Neil Dorfsman
13 Questions: Neil Dorfsman
Issue #1, March 2006

Neil Dorfsman is a Producer / Engineer / Mixer. Neil's track record really speaks for itself. Over the years, he has worked with many artists that include Sting, Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Bruce Hornsby, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Idol, Def Leppard, Oasis and Björk.

I would think the icing on the cake, when it comes to one's career, would be getting recognized for a job that you love to do. If that is the case, Neil's career has been very 'sweet' because he has been given many honors for his work, including a Grammy for Best Engineered Album (Dire Straits' "Brothers In Arms") and Grammys for Producer of the Year ("Nothing Like The Sun" by Sting, "Scenes From The South Side" by Bruce Hornsby). His engineering contributions to Sting's "Brand New Day" garnered another engineering Grammy in 1999. The same year, he won the 1999 TEC Award for Engineer of the Year and he was also nominated for the TEC Awards' Producer of the Year.

I haven't known Neil long and we have actually never met in person. I was introduced to Neil by a mutual friend, Richard Bowman. But, I really enjoyed chatting with Neil about gear, the music scene of today and his experience with Mercury Recording Equipment. My first impression is that Neil is one of the good guys and a likable soul. I am glad he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to be the first to give 13 Answers to Mercury's 13 Questions! Thanks Neil!

-David Marquette

01) When did you know Music was more than a hobby or dream job and was going to be your 'career'? Was there one thing that made that happen?
After High School, I sold my vinyl record collection to get enough money to go to California and look for a job in a recording studio. While in LA (with no car), I took a bus from Downtown to Santa Monica (1 and 1/2 hours total) to interview at Brother Studios (owned by the Beach Boys)... didn't get the job... but didn't give up.

02) What aspect of 'music' are you known for (ie engineer, mixer, producer, musician)? What's your favorite?
I am probably known best as an engineer... but when working with bands, I tend to "re-arrange the furniture" a bit to try to get the most out of the music... so I guess I enjoy the production part most.

03) What is one thing that most people are NOT aware you do (music related or not!)?
I am a committed, fanatic gardener.

04) What do you think is the most important thing is to get a great recording? and What stage of a recording is most overlooked?
Having the band relaxed and focused. Pre-production is, for me, the key to making good records.

05 Who did you first admire in the recording world (engineers, producers, mixers, band/group ...) and why?
I always listened to records from a "sound / production" point-of-view; so Glynn Johns, George Martin, Geoff Emerick, and Teo Macero were my heroes—all of their records were larger-than-life.

06) Now that we know digital recording is not going away anytime soon, what are your feelings on TAPE vs. DAW (analog vs. digital)?
I've always been a huge fan of digital... I never liked the way music would sound different coming back from tape... and it would change unpredictably over time.

07) What new Artist/Group is in your 'player' right now... and what Artist/Group has always been in your "Top 10"?
Always and forever, the Beatles... Right now, Deerhoof, Beth Orton, Fiona Apple, and Pedro the Lion.

08) What generation had the best music and/or recordings? Why do you connect with that era the most?
I think it was all pretty great until about the 80's, when it became about lifestyle rather than "art-style"... It's getting really good again right now.

09) You get to have one mic for vocals for the rest of your career, what is it and why?
A Telefunken 251... clear, full and just great sounding.

10) When did you first hear of Mercury Recording Equipment Co.? What was your first experience using Mercury Equipment?
A friend of mine had some of the gear and raved about it. I just used the Grand Pre for the first time and was floored... beautiful sound.

11) What piece(s) of Mercury Equipment do you own or have you used? What applications / sessions have you used it (them) on?
I don't own any gear at the moment, but love the Grand Pre... just used it on overheads for drums, bagpipes, acoustic piano, acoustic guitar and horns.

12) Describe your experience with Mercury Recording Equipment using 5 words or less?
Straight ahead design, great sound.

13) What has been your most rewarding experience in the studio?
Recording the last Weather Report album with Jaco Pastorius on bass... all live and pretty much unrehearsed at The Power Station in the early 80's.

If you would like to know more about Neil Dorfsman, inquire about hiring this talented Producer, Mixer, Engineer, Gardner, and all around 'Nice Guy' or see his long list of Grammy and Album Credits... Please check out his web site,

Next Issue of Mercury's 13 Questions: Devin Powers