Interview intro: Simon Eadon: Sound Engineer

A lot of things Mstation gets to do in the tour of duty are fun. One such thing recently was sitting in the control room at Air Studios very quietly watching a recording session of an orchestra recording a Schumann piano piece that had been rearranged for orchestra.

Air Studios was built by the man who produced the Beatles, George (now Sir George) Martin. There are five studios in a Victorian era, refurbished church. Taking pride of place in the control room we're sitting in is a ninety-six channel Neve desk which, as it happens, is not being used for this session. A Yamaha digital mixer is being used instead. On the back wall are racks of effects units and the biggest patchbay I've ever seen.

Sitting at the back of the studio is the producer. Precise and commandingly polite, he has a much pencilled music score in front of him. As there are mistakes in the flow of the music, the flow is stopped, and sections redone, after speedy conferences with the conductor, Orlando.

There are a few other people in the control room as well. There is a man from Wigmore Hall who is observing. On the other side is another man who is assisting Simon and there is also a pretty woman who tells me she is KGB after she asks me who I am (media, I'm a spy!) but I suspect she's not. In front of the Neve desk, looking out through large glass windows onto the orchestra are the two composer/arrangers who are later joined by a man and woman dressed in suits.

Simon Eadon and Neve 96 channel desk

Behind the Neve desk, and directly in front of the producer, is the man we've come to visit, Simon Eadon. He is engineering the session and he and the producer work as a well-oiled team with absolutely no fuss and a minimum of comment passing between them as new takes are numbered and logged. At the start of the day, Simon's first job was to select and place the microphones and patch things through to his Yamaha and then on to a bank of aDAT machines. There is no close mic-ing here. There are number of mics scattered about in a non-haphazard fashion, mostly situated about ten feet from the floor.

Simon Eadon started out at Decca Record Co. Ltd. where he worked for twenty-six years before Universal took over and fired everyone. He started in a very junior position and was trained to do the job as he went along.

This on the job training doesn't happen today so, if you want to do this job, there is specialised education that must be had first. In the UK, this would be the Tonmeister course at the University of Surrey. The good news is that if you can get in, at the moment you're pretty much guaranteed a job when you come out. The bad news is obvious.

Since being at Decca, Simon has been a successful freelance engineer and has his own classical music location recording company, Abbas Records.

Now, why not join us in our chat with Simon where he talks about how he got started and what it was like, some of the people he worked with, digital vs analogue, and wide bandwidth, amongst other things. Interview (27.3 Meg)

Air Studios - rec room

Tip of the trilby to Helen Peate at Hyperion Records.

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