Collyer Spreen joined Advanced Systems Group in October 2020 as a sales engineer for the audio team. A Pro Tools expert, he spent more than seven years as a pro audio solutions specialist for Avid Technology. He is based in Dallas and continues to work as a freelance recording engineer through his company, Soundasleep Productions.
What drew you to audio technology?
I’ve played drums since I was six years old. I built my first set of drums out of Charles Chips cardboard tubs – I turned them upside down and they became drums. Growing up listening to vinyl, I became a particularly focused listener. That led me to wanting to learn how to make those sounds myself.
How did your career progress as a professional musician?
I played my way through high school and college with various bands, and then I moved to New York City and became a recording engineer. After two years, I moved to California, and within nine months I had another studio job.
About this time, MIDI appeared, and I became really good as a MIDI programmer. Actually, I had moved to L.A. to be a drummer, but I also realized that drum machines were here to stay – so I figured I’d better learn how to program these things or I was going to be out of a job! I hooked up with Starship as their MIDI programmer during their Knee Deep in the Hoopla tour, and wound up working with them for four albums and tours.
What sparked your interest in Pro Tools?
I was literally there in the golden hour of perfect sunlight of audio as it transitioned from analog to digital. After the music industry started to change to home studios in the late 90s, I decided I could do what I did anywhere, so I moved back to Texas. Pro Tools hit the market, and I started to learn the technology, which I used as a post engineer for commercial and episodic TV for 15 years.
Around 2010, I was laid off – but within six months I was hired by Avid as a Pro Tools and workflow specialist. That was an incredible experience on so many levels, and reconnected me with so many people that I had lost touch with when I moved to Texas. Joining ASG was a good opportunity for me to gain some stability with a company that has thrived and grown during the pandemic.
What do you think is the next “big thing” in audio?
Audio over IP is on a significant growth curve – networked audio is an important part of studio infrastructure. There’s also a going to be a lot of continued growth in immersive audio, which is still defining itself. With immersive audio, it’s like being in a pool of sound, and you can put yourself anywhere in that pool. Dolby Atmos is the leading format, but there are many competing formats from other companies. It’s just going to continue to develop.
How can ASG help with today’s audio challenges?
The pandemic forced the industry to accelerate the adoption of working from home business models. That’s where the industry was going anyway, but the time is now instead of five years from now. Unfortunately, the pandemic put a lot of people on the curb instead of the highway of progress. We decided to get in front of the challenges of remote production workflows and solve them.