- Written by Scott Wilkinson
- Published on 07 May 2013
Recording engineer Bill Schnee talks about his illustrious career working with such artists as Steely Dan, Thelma Houston, and many other top-name musicians; his direct-to-disc recordings for Sheffield Labs; his own label, Bravura Records, for which he records live performances direct to 2-channel; the importance of using a 192 kHz sampling rate and 24-bit resolution when recording digitally; how he built and equipped his own recording studio; answers to chat-room questions; and more.
Run Time: 1:09:10
Bill Schnee started music lessons on the trumpet when he was 9, and switched to the saxophone when he was 11. He also took keyboard lessons from the time he was 10. When Bill was 16, the family moved to Los Angeles, where he formed a band with several of his new friends, with Bill playing keyboards. While he honed the band's sound and engineered their demos, the band's producer encouraged Bill to pursue the professional techniques that would later build his craft. Throughout college and law school, Bill continued to write songs and play music, but his natural gifts in production and sound engineering eventually won the day.
Today, Bill's musical background continues to help in communicating with artists and musicians in the studio as producer, engineer, and mix master. In a highly decorated career that spans four decades, he has engineered and hit gold or platinum payoffs with an extremely wide variety of artists that include Three Dog Night, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Rod Stewart, Chicago, Steely Dan, Natalie Cole, The Jacksons, Marvin Gaye, Ringo (with all the Beatles), Barry Manilow, Carly Simon, Michael Bolton, George Benson, The Pointer Sisters, Bette Midler, Amy Grant and Whitney Houston, including Whitney's mega-single "I Will Always Love You." Bill has also mixed four projects for Mark Knopfler including the final Dire Straits release, On Every Street. Switching to his producer role, Schnee also mined precious metal on multiple projects with Huey Lewis and the News, Boz Scaggs, Pablo Cruise, Joe Sample, and the internationally renowned direct-to-disc recording with Thelma Houston.
In 1981, Bill opened his own recording facility—Schnee Studio. It boasts a large live recording room with a unique acoustical sound, a custom-made recording console, custom tube mic pre-amps, and an extensive collection of vintage tube microphones. It is widely regarded as one of the finest recording rooms in Los Angeles.
In addition to working on many award-winning projects, Bill has personally been nominated for a Grammy 11 times for Best Engineered Recording and has won twice for Aja and Gaucho, both from Steely Dan. Those two multi-platinum releases add to a harvest of hits that includes over 85 gold records, 50 platinum projects, and 50 top twenty singles. Schnee has also won an Emmy Award for Best Sound Mixing for a Variety Special and a Dove Award.
Bill's latest endeavor is Bravura Records, a live-music label where artists of all genres are recorded and mixed live in his studio to very high resolution digital (24/192) through extensive proprietary equipment. He hopes to show that the synergy of musicians and singers performing together without studio wizardry can offer something very special for the listener and true musical performance. Bravura will offer these high-resolution recordings on Blu-ray and other hi-res digital formats, as well as CD. In a world where MP3 has unfortunately become the musical standard, Bill is hoping to bring true high fidelity to the audiophile community and hopefully expand the state of the art for everyone.