Featured KRK User Jeff Waters
Canadian Jeff Waters, guitarist and founder of Annihilator, never intended to become an engineer and a record producer, in addition to his career as a recording artist, a songwriter and a touring musician. Ever since he was a small child, he was attracted to the guitar. His family supported his interest, buying him an acoustic guitar and then an electric guitar. He was also encouraged by music teachers and eventually took lessons. While he initially was attracted to such 70s British rock acts as Elton John and Sweet, he quickly became enamored with harder rock groups such as KISS, AC-DC and Black Sabbath.
His musical education was quite broad though, as he became exposed to guitarists John McLaughlin and Paco De Lucia, along with classical flamenco players. Still, his love of the harder rock sounds of such groups as Metallica, Slayer, the Scorpions and even Van Halen, was what shaped the launch of his band Annihilator in the mid-80s. The band eventually recorded three albums for Roadrunner Records, with the first, Alice in Hell, being the biggest independent Metal album of 1989. It brought Waters, in his words, "from a basement to touring the world." The second Roadrunner album, Never, Neverland, released in 1990, sold even more. To this day, the latest evolution of the band continues to tour extensively and enjoys a rabid following in Europe and Japan. The group has been playing for 22 years in front of anywhere between 1,000 to 80,000 fans, depending on the territory and has released 14 studio CDs to date.
Waters, the main songwriter in Annihilator, rapidly became interested in the basics of recording. That became the catalyst for his insatiable desire to learn all about recording. His first forays into recording were very rudimentary. "I bought a little 4-track cassette machine and a few microphones from Radio Shack," says Waters.
He became exposed to the world of professional recording at such legendary Canadian studios as Little Mountain Sound Studios and by such in-demand mixing and mastering giants as Mike Fraser, Ken Lomas, Peter Collins, Jim Barton, Bruce Fairburn, Bob Rock, Randy Staub and Bob Clearmountain. Waters spent a lot of time around Little Mountain Sound Studios, the recording home of Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Van Halen, David Bowie and Skinny Puppy, among many other artists. He also spent time at the famed Le Studio in Quebec, where such artist as Sara McLachlan, David Bowie, Keith Richards, Rush and the Police recorded.
While Waters learned recording and mixing at legendary studios, he also began to read all he could about recording. He would read interviews with all the top engineers and producers and compiled a notebook of recording tips and gear and the name KRK kept popping up. This led him to KRK V8s and more recently to the KRK VXT8 monitors. "The VXT8 instantly became my favorite monitors," says Waters. "They are sonically accurate and don't color the bottom or top-end. They are exactly what I was looking for. I wanted monitors where I could sit and work for hours on end and not feel like my ears were hurting."
Waters is also getting more involved in the mastering process for many metal bands- yet another reason to have the best monitors. "The KRK monitors are a godsend for instantly hearing problems in mixes from home recording systems," says Waters. "They reveal everything. It's instant. You don't have to guess, like with other monitors I've tried. If there are any flaws in the recording, it will come out on the KRK monitors and I'm going to know exactly what I have to do to fix the problem in the mixing or mastering process."
When Waters is on the road, and not at his studio, Watersound Studios, in Ottawa, Canada -- he uses KRK VXT4 monitors for a portable yet professional monitoring solution. "I have a pair of VXT4 monitors connected to my laptop just for referencing stuff when I don't want to be or can't be in the studio," says Waters. Waters also uses KRK KNS 8400 headphones when recording vocals. He finds that when he is in a session and a vocalist is using them, the vocalist is always happy. "Singers love them," says Waters. "Everyone always says, 'Cool, there's a volume control on it.' You just let the singer crank it up and you don't have to press any more buttons on the console to lower the playback volume for them."
"With other monitors I have had, I always had to mix to a certain level and then crank it up louder to see what happens. Then I really had to turn it up to see what it's like at high volumes. With KRK there is no guess-work. What you hear is what you get. KRK absolutely perfected the balance of low, mid and treble," says Waters. "I tried other companies' similar sized speakers and I realized I had bought the best monitors first. I just couldn't make do without them."