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The Pro Audio Suite

A must listen Podcast if you're in audio or voice over. Our panel features industry professionals, George 'The Tech' Whittam, Robert 'Source Connect' Marshall, Andrew 'Realtime Casting' Peters and Darren 'Voodoo Sound' Robertson, plus special guests.

Each week we dive into topics that will resonate with Professionals and home studio owner alike...

Mar 11, 2024

We delve into the legacy of Bob Heil, a titan in the pro audio industry whose influence reverberates through the echoes of rock and roll history. From his early days wielding the organ to revolutionizing live sound with his groundbreaking work alongside legends like The Who and Grateful Dead, Heil's journey is one of innovation, passion, and an indelible mark on music technology. We’re treated to an exclusive clip from a memorable interview, uncovering the story behind the iconic talk box and its role in Peter Frampton’s electrifying performances. Alongside reflections from our hosts and the fond recollections of interactions with Heil, this episode serves as a tribute to a man whose work amplified the soul of music. 

  • Celebrating the Legacy of Bob Heil: A Look Back at the remarkable career of an audio industry pioneer, from his beginnings as an organ player to his revolutionary contributions to pro audio and live sound.

  • Exclusive Insights: Featuring a clip from a 2017 interview with Bob Heil at the NAMM show, shedding light on his history, innovations, and the creation of the iconic talk box.

  • The Birth of Rock and Roll Sound: How Bob Heil's innovative sound systems changed the game for artists like The Who and Grateful Dead, setting new standards for live music performances.

  • Remembering a Legend: Personal anecdotes and reflections on Bob Heil’s impact, his approach to sound engineering, and his legacy within the music and audio production communities.

  • Tribute to a Visionary: Acknowledging Heil's vast contributions, from his early work with organs and sound systems to his influence on modern podcasting and amateur radio.


A big shout out to our sponsors, Austrian Audio and Tri Booth. Both these companies are providers of QUALITY Audio Gear (we wouldn't partner with them unless they were), so please, if you're in the market for some new kit, do us a solid and check out their products, and be sure to tell em "Robbo, George, Robert, and AP sent you"... As a part of their generous support of our show, Tri Booth is offering $200 off a brand-new booth when you use the code TRIPAP200. So get onto their website now and secure your new booth...


And if you're in the market for a new Mic or killer pair of headphones, check out Austrian Audio. They've got a great range of top-shelf gear..

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“When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.”

Hunter S Thompson


In this episode of The Pro Audio Suite, sponsored by Tribooth and Austrian Audio, the team pays homage to the late Bob Heil, a revered figure in the pro audio industry. Hosted by Robert Marshall, Andrew Peters, George "the tech" Wittam, and Darren Robertson, they reflect on Heil's influential career, from his beginnings playing the organ to revolutionizing the sound systems for rock and roll, particularly for the legendary rock opera "Quadrophenia."

Heil, also a dedicated ham radio operator and a friend of Joe Walsh, leaves behind a remarkable legacy. His prowess is exemplified by his creation of the PR 40 microphone, considered the gold standard in podcast mics due to its distinctive tone. 

The episode concludes with a remembrance of Bob Heil's innovation, good-natured enthusiasm, and his considerable contributions to pro-audio technology. 

#RockAndRollLegacy #ProAudioInnovators #PR40MicMagic

(00:00:00) Introduction - Tribooth Sponsorship

(00:04:34) Bob's Ham Radio and Microphone Endeavors

(00:10:02) Evolution of Microphone Brightness

(00:10:55) Pro Audio Suite Recording Setup

Speaker A: Y'all ready? Be history.

Speaker B: Get started.

Speaker A: Welcome.

Speaker B: Hi. Hi. Hello, everyone to the pro audio suite.

Speaker C: These guys are professional. They're motivated.

Speaker A: Thanks to Tribooth, the best vocal booth for home or on the road. Voice recordings and austrian audio making passion heard. Introducing Robert Marshall from source elements and someone audio post Chicago, Darren. Robert Robertson from Voodoo Radio Imaging, Sydney, to the Vo stars, George the tech Wittam from LA, and me, Andrew Peters, voiceover talent and home studio guy.

Speaker B: Here we go.

Speaker A: And don't forget the code.

: Trip a P 200. That will get you $200 off your triboof. And austrian audio making passion heard. Unfortunately, someone won't be heard anymore, which is a sad loss to the industry is Bob Heil, who's had an illustrious career kicking off playing the mighty organ and then becoming a pro audio guy. And George, you had the privilege of catching up with him on numerous occasions, I'm gathering.

Speaker C: Yeah, I think more than once. There's just one particular interview from the NAm music trade show here in Anaheim from 2017, where I had a good, long interview, I mean, pretty long for a trade show interview. It was like nine minutes. And he really got a lot into his history. And at the time, I think I was remembering. Let's get onto the topic at hand, you know what I mean? He was giving me a lot of his backstory. And now I look back and I'm like, sure. I'm glad I had that chance. And to really hear it straight from him. I'm sure he's told those stories a thousand times. Right. But it was really cool hearing it from him. I mean, he literally created the sound system and envisioned the sound for quadrophenia.

: Oh, really?

Speaker B: Yeah.

Speaker C: In fact, I have a clip here I can play from that interview where he talks about the birth of what he called the birth of rock and roll sound. I think that's what he called it. Here, take a listen.

: Just go into the Internet, put in the night. Rock and roll sound was born. It's a true story. It really was the first night. And it was with the Grateful Dead. It's quite a story. They wrote the song trucking about it because they're selling all the gear. Yeah, well, their soundman got confiscated the night before because he wasn't supposed to be out of the state of California. We won't get into that. You can go figure it all out. But they come to St. Louis with no pa, ironically. To where? The Fox theater.

Speaker C: The perfect place.

: Well, there again, the stage manager calls you. You still have all those speakers? And I said, yeah, talk to this guy, handed the telephone to Garcia. And then we hit the front page of billboard because we went on tour with them out of there. And at that time, nobody had ever played through anything like that. I didn't know that. I'm like, this is pretty good, right? Because I had a longevity board that I had gotten and recording board. I had Macintosh amps. It was a big hi fi. That's what I looked and listened. It was beautiful. It wasn't just a loud pa. It was a beautiful sounding pa. That's new.

Speaker C: That was new then.

: Well, because of the pipe work. And I learned to listen. I had to voice and tune that as at the age of 15, we started in harmonically. Nobody realizes about the harmonics that are so important. I learned that as a young kid, and it's carried through everything I do. But then I was on the road. We hit the front page of billboard and everybody was calling us. One of them was the who. We ended up with them for six years. And from there it was humble pie. Jay Giles, on and on and on. But then they took Frampton out. He was a star of humble pie. They took him out as a solo act. And his little gal penny was married in my home when they were 18. She called me shortly after. She said, I need a Christmas present for Peter. And I sent her a talk box. You can write the rest of Peter Frampton's history, and it's well defined. You go to our website.

: Wow. Yeah, I remember the talk box. Frampton comes alive. And that came out. It was like such a feature, and it was so weird. Like, you'd never heard anything like it before. What a story, though.

Speaker C: Yeah. I'd love to get into his brain as to how he actually even came up with that idea. I'm thinking he was hanging a lot with the Grateful Dead when he came.

: Up with that idea. I think I know what you're getting at.

Speaker C: There was some serious psychotropic stuff activity going on there. But, yeah, I mean, the fact that he started. I didn't get that part of the interview, but he started as an organist, so that's a very high level of musicianship required to play an organ. And then he would set up the organs. He would tune the organs.

: He was aware of the organs sound. And those organs have just to know how the PA sounds, because the organ's a big sound. You're aware of loud instruments.

Speaker C: Yeah, with a lot of sources. Every pipe, every thousands of pipes. So, yeah, what an incredible background he had. And the. Then, you know, he's out there selling mics at know, which is. That's one of the neatest reasons to get to go to a nam show, is you did get to know a, you know, and you got to talk to him and interact with, you know, Wes Dooley from AEA microphones. Grew up repairing RCA microphones.

: He's a trip. Wes Dooley is great.

Speaker C: Totally.

: Just another booth at Nam.

Speaker C: Actually, a living historian. Right. And you get to talk to these folks face to face. It's amazing. But, yeah. I met Bob's daughter, who still works for Heil and still goes out to trade shows and does the beat, and she was very nice, and there's just a heck of a legacy there. So he will be missed for sure. And he was a huge ham radio operator. Amateur radio, as they call, playing organ.

: Over the ham radio station like he has his own station. That was just like organ playing, I think, or something.

Speaker C: Yeah, it was over.

: He was also friends because he's actually from. Well, he died in Illinois.

Speaker C: Yeah, he's from St. Louis.

: Right. But he was friends with Thomas Holman.

Speaker C: Wait a minute.

: Thomas Holman started, did the THX protocol.

Speaker C: Oh, he's the th and thx, yeah. Oh, wow.

: And Thomas Holman ended up, I believe, over with connections to Skywalker Sound and another audio luminary or whatever.

Speaker C: So cool. And then Bob also picked up, they picked up Bob to be a host on a podcast called this week in Tech Twit TV, which was the show that influenced me to start my own show 1512 years ago. And he did his own show over there about ham radio. And they did it for quite a long time, actually, until they had to end the show. But they still have his rig that he had built for that show. It's still at the Twitch studios in one corner of the know, a memory of really cool.

Speaker B: Really, really cool.

: The quirkiest thing, I thought, with Bob was his friendship with Joe Walsh, who was also a ham radio.

: Didn't Joe Walsh also use the talk box a bit?

Speaker B: Did he?

Speaker C: He did. He said later in that interview that Joe Walsh really kind of had it mastered. He really clearly, in hearing his interviews and reading his interviews, how he had an extremely. He was extremely tight with Joe. They were best buddies, and they spent a lot of time talking ham amateur radio together.

: Did they go driving in Joe's maserati?

Speaker C: Probably. And it was actually Joe who was experimenting with using the mics that Bob had made for doing amateur radio because.

: For doing studio work.

Speaker C: Yeah. Bob hated the crappy mics. That amateur radio operators were stuck using. So he made a better mic. And then Joe was like, yo, plug this thing into your studio console. And Bob's like, I never would have thought of that. He's like, I'm telling you, it sounds better than an SM 57 or a 58. And he's like, yeah, you're right, it does. And a brand of microphones was born from there. His most well known podcast mic, the one that's kind of the gold standard, is called the PR 40. And it has a distinct tone to it. It has a distinct voice.

: Is it kind of big sounding?

Speaker C: It's big, and it has a lot of cut, like mid range.

: It's like a combo of like an SM seven and a 416 or something.

Speaker C: Kind of almost. It doesn't have the top end of a 416, but it definitely has more of a cut. So if you ever listen to Leo Laporte on this week in tech, or any of the shows that Leo does, you'll hear the distinct sound of that mic. It's not a flat or a hi fi mic, it's a broadcast mic.

: But it's a dynamic sounding mic.

Speaker C: Yes, it's a dynamic mic, and its voicing is designed for being heard. Let's just put it that way.

: Yes.

Speaker C: The PR 30 and the PR 20, to me, sound a little bit smoother. I like the voicing of them better, personally. But the bottom line is Bob tuned his mics by ear. And he said that specifically later in the interview. I wasn't curious about response curves and all this stuff. I would just go by what I thought sounded right. So those mics are tuned by Bob's ear. And the guy had a good ear, but probably by the time he got into his fifty s, sixty s, seventy s, didn't hear everything.

: Did all the mics as he made them throughout the years just get brighter and brighter?

Speaker B: It's a good question.

Speaker C: It's a good question. I mean, I'm sure he wasn't the only one that put his ears on the mics after quite a while. Joking, but yeah, no, it's true. The sound systems I listened to growing up that were often not eqed well, unfortunately, were often helmed by a gentleman of an older generation. Yeah, I was like, no, too much two k and 4k. My ears are bleeding.

: You're accelerating their progression towards mixing.

Speaker B: Like you.

Speaker C: Anyway, rest in peace, Bob, thank you for all your innovation and your good natured enthusiasm. Enthusiasm towards audio, and we really appreciate it.

: Absolutely.

Speaker B: Yeah. Well, that was fun. Is it over?

Speaker A: The pro audio suite with thanks to tribut and austrian audio recorded using source Connect, edited by Andrew Peters and mixed by Voodoo Radio imaging with tech support from George the tech Wittam. Don't forget to subscribe to the show and join in the conversation on our Facebook group. To leave a comment, suggest a topic, or just say good day, drop us a note at our website,

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  • #TalkBoxMagic
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