For more than two decades, Atlanta, Georgia has been a music Mecca. With all the hit records and super stars the city has cranked out, Atlanta is known for having some of the best sound engineers in the world. I sat down with engineer Alfred “AL-Tee” Williams to have a quick word about his experience in the industry, and to find out about some of the tools of his trade. His perspective was quite interesting…

AGI know you’ve been a sound engineer at Apache Cafe for several years, and have also worked with quite a few famous folks. Feel like dropping any names?

AL-Tee: I’ve worked with artists such as Kool and the Gang, The SOS Band, Tank, Rachelle Farrell, Angie Stone, Fantasia, PJ Morton, Bobby Brown and currently with R&B artist Jay Sean. I’ve also been featured in publications such as Mix Magazine, Yamaha, FOH, Sound on Sound just to name a few.

AGThat’s pretty impressive. How hard is it to mix an entire show like that?

AL-Tee: Few people understand all that’s involved in mixing a show. For years engineers have not received the respect they deserved. We all have been to shows where the sound is not on point and one of the band members attempts to adjust the sound, but just ends up making matters much worse. Within a few minutes, you just want to walk out.

AG: Ah yes, I’ve actually seen that happen.

AL-Tee: So, the question is, who is the real artist? The sound engineer or the artist?

AG: That’s a pretty lofty question isn’t it?

AL-Tee: We all know that an engineer can make a band or break a band with his or her mix. I understand everyone has a job. But now artists and musicians are starting to realize that it’s important to have a “seasoned” engineer mixing their show in order to keep getting the great gigs.

AG: This is true. So how do you think changes in the industry have affected the sound engineer’s role?

AL-Tee: In the late 70s through mid 2000s, artists made their career in the music biz by performing while the record companies made their money on record sales, with very little going to the artist. But now many of them are getting 360 deals, with everyone making money on their performances. A great sound engineer with top of the line equipment is crucial to everyone’s success.

AG: So, what’s “top of the line equipment” these days?

AL-Tee: The Presonus mixing console is an artist and engineer’s best friend if you want to have great sound quality. As an engineer you have to stay on top of the fast paced

tech world. I like mixing shows with an iPad using the Presonus software.

AG: An iPad? You’re kidding.

AL-Tee: For years, I created the “Al Teezee Sound” using older technology. But now I’ve got a new toy, the Presonus 16.4.2 and 24.4.2. WOW!

AG: Now you’re sounding like a commercial. What makes this thing so great?

AL-Tee: With the PreSonus mixing console, it’s easy to accomplish that “fat arena” sound with a small mixer, which makes it a breeze—especially for younger or less experienced engineers. It gives the kind of clean sound you’d expect with a 20-year vet mixing for them.

(I ask AL for a quick demo of the machine. It looks pretty compact compared to other boards I’ve seen. But it’s the remote iPad mixing that has astounded me. My, how times have changed!

And as is evidenced by the crisp sound coming from the band’s instruments, this engineer knows what he’s talking about: staying on top of today’s technology assures customers that they’ll hear the high quality their hard-earned money has paid for.)

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