Bob Olhsson has been providing quality music and motion picture post production services since 1965. It is his mission to make our clients sound better than they ever imagined was possible! He believes the best way to achieve this goal is to use a creative combination of traditional and non-traditional audio services.
I've been a professional recording and mastering engineer for thirty years.
First, A little history...
I got my start in radio. I started in pro audio when I was 16. Facilitated by a brand new driver's license, I showed up on the doorstep of United Sound in Detroit. United Sound was both the largest independent studio in Detroit and, more importantly, was the only one that was open on Saturday. I had learned my basics from five years in a radio drama program in jr. and sr. high-school, and now I could finally learn more.
I was shown through three recording studios, the disk-lathe room, the "machine room" full of dubbers, the tape duplicating room, the optical transfer room and the electronics shop. Then I was ushered down to the basement to meet the owner, who was working at a drill-press in the machine shop. United Sound, like most major recording studios in 1962, had built almost everything themselves, except for the tape machines, microphones and Pultecs. It was obvious that I loved everything about the studio and I was invited to return any Saturday I wished. They even took me out for a burger! A hundred Saturdays (and burgers) later I got my first full-time job in a studio.
The meat of my audio education came from listening to discussions among the engineers in the United Sound shop, and watching artists like George Clinton, Johnny Taylor and Barbara Lewis record hit records. Later this was expanded working with some of the best engineers in the world at Motown. Everybody was pretty much on their own trying to figure out how to make a decent recording unless they had access to working pros. The few publications, the Audio Cyclopedia, an occasional article in Billboard, Audio or the AES Journal could only whet your appetite (at least they could be believed, unlike so many of our contemporary PR-pushing trades). I later went back to radio to return the favors of all the engineers that coached me through my apprenticeship, teaching as well as doing live recording for KPFA radio on the West Coast.
A few (thousand) singles...
It was probably a joke, when the guys at United Sound suggested I go to a recording studio I'd never heard of to look for a job after my first year in college, a music major, as these same engineers had advised. I think the record company liked my naivety, along with the music major and my obvious passion for the work. I wasn't intimidated by their success, their accomplishments, I was a radio and classical music nerd, ignorant of pop music. I didn't know enough to be nervous sitting at Smokey Robinson's desk for my interview. But I was clearly willing to work my butt off to learn. And so I wandered into one of the most creative and unique recording environments ever: Motown Records.
I was a senior recording engineer at Motown in Detroit between 1965 and 1972. I worked with all the Motown artists and producers. High points were engineering Stevie Wonder's first solo productions and Marvin Gaye"What's Going On" album. I also worked with Micky Most (producer of Kinks, Animals, Donovan, Herman's Hermits), Jeff Beck, Andrew Oldham (producer of the Rolling Stones, Small Faces, etc.) and Tony Clarke (producer of Moody Blues) on some rock projects as the company tried to diversify.
We invented a number of modern recording methods. These included innovations such as multiple echo sends, console mutes, binaural and stereo headphones for overdubbing, in-line, editable, 8 track recording with accurate sync response, remote multitrack recorder sync select and switching, noiseless punch-ins, fader grouping, bi/tri/quad-amped studio monitors, monitor measurement and eq, locking up multiple multitrack recorders, and automated mixing.
Albums rock on...
When it became obvious Motown was leaving Detroit, I chose to pick up and move to San Francisco instead of following everybody to LA. I had become interested in recording rock bands beginning with Motown’s Rare Earth and this was followed by work in Detroit with a veritable Whose Who of the leading British rock producers from the 1960s.
I moved to San Francisco in 1972 to work for Wally Heider Recording. I also worked at KPFA in Berkeley doing live remote broadcasts. My west coast adventure included everything from classical albums for Harmonia Mundi to Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead; I built and ran a 24 track studio for Quicksilver Messenger Service for a number of years where we co-produced an album for Capitol Records. My 16 year old assistant and student, Eric Schilling, has gone on to a very successful career with the Record Plant and, in Miami, Bayshore and Crescent Moon Studios. He earned many platinum records for his years of work with Miami Sound Machine and Gloria Estefan. Watching his success has been the single most gratifying experience of my career.
The digital era...
I bought one of Digidesign's first DAT I/O Sound Tools editing systems and embarked on a new career combining my editing and mastering skills with digital audio. I began working with digital audio around 1991 after a bad mastering experience. I was determined to make CDs that sounded great and fortunately my clients along with several audiophile publications feel that I’ve succeeded.
Crossing over into film, video, multimedia: a natural progression...
Since I had learned more than any sane person might want ever to know about digital audio, I soon found myself tapped to help with the introduction of digital editing for motion picture post production and surround sound. I brought Andy Wiskes, an Academy Award winning sound designer up to speed and the two of us introduced the gang at Skywalker Ranch to Digidesign.
I built a post production studio for Andy Wiskes, who is a motion-picture production mixer and sound effects whiz. This included developing a HyperCard-based sound effects logging and cataloging application. We have worked together laying digital sound effects from his library up to picture. Projects have included a California Raisin clay-mation spot, a Gumby feature film and work on a Grateful Dead New Years Eve. broadcast. I recently completed an audio for video sweetening project for the group D'Coukoo.
Recovering the past.
When you make successful records, it’s nice to have reissues reflect the care and sweat that went into the original recording. I’ve done a fair amount of remastering at this point in my career and try to bring the spirit of the original into every project I touch.