NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – FEBRUARY 2015: Based in New Orleans, Jack Miele is a talented producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist with several Grammy nominations, and Emmy and Silver Telly wins to his name. His long list of high-profile clients includes Blues Traveler, Zac Brown Band, John Oates, Better Than Ezra, and Ani DiFranco; a list that just so happens to include a handful of the projects that have benefitted from Miele’s discovery of Daking analog processors. Miele works out of Music Shed Recording Studios and his own project studio both of which are now well stocked with Daking equalizers and compressors.
Part of Miele’s success derives from his ability to clearly articulate his goals. “My goals as a producer are different from my goals as an engineer,” he said. “When I’m producing, I’m almost working as a psychologist to get the artist to forget about the stress and technology of the studio so that they can deliver an authentic performance that will connect with listeners on an emotional level. It’s all about believability and honesty, and when you get it right, you allow the artist to transfer a message to the listener. As an engineer, I’m trying to find a recording chain with gear that complements the artist. Just as everyone’s voice is different, everyone’s playing and performance is different. Their attack, their release, how hard they hit the strings or the drums or their own vocal cords. It’s all touch and feel and it’s all different for every artist. Somewhere out there exists a piece of gear with electrical characteristics that work best with a particular artist’s nuances.”
He continued, “So in my view, a big part of being a good engineer is knowing the characteristics of the tools I use. Just as a carpenter or a surgeon knows which particular tools are best for a particular situation, the engineer has to size up the talent and build a signal chain that will bring out their best qualities.” Miele’s friend, accomplished mastering engineer Bruce Barielle, introduced him to the Daking Mic Pre/EQ. “Bruce said that Daking had come out with an EQ in the spirit of the Trident A-Range, and so I obviously got excited,” Miele said. “The minute I turned the knobs, I knew I had to have it. Nothing else in my collection, which includes API, Neve, SSL, Universal Audio, Summit, Empirical Labs, had the same sound. The Daking Mic Pre/EQ is a unique tool.”
Miele often uses the equalizer and mic pre sections independently. “The Daking mic pre is brilliant and modern-sounding,” he said. “It’s very open and fast. I find it works great on acoustic instruments – guitar, cello, or grand piano – and female vocals – or really anything that I want to capture with a beautiful, open top end.” Because he has two Mic Pre/EQs, Miele frequently adds their equalizer sections to the mix buss on his Amek console. “I add or subtract a few frequencies and it just snaps the whole mix into place,” he said. “The equalizer section has a beautiful, smooth color. It adds brilliance without being harsh, and the number of bands and their range of parameters makes it tremendously versatile.”
Given his success with Mic Pre/EQ, Miele explored the rest of the Daking product line and fell in love with both the Daking FET II Compressor and the Daking Comp 500, which fits the 500-Series module form factor. “They’re both great, and they’re very different from one another,” he said. “The FET II is my favorite vocal compressor – there are very few vocalists that it isn’t perfectly suited for. In an act of due diligence, I tried ten compressors on John Oates’ vocals, and the FET II – more than any other – brought them to life. The fixed release times are useful and I often dial them in, but the auto-release feature is special. It’s very pleasing to the ear and can get a whole track breathing organically. I love it.”
Although Miele expected a small version of the FET II in the Daking Comp 500, he got more than that. “It’s an incredibly transparent compressor,” he said. “In fact, the first time I put it on, I had to triple check that it was actually working. The gain reduction was flashing and the track was holding in, but I didn’t hear the ‘sound’ of compression that I’m used to. The Comp 500 is incredible on drums. In fact, I wish I had one for every drum! It can grab the transients without squashing the hell out of them. It can get in and get out so that the drums stay punchy.” Miele put the Comp 500’s transparency to good use when he recorded Jessica Lange’s vocals for a sung David Bowie cover scene in American Horror Story. “Unlike records, where listeners expect artifacts, sound for screen has to be a lot more transparent,” he explained. “The Daking Comp 500 gave Jessica’s vocals the sound we needed without giving them an obvious ‘compressed sound.'” Miele also applauds the Comp 500’s Stereo Link feature, which works flawlessly and allows him to apply transparent compression to his mix buss.
“If it sounds good, it is good,” Miele summarized. “There are no rules. Sure, you can learn the ‘rules’ first and then break them, but you ultimately have to trust your ears. As excited as I am about Daking, I try never to fall into a ‘pride of ownership’ mistake… applying a certain piece of gear just because it’s the newest or most expensive. That said, almost everything sounds awesome through Daking. The Daking FET II Compressor and the equalizer section of the Daking Mic Pre/EQ have a definite color and vibe that’s really pleasant. The Daking Comp 500 and the mic pre section of the Mic Pre/EQ are really transparent and colorless. They’re a great set of tools to work with.