Audeze talks with live sound engineer Philip J Harvey
July 31, 2022
Audeze talks with live sound engineer Philip J Harvey
Philip J Harvey is an international touring Front of House engineer with over 25 years of production experience in mixing and recording. His roster includes Medeski Martin & Wood, Secret Machines, The White Stripes, Mumford & Sons, My Bloody Valentine and Lorde. He is also currently working with L-Acoustics as an L-ISA immersive sound system Mix Trainer.
"I have never felt so confident in headphone monitoring before the LCD-XC and might be at the point where I can’t live without them!" - Philip J Harvey
Here's our talk with Philip:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?
Fortunately I have had more than a few opportunities to be proud of, like touring with The White Stripes in the Canadian Northern Territories in 2007 and recording those shows for the “Under The Great White Northern Lights” live theatrical release and box-set. Recording the Dead Weather demo at Jack White’s home studio at the end of 2008 is another highlight and being the first engineer/band to tour with the L-Acoustics L-ISA immersive sound system in an arena scale deployment with Lorde on her Melodrama tour in 2018.
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?
I am predominantly a FOH mix and recording engineer and have been fortunate enough to continue to do so during these past few dormant years, pivoting my skills to focus on live streaming. Currently I am back on tour and very excited to be working with large sound systems to entertain a live audience again.
How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?
I was raised in a musical household where my mother was a professional pianist and organist. Growing up I was a trumpet player in junior high and high school, but wanted to rock so I picked up and taught myself the electric guitar. There was always classical music in our house and as a teenager I went from rock radio to MTV to heavy metal to punk and gothic rock then avant-garde and jazz into my 20s.
Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?
My mother first and foremost. I remember from an early age being fascinated by music and sound, how it made me feel and where it can teleport one cognitively… I still am! Medeski Martin & Wood and the musicians in their orbit I’ve found very inspiring because of their potential to musically tap into the current of expression seemingly beyond consciousness.
Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?
As a mix engineer, most of my frustration seems to come from computers and the hyper speed that new technologies are developing these days. They have become so amazingly efficient that you can do just about anything you can dream of and there is constantly so much to learn. I can’t think of a particular moment, but it usually involves computer crashes and/or hard drive errors. Be open and embrace your intuition is how I try to overcome obstacles.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?
I almost never do any work without my trusty rack of Metric Halo ULN8s. It is my mobile recording system, my live mix effects plug-in server and customized monitoring environment. It’s a super diverse system and really makes the Audeze LCD-X sing!
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?
Be curious, creative and inspired! I am still amazed that I can make a living from working in music and audio production when I take a moment to think about it. It is not an easy career and is getting harder each year because competition and over saturation of people and material in the business. Follow your intuition and take chances by talking to musicians and engineers that inspire you is my advice.
How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?
I’ve used headphones as long as I can remember. I find them indispensable for focusing in on mixes and frequencies in the quest to make reliable decisions. During my recording and mix prep, I use them more than speaker monitors. And this is exactly why I am so excited about Audeze headphones.
Do you have any additional comments or stories you want to share?
The first time I heard Audeze headphones, we had the unique opportunity to record and mix Lorde’s live performance on the roof of the Ed Sullivan theater for her debut come back performance on Late Night with Stephen Colbert last year. We were on tour and it was a quick turn around time to make the CBS show schedule. I had brought a pair of Meyer HD1 monitor speakers into my hotel room to mix on. Our Musical Director had the Audeze LCD-X headphones and I asked him if I could use them as another mixing reference. Once I heard them, I ended up doing almost all of the mix on them and then using the HD1s to double check the mix. Reversing the normal procedure of mixing on monitors and using headphones to confirm the mix. I turned the mix into Late Night and they were very impressed. Many of my industry colleagues complemented me on the mix and I was instantly hooked on the clarity and fidelity of the LCD-X! They not only unveiled low level sounds and ultra subtle reverb decays that are usually masked & buried, but the transient response was lighting fast. I’ve become an Audeze convert ever since that moment and have never heard an equal of sonic quality and precision in any other headphone.
How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them so far?
I recently took a pair of Audeze LCD-XC out while mixing FOH for Lorde on the USA leg of her Solar Power 2022 tour and the vast improvements they have brought to my workflow have been extraordinary. I can objectively trust mix judgements and moves that I am making because of the transient and microscopic detail these beauties reveal. I have never felt so confident in headphone monitoring before the LCD-XC and might be at the point where I can’t live without them!