The key people at Linn Records
Linn Records Limited was founded in 1982 by Ivor Tiefenbrun when Linn Products engineers became frustrated with the poor quality of some of the LPs they were using to test Linn's flagship product, the Sondek LP 12 turntable. As a result, Linn began pressing LPs to use in these tests and from there Linn Records was formed.
Linn Executive Chairman, Ivor Tiefenbrun, was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his and his company's engineering achievements and outstanding service to the electronics industry. The Linn mission is "To thrill customers who want the most out of life from music, information and entertainment systems that benefit from quality sound".
The Power of Sound
To arouse and sensitise,
Energise and calm,
Simulate the imagination, relax the body,
Communicate and unite,
Educate and inform,
Entertain and involve.
Ivor Tiefenbrun, 7th November 2002
In 2001, Ivor was announced as Scotland's Entrepreneur of the Year and also triumphed in the Business category of the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards, voted for by members of the public.
Ivor is also fond of quoting Einstein's maxim, "Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler". This single minded approach has earned Linn its enviable reputation for uncompromising quality, but Linn people simply aim to treat customers the same way we would like to be treated.
Linn Records Engineers
All the people working at Linn Records pay a very high attention to detail, in particular our sound engineers, producers, and those involved throughout the mixing and mastering process. We work closely with the post-production house Finesplice, London, where we do most of our mastering.
Our chief classical producer/engineer is Philip Hobbs. Philip was recently described in a Japanese Magazine as "the man with the golden ears". He certainly does have a lot of special tricks and skills in the recording world that James Bond would be proud of! Philip has been one of Linn Records top engineers since the label was started and he is also a top acoustician who designs loudspeakers (check out the Komri loudspeaker at the Linn Products website for an example). This puts Linn Records in the unique position that it is the same engineer controlling the sound at the beginning of a recording to what comes out at the end through the loudspeakers.
We will be adding interviews with our top people to this site. Here's an interview with producer/engineer Calum Malcolm.
Calum Malcolm, Producer/Engineer Calum Malcolm
has produced or engineered many Linn albums over the years, including all of Barb Jungr's bestselling CDs, four albums for five-times British Female Jazz Vocalist of the Year Claire Martin and all but one of the critically acclaimed Scottish Chamber Orchestra series of recordings. His work as the sole engineer on Benjamin Britten's Les Illuminations
with the Scottish Ensemble
(Linn CKD 226) led to it being named Multichannel Record of the Year in 2005. Now working as a freelance producer, engineer and audio consultant, he talks about his career in the industry and gives a "behind the scenes" look at the making of Linn (and other) recordings:
Describe your career background:
I left school (Edinburgh Academy, 1971) to study astronomy at St Andrews University. I got a job at HiFi Corner with Russ Andrews & Dave Watson in the summer hols, and decided to forget Uni, preferring to make recordings of all and sundry instead. I rented a room in Dublin Street, Edinburgh (1973) and built a recording studio (Castle Sound Mk1). In 1979 I moved to an old school in Pencaitland & built Castle Sound Mk2. I then sold the business in 1998. I now work freelance as a record producer/engineer/audio consultant. Castle Sound is still thriving and is one of the last large-scale studios left in Scotland.
What do you do in your spare time:
Music(!), art, technology, reading, driving, travel... I recently took up running, but only if accompanied by my doctor.
What instruments do you play:
Bad piano & synths.
What is the best concert you have been to?
I saw the New York Philharmonic conducted by Mr Bernstein in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. I think the programme was Shostakovich Symphony 6, but I was quite (very) young and don't remember. It absolutely blew me away.
What is your favourite album /artist?
I don't have one and there are too many to list here!
Can you describe the job of engineer/producer, what do you actually do?
As a producer, I have to get the best out of an artist or situation. So I work with them before recording starts, going over the material, deciding on arrangements, which musicians should be involved, where we should record etc. And then in the studio, my job is to make all the ideas work and gel properly.
I will (hopefully) persuade everyone to give the best performance they can (in a most encouraging fashion of course). And I will oversee the technical side, deciding on what & where the microphones should be, etc. Then I would mix the album later, usually alone, and then make any final changes after the artist has commented. I always do my own engineering.
What is the most difficult part of the job?
Dealing (politely) with a crap artiste, who should never have been allowed near a microphone in the first place.
And the most enjoyable or satisfying?
Working with a great artist, and watching an album grow from a few ideas into great music.
What has been the greatest unexpected obstacle you have had to overcome during a recording?
Successfully negotiating (and avoiding) mountains of drugs while recording various albums in the early 80s. Listening back now, I'm sad to report that those particular obstacles weren't overcome after all.
Another occasion involved the consumption of 4 bottles of claret and a bottle of Torres brandy, all consumed under the influence of Archbishop Philip Hobbs. Then, immediately after we recorded an appalling amateur choir. I'm proud to report that this made absolutely no difference whatsoever to the quality of the production.
There was also the case of the missing drum kit - A band turned up at the studio one day, having travelled from Inverness in two cars. Each party thought the other had brought the drum kit. 'Crestfallen' somehow didn't fully describe their feelings.
What to you is special about Linn as a record label?
I made Linn's first recording - the first Carol Kidd album, around 25 years ago - so I guess I feel part of the history. The label has always championed quality - content, sound & packaging - an increasingly rare thing.
What is your most memorable Linn moment?
Around 1976, I was having trouble finding decent monitor speakers for my Studio. I had recently met Ivor T [Tiefenbrun, Linn founder], who insisted that his new 'Isobarik speakers' would be the thing. So he lent me a pair. After a few hours (minutes?), they sort of 'popped', given the rigors of the recording studio (I was recording the Bay City Rollers at the time). So I told Ivor I thought they were crap. He may have forgiven me by now. Or he may not have...