Top producer/engineer Mark Linett recently upgraded his Barefoot Sound MicroMain27 monitors to the latest Gen2 models.
The monitors are utilized at “Your Place or Mine,” his private studio in LA, which features a customized API 2488 console with Flying Faders, and two original Universal Audio tube consoles, as well as an extensive mic and outboard gear collection.
All tape formats from mono to 24 track are available along with a Pro Tools 32x32 TDM system.
“I’m on the Gen2s, but I’ve had the MM27s pretty much since their introduction,” Linett explains. “I really liked my previous monitors, but there was always something in the bottom end between the bass and the kick that was always tricky to get right the first time.
“You’d do a mix, take it somewhere else, and realize, ‘The balance isn’t quite right, I’ll have to come back and do it again.’ Tedi Sarafian at Barefoot convinced me to try their speakers, and I don’t try a lot of this kind of stuff.”
Linett is a three time Grammy-winning engineer and producer whose early career was spent mixing live sound for Frank Zappa, Earth Wind and Fire, Journey and Rufus, among others.
Later, as a staff engineer at Warner Records Amigo Studios, he engineered albums for a wide range of artists including Randy Newman, Los Lobos, Jane’s Addiction and Rickie Lee Jones.
“My feeling has always been that it’s kind of dangerous to change your monitors,” he continues. “Right or wrong, you get used to what you’re working on. If you’re good at it you can get used to anything. But I tried the Barefoots and I really liked them.
“I did a bunch of quick mixes, and it was so easy to get the balance right, they sounded good elsewhere, and then Tedi told me that they were the demo pair and that I was going to have to wait four weeks, five weeks to get my real pair.
“They took them away and I put my previous monitors back up, and suddenly I could tell exactly what had been the problem, that the mid range was pushed and that the bottom end was a little funny. It was great when the real pair arrived.”
When Amigo Studios closed in 1983, Linett built his own studio/ remote recording system and worked with Laura Nyro, Dave Alvin, and Kris Kristofferson, among others. A chance phone call in 1987 landed Linett in the engineer chair for Brian Wilson’s first solo album and began a 25 plus year relationship which continues to this day. Along the way Mark has mixed the Beach Boys Pet Sounds in both stereo and surround and was nominated for the best engineering Grammy in 2004 for “Brian Wilson Presents Smile.”
“I guess it’s been a little less than a year since the Barefoot Gen2s came along,” Linett says. “I really like them, an improvement, and although I don’t use it a whole lot, the digital modeling of other speaker types is really nice just to reference something for a few minutes after you think you’ve got it right.”
In late 2008, Linett started a new company, Music Mix Mobile West (M3West), which owns a 40-foot remote music truck that has recorded numerous shows in the past five years, including the Grammys, the CMAs and the I Heart Music Festival, and artists including Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Steve Martin and Queens of the Stone Age. The M3West truck features dual 192 track recorders, Avid D-Control console and 128 channels of remote controlled Aphex 1788 mic preamps.
“In theory, you just want monitors that are accurate,” Linett concludes. “You don’t want something that’s a huge hype. Most home speakers have a smile curve, the bottom end and the top end tend to be boosted loudness. It’s nice to listen to what the consumer is going to listen to, but in terms of a studio environment, you want something that’s quite a bit more accurate, especially the imaging, that where the placements are is accurate.
“Also, while there’s always a sweet spot more or less in the center, you don’t want it so restricted that you have to really concentrate to figure out where the sound field is being represented. For me, the thing about the Barefoots has always been that whatever I do in here, whether it’s quick or I spend a lot of time, I hear little things that I want to change, but it’s never big, major changes in the frequency response, which was always the problem with other speakers.”