When Jim Pace, managing director of the METAlliance,
OK’d my press credentials for the “In Session with the Guys”
event at Capitol Studios Hollywood [see “Studio Sense,”
PAR May 2010 — Ed.
], I felt a bit nervous to meet some of
my idols, or at least idols of the industry: seven legends of
the music recording world, engineering in a master-class setting
at one of the world’s most famous studios.
There was someone for everyone to fawn
over. For true-blood classic rock and
Triple-A format, there’s Ed Cherney. For
long-haulin’ Nashville hit mixes, there’s
Chuck Ainlay. Then there’s our perennial
EQ-free golden boy, Al Schmitt; our modern
home-recording advocate, Frank
Filipetti; our pop-music recording pioneer,
Phil Ramone; and, for lovers of gear and
innovation, there’s George Massenburg.
Finally, the fan in me had Steely Dan engineer
Taking nothing away from their hard
work, dedication, and innovation (something
most of us engineers can relate to)
there’s always an element of right person,
right place, right time to any fortunate
career. Each of these men was established
in the business long before its
recent deflation and indie migration.
Some of these guys might be just as well
known for their print ads in the major
mags, none more classic than Chuck
waterskiing with a mic pre. I’m trusting by
nature. But having been around the block,
when I see guys doing their product
endorsements, I have to wonder about
the motivations behind the mugging.
From what I can tell, each of the META
guys really use and truly believe in the
products they pose with.
After watching the
guys put their formidable
skills to the test
right before our eyes, I
was, on the one hand, relieved to find out
they don’t do anything significantly different
than I do and, on the other,
depressed to find out the same. Why was
my career not touched by an angel?
There could be many reasons. I believe it
ultimately comes down to the battle
going on between one’s head and heart.
Whatever one’s vocation, it’s the personal
things one needs to sort out that end up
coming out in one’s work. For instance, I
have been historically motivated more by
the need to have things just right than by
the need to let go, which can make for a
solid, but restrained recording. Is it
because of my parent’s divorce?
Whatever makes these guys successful
to the level they are (over the rest of
us) could be the same subtle genetic difference
between a tycoon and an
accountant. I’m pretty damn good at what
I do; you can check out my website and
judge for yourself (alexoana.com
). But the
main regret in my own career is that I
never sought out a mentor: someone who
could have leapfrogged my knowledge,
perhaps in the way the METAlliance could
help some young up-and-comers today. In
my new sales job for Vintage King, I find
that much of the time my customers are
very well informed about the gear they’re
considering purchasing. This was not possible
before the ‘net and the forums. META
intends to populate the ether with truly
solid techniques for achieving the highest
audio quality: knowledge that might otherwise
be lost when their generation is gone.
George Massenburg is one of my
favorite people. Everything he says is
provocative, witty, informed, and leadingedge.
Lots of people have can have big,
crazy ideas — amazing ideas. But George
is one of the few who can execute his
ideas — solid or virtual, hardware or software.
George started METAlliance.
According to Wikipedia “meta” means
“to indicate a concept which is an
abstraction from another concept, used
to complete or add to the latter.”
Considering today’s recording industry is
an abstraction from what it was, the collective
knowledge of the METAlliance is
needed to complete the knowledge of the
Alex Oana has been a recording engineer for 20 years. alexoana.com