Tag Archives: Conan O’Brien

Pro Sound News’ Top 10 Articles of 2020

Pro Sound News top 10 articles of 2020New York, NY (December 24, 2020)—With the end of 2020 upon us (and not a second too soon), we look back at the year that was, presenting the Top 10 Pro Sound News articles of 2020 that appeared on prosoundnetwork.com, as ranked by the site’s Google Analytics readership statistics. Intriguingly, while the biggest news of the year was the pandemic, virtually none of these articles even mention it. Instead, audio pros like yourself were mostly interested in either looking ahead to when things would get back to normal by checking out the latest gear, or looking back at great moments in audio, whether it was the recording of classic albums or the earliest known stereo recordings. No one knows what 2021 will bring, but for now, enjoy the most popular articles from our site, and we’ll see you in the new year.

10. Discovering—and Preserving—the Earliest Known Stereo Recordings
By Clive Young. In 1901, German anthropologist Berthold Laufer used two wax cylinder recorders simultaneously to record Shanghai musicians, unintentionally creating the earliest-known stereo recordings.

9. Apple Mac Pro Rack: A Real-World Review
By Rich Tozzoli. Producer/composer Rich Tozzoli shelled out $10,000 for an Apple Mac Pro Rack computer; was it worth it?

8. The METAlliance Report: The Recording of Steely Dan’s Aja
By The METAlliance. Widely considered a pinnacle of recording excellence, Steely Dan’s 1977 album Aja had an occasionally tortured gestation—but it won the Grammy for Best Engineered Album. Now METAlliance members Al Schmitt and Elliot Scheiner share the inside scoop on how…

7. Sennheiser Announces Layoffs Amidst Slowing Market
With consumer and live sound sales heavily impacted by COVID-19, Sennheiser will cut 650 jobs worldwide by the end of 2022.

6. Inside the Live Sound of Live Aid, Part 1: London
By Steve Harvey. We look back at the live sound effort that went into the legendary charity concert Live Aid, held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia. With 60+ acts on the bill and 160,000 in attendance—not to mention 1.9 billion watching it…

5. Creative Editing is Key to Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend Podcast
By Jim Beaugez. A variety of audio editing tricks help audio producer Matt Gourley ensure that the Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend podcast keeps the laughs coming.

4. Danny Leake, Legendary Studio/Live Engineer, Dead at 69
By Clive Young. In addition to working as Stevie Wonder’s FOH engineer for three decades, Danny Leake also recorded dozens of top artists in the studio, leading to six Grammy nominations for his efforts.

3. Tool Tours with Intricate, Immersive Sound
By Steve Harvey. Touring the world behind Fear Inoculum, Tool’s first album in 13 years, the prog-metal heroes are filling arenas with a massive audio system that takes a new approach to immersive live sound.

2. Exclusive: Yamaha Launches Rivage PM5, PM3 Desks, DSPs, More
By Clive Young. Take an exclusive sneak peek of Yamaha’s most ambitious expansion for the Rivage series yet, as the company introduces two new consoles—the PM5 and PM3—as well as a pair of new DSP engines—DSP-RX and DSP-RX-EX—and Version 4 firmware.

1. AKM Factory Fire—A Pro-Audio Industry Disaster
By Clive Young. A 82-hour fire in AKM’s semiconductor factory is already hurting numerous top pro-audio manufacturers around the globe.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Creative Editing is Key to ‘Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend’ Podcast

Conan O'Brien usually records his podcast on the Warner lot, but has been using Earwolf Studios since the pandemic began.
TV talk show mainstay Conan O’Brien (foreground) and audio producer Matt Gourley (background) typically record the Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend podcast on the Warner lot, but have been using Earwolf Studios, seen here, since the pandemic began.

Los Angeles, CA (September 24, 2020)—Improvisational comedy moves fast, and the audio pros entrusted to capture the magic don’t always have many opportunities to fix flubbed words or phrases. But over the course of recording the mostly improvised podcast Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, producer Matt Gourley has found creative ways to get it done.

Matt Gouerly
Matt Gourley

Case in point: When a recent guest hiccupped over the word “about” while recording a key segment, Gourley used a trick he learned while working on another improvised podcast, Superego. He analyzed all the audio tracks from the interview to find every other instance of the guest saying the word in search of a substitute.

“As I was editing, I was keeping mental notes,” says Gourley. “I think there were six or seven times he said ‘about,’ and only one of them fit. It has to feel like a natural human, not artificial intelligence taking speech from the internet and pasting it all together. Luckily, one of them really worked.”

Creativity also comes into play in other ways, he says, such as the introduction and theme music. Longtime O’Brien associate Jimmy Vivino composes and performs most of the original music used on the podcast, with one notable exception: a clip from The White Stripes’ song “We’re Going to Be Friends” featured in the intro. Gourley transitions from a Vivino-composed segment with a simple kick drum pattern that links the two clips.

“[He] did the music for it to be a complement, even down to the same beats per minute,” he says. “I was able to take the separate stems of the music and take out the music after the introduction, hoping to make it seem like one seamless piece. It’s a little hard to tell, but that’s kind of the point.”

The team normally records at the same Warner Brothers studios where O’Brien tapes his television show, Conan, in a dressing room they converted to a fully functioning podcast studio with a glassed-in green room. There, the typical setup is four Shure SM7B mics on Heil PL-2T overhead broadcast booms and Shure SRH840 headphones for monitoring, all with room to expand, but these days O’Brien and sidekick-assistant Sona Movsesian record at Earwolf Studios, using SM7Bs and Sennheiser HD 280 PRO closed-back headphones, while Warner is still shut down. They both record locally to QuickTime on their computers while videoconferencing with Gourley and the day’s guest via Zoom.

Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy (right) of Schitt’s Creek, seen here with producer Matt Gourley (left), were guests on the podcast in January, 2020, back when it was still taping on the Warner lot.

“Conan himself is an admitted Luddite,” he says. “He doesn’t really know anything about computers, so to send him a mic and a USB interface [wouldn’t work].” Gourley, who prefers to use a Sennheiser super-cardioid mic on the podcast, downloads their files and assembles them in Pro Tools, lining up the tracks to a hand-clap sync.

“We record on Zoom as a backup in case we need it, especially for the guests,” he says. “It’s different every time. [I] get on Zoom with the guests a little before the recording and have them try to set up a [local] recording on their own so that we can get some decent quality. It’s hit and miss—sometimes guests just don’t have that functionality, so we end up going with their Zoom recording.”

Once Gourley completes a rough edit, he gets to work on the signal using plug-ins like the industry-standard iZotope RX to remove “room noise, plosives and mouth clicks.” O’Brien isn’t a heavy editor, though. If he has any concerns, he usually notes them right after taping. Gourley puts the episodes together mostly on his own.

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Producing a podcast that thrives on interaction and nonverbal communication can be a challenge, Gourley says, but one the team at Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend has adapted to well.

“Timing is everything and you’re always on a delay [with Zoom],” he says. “It’s like trying to be funny on a cell phone connection. But like anything, you start to learn the rhythms, and Conan’s a master of that. It isn’t long usually before the guests get in the rhythm, too.”

Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend • https://www.earwolf.com/show/conan-obrien/

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com