In conversation with Sound Installation designer Michael Chafee

July 1, 2012
By

ACOUSTIC DESIGN

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Michael Chafee began singing professionally in folk groups at the age of 15.  Upon graduation from high school, he accepted a Congressional appointment to The United States Naval Academy, and benefited from a multi-disciplined engineering program, but not from Navy life, and after four years, departed active duty to the Naval Reserve for two more years.

After spending a year in inside sales for a large corporation, he decided to follow his dream, and sang in bands for two years, and recorded in RCA studio A in New York.

In 1972, he went to work for GBX electronics, Toronto, Canada as their East Coast representative, selling stage amplification to music stores, and became the youngest manufacturer‘s rep. in the country.  During the following years, he expanded the scope of his business to include Broadcast, Recording, Church sound, and High Fidelity, manufacturers.

Because of his extensive practical experience, he began designing systems for his dealers and his friends, the first being a touring p. a. for Rock’ n Audio, who subsequently became Hank Williams J.R.’s p.a. company.

Continuing his education, he studied with Don and Carolyn Davis two times at their Syn-Aud-Con workshops, the most advanced audio program in the country. This led to his becoming TEF license #20 world wide, and fostered relationships with some of the most brilliant minds in the business.

Michael has won over 50 Rep. of the Year awards from his manufacturers, continues to design systems, and travels the country calibrating and optimizing recording and mastering studios, and hi-end home theater systems.  His work has included;

  • Two touring p. a. systems for the governments of Brazil and Venezuela
  • Tampa Bay Bucks headquarters auditorium 7.1 system co- design and calibration.
  • WEDU Tampa, Fl on air and off air audio monitoring systems design.
  • Digital Domain, Longwood, Fl. System optimization for two mastering suites
  • Eastern Star Studios, Orlando, Fl. 5.1 And two channel system calibration and optimization
  • Church Of The Palms, Sarasota, Fla. Sound system design
  • Steven Bornstein, President of ABC, home theater system design and calibration.
  • AC Neilson, Tampa, Fl. Auditorium 7.1 system calibration
  • Five home theater projects profiled in British publications

Most recently, he was a Sound Designer for the large 5.1 Playback System for the Audio Engineering Society’s 123rd. Convention in New York City.

Michael feels his real forte is the ability to call upon the expertise of his many friends who are the world’s best practitioners of The Craft.  Here’s a quote from a one of them …

“Mike Chafee has the most acute set of ears of any acoustical expert I’ve met. He can zero in on most problems by ear—which is later proved viable by measurement. It’s that integration of good ears, common sense and technical acuity that makes him special. He also offers “outside the box” solutions that prove to be the most economical before suggesting the big bucks options. Plus, he’s a real nice guy!”

Bob Katz
Mastering Engineer and President
Digital Domain, Orlando, FL

In conversation with Audio Times editor Robert Campbell, Michael discusses his approach to audio design in a variety of sectors and gives a lot of practical advice for those of us (Robert included) who need to improve their current audio monitoring environment.  So sit back and enjoy the interview and also have a look at some of the installations which Michael has been involved in.

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Studio B at Bob Katz's Digital Domain Mastering Facility. Michael was responsible for demoing , supplying, and setting up the Genelec 8260 dsp monitoring system, and collaborated on room tuning and setup.

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Studio B at Bob Katz's Digital Domain Mastering Facility. Michael was responsible for demoing , supplying, and setting up the Genelec 8260 dsp monitoring system, and collaborated on room tuning and setup.

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Mark Pierson's Home Theatre. Michael did the audio and video design, specified the complete physical layout, designed and deployed room treatment,and calibrated the 7kw Genelec system.

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This two channel system belongs to record label impressario Ken Golden, and features Michael's simple RFZ approach. Michael designed the acoustical treatment, placed the speakers and the listening position, and deployed Analog notch filtering to tame the worst LF resonances.

Alan Silverman @ Arf Mastering, NYC (47)

Michael was a major contributor to the sound design and tuning of Alan Silverman's ARF Mastering Facility based in New York. He was also responsible for the Revel 'Ultima Studio 2' Loudspeakers.

Alan Silverman @ Arf Mastering, NYC (43)

Michael was a major contributor to the sound design and tuning of Alan Silverman's ARF Mastering Facility based in New York. He was also responsible for the Revel 'Ultima Studio 2' Loudspeakers.

Alan Silverman @ Arf Mastering, NYC (37)

Michael was a major contributor to the sound design and tuning of Alan Silverman's ARF Mastering Facility based in New York. He was also responsible for the Revel 'Ultima Studio 2' Loudspeakers.

Alan Silverman @ Arf Mastering, NYC (29)

Michael was a major contributor to the sound design and tuning of Alan Silverman's ARF Mastering Facility based in New York. He was also responsible for the Revel 'Ultima Studio 2' Loudspeakers.

Alan Silverman @ Arf Mastering, NYC (26)

Michael was a major contributor to the sound design and tuning of Alan Silverman's ARF Mastering Facility based in New York. He was also responsible for the Revel 'Ultima Studio 2' Loudspeakers.

Elliott Randall

Michael mixing front of house for a Musitronics clinic conducted by Elliott Randall, with Jaco Pastorius on Bass, Duffy Jackson on Drums, and Danny Lamb on guitar.

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The legendary hip hop mixer Ray Seay, with his new Genelec system

http://www.audio-times.com/audio/mike_chafee.mp3

Our thanks to Michael for taking the time to chat to us.  You can find out more about Michael’s work by pointing your browser to http://michaelchafee.com

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