RSR014 – Greg Norman – Electrical Audio & Normaphone - Recording Studio Rockstars

RSR014 – Greg Norman – Electrical Audio & Normaphone

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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RSR014 - Greg Norman - Electrical Audio & Normaphone

My guest on the show today is Greg Norman. He is a freelance recording engineer, producer, and audio designer and technician from Chicago, IL. Greg records both from his home studio and at Electrical Audio, a multi-room studio belonging to Steve Albini that specializes in recording to analog tape.

His discography is  a “list of who’s who in cool bands” including: Andrew Bird, The Killers, Guided By Voices, The Autumn Defense, & Kim Deal (of The Pixies).

The search for new and better sounds pushed Greg to start creating his own audio gear. He created Normaphone which is his moniker for all audio electronic constructions that he does independent of Electrical Audio (where he has been steadily running the tech shop for many years). One of his notable products is the beautiful MXPre L1c mic preamp that he designed for use in the Sony MXP 3000 series console.

Norman equipment for sale at Electrical

Despite all these talents, as Larry Crane of Tape Op Magazine says, -- Greg is “a nice guy.”

“It’s great to share in someone else’s best moment. Be a part of their best creation.” @Normaphone

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Greg and his friends had always been big fans of Steve Albini. Albini played in and produced bands Greg loved listening to including the Pixies and Nirvana. Greg got Albini’s number through a friend and decided to call him and ask if he was offering an internship. After a resounding yes, the rest seems to be history! Today Greg and Steve work at Electrical Audio based out of Chicago, IL.

Check out Greg’s Tech Journal from Electrical Audio, which he has been faithfully documenting since the start of 2003.

“Keep your band insulated from studio related problems” @Normaphone

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Q: Can you share an important failure or setback in your career that turned out to be a great lesson?

A: When I first started I noticed I would record every band the same, using that “Steve” sound. I ended up getting into a rut, all my music starting sounding the same. I had to re-light the fire to try something new and creative. I opened myself up to new music and bands such as Locrian and Sonic Soundscapes to notice different sounds and production techniques.

Q : While making experimental records, how did you come up with some of your recording techniques?

A: Sometimes I feel trapped in front of a computer using plug-ins all day, so I like to improvise and look for real objects to use. Anything that produces sound can be used to record such as a handheld tape recorder, boom box, or speakers. They just have to be re-wired.

Q: Conceptually, when do you know it’s a good idea to get outside the box?

A: You can tell when a band has an urge to do something different. If a song reaches a dead zone, verify why and then see if something can make it better. I try to make the best out of every little bit.

““Open yourself up to new music and bands, notice different production techniques” @Normaphone

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The “Jam Session” Q&A:

Q : At the beginning, what was holding you back?

A: Nothing serious, once I realized I could just walk up and talk to anyone, my inhibitions disappeared. Everyone needs time and courage to realize they can talk to people.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

A: When I was working with a freelance engineer, our clients were getting upset. He told me to keep cool and keep things moving not focusing on the negative things. Keeping band insulated from studio related problems, keeps them happier clients.

Q: What’s a fun recording tip?

A: When trying to get that telephone sound on a vocal track. Transfer the signal to another channel and flip the phase. Then you can EQ the flipped signal to create the weird filter.

Q: What’s your favorite book or movie?

A: Movies - Year in life of Metallica. Spotlights Bob Rocket from their black album. It’s fun to see an album cut on tape and all the effects they used.

Books - Yamaha sound reinforcement handbook – It really helps you learn the basics of sound in studio from Mics to signal flow. If you want to dive deeper into sound and theory check out Audio encyclopedia for sound engineer, it’s a BIG book, but has a great deal of information.

Q: What’s your favorite hardware tool?

A: GML compressor. Great compressor for almost anything from kick drum to vocals to stereo mix.

Q: Favorite software tool?

A: Pitch shifter. A quick fix and can process music fast.

Q: What’s the single most important thing person can do to become rockstar in recording?


“If you have ability to instill patience and good attitude for what you’re doing in the sessions, people will be easier to deal with and things will fall into place” @Normaphone

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If you have any or questions about recording you would like me to answer on the show or suggestions for the show please email me:

If you dig the show and find it helpful I would be honored if you would subscribe, and leave a rating, & review in iTunes.

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

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Credits: Thanks so much to Merissa Marx and Hunter Hansen for assisting with editing audio and show notes. You guys totally rock!