Neither riding the top of the charts nor clamoring to get my foot in the door: I'm a journeyman. Pro audio has been my everything for all but four years of my adult life, almost 25 years now. Some days I'm “just the engineer,” and those are the good days. Many days I'm wearing the fedoras of the engineer, producer, bassist, de-facto arranger, receptionist, runner and psychologist. Such juggling is what we audio engineers do, whether running monitors or FOH (or both); tracking, overdubbing, editing, mixing or mastering; calibrating tape machines, de-fragging drives, or soldering output jacks; scoring film, dubbing ADR, or cutting a 30-second donut. I am an audio engineer—the first on-location and the last to leave, perhaps the smartest person in the room and the least understood.
Sound familiar? Chances are, you are me. Or maybe you were me, back before you clawed your way to the top. Or maybe you will be me, as you wrestle incredible sounds out of that laptop that I can only dream of. You know the struggle: the competition from above is getting serious as the big rooms aren't eager to close, even as many are; the competition from below is hungry and eager to steal away a piece of precious pie; and the competition from either side is relentless with dropping rates, skyrocketing quality and a hunger to survive to in the post-recession/post-information/DIY-age.
I can't afford a single misstep. I can't afford to hide my head in the sand. I can't afford to “go retro” and throw in the digital towel. I can't afford a poor purchase, bad advice or a crappy mix. I need reliable info to properly compete, as only the strong, informed and adaptable survive in the dawning meritocracy. There's not enough hyperbole, advertising or social networking to save the obsolete from themselves.
So, why the digression? Because as one of you, I have been selected as a voice of reason: a slow-to-judgment veteran not easily impressed (nor disgusted) who can accurately judge the merits of audio gear. Based on my diverse range of experience and desire for fairness, I can take a step back and analyze gear without the personal agendas, hidden allegiances and “crosses to bear” that (frankly) overwhelm message boards and blogs. I have found my dream job, I am comfortable in it and I'm no longer gunning for yours. I'm here to stay and I'm ready to share the knowledge, every last bit of it (pun intended).
My reviews are trustworthy to a fault. I find failures, mixed bags and I superiority; I report them all. I have favorite manufacturers; they've earned my love. No need to hide it—I report it. I have sponsorships and publicize any discounted gear I've purchased (and choose to use daily); this is gear that I wouldn't be caught dead with it if it didn't help me stay alive in stormy seas. I've gone from “C-list gear” tastes to A-list, even if my budget is B-list. I'm charting change as our world morphs at the speed of digital.
PAR has recently launched “PAR-Tube,” our new video initiative that commences our move into the future. The digital revolution has just begun and modern life has barely started to change. That change will spell the end to publishing as we know it and meanwhile, Pro Audio Review will not sit still. Time will prove that expert advice is valuable in whatever medium it inhabits and it looks like web-based video will ultimately be a big part of how we continue to supply our readership with crucial guidance. Rest assured that the value of PAR will not diminish, but grow into an even healthier pro audio product review mechanism for our publishing company, NewBay Media.
PAR's editors and contributors are, in general, a whole lot like me, too: veteran journeyman and hit-makers, experienced engineers and producers, fanatics about designing, building and utilizing gear, and trustworthy tastemakers hand-picked from the industry for not only knowledge, but wisdom.
Stay tuned to all the upcoming PAR-Tube videos and be ready for the future of audio expertise, as we are going to increasingly demystify the roller-coaster that is modern audio like no other. It's your future ... who are you gonna trust?
Rob Tavaglione is the owner/operator of Charlotte’s Catalyst Recording and a regular contributor to Pro Audio Review.