Fix It In The Mic: John McBride & Blackbird Studios

Part 1 Origins and Philosophy:

Part 2 Microphones and Mic Placement:

Part 3 Creativity in the Studio:

John McBride is an audio industry legend with an equally strong footing in the live sound world and the studio business. Growing up lower-middle class Wichita, Kansas, in the late ’70s, he earned his stripes mixing local bands at live shows. Eventually, John ended up as production manager for Garth Brooks’ live show and spent the next two decades building his live sound business until he sold it to Clair Brothers. In 2001, he and his wife Martina McBride founded Blackbird Studios in Nashville, TN. Together they have created one of the world’s top recording studios comprising eight different rooms with a one-of-a-kind collection of musical instruments and recording gear, a dedicated studio equipment rental business, and a recording school, Blackbird Academy. The studios have been the creative home for artists such as Taylor Swift, Chris Stapleton, Amos Lee, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon, and much, much more.

In the inspirational first segment of the three-part interview we did with John, he explains his motivation to build Blackbird Studios. He also shares his philosophy in running the studio and his approach as an engineer and studio owner. Blackbird Studios own several AEA ribbon microphones and preamps like the R84, R88 mk2, R92, and RPQ preamps.

This is how John sums up his approach to recording. In the second segment of the three-part interview with John we get into the nuts and bolts of choosing microphones and the importance of microphone placement. John explains his approach to selecting microphone for vocals and acoustic guitar, and also goes into detail about his passion for ribbon mics. Finally, he shares with us why he chose AEA ribbon mics and how the R88 mk2 stereo ribbon gets used at Blackbird. The studio owns several AEA ribbon microphones and preamps like the R84, R88 mk2, R92, and RPQ preamps.

The third and final segment of our video interview with producer/engineer and owner of Blackbird Studios, John McBride, is all about creativity and not settling for something mediocre. John shares a candid story of how he finally discovered how the piano sound of “Lady Madonna” by The Beatles was created and how it got him to think outside the box. Ultimately, John believes that most of the craft in recording can be achieved with just the right mic and the right signal chain rather than going for the beaten path.

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