Next up was Frank Filipetti, another multiple Grammy winning engineer. He was closely associated with the late Phil Ramone and has worked with James Taylor, Barbara Streisand and recently recorded Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels” with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Frank Gehry designed Disney Hall.
During the afternoon sound check Frank played a few of his tracks including one by one of my favorite artists James Taylor. It sounded absolutely amazing…one of the best productions I’ve ever experienced. Each pluck of his acoustic guitar, his voice and the rest of the band were relaxed, detailed and existed as little pearls of sound immersed in a whisper of reverberation. I was thoroughly impressed! The sound was polished and refined but sounded quite natural almost hyper-real…a trait I like to think exists in my own recordings.
Frank is a major fan of high-resolution digital and was quite open about his distain for vinyl LPs and analog tape. It was refreshing to hear someone else state what most of us know is obvious but still hangs on in the minds of audiophiles.
He played a few pop/rock tracks that didn’t do much for me. There was a track featuring a female vocal that started a cappella and sounded raw, gated and was full of noise…very strange, I guess it’s a style. Then the rest of the accompaniment kicked, which consisted of an all MIDI band. The low frequencies were huge and the percussion just plain sterile sounding…a perfect combination. I sure it will be a hit.
A large portion of Frank’s twenty minutes was spent playing the overture and another section from the Zappa composition. He’s right that Frank Zappa was the unusual double threat in both rock and 20th century composition. Pierre Boulez was a strong champion for his music and performed many of his works at IRCAM in Paris.
The Zappa work is no doubt a terrific work but I’m not sure that the assembled group needed to hear over 10 minutes of it. It’s not the style of music that most people appreciate and the opening section went on just a little too long. Franks explained that the recording required 160 separate tracks on a Pro Tools rig…and therefore necessarily mandated the use of 48 kHz rather than his preferred 96 kHz sampling rate. According to Frank, PT wouldn’t have been able to keep up. I would love to have seen the setup for that recording…I thought I used a lot of tracks! Getting 160 channels of pristine mic preamps, and first-rate analog to digital converters would be almost impossible to get together. I fear the equipment was not audiophile quality and my have compromised the fidelity of the project.
Frank closed his remarks with a rousing endorsement of high-resolution audio and his preference for HD PCM recording. Then it was time for another break and Bob Ludwig, one of the prime mastering engineers of the past 30 years.
See you tomorrow.