When listening to your favorite song, do you ever think about what went into recording it? The equipment used, or how different it would sound if it was recorded 100 years ago?
This week on Xero Gravity we’re talking all things music, and we’re joined by Rob Roy Campbell. He’s the founder of Electronaut Co. – a Chicago-based company making professional audio equipment for some notable recording studios. Rob joins us today to discuss everything from the progression from analog to digital, cliches in the audio industry and how following his passion took a lot of work and determination but was so, so worth it.
A Chicago native, Rob’s interest in music runs deep. His father was part of a band and Rob grew up playing with his 4-track recorder, adding layers of different sounds onto one track. It’s what ultimately sparked his interest in the audio industry and led him to start his own band. “That experience is probably why I was always the guy in the band doing the recording,” he says. “And then one day I just decided I wanted better recording equipment.”
When Rob’s life took a turn into the IT consulting world, he was making decent money but not personally satisfied with the work. His true passion was in designing and building audio equipment. So he figured out how to make it happen.
“I started off making things that could process the audio and make effects. When I got more serious I made a microphone pre-amplifier, because I knew it would be challenging. I thought, if I can make a good mic pre-amp then I must really know my stuff,” he recalls.
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A self-proclaimed control freak, it took Rob seven years to make a pre-amp that he deemed ready for sale. Finding the right vendors, money for engineering time, and even making his own metalwork for over two years was a lengthy but educational journey. “I took some long-cuts trying to get some of these things resolved,” he laughs.
And what’s Rob’s favorite recording medium? Analog tape. Not to discount the impact that digital recording has made on the audio industry, Rob just believes there’s still room for some old-school techniques. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the craft or the untouched errors so easily scrubbed by digital, but there’s something about analog that’s just a little more magical.
“When you’re recording digitally… People end up spending a lot more time trying to get things right. They do things over and over again, and they scrub every bit of error out of it. In the analog world, if you’re recording to tape you’ve gotta get it right,” he says.
So tune into Xero Gravity #89 for even more musical wisdom from Rob Roy Campbell. He’s sharing more on his move from IT consulting to building audio equipment full-time. Plus, he’s getting into the psychology of pricing your product and shares his personal definition of success.
If you enjoyed this episode, join us again next week. We’ll be chatting with Robert Oliver about the flavors and food economy of the Pacific and tying the knot between local cuisine and cultural identity. Be sure to check out all of our previous episodes for more small business tips, resources and insights.
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