For Ted Greenberg, the star of the second installment in our Make Your Mark series, a love of audio seemed predestined from birth. The Greenbergs were a musical family, and Ted became involved in drums at an extremely early age. After working on some projects in the studio, Ted could never fully understand why the end result sounded so bad. He soon realized the answer was bad gear.
Once reaching college, Ted began buying his own gear, starting out with what he could afford, but gradually making the move to better audio equipment. It was around this time that he began laying the foundation of his own studio in Philadelphia, and thanks to a meeting with Vintage King co-founder Mike Nehra, the duo began packing the space with premium gear.
In the time since, Ted has worked as a session musician, songwriter, teacher, engineer and producer, even picking up two Grammys for his work on the incredible documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Eventually making his way to the West Coast and setting up shop at Soundline Inc. in Los Angeles, Ted is currently in the process of building out a new facility to house his massive collection of audio gear.
To see more of Ted's current space at Soundline and hear from the man himself, watch our feature below and check out some exclusive photos. Stay tuned as our ongoing Make Your Mark series will continue to chronicle the amazing feats and gear of some the audio world's most interesting creators.
When did you catch the recording bug?
When I was in high school, I wanted to have a studio and I wanted to record. I didn’t know what was going on so my father took me to this place in New York called Crazy Eddie’s. I got this machine and I still have it, an AKAI Sound on Sound and I thought it was overdubbing, but it’s not really overdubbing. You can record, but there is no sync head, so whatever you record after you listen back to what you just did is all late. So all you do is create this echo-y thing and that’s not what I wanted. So I ended up getting a Tascam 40-4 that could actually overdub. I had my own studio in the basement of my parent’s home in 1976. I think I was like 15-years-old or something like that.
How’d you start buying this kind of gear?
The first piece of gear that I ever bought was this spring reverb. An Orban spring reverb then I got Yamaha analog delay. These are the first two piece of outboard gear. This is just what’s left of three rooms I used to have, I’m a recovering gear slut, gear whore, I don’t know. This is what’s left. I had a 32 input API, I had a 20 input Neve 8066, I had a 16-channel 8016, I had a BCM10. I’ve sold all of that and condensed it down to the essentials. I just got a 1608 from Mike (Nehra, Vintage King Co-Founder). I have all of the “first best,” “first new,” the first real reverb, the PCM60, and they still sound great. What’s interesting is that the hardware sounds better than the plug-ins, even though they’re the same algorithm. Something about the A/D and D/A converters on these things are smoother richer.
What are the things that are essential to a session for you?
That’s the rack of death right there. What can’t you do with it? You got six channels of Neve right there, two compressors, a Massenburg EQ, some more Neve compressors, some filters, SSL Buss compressor, V76 mic pres, 160s, old RCA tube compressors, an LA-2A, 1176. You gotta have good mics. The equipment really does matter.
Do you have a favorite microphone?
Wow. That’s a tough one. For what? I’m the kinda guy who will take down the Neumann U47 and put up a BK1 or make somebody sing into a Green Bullet because that’s the right sound. Replace the $3500 U87 with a Shure 57 because it has more edge or more vibe. It’s like asking “What’s your favorite color?” What’s the application? How are you feeling that day? Is the sky blue or is it burnt sienna? I don’t know how to answer that, but I love them all. I got a lot of them.
What about your instrument collection?
Well, I’m a multi-instrumentalist, I play 12 instruments. I have a Celesta, a Hammond organ, a Leslie, old drum kits, that bass drums has calf skin heads on it. Behind here there’s 25 guitars and basses, old Les Paul amps, Tweed Deluxes, Blackface Deluxes, old guitars like 1936 National steel. You gotta have the instruments too. When I’m doing a production and somebody says, “I hear this, I wanna do that,” it’s like I can almost recreate any sound you tell me verbally. I know the amp and guitar and get the right mic with the right mic pre so we can get that sound for you. It’s like forensics.
Ted Greenberg has worked on a wide variety of projects from Motown and music for healing to modern pop and funky folk. Check out three projects from Greenberg's discography including Chaka Khan from Standing in the Shadows of Motown, G. Love and the Special Sauce and Katalize.