Mark Spencer found his passion for music production, studio mixing and live sound in his early days. After graduating he cut his teeth working as an audio technician for a local AV provider and wound up mixing a Wild Rice production at The Drama Centre. It was then that he was asked to join The Republic Cultural Centre as an audio engineer. He quickly worked his way up to head his department and is grateful to have had many opportunities there.
Some of the more memorable experiences he has had include being the systems and Front of House (FOH) engineer for a number of IGNITE! Music Festivals. The most recent IGNITE! Music Festival was held on the 15th and 16th August 2014.
Making a first impression
Mark confesses, ‘Honestly prior to this I have had very little experience working with Audio-Technica products (although now I wish I had had more opportunities!). The first time I came across any Audio-Technica microphone was at the recent IGNITE! Music Festival 2014 where Gentle Bones (Joel Tan) brought along an AE6100.”
Mark’s latest project was the FOH engineer for Gentle Bones’ sold out EP launch at TAB Singapore on the 30th August, co-presented by Audio-Technica. We sat down with him for a chat on his experience.
1. Could you describe your experience with using Audio-Technica’s equipment?
From start to finish the experience far exceeded any expectations that I had about using Audio-Technic microphones. Sure I have used plenty of other microphones before and even had other companies offer to sponsor microphones for festivals and such. Unfortunately they left it to the users to figure out what we thought we would need and even showed up at bump in with different microphones from what was specified, short of some, lacking clips and all sorts of other issues.
Jinfu from Audio-Technic (S.E.A.) essentially took the Gentle Bones rider and worked out what he thought would work best for the show. The fact that I was unsure of the characteristics of the microphones lead to there even different types of snare, vocal and kick drum microphones provided! With limited setup time before sound check it was amazing to think that we had every little detail of the microphones worked out. So in summary the experience working with Audio-Technica was nothing short of amazing. You guys are awesome.
2. Were there any restrictions that you had to overcome at the event venue?
Well for a start I had been told of other events that had been held at the venue where the sound did not entirely do justice to the artiste. Also, I had only used the particular house console once before. Fortunately the house technicians were brilliant in getting everything sorted even before I got to the venue. I guess the only real restrictions faced were the position of the console - under a balcony and the main speakers being hung somewhat behind the stage thrust. That being said I think the venue was great!
3. How did you find the sound of the microphones for Gentle Bones and his band?
For that fact that I had only mixed that incarnation of the Gentle Bones band once before, was in an unfamiliar venue and was working with microphones I had little experience with I honestly thought that the microphones helped mediate all these factors by a good amount. The thing that struck me the most with the microphones was that they had a “sound” - Obviously each microphone had their own characteristics but the biggest thing was that the entire mix was cohesive and glued simply because the microphones sounded like they were born from the same inspiration and vision. That is something I simply cannot say about some other manufacturers.
4. Were there any microphones(s) that stood out for you, and why?
Like I mentioned earlier, all the microphones did a beautiful job that night but if I had to pick out a few…
Joel was on a AE6100 and I spent the whole day thinking that it was a condenser capsule just because of the sheer amount of presence, clarity and dynamism that thing has. Unbelievable. That microphone did a wonderful job in catching everything from his really low register emotive stuff to dealing with the high energy numbers. You have to understand that Joel is pretty much Gentle Bones - that this was his show and his vocals had to sit on top of a 6 piece band. That microphone truly delivered.
I usually do not think too much of the microphone on the hi-hats but that ATM450 really opened up a new dimension of using it and it was a great tool to have. It’s like that first bite of prata at the end of a long day - you always knew what it tasted like but then the curry makes your eyes open wide.
I could talk about all the microphones we were so fortunate to have that day but the last one I will talk about is the ATM350. I have this thing where I just have to get tons of attack on the toms but then often lose a huge chunk of the body in doing so - But the ATM350 changed all that. Loads of nice attack as expected from a condenser but then it still has ridiculous amounts of body to it. Jinfu also recommended it to mic the bottom of the snare drum and it was literally just high-pass filter and job done. But to top it off, Josh, the violin player also uses it on his acoustic violin. What a piece of work that microphone is.