Move over "American Idol," the Audiophillie Music Awards for Excellence in Recorded Sound contest winners are way more talented. They don't just sing--they play instruments, write, and record their own tunes.
Zachary LeFeber's band Magnet South entered "Move On," and I'm glad they did. Zach's the drummer and a very talented audio engineer. A nice fella by the name of Matthew Winner handled vocals and guitar. Magnet South has a blog, where you can see how the music takes shape. The band has been together for two and a half years, but they have real jobs so they haven't played around all that much. Zach recorded "Move On" in his house, using a Sonar digital workstation. He considers himself something of an audiophile, so I wasn't surprised to hear he's getting into vinyl.
Alan Carter wasn't planning on entering the contest, but he had just bought a new Woodpecker ribbon microphone and wanted to record something to try it out. He used the new mic to record everything but the lead vocal and guitar on "Georgia," which was written and sung by Phil Palma. Alan's studio partner Jake played electric guitar; Phil was on acoustic guitar; and Alan played bass.
Alan works for Sweetwater Sound and sells equipment to recording studios,--no wonder "Georgia" sounds so fine. The song was recorded to half-inch analog tape, and, obviously, I didn't know that when I first picked it as a winner. Alan feels that even the best digital recordings never sound as sweet as analog. That's not to say he avoids digital completely--"Georgia" was digitally mixed in Pro Tools, before bouncing it back to analog tape. He concedes there's a lot that you can't do in analog, so he takes a hybrid approach.
Anthony Ceravolo's floor-shaking bassline stopped me in my tracks. "Gimmie Mine" is a trippy instrumental and I loved the way it builds and builds. Anthony played a couple of Roland synths and bass guitar onto a Sonar, and wound up remixing the tune based on something that happened when he was babysitting his 8-month-old nephew. Most of Anthony's tunes take about a week to record, and he enjoys fine-tuning the mix with a bit of equalization and compression while listening to a few different sets of headphones.
Allan, Zach, and Anthony won Monster Turbine Pro Copper Edition in-ear headphones.
David Adkins' "Blood Sweat and Funk" is a big band workout, with some really great players. The group is currently dispersed over a few states, but I hope they can get back together soon.
Jeff Montville's "Car Commercial" was recorded and mixed on an old Roland VS880, one of the first digital recording mixers. Sounds great to me.
Robin Hall's "Sarah's Theme" was done on a Yamaha keyboard. Robin told me the music was improvised in about 10 minutes. Wow, it sounds fairly intricate and produced. Robin has written many pieces since "Sarah's Theme," but this one has always been a favorite, and Sarah really likes it.
David, Jeff, and Robin won Monster Turbine Pro Gold Edition in-ear headphones.
I'd like to thank everyone who entered the Audiophillie Music Awards for Excellence in Recorded Sound contest. The winners were originally announced on The 404 Podcast last Friday. You can hear all of the winning tunes on The 404.