NEW YORK, NEW YORK: Seth Glassman is an accomplished bass player and multi-instrumentalist whose thirty-plus year career has included work and performances with James Brown, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson, and literally dozens of other industry luminaries of equal star-power, along with hundreds of wildly talented musicians who populate the vanguard in their respective genres. He is currently the musical director and band leader for 1960s icon Darlene Love. Like many musicians who have a knack and interest in the technical side of things, Glassman branched out into songwriting and production decades ago. He maintains a well-equipped project studio in his New York City home that includes his go-to Daking preamps and compressors, which were recently supplemented by a borrowed Daking FET III compressor to mix a forthcoming album by all-girl power trio New Myths.
“Although I started out strictly as a musician and continue to play that role, I always had an interest in producing and writing songs,” Glassman said. “Being a studio musician put me in the privileged position of watching some of the best songwriters, producers and engineers in the world work their magic. Early on, I made a conscious effort to be a sponge – to pay attention and soak up all of their knowledge, perspectives and techniques. As I got older, I deliberately moved into songwriting and production and put everything I learned into action.”
Glassman grew to know Geoff Daking, maker of Daking gear, as they repeatedly crossed paths in NYC studio sessions: Glassman on bass and Daking behind the console. “I really respect that Geoff is a musician [he played in the 1960s platinum-selling band Blues Magoos], a sound engineer, and an electrical engineer,” said Glassman. “He knows what good music sounds like, and he understands the entire path, from the instruments, through the gear, to the final product. That obviously had – and continues to have – a huge influence on how he designs gear. For example, he selected the center frequencies on his EQs based on his decades of experience behind the console. Those are the frequencies that would be most useful for him if he were using the gear.”
Glassman is a self-avowed microphone junkie, a partial consequence, he says, of the fact that no microphone is ideal for every singer. “Vocal microphones are a study in themselves. There’s a magic that can work between a vocalist and a microphone, and it’s stunning when it happens. The sound becomes almost holographic; it has dimension and texture. Of course, that helps the vocals sit prominently in the mix.” Although certain microphones, like his Bock U99, more commonly deliver that magic, there is enough variation and enough surprise that Glassman, as a rule, tries out all his pricey vocal mics on every new singer that comes into his studio.
In contrast however, Glassman has learned that the best preamp for vocals will always be his Dakings, which stands head and shoulders above his other big name preamps. “Geoff’s preamps have a body and clarity that’s unmatched,” he said. “His preamps sound better on more instruments and with more microphones than any other preamp I’ve ever used. It’s a totally different situation from the mics, where I always have to try them all out. Geoff’s preamps always sound the best.” In fact, Glassman seldom goes to any other preamp unless he has too many inputs to use just his Dakings. He also has early model Daking FET limiters that he uses as an insert on his stereo bus whenever he mixes with his Pro Tools HD system, citing its transparent but effective dynamics control, provided he doesn’t push it too far (“It’s easy to get an affected sound by driving it, which is exactly what you want for some other uses,” he clarified).
Glassman’s work with New Myths is in his blood. His daughter, Rosie Slater, plays drums with the band in the space between her live and studio work with other artists. “It’s a very textually sophisticated album,” he said, “and getting the drums to fit within that tonally and dynamically was challenging and critical. With my Daking compressor on the mix bus, I tried all of the other tools in my arsenal to get the drums where I wanted them to be, but to no avail.” Glassman called in a favor and got a loaner Daking FET III Stereo Compressor from Geoff via Daking’s U.S. distributor, TransAudio Group. “The FET III gave me the sound I was after. The drums had control but they weren’t noticeably squashed-sounding. After some early criticisms of the drum sound, Rosie loved how things came together with the Daking FET III.”
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