by Rick Allen, Production Director, Hot 97FM, New York, NY

Do you want to mix the kind of production that cuts through and grabs the listeners' attention? Do you want to create a hot laser zap or killer guitar slide to kick off your next sweeper?

Is that why some production people are always asking others to give them their equipment lists, mike processing settings and synthesizer patches? One more series of questions: do you really want to continue to create better and better sounding production? If so, instead of asking to have it all handed to you, why not try to learn about the gear you use and create your own sound? Instead of asking for the settings of a mike compressor, why not read up and find out if a 2:1 ratio at 8db of compression is processing your voice differently than a 10:1 ratio with 2db of reduction? Once you understand the concept, you can figure out the best settings for your voice and then know how to fine tune those settings with your own ear.

If you really want to create the ultimate synthesizer zap, have you ever taken the time to find out what patching a low frequency oscillator into a voltage controlled low pass filter's resonate frequency control input will do? ...or do you just hit the preset buttons?

Do you realize the total number of hours production people have wasted just hitting buttons on gear like the H3000 Harmonizer hoping to stumble onto the right sound? If these people took the time to learn what that device does and how it does it, they'd go from point A to point B in a straight line, not by way of Des Moines (nothing against Des Moines). Better production in less time!

I know some people reading this will ask another question: "Who has the time?" If you can't find the time, don't worry. Nobody has to know everything about the gear he or she works with to knock out production. However, if you want to keep moving up in markets or jump to a better station, it would help to find the time.

It comes down to the way you look at the gear. They can be toys or tools. Toys are around to entertain you. Tools can help you do a better job and get it done faster.