to work any combination and quantity of unholy hours as set by the artist. Their stomachs are the envy of any alligator or great white shark since they are able to digest any load of fast, homemade and exotic foods or go hungry at will. Their ears must be so finely tuned as to detect and locate the smallest foreign noise such as a feather flying inside a hit hat during a drum solo and then edited it out of the track. Any engineer worth his salt is father confessor, couples’ counselor, luthier, concentration camp commandant, juggler, referee, accountant, quartermaster supply officer and able to know where to find avocado flavored tofu with Cheetos at two in the morning. And, let’s not forget, damn good recording what some artists call music.
They are scary loyal to brand and gear. Forget what you nowadays read in the gun forums. Glock Zombies and Magpul Fanbois mere Gerber babies compared with the fury that engineeres would unleash if you dare to criticize their gear. Otari vs Studer? War of the Hundred Years. SSL vs Neve? Japanese-Russian war. Michrophones? Don’t go there! If Mahatma Ghandi was a recording engineer who favored the Senheisser 441 for overheads, you dissed him and favored a pair of Shure 57s, he would remove his loincloth and strangle you with it.
And as weird and stubborn as we were (are,) if Roger Nichols spoke, we’d listen. We knew he would torture the crap out of any piece of equipment, extracting every and any ounce of magic out of it. He’d give you tips, share resources and kept you a bit sane once a month. We would listen to his records trying to decipher how in the hell did he achieve a particular sound and we would make a bee line for the record store whenever he recommended the recording of a particular artist. In the Church of the Vibrant Ears, Roger was our Pope.
And Great Engineer in the Sky Said it was time to finish the Roger Nichols project.