An Interview with Cliff Maag
And A Review of the Maag Audio PREQ4® with AIR BAND®
Pan60: Cliff, tell us a bit about yourself on a more personal level. What are your hobbies? (other than working: )~\
Cliff: I finally got a minute to GITRDUN!
pan60: LOL – Now, that’s what I would say: )~
Cliff: I love recording and designing recording equipment. It is still my favorite hobby even though I make my living doing it. I have been recording and designing recording equipment for over 36 years. When I am not doing that, I love to go fishing with my wife. We go at night and often sleep on the boat. We will catch enough rainbow trout in the summer to last through the winter.
My wife and I have been married for 41 years. We grew up together. We have 5 children and 14 grandchildren. We also like to go camping and fishing with our family. We have been doing that for many years. This has created great memories for them and for us. They are all setting up plans for this summer. We all just love to do that together. Our family is a big priority to us. We simply love to be together and have fun.
pan60: We had a very nice chat last week and you have been around the industry in more ways than one. Tell us a bit about your background and how you first got into the audio recording industry.
Cliff: I have been in the recording industry and recording equipment design for many years. I got started in the early seventies. It was 1970 when I stepped into a recording studio and realized what multi-track recording was. My life was never the same after that.
I couldn’t quit thinking about it and how it worked. I had been writing songs prior to the studio experience and wanted to record them. I was a carpenter and had built two homes. I finally decided to build another to finance putting in a recording studio into my home. This was to fulfill the desire to record my songs. I did just that and put a recording studio into my house. I worked out things with the city to be able to make it a home occupation and they granted me a license.
I worked at Geneva Steel as a pattern-maker and did the studio recording after work. It was a hobby at first, but very quickly turned into a part time business. I started out with a Teac 80-8, a Tascam 16 channel board and a Techniques Isolated loop - two track. It wasn’t long before I had clients and I decided to get a used 24 channel console, a new Stephens 24 track tape recorder and a new ATR 100 ½ inch 2-track.
The console was built by a friend and was custom. I also had Steven Paul modify me an AKG C12 Mic. I still use it to this day. I bought a Boulder Mic Pre and a LA2A limiter. After experiencing the Boulder, LA2A and the C12 sounds, I needed to have more Mic Pres like that in my console. That is when I began designing Mic Pres and EQs.
pan60: what made you get into making gear?
Cliff: I couldn’t afford a Neve or API console, so we decided to build our own. I worked with the designer of the console and we decided to create new Mic Pres and EQs for the old console. It took many hours to accomplish this task, but when all was said and done, we had a console with new Mic Pres, new EQs and 6 patents. This is how the NTI EQ3 and the Nightpro EQ3D and PreQ3 were born.
I just wanted to get the amazing sounds others were getting, but simply couldn’t afford to buy a Neve or API console. Now, I am glad I couldn’t, because I have learned how to do things that I never would have learned. I also learned how to design and manufacture equipment for others to use. Through this journey, I have met many gifted artist, engineers and producers.
pan60: Tell us about the older company.
NTI was the original name of the first company. We had investors and many partners to launch the EQ3. After we launched the EQ3 we found out that another company had the NTI name so the decision was made to change the NTI name to Nightpro. Under Nightpro, we designed the PreQ3 and put 4 Mic Pres into a one rack space.
The next and final product for Nightpro was the EQ3D. We had some success with all of these units and were nominate for tech awards at AES. We also received Honorable mention there. Unfortunately, Nightpro could not sustain itself and the company had to close its doors.
The equipment that was built during NTI/Nightpro era is still being used today by many Grammy Award winning engineers and has held up well. Many engineers would be surprised to know how many major artists vocals, mixes and masters were (and still are) cut through the PreQ3s and the EQ3s over the past 17 years.
On the HYPERLINK HYPERLINK "http://www.maagaudio.com" http://www.maagaudio.com Maag Audio web site you will find this statement about our new company.
Maag Audio was founded by Cliff Maag, who has been a recording engineer for over 35 years with a strong passion for high quality sound. Cliff is an inventor of the acclaimed NTI EQ3 and the Nightpro PreQ3 & EQ3D. He was also the President of Research and Development during the early years of NTI and Nightpro. The AIR BAND® is still known to this day as an unsurpassed element of the original NTI and Nightpro gear. Now available in the new EQ4® and PREQ4® 500 Series gear from Maag Audio.
Cliff enjoys spending time in his production recording studio, HYPERLINK HYPERLINK "http://www.therecordlab.com" http://www.therecordlab.com The Record Lab. Whether Cliff is recording an established high-end client or a local band getting its feet off of the ground, each is treated the same... with respect for the craft.
Five years ago, Cliff’s son Ryan approached him about starting Maag Audio due to numerous requests for the original NTI and Nightpro gear. They then approached Cliff ‘s other son Cliff Jr. and Travis Allen to join the Maag Audio team. Cliff Jr. was the Production Manager at NTI and Nightpro and his team built over 90% of all NTI EQ3s, Nightpro EQ3Ds, and PreQ3s located throughout the world. Ryan was a big part of that team.
Travis Allen joined the Maag Audio family to help perpetuate the legacy of the NTI products. His contributions include the transformation of the original designs to fit the 500 Series product. The design remains true to the original while elevating the component quality resulting in new audio depth and clarity.
Maag Audio was officially founded in 2009 and the Maag Audio team has worked hard to make the technology sound and function even better than the original gear. The need and desire for the best possible sound is what has driven Cliff and the Maag Audio team over the last 35 years and is the catalyst behind Maag Audio.
The Maag Audio team is committed to excellence. Our goal is to provide all audio engineers cutting edge technology that they need to compete in their industry.
Our Motto is: Audio gear isn’t the most important thing in life, but to us it’s pretty close to AIR on the “got to have it” list.
GET SOME AIR BAND®!