Electrifying Music: The Impact of Engineering on Music

Electrifying Music: The Impact of Engineering on Music

This infographic is hot off the press from the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Electrical Engineering program–thank you so much! Few people realize how much of the musical world really takes place in the recording studio. While everyone knows the singers and musicians, few look to the history of the contribution of those behind the glass. Engineers have been engaged in struggles for decades to not only change music, but also define how their generation’s sound would be recorded. To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Masters in Electrical Engineering program.     The First Battles When it comes to music engineering battles, the first place to look has to be toward power. While the struggle wasn’t one that necessarily involved music, it set up the kinds of battles that would take place in studios for decades to come. The first real issue was between Tesla, with his alternating current, and Edison, with his direct current. Tesla’s current was more powerful, but arguably less reliable. Edison’s was reliable, but not nearly as strong. The two waged a war between inventive danger and solid business, with neither man truly winning. While Edison is certainly better remembered as the father of modern electricity, both currents are used in the modern world. It is from this battle that one of the most famous bands in rock takes its name – AC/DC. The War of the Engineers Tesla and Edison would be fine examples of how the war of the musical engineers was waged, because they were exemplars of two very different schools of...
Whole Lotta Love Mystery Solved via Tales from the Trenches

Whole Lotta Love Mystery Solved via Tales from the Trenches

Eddie Kramer: The first time I heard “Whole Lotta Love” was in August ’69, when Jimmy and I started working on the album’s final mix at New York’s A&R Sound. Jimmy and I had first met in 1964, when he was playing on the Kinks’ first album [“Kinks”] at Pye Studios and I was the assistant engineer. I also had heard Led Zeppelin early on in ’68, when John Paul Jones had played me an acetate of Led Zeppelin’s first album, before it was released. I was blown away—it sounded so hard and heavy. In New York, the recording console at A&R was fairly primitive. It had only 12 channels with old-fashioned rotary dials to control track levels instead of sliding faders and there were just two pan pots [control knobs] to send the sound from left to right channels. But as Jimmy and I listened to the mix, something unexpected came up. At the point where the song breaks and Robert slowly wails, “Way down inside…wo-man…you need…love,” Jimmy and I heard this faint voice singing the lyric before Robert did on the master vocal track. Apparently Robert had done two different vocals, recording them on two different tracks. Even when I turned the volume down all the way on the track we didn’t want, his powerful voice was bleeding through the console and onto the master. Some people today still think the faint voice was a pre-echo that we added on purpose for effect. It wasn’t—it was an accident. Once Jimmy and I realized we had to live with it on the master, I looked at Jimmy, he...