ULTIMO PRODUCTIONS, founded by concert pianist Andreas Klein, is the ultimate audio service for CLASSICAL musicians, ensembles, orchestras, choirs, concert series, competitions. We record live concerts, produce for CD and HD Audio on location with full post-production. 2020 Emmy Nomination, International Violin Competition Indianapolis 2018.
When superior quality of an audio production or an audio feed for streaming is required, ULTIMO PRODUCTIONS uses only top-of-the line microphones (e.g. Neumann, Schoeps, Brauner, Gefell), musical A to D converters, the Pyramix audio work station at DSD/DXD sample rates. We can "play God" if necessary: fixing musical problems (e.g. sound improvement, wrong notes replacement etc.), eliminating such nuisances as AC or other environmental noises, audiences coughs, and can "put you in a different sound stage" if the recording venue is not 100% suitable. However, we believe in "less is better" than in manipulating a recording or starting off with inadequate choice of venue or lack of preparation.
Prospective clients should visit our YouTube Channel where we illustrate some aspects of a successful audio production timeline: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIBFqUoGs4U0uBrc9EYpZpw/videos
Our credentials include numerous orchestral and chamber music concert recordings for NPR radio stations, e.g. Wisconsin Public Radio, Asheville BRPR, of music festivals. We produced CDs for chamber orchestras in New York City and Lake Placid, NY. Some of our productions are distributed by Naxos, Azica, Marquis labels.
As Director of Audio Recording, Andreas Klein produced recordings and consulted with the Brevard Music Festival and Peninsula Music Festival towards better equipment installations.
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Interview with ULTIMO PRODUCTIONS NY
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I was Audio Producer for the 2018 International Violin Competition in Indianapolis, IN, US. To record each round of the 3 week competition with ca. 40 contestant in 2 different venue required diligent preparation. The first 2 stages were violin and piano (an intimate setting), the final round was 6 violin concerti performed during 2 evenings with the Indianapolis Symphony in a large, old concert hall and with an unusual orchestral setup (8 string basses behind the orchestra on a higher platform). This competition is a major classical event in the US and is broadcast worldwide via WFYI radio streaming and on the Violin Channel (video). The jury are esteemed violinists and the contestants themselves very accomplished young artists. My audio setup provided the feed for the live streaming and radio broadcast, and everything was recorded for archival purposes and a subsequent documentary. I am proud to mention that my work as Audio producer was nominated for an Emmy award in 2020.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: With today's best digital audio formats, the question of analog vs. digital is not relevant anymore. During the first 15 years of digital, many missed the "old" and proven analog tape recording parameters. Digital was considered "harsh", "clinical", "unmusical". But today the best digital sample rates and best A-D converters can shatter this prejudice. This issue is not only about the way air waves are translated into either magnetic saturation or sampled in time on a hard disk, but goes beyond: how do we hear music and under which circumstances? In analog times, listening meant taking an LP out of the sleeve, preparing the turn table, listening to the music, perhaps reading the liner notes. Today, we press a button on the smartphone - or maybe still on a CD player - and we are instantaneously hearing something. Not that we listen to it, because in today's world we are most likely distracted by something and we stop listening, but continue hearing that selection in the background. Unfortunately, the younger generation hardly knows what a really great recording sound like as they only know the sound emanating from those tiny earbuds.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Do you have a studio? "No, I go on location to record, something suitable for the music. I have a post-production studio, an acoustically treated room for critical listening, for editing and mastering." What is your fee? "Well, that depends. This is not meant to be evasive. In order to give my clients a fair quote with most details covered, I need to know what exactly is the project: where is the recording, how many days, how many pieces do you play etc. etc."
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Perhaps that I can or should "play God" in the editing phase. Some musicians I worked with have the expectation that one can fix anything in post-production. Yes, we can do a lot, especially due to the advanced computer software possibilities. But still there things, we can't correct: e.g. bad articulation, out-of-tune playing (unless in solo music), bad synchronization among several musicians, bad sounds/timbre, and simply a lack of musicality and sensitivity.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Don't look on the equipment list and only on the estimate. For classical music production - which is totally different from other genres - artists and producers collaborate on the project towards an artistic, musical, inspired performance captured by the best technology available. The music is not "created" in the studio, but rehearsed prior to the recording. Therefore, the producer's obligation is to fulfill the performer's intentions as best as possible and to guide him/her towards a more or less "perfect" interpretation on the recording days. If the client feels comfortable and supported by the producer, he/she will accomplish an inspired performance worth editing and publishing later. If the chemistry between artist and producer is not adequate, the efforts of all involved might be wasted.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I do not talk about unhatched eggs.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I am new to Soundbetter.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: Superb, reliable and musical equipment; delivery of finished master at promised time or sometimes even before; realistic and transparent pricing.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love to hear great music performed in front of my microphones, get to know other artists and discover with them repertoire that I don't perform myself. I also enjoy the editing as I can surprise my clients when they realize that they perhaps "sound better" than they imagined. Thats a treat for me!
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Why do you want to record this piece or album? Which other artist (playing the same piece, if applicable) do you admire? What is this recording planned for, promotional, archival, celebrating a composer's anniversary or ...?
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: It all starts with live concert recordings or studio type sessions in a venue chosen for the repertoire and ensemble. We organize an audio production from A-Z: venue selection, instrument rentals (if applicable), score rental (if applicable), production timeline, artistic consultation before and during the recording days, editing, mastering. Delivery of final Audio Master to clients.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A tuning fork, a metronome, an espresso machine, a sleeping bag and tooth brush..... Just kidding!!
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Diligent, relaxed, honest, fair.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Anne Sophie Mutter; Yo Yo Ma; Daniel Barenboim. These artists have a radiant personality, superb artistry and imagination, and they are appreciative of audio personnel who collaborate with them.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Plan early and envision the technical setup. Know the score/music you want to record and work with the artist(s) on what they want to sound like.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Exclusively classical music of any kind: from soloists to large symphony orchestras and all in between.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Critical listening under sometimes difficult or hectic circumstances; sensitivity to the musician's needs and expectations; perfectionism for details in the editing/mastering stages.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Enthusiasm for the artists and a vision for the end result to be accomplished after all recordings are finished and all editing has been completed.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: Planning the recording session well in advance: getting familiar with the venue's acoustic properties, electrical outlets, AC/Heating situation, outside noise isolation, keeping any public/visitors away from the hall, securing enough time for setup. After listening to musicians rehearse, I fine-tune the microphone settings and set levels for the recording. Before "take 1", I let musicians listen to the playback, so they know how they sound on the recording. Consult with musicians about which works to record first, which last, and commenting on the achievements and progress during the session (if I am producer).
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Merging's Pyramix DSD/DXD system, 24 ch. A-D Horus AD converters, Genelec 5.1 surround system, B&W 801 MkIII stereo speakers, Krell amplifier, tube and FET Neumann, Schoeps, Brauner, MicroGefell microphones, too many plug-ins to mention for reverb, noise and restoration applications.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Chamber music ensembles, conductors, audio producers for classical music, e.g. David Frost, Judith Sherman.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I got introduced to "making recordings" in the analog time when I was a teenager and practiced towards concerts as a piano student. I was fascinated by the technological possibilities as they emerged when I was recorded by German radio stations. When I had my first LP production (recorded with the then new digital audio format), I wanted to be involved and produce for others as well. Over the years I acquired not only the finest equipment, but more importantly, the knowledge how to use audio equipment properly for classical music productions. I started my business, Ultimo Productions, in 1987.