Monday, May 1, 2017
Ultimate Ears Stories

Top “Pro Tools Guy” Atiba “T-wizz” Jones Talks Live Sound and Ultimate Ears

T-WIZZ for Ultimate Ears

Atiba “T-wizz” Jones is a playback engineer or “Pro Tools Guy”. We’ll let him explain all the details, but it sounds like a dream job!

Having the position that I have in a performance, I need to hear what’s going on with clarity and accuracy. Being able to hear exactly what’s being played is essential to correcting any issues or problems that might occur before or during a performance.

Can you tell us what a Pro Tools Guy is?

A “Pro Tools” guy is actually an audio playback engineer. We call it a Pro Tools guy because that is the most commonly used DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) in the music industry. I’ve used multiple DAWs in this business, deciding which DAW to use depends on the client’s needs and the functionality of the DAW. Our responsibilities are to playback on cue the prerecorded audio in a live show setting. We also make edits and mixing changes to fit the concept and idea of a particular artist.

Do you work with the artists directly or just the crew? Which members of the crew do you work closest with?

That depends on the situation, some artists are hands on. Other artists focused on performance, where they have someone appointed to deal with the sound of the show, i.e. a Creative Director, Music Director, Musician, even Management in some cases.

How did you get your start in music?

Music has always been a part of my life, since birth! I grew up in the church. I actually lived in an upstairs apartment above the church I was attending. I started out as a drummer at the age of 2, then began to play keyboards at the age of 17 where I focused on music production.

How did you become a ProTools Guy?

As a musician/producer I’ve always looked for ways to enhance the performance I was working for at the time. So I started making performance tracks on keyboards, drum machines, 4 track recorders, etc. The first keyboard I had that helped me learn the basics of recording and editing was a KORG 01w fd. I know that the platform for that is “MIDI” (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), but it holds the same basic principles.
I later began to use computers for there versatility and portability. Initially, I didn’t really care for “Pro Tools”, but it grew on me the more I learned, and then it became my DAW of choice.
I was naturally a techie at heart, so that presented me the opportunity to get picked up by one of my mentors in the music industry “Teddy Riley”, for my problem solving skills and ability to play instruments. Then was later put in the position of a playback engineer.

What’s a typical day like in your world?

A lot of the work is done in the preproduction stage, where we would take a studio session and create what we call “Stems” to place in another session created just for live playback purposes.
I will have a preproduction rehearsal to make sure the levels of the playback audio are correct, make any changes that need to be made with stems, and make sure the playback device(s) (laptop computers) are operating correctly. At the venue, I setup and test the playback rig, execute our performance, then breakdown the rig for departure. It’s not much, but it’s practically no room for error being that I play a big role in the success of the performance.

How does Ultimate Ears fit in your work flow?

Having the position that I have in a performance, I need to hear what’s going on with clarity and accuracy. Being able to hear exactly what’s being played is essential to correcting any issues or problems that might occur before or during a performance.

How did you find out about Ultimate Ears?

I’ve seen various artists, engineers, and musicians who where wearing them! I want to give a thanks to Courtney Taylor (FOH: Fantasia,Pharrell Williams, Brian McKnight, Far East Movement, etc.) for introducing me to Mike Dias (Ultimate Ears Rep), who helped me find a Great Pair of custom IEM’s to fit my needs and hear a clear distinct sound.

Which Model of UE do you use?

I have a pair of the Pro Reference Remastered IEMs with the wood finish so they look as great as they sound, and also a pair of UE 900s’s for backup.

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