The Power of History

Every day at The Blackbird Academy, I teach students on gear that spans from 1930 to the present. For example, this week we used the mic pictured here to record a reamped lead vocal through a guitar amp. The song had an edge that we wanted to take further, so we sent the vocal track down to the studio through the mic panels, went through a REAMP box to a guitar amp, then cranked the amp to distortion. To mess it up even further, we turned up the vibrato intensity to high, sped it up, and gave the vocal an edge beyond the originally recorded track. While the techniques are common to audio production, the difference is the Blackbird touch. The room has variable acoustics and a live chamber and has made some of the biggest records of the last ten years. The mic was a rare and iconic Telefunken ELA M25b ribbon and the amp a 1966 Fender 1966 Super Reverb. All these elements added up to a stellar signal chain and rich tone. Every experience like this puts another feather in our student’s tonal palette – something to remember when they go for “that” sound later at another location.

Students get their hands on consoles like the Neve 8078, API Legacy Plus, API 1608, and SSL large format consoles throughout the program. Plus, there are legacy preamps and processors like the Telefunken V72, RCA OP-6, Cooper Time Cube, EMT 250, and much more. 

But what about modern gear? Recently, we recorded a shaker overdub using the new Coles 4030L microphone through a Moon 3500 MP, a super clean audiophile-quality mic preamp made in Canada. The session operated out of Studio I, The Blackbird Academy’s newest room featuring summing, monitor control, preamps, and processing by Dangerous Music, Chandler Limited, Millennia, Grace Design, and Shadow Hills. It’s a desktop environment using an Avid Artist Series controlling Pro Tools HDX, 500 series, and rackmount processors, plugins from Waves, Slate Digital, Universal Audio, and more. Read more about this great room on

What all this boils down to is the uniqueness and quality of the program. We use gear, both old and new, in outstanding rooms where students are taught by professional instructors and all-star guest mentors, providing an unparalleled, well-rounded audio education. The power of history gives any music lover looking to make a career in this great business an edge. Because it’s not just about being a Pro Tools ninja, but hearing and understanding how production styles and gear from the past give current music a creative spark and makes it more marketable. If making records at Grammy Award-winning level and learning to be a live sound professional is your dream, then learn it from top-level instructors and guest mentors who have made the music you love to hear. I hope to see you at Blackbird soon!