Veteran sound designer Bob Benson joined the mix at ARU’s production and post suite last week, beoming its sixth audio engineer and tenth staff member.
Wielding a range of experience that includes national spots for advertisers like Miller Coors and microchip recordings in toys that teach kids to behave like adults, Benson’s talent is matched by his ability “to mesh with our craziness,” according to ARU partner Mark Zeboski.
Prior to joining ARU, Benson, a native Chicagoan, spent years as an audio engineer for Cerny American Creative and Studio One. During that time, he learned how to make the seamless improvements that clients expect from quality post production.
“When someone hears a commercial, no one’s suppposed to notice that the pencil sharpener I put in later is sound design,” he explains. “My job is to make it perfect.”
Benson pursued his formal education at DeVry University, but his introduction to soundcraft came years earlier by way of a family tradition.
Growing up in a home filled with a “lot of audio things,” he recalls the work ethic of his father, an actor and voice artist who frequently rehearsed his lines on nights before auditions.
“He would practice on a reel to reel recorder that I used to play around with as a kid,” Benson explains.
By hiring Benson, ARU continues a period of growth that began three years ago when the company moved into its current studio on North Michigan Avenue, a location that partner Don Arbuckle describes as “exciting.”
“The setup helps the sound,” he explains. “Since our mixing suites are identical, the engineers can work in any room and, sonically, there is no difference: the sound remains the same.”
The variety of disciplines most recently came into play on a project for Marc USA client Health Alliance. ARU not only recorded the talent, designed the sound and composed the score, but also assisted with casting.
The environment’s multitasking ease reflects a level of the efficiency that ARU has worked hard to achieve. Benson’s tendency to combine the passion of an artist with the attitude of a supplier should fit right in.
“I like taking individual sounds that are not coherent and putting them together and all the sudden it becomes its own little creature,” he explains.
“I once worked with a famous athlete spokesperson who never pronounced his t’s and s’s. After recording him, I put my own t’s and s’s into the mix. It was cool.”