Veteran producer and mix engineer Michael James has worked with a long and varied list of artists since he emerged from the streets of New York, where his childhood guardians for a time were literally a motorcycle gang. And over the course of his remarkable journey, he has come to appreciate the important role played by any number of pieces of recording studio equipment in meeting the needs of the artists he serves.
None, however, may be any more important than the power conditioning equipment upon which he relies to keep the sounds he creates clean and protected — and for that James relies exclusively on Furman® by Nortek Security & Control.
“The foundation and life line of my studio is clean, reliable power,” James explains. “It’s an often-overlooked part of the equation, but it’s absolutely critical to what I do.”
What James does is produce or mix hits for artists like New Radicals, Hole, Edwin McCain, Chicago, and Robben Ford, among many others. With the recording studio as his primary creative tool, the foundation of all this hit making magic is making sure his mix room is properly powered up and ready to roll every time he steps inside it. To ensure that, James relies on three special pieces of equipment: the Furman F1000-UPS, and the IT-Reference 20i with Power Factor technology.
“I have a few very essential pieces of equipment that answer my clean, reliable power call and the first is the Furman F1000 UPS – it’s a battery back-up and a critical component to have if you’re working with intellectual property,” James says. “At any given moment, I may have millions of dollars of intellectual property on my hard drives that I can’t take risks with. The Furman F1000 UPS gives me time to safely shut down my computer and hard drives and save all that data.”
James also needs to hear sound especially well and the Furman IT-Reference 20i is another hugely important part of his daily studio work.
“The IT-Reference 20i is a balanced power isolation transformer and I love it because it is super clean power that gives me an additional 10 dB of headroom – allowing me to hear more low-level detail, like reverb tails or really emotional vocal phrases,” James emphasizes. “Ultimately the IT Reference 20i helps me make better sound decisions and make them much more quickly.”
Like James, sound engineers worldwide trust Furman to bring out the maximum potential of all connected equipment. Furman products eliminate noise and interference to let all connected audio and video equipment perform at its optimal level, enabling studios to fully realize their creative visions.
And regarding instrumental performances, James still relies on his older Furman Power Factor PRO, particularly for working with guitar and bass amplifiers.
“Guitar amps, especially vintage ones, can be susceptible to current swings, which explains why one day an amp sounds great and the next day it doesn’t sound so good,” he says. “The Power Factor PRO always keeps that sound in the sweet spot – so when you adjust your tone with this on it’s going to sound the same all the time.”
Dynamics are what brings a performance to life. A super quiet noise floor is essential to let the soft passages shine. Furman’s Linear Filtration Technology (LiFT) reduces differential AC noise linearly across a very wide bandwidth to deliver a lower noise floor for your audio system and improved picture on your video display.
During a career spent doing just about everything one can do in the music biz, James has worn many hats, including solo recording artist, session musician, major label A&R executive, indie label founder, educator and, of course, producer and mix specialist. He has become one of the most respected and sought-after creative consultants in the pro-audio industry, providing suggestions and preset design for new products. His most recent endeavor has him composing music for commercials for Cessna Aviation and other premium manufacturers, which also led to landing the gig to score the music for an upcoming film about Chuck Leavell, the musical director for The Rolling Stones, John Mayer and David Gilmour.
As James shows no signs of slowing down, he’s comforted by the fact his Furman equipment doesn’t either.
“Sound quality is everything to me and Furman is what delivers it over and over again,” he concludes.