Interview with Clair Krepps, March 31, 1999

Project: Chasing Sound Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Krepps discusses his memories of various people's involvement in the circulation and creation of the Ampex 200. He also discusses his early studio work as an engineer using the Ampex 200 and other adjacent technologies. Krepps asserts that the multi-track recording technology progression had little to do with the sound engineers but rather a shift in being more efficient with their costs for hiring studio orchestras to create demos. He provides the example of his work with producer Bob Crew in recording the original demo with The Four Seasons & Frankie Valli and recording and stacking violin sections on multiple tracks to get one cohesive product.

In 1948, the president of the American Federation of Musicians, James C. Petrillo, instituted a union wide halt on all music recording involving musicians. Krepps recalls being a music engineer for Capitol Records at the time and not being able to work for months during the ban. Krepps explains the process of audio conversion for master production as a method of playing back the original disk on a turntable, and playing it through an amplifier to then record the master. Krepps also talks about creating masters for Les Paul and using both disk and tapes to convert the audio quality into one master. When asked about Les Paul's close miking technique, he recalls his own moment of in-session improvisational innovation: while recording with a bass band and a vocalist on the popular RCA 44B-x microphone. Because the bass was overpowering the vocalist, to achieve a more balanced recording Krepps ran to a close convenient store and purchased a maxi pad to place on one side of the microphone. After decades as an audio engineer, in 1951 Krepps came up with an idea for a type of machine that would balance and streamline the audio quality of the final audio master. This audio equalizer was called the Pultec and it was created to correct and edit the quality of the recording by fixing room acoustics as well as variations in types of microphones.

Krepps discusses the creation of Mayfair Recording Studios and the first studio projects that Krepps took on with his brother in 1965. Because of the lucrative start that they had in their first studio venture, the two began to think of ways that they could mass produce studio technology and equipment across the country. They were very successful and popular, having worked with all types of popular musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, as well as legendary producers like Tom Wilson.
Krepps asserts that the decline of independent studios was a product of industry capitalism as well as the prominence of the in-home semiprofessional recording studios used by wealthy recording artists. Krepps talks about his views on modern sound engineering and artists, especially the trend of purposeful "mistakes." He talks about some of the artists he recorded, and the last hit he worked on. He talks about his work as a consultant.

Interview Accession

2016oh229_chase059

Interviewee Name

Clair Krepps

Interviewer Name

Susan Schmidt Horning

Interview Date

1999-03-31

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Krepps, Clair Interview by Susan Schmidt Horning. 31 Mar. 1999. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Krepps, C. (1999, March 31). Interview by S. S. Horning. Chasing Sound Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Krepps, Clair, interview by Susan Schmidt Horning. March 31, 1999, Chasing Sound Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





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