Kyle Mann wins engineering Grammy...

...with a little help from the UT Fet47

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Producer/Engineer Kyle Mann on his Grammy win and the UT FET47

We had a chance to interview producer/engineer Kyle Mann about his recent Technical Grammy win (Best Engineered, Non-Classical) for his work on Victoria Monét's debut album, Jaguar II.

Kyle was generous enough to share some insights beyond his use of the UT FET47, but also shared many valuable insights into his engineering process and mindset. Read on!

Victoria Monét's Jaguar II album art

Hey Kyle, tell us about yourself and your role in the production of Jaguar II.

We recorded nine of the eleven records on Jaguar II at my studio, Speakeasy Sound (

My work can be heard on releases from artists such as Victoria Monét, Leslie Odom Jr., and Billy Joel as well as television shows (Amazon's The Boys, Fox's Empire) and film (One Night in Miami, Transformers: The Last Knight, and UglyDolls). 

Career highlights:

  • Primary tracking-engineer on Victoria Monét's Jaguar II (winner of Best Engineered, Non-Classical Grammy).

  • Co-Produced/Engineered/Mixed Brandy's "Christmas With Brandy" album.

  • Co-Produced and engineered Halle Bailey's debut single "Angel".

  • Engineered for Camila Cabello’s diamond-selling record “Havana”.

  • Co-produced, engineered and mixed Leslie Odom Jr’s Academy Award and Grammy Award-nominated “Speak Now”

  • As an acoustician, designed recording studios for Trent Reznor, Zedd, Ryan Lewis, Blake Slatkin, Freddy Wexler and Enterprise Studios

So how's that Grammy feel?

It feels like a dream come true! I’ve been doing this a long time, so it’s enormously gratifying to be recognized by my peers. And I love that it’s a project with a truly brilliant artist. But mostly, it’s nice to be able to show family back home that pursuing a career in music wasn’t a total mistake. Ha.

Which instruments did you use the UT FET47 on?

I got my first UT FET47, and immediately put it to work on trumpet with Kyla Moscovich. Kyla is not a fan of ribbon mics on her trumpet, so I was excited to hear how the UT FET47 stood up to the old Neumann I’d used previously. It was stellar. Because we tend to do a lot of layering of horn parts, there’s an advantage to using a more neutral microphone, as character tends to become more obvious with each added layer.

Next, it ended up in front of the vintage Ampeg B15 that lived in the iso booth for bass, and finally I tried it out on kick. That was when I decided I needed a second one.

Can you share any details about placement on those sources?

Placement is always a balancing act between picking up what you want to hear and avoiding what you don’t. On a drum kit, maybe it’s about placing it in such a way to avoid bleed from other sources. Or in the case of close-miking an amplifier, you may want to minimize room sound and get some extra low end via proximity-effect. But the thing for me that really drives mic selection or placement is that I need to be able to set it up once and trust it to work. There’s rarely time to audition multiple microphones or spend time tweaking positioning, so I tend toward microphones that I know will sound great on any source, which the UT definitely does.

What sort of post-processing was applied to sources recorded with the UT FET47?

Reverb. Occasionally a hi-pass filter if needed. 

Any other studio tips or trickery you’d like to share? Or are they all trade secrets?

No trade secrets! In my experience, everyone I’ve ever asked has freely shared knowledge. The art of record production is too important to let wither because we are preoccupied with guarding some technique. And the truth is, no combination of gear or microphone placement has ever made a record a hit. It starts with a great performance of a great song, and you just need to try to not mess that up.

What do you think sets your engineering style apart from others?

For a long time, I felt like I’d made a mistake in not specializing in a particular sound or genre. But building a reputation for excellence independent of genre has helped me stay employable in a constantly-shifting industry. Other than that, I dunno - maybe an especially short attention span?

What do you think makes for a successful collaboration between engineer and artist?

A great record is like capturing lightning in a bottle. So I believe the most important job is to ensure the artist is comfortable. If they feel they’re in a safe space, they’re free to create without self-consciousness. Then you just need to be ready to capture the lightning when it strikes.

Can you discuss the role of experimentation and intuition in your engineering process?

I enjoy producing and mixing because they offer a little more latitude to experiment as I get to decide the pace of the day. But when tracking for others, it’s critical that you’re not slowing the session down. And when you’re only working with someone for a few days, any experimentation has to be done cautiously so you’re not undermining trust in the process should the experiment fail. Every success and failure adds another information point to the intuition process. Sometimes you HAVE to figure out what doesn’t work before you can be certain of what does.

What are some of your priorities when working on an R&B record that are perhaps less of a focus in other genres you’ve worked in?

There are energies which are exclusive to some genres, and which do require a different approach – for instance, a typical jazz quartet demands an openness which allows you to hear the intricacies of each musician’s performance. If you took a very drum-forward approach like is typical with hip-hop, you might end up with something interesting, but just as easily could end up with your client questioning whether they hired the right person for the job. I think the key is to listen to LOTS of music and develop your understanding of what makes each style work, so that when a record is pushing the boundaries of its genre, you can follow it on that journey.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Share your love of records! If you’re just getting into recording, study the classics and the people who made them and the recording studios where they were made. This stuff matters!

Listen to Jaguar II on Spotify.

All photos by Krystal Mann.

Follow Kyle on Instagram.

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