Renowned sound engineer Bruce Swedien is sharing his hard-won expertise with the next generation of engineers in his master class, “Critical Listening with Bruce Swedien.”
The recipient of five Grammy Awards and a leading architect of the contemporary pop aesthetic, Swedien is credited as engineering innumerable modern classics, including albums by Herbie Hancock, Mick Jagger, and Paul McCartney.
He is well positioned to improve the perspective and technique of students, and does so with the help of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones that have had a home in his microphone cabinet for decades.
The class focuses on the two most important tools that an engineer has: a set of ears and a discriminating brain that has both the knowledge and the judgment to make great recordings in the service of great music.
While it is not the focus of the class, the top-flight gear at Swedien’s West Viking Studios in Ocala, Florida is used to demonstrate the principles of critical listening in every phase of high-end recording, from preparation through to the final mix.
“Critical listening is a form of listening that involves analysis, serious thinking, and thoughtful judgment,” commented Swedien. “In the professional world of recording and mixing music, critical listening is used every day.”
Swedien’s success in imparting these skills depends very much on the equipment he uses, beginning with the highly-variable and notoriously-delicate transduction of sound waves to their electrical representation. For this he relies on time-tested microphones that sacrifice nothing in the service of making as truthful a representation of acoustical events as physically possible.
“I use Sennheiser and Neumann microphones a lot of the time,” Swedien said. “Their transparency and character are part of what I strive for in making great recordings. Of all the mics in my collection, the one I cherish most is my Neumann U 47 Tube. I bought it way back in 1953, and it has played a role in almost all of my world-famous recordings.”
The “Critical Listening with Bruce Swedien” January 2009 class is completely sold-out. However, another class is scheduled for the end of March – space is limited, so register early at www.criticallistening.net