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A few months back, we went into the Vintage King Tech Shop to document one of the largest vintage and used gear purchases in VK history. The story goes like this... Longtime Vintage King customer Fred Baker has been buying gear from co-founders Mike and Andrew Nehra since the company started in 1993. When Fred recently decided to retire, Vintage King bought the entire collection back and has been busy preparing it for a new generation of engineers and producers.
It's hard to encapsulate just what this collection of gear means to us. Each piece represents a unique time and place within Vintage King's 30-year history. To do this properly, we asked Mike Nehra to come in and drop some knowledge on us regarding these amazing pieces from Neve, Telefunken, Neumann, API, and more. Watch below:
Lifelong gear collector Fred Baker recently sat down with us to talk about his analog obsession. Check out some of our conversation below to learn more about Fred and the collection of gear you just saw in our video.
When did you initially get into buying gear?
Well in 1985 to get started recording, I bought a Soundcraft 24 Console, a used MCI JH24 2" and a minimal amount of mics and processing gear. But, the big but is when I started buying vintage gear and I'm fairly sure that it was either 1992 or 1993. At the time, I lived in Grand Rapids and my friend Glenn Brown (super talented engineer) from East Lansing told me about Mike Nehra and Neve mic pres. I never really liked the sound I was getting with the Soundcraft pres, so I was interested in improving my front end. I went to the White Room, met Mike, bought a pair of 1073s and I was hooked. After that I started buying more vintage gear. The next modules I bought from Mike were a pair of Neve 32264a Comp/Limit. That pair came with the package that VK just bought from me.
I know you were really high on the 1073s you bought from Mike. Can you talk a little about their sound and what it meant to you own them?
I know it is very subjective, but for me the 1073s weren't hyped or cramped in the high end, just very clear on the top, the low end and low mids were very true and clean. This made the sound very open and rich, ultimately bigger in the mix because of the great, solid mid range. It felt great to own a pair because my sonic work was finally improving.
What's your favorite piece that you sold to Vintage King? What was special about it?
That's a hard one because all the old gear that I sold VK was special. But if I have to pick, it is the Neumann M49. The M49 is so natural and open, not hyped without a smiley face EQ curve. From a Decca Tree in omni (substituting for an M50), to figure 8 on a vocalist singing and playing guitar, dobro, female voice, whatever, that mic is natural, open and rich and always sounds great.
Was there any holy grail piece that you never ended up purchasing?
Well any engineer in the know would say the Fairchild 670 and 660. I heard the 670 when I met Mike at the White Room. But to be more real, the Pultec EQP-1A, the right one never came my way. You can dime the high end on a Pultec and it never spits at you. Also, they are great on snare. Boost a bit at 100Hz and boost a bit at either 5k or 10k and voila, there's your snare sound. The high end on passive EQs is special.
What's something you saved and that you'll never get rid of?
Among other pieces, I saved an LA-2A and a pair of 1066s. When the time comes I'll give them to someone that can hear how great they are.
What are your plans for retirement? Will you still be involved in audio and gear in some capacity?
I will continue to help, and mentor a couple of friends that get it. It is very enjoyable to pass techniques and tricks on to others who have passion for recording music. Right now my wife and I are in Canyonlands Needles being campground hosts for the month of April. But the whole reason that I got into recording is because I'm a songwriter. I've got 30 or so of my songs tracked and I'd like to edit and mix them. Many more songs to track if I ever get to it. And for sure, I'll keep writing! Thanks to UAD Plugins, I won't be too upset without my vintage gear.