Crossroads Audio's Ed Spoto: "It's Horrible To Go To A Concert With An Audio Engineer"
Ed Spoto helms Crossroads Audio, which provides many of the mics, PAs, lighting systems and rigs you see at local shows and festivals. Locally, his client list includes acts like Bowling For Soup, Erykah Badu, The Denton Blues Festival and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Ed Spoto, mopping up the remains of someone who suggested Auto-tune.
Nationally, Spoto, his wife Ashley (who runs the books and more) and the Crossroads crew have been involved in sound and lighting for Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits Music Festival and tons more. He's a pretty reputable live recording engineer as well, and quite an irreverent critic with very eclectic tastes in local music, making for an interesting sit down.
You've been known to say, "I hate people and I hate music." True?
To be fair, I do not hate people, just douchebag posers. And I don't hate music, just the Auto-tuned songs. I used to be a runner for my promoter uncle in Tampa when I was 16. I learned pretty quickly to avoid being star struck! Seeing diva demands of has-been or never-were "artists" shaped my view of the industry.
Your first live sound job in town was with Showco, and you hopped on some pretty big tours. You mind namedropping?
Within three months of starting there, I was on tour with Soundgarden. By the end of the fall, I was on The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour. I started working my way up the audio ladder: Tech, systems engineer, monitors and front of house. I've also toured with Live, James Taylor, The Moody Blues, Lisa Loeb, Carlos Santana, George Strait and the Dixie Chicks to name a few.
I understand Lisa Loeb is one of your favorite Dallas artists. Are there any more?
I'm a fan of the Freddie Jones Jazz Quartet, Lisa Loeb, and Rigor Mortis.
You've heard an awful lot of local and national, acts live. What does music need more of? Less of? How about the local music community itself?
No more whistling, no more Auto-tune and lots more melody. More CDs, less digital mp3 sound bites. Additionally, just as there are high schools with focuses on alternative careers and job training, there is a need for education infrastructure to create talented audio engineers. Emphasis needs to be placed on critical listening skills for engineers, so live mixes do not sound like mp3 recordings. With the amount of volume capable in today's PA systems, an emphasis needs to be placed on quality and not decibel quantity. A third of all students entering college have permanent hearing loss. We need to save these ears!
Speaking of schools, which ones taught you?
I was raised in Tampa, and I loved tinkering with electronics and toys at a young age. My father brought home a reel-to-reel recorder from Vietnam filled with Joan Baez, Beatles, Kensington Trio, numerous jazz standards like Miles Davis. I went to Vanderbilt in Nashville and got an electrical engineering degree, fully knowing that I wouldn't ever be an electrical engineer. After I graduated from Vanderbilt, I attended Full Sail in Orlando, and earned my associates degree.
Do you still go to concerts on your own time? Do you even have any free time running a place like this?
I don't go to concerts unless I have a friend to see, really. It's horrible to go to a concert with an audio engineer because all they do is mentally re-tweak the system instead of just sitting back and enjoying it!