Coffee Break Club: Dan Korneff

Coffee Break Club: Dan Korneff

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Dan Korneff is an American producer who has worked with bands such as: Paramore, Underoath, The Pretty Reckless, Drowning Pool, The Devil Wears Prada, Breaking Benjamin, Pierce the Veil, Hawthorne Heights and many more. He works out of his Sonic Debris Studios in Long Island, NY. We spoke about “Modern Vintage”, how kids have the keys to the candy store and why it might be a bad thing, why he’s not a big fan of remixed/remastered albums and much more!

1. What was the thing that got you into Music Production?

My interest in music production stems from the old saying “if you want it done right….” I was in a band with some friends when I was a kid. We had written a couple songs and entered the studio to lay them down. I remember leaving the situation thinking that the demos I made with RadioShack mics sounded better, so I did everything I could to make those recordings better. At a certain point, I realized that I really enjoyed working with a collection of musicians and it made sense to jump to the other side of the glass. 

2. What’s your stance on the digital vs analog battle?

I have a studio in N.Y. called Sonic Debris Recording Studio which is a “Modern Vintage” facility. It’s got a Solid State Logic G series console and a metric ton of cool vintage gear. I choose these tools because I think they still sound superior to other methods. With that being said, I don’t have a single tape machine in the studio. Everything is captured digitally and I use my fair share of plugins on a session.
I think it’s funny when someone tells me to check out a song and say “I can’t believe it was done entirely in the box”… and I say to myself “yes. Yes I do believe this flat, lifeless track was done in the box!”

3. Do you think one day software, emulation-hardware etc will surpass the real thing?

Sure. As soon as there is a computer available with an infinite amount of processing, you’ll have the ability to model any piece of gear perfectly. If anything, it has already surpassed the real thing due to it’s convenience. Sonically, my ears still gravitate towards (mostly) analog mixes.

4. How do you see the current Music Production scene? The pros the cons, what we might be missing/what we could improve?

The pros are: Everyone has the ability to record music. The cons are EVERYONE has the ability to record music. The kids have a key to the candy store, and they’re sucking down all of these “one knob” plugins, blasting the life out of their tracks with brickwall limiters, and programming drums at maximum velocity. So infatuated with bleeps and bloops, putting 808s and reverse cymbals on everything, their A.D.D. mentality has blinded them. And you know what really suffers? The SONG. 

5. What’s the latest piece of gear (hardware/software) that made you go bananas?

Honestly, the latest piece of gear that I was really excited about were my near-field monitors. I invested in a pair of Nola Boxers, which are super audiophile bookshelf speakers. It changed the way I listened to music. I could hear so much detail. I really enjoy sitting in front of them every day.


6. Let’s say we could get the brightest of the brightest and smartest of the smartest to come up with a piece of gear (software/hardware) and it could eliminate one annoying thing, what would it be (could be audio or anything, physically impossible or possible)?

I would love a multitrack version of auto-tune that would retain the phase relationship across multiple tracks. That way I could use it to tune my Bass tracks. 

I would love a capacitor that never goes bad. 


7. If you could give one piece of advice to a young starting home-studio producer, what would it be?

Start from the beginning. Learn your craft. There aren’t any shortcuts to learning proper engineering skills. 


8. If you could go back in time to remix/master/record one album, what would it be? (Can be your own production or someone elses production)

This might sound strange, but I wouldn’t fuck with history. hahaha!  When I was a kid, I used to think “why wouldn’t Metallica go back and remix all of their old material? Master of Puppets sounds so good! Make everything sound like that”. But recently, I listened to this “remaster” of Megadeth Rust In Peace. Vocals were re-recorded, new solos laid down, new mix….The complete vibe was gone. Although the original album could have been sonically better, the embodiment of music was perfect the way it was. We accepted it for what it was. Unless you made a huge mistake…say… MUTE the bass for the entire song, let it go.


9. How do you stay healthy during recording process? Exercises? Diets? Things to avoid? Things to remember?

I’m the last person to comment on personal health. When my schedule is lite, I go to the gym every day. I really enjoy working out and clearing my mind. When my schedule is packed, my health goes to the wayside. I eat tons of fast food and candy to help deal with stress. It’s terrible. 


10. What’s the 1 item that a new producers shouldn’t be cheap with?

Don’t overlook the importance of a high quality cable. Either make them yourself or buy a reputable brand. I seen so many cheap cables with soldering jobs that looked like a 5 year old did it. Cheap construction can add noise and allow RF to leak into your signal. 

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