I got interested in audio when I was a kid. My parents gave me one of those tan & white Fisher Price record players and I used to just sit there and listen to kids songs all day. I also had this little tape recorder with a microphone, but eventually both broke, so I tore them apart to figure out how they worked and how I could fix them. The tape recorder had a broken mic, so I deduced, through trial and error, that I could connect the wires of the microphone to the speaker from the Fisher Price turntable, and voilà — instant microphone. The cone and voice coil of the speaker acted as a capsule of a microphone, and it didn't sound great, but it did the trick.
Later on as I got older, my parents gave me one of these cool DJ toys that had two tape players and a microphone and a simple mixer, so I could fade back and forth between tapes. My sister and I would sit on the balcony of the stairs on the second floor, pretending we were DJs on a radio station. This was the first time I encountered audio mixing, actually. When I reached high school, I joined the school theater department and ran the sound system for them. Feedback was a killer in that theater, so I constantly had to chase resonances to filter out feedback tones
Simultaneously, I was playing drums in a rock band and the band put me in charge of the PA system. We had a 4-track TASCAM tape recorder as a makeshift mixer running through a Denon consumer amp pushing a small 4x8 speaker cabinet. Needless to say it sounded baaaaad. At that point all we were amplifying were the singers, so it wasn't a very “efficient” system, and I made it a point to upgrade to better equipment every chance I got.
Growing up in upstate New York, our local community college had this amazing amphitheater and a lot of big name bands would stop during their summer tours. Because of that bandshell, the college wound up building a pretty badass recording studio to capture some of the concerts, and as a consequence of that, started an associates recording program. I feel really lucky to have had that in my backyard. I attended that program without really understanding what it all entailed. I only lasted one year! What I mean is, that program was a two-year degree, and I knew I needed way more experience and education than those two years could provide, so I transferred to SUNY College at Fredonia, where I got my Bachelor of Science in Sound Recording Technology. While there, I joined the campus radio station, ultimately getting onto the Board of Director's for the station. I was the chief engineer whose job it is to maintain the station's technology, as well as maintain the transmitter.
Where I grew up, people typically work in some sort of trade. I worked on a farm milking cows and driving tractors when I was in high school to pay for a car and gas. I still work on that same farm occasionally during the summers and let me tell you, there is no better motivating force in college than the prospect of a future full of backbreaking farm labor!
I recently handled sound design and mixing for a film called The First Season, which featured a young couple encountering the challenges of starting a dairy farm from scratch. I could definitely relate. I spent high school milking cows and driving tractors on a farm to pay for a car and gas, and I returned to work there every summer throughout college. There’s nothing more academically motivating than the prospect of a future full of backbreaking farm labor! I never thought I would find myself in NYC, doing what I'm doing now, and I'm still amazed every day.
Cory Melious is a Re-recording Mixer/Sound Designer with Heard City (www.heardcity.com) in NYC.