Tag Archives: mastering

Have Genelecs, Will Travel

Grammy-winning mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen
Grammy-winning mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen

Natick, MA (June 9, 2021)—Grammy-winning mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen has made Genelec’s 8341A monitors a centerpiece of his portable reference setup, which he uses to do much of his preliminary work.

Lurssen, whose credits include Queens of the Stone Age, Ben Harper and Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, notes, “I started in the early ‘90s working for the late Doug Sax at The Mastering Lab, and recording engineer George Massenburg was a regular client of Doug’s for lots of his projects; through him, I was first exposed to their 1031A and 1030A monitors. I was particularly taken with the 1030As after hearing them in a mix room at what was then Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood, so Doug surprised me with my own pair, which I still own.”

In fact, says Lurssen, “[A]fter all these miles, I just had them re-coned and the amps rec-capped, but kept the original bulletproof tweeters. Like most mastering engineers, I own multiple sets of monitors, but the Genelec 1030As have been an important reference for me over the years, especially when it comes to a mobile environment.”

Bay Eight Changes Things Up with Genelec

Fast-forward to a few years ago, before the pandemic: “I enjoyed going to these weekly lunches and meetups in Burbank with professionals in the audio industry; it’s a great way to see friends and colleagues and to stay on top of the latest tools and trends as well. I usually interact with the manufacturer reps that are there, and so it’s no surprise that I gravitated toward the new technology from Genelec! So that began my journey with the 8341A Smart Active Monitor,” he says.

He notes, “There are various ways in which a near-field monitor can be useful to a mastering engineer, and one of the most useful things is to be able to go mobile, while still being able to listen to and evaluate mixes and give feedback to clients with confidence, no matter where I am set up. Accuracy is the name of the game. The Genelec 8341As provide me with very, very accurate playback, even if I’m in a compromised environment.

“When you have something like 8341s, if you put them in the road case and take some computer gear with you, you can actually set up a pretty accurate listening environment. You can travel around and evaluate things that way—so if I’m traveling, I can take them with me.”

Genelec • www.genelec.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Book Review: Major Label Mastering—Professional Mastering Process

Major Label Mastering: Professional Mastering ProcessMastering is one of those corners of pro audio that everyone knows about, but doesn’t necessarily know what it truly entails. Shedding some light on the subject is Evren Göknar’s new book, Major Label Mastering: Professional Mastering Process (Focal Press/Routledge; $42.95), which breaks the topic down into understandable concepts and actionable steps that can be grasped by everyone, whether they’re students, musicians or fellow pros.

Göknar knows from whence he speaks—a Grammy winner, he’s worked more than 25 years in the mastering field, spending much of that time at Capitol Studios where he mastered everyone from Mariah Carey to the Beastie Boys in addition to putting his talents to work for TV shows like The Voice. During that time, Göknar developed the centerpiece of his book, The Five Step Mastering Process—a thorough system of considerations and procedures for crafting and implementing a mastering game plan will best serve the music. Readily acknowledging that there can be as many subjective assessments to be made (“Does this approach fit the genre?”) as there are technical ones, Göknar finds ways to help readers determine what’s necessary and bring quantifiable logic to more nebulous parts of the process.

That said, there’s plenty of straight-forward ‘how-to’ content, from best practices for documentation, to equipment sequencing, to a go-to section on advanced mastering chain tools and techniques. The book is also filled with cool gear photos, informative screenshots, useful illustrations, documentation examples and more, providing additional clarity and insight. Whether a budding engineer or a seasoned pro, readers will come away from Major Label Mastering with far greater understanding and appreciation for the newly demystified process of mastering.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Emily Lazar Launches Music Industry Equity, Inclusion Initiative

With 10 projects up for honors at this year's Grammy Awards, Emily Lazar, founder of The Lodge mastering and mixing facility, has introduced We Are Moving the Needle, a new initiative to bring equity and inclusion to the music industry.
With 10 projects up for honors at this year’s Grammy Awards, Emily Lazar, founder of The Lodge mastering and mixing facility, has introduced We Are Moving the Needle, a new initiative to bring equity and inclusion to the music industry.

New York, NY (March 10, 2021)—Emily Lazar, the Grammy Award-winning founder of The Lodge mastering and mixing facility in Manhattan, has introduced We Are Moving the Needle, a new initiative to bring equity and inclusion to the music industry.

Lazar launched the nonprofit organization on Mar. 8, the same day that the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released its latest annual “Inclusion in the Recording Studio?” study, breaking down the gender and race/ethnicity of artists, songwriters and music producers. The report found that women are “missing,” “muted” and “written off” in the music industry, an ongoing trend that has not improved during the nine years covered by the study.

“Today, the new USC Annenberg Inclusion in the Recording Studio report has revealed that in 2020, the percentage of women in music production/engineering has DECLINED (!!!) from 2.6% to 2%. This is unacceptable!” Lazar wrote on Twitter. “I’ve seen firsthand how few women are in studios, but to see that number decrease breaks my heart. I am committed to continuing to do my part to change that.”

According to We Are Moving the Needle, the organization is “working to create measurable change by empowering women in the recording and professional audio industry with the education, equipment and the mentorship needed to succeed at the highest levels.” The organization has been launched in partnership with Blackbird Academy, Dolby, The Lodge and Sonos. Founding sponsors include pro-audio product developers such as API, Aston Microphones, Eventide, iZotope, Splice and Universal Audio, as well as the Recording Academy, SoundGirls and others.

Netflix Post Panel Encourages Women in Sound

The organization’s stated mission is to provide educational programming and to award scholarships and grants to music technology and recording programs at academies, colleges and universities. As a part of the initiative, the venture promises to guarantee the development of future generations by awarding female and female-identifying applicants with a full scholarship to a top audio school.

Applicants (there is an online form) may be awarded equipment including software, hardware and other recording technologies. According to a report in Variety, the organization has plans for dedicated internships and entry-level positions designated and reserved for women who are part of the program.

Lazar has assembled an advisory “soundboard” of prominent women artists, producers, engineers and audio professionals, including Brandi Carlile, Christine Thomas, Erica McDaniel, HAIM, Karrie Keyes, Linda Perry, Liz Phair, Maggie Rogers, Maria Egan, Oana Ruxandra, Sara Quinn (Tegan and Sara), Shirley Halperin and Tracy Gershon.

Survey Explores Female Representation in AV

The extensive list of mentors also includes AG, Carolyn Malachi, Catherine Marks, Claudia Brant, Denise Barbarita, EveAnna Manley, Gena Johnson, Jenna Andrews, Jennifer Decilveo, Jordan Hamlin, Kaitlyn, Aurelia Smith, Leslie Ann Jones, Lisa Kaplan, Louise Burns, Lucy Kalantari, Marcella Araica, Piper Payne, Sad13, Shani Gandhi, Simone Torres and Wendy Wang.

Lazar has 10 projects in the running for Grammy Awards this year, including Coldplay, Jacob Collier and HAIM, all nominated in the album of the year category. The eight-time-nominated mastering engineer holds the distinction of being the first woman to win a Grammy in the best engineered album, non-classical category.

We Are Moving the Needle • www.wearemovingtheneedle.org

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Sue Moreno Masters Memphis Sessions with Grundman

Sue Moreno
Moreno’s team worked with vintage equipment (formerly at Nashville’s famed RCA Studio B and the Grand Ole Opry), recording to 16-track analog tape at Memphis Magnetic Recording studios.

Hollywood, CA (January 22, 2021)—Paul Grundman recently mastered The Memphis Soul Sessions, the latest album by Dutch chanteuse Sue Moreno, at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood.

“After going through personal loss and some very emotional times,” Moreno explains, “I decided to pick myself up and start working on this album, a very personal record. I decided to go back to the States where I first discovered my musical inspiration. ‘I’m Here’ is the first single and it’s a prayer from the heart, translated into song. I also wrote my first gospel for this album, ‘Let’s Rejoice.’ It’s got that unmistakable Memphis vibe with choir and claps. The Memphis Horns underline the emotion.”

Moreno’s team worked with vintage equipment (formerly at Nashville’s famed RCA Studio B and the Grand Ole Opry), recording to 16-track analog tape at Memphis Magnetic Recording studios as she teamed up with musicians of legendary Hi Rhythm and Stax records fame. Mixing and final production was done by Moreno’s team at Legacy Studio in the Netherlands with engineers Joram Pinxteren and Dennis Letnom.

Grundman Masters Herbie Hancock Anthology

“Those legendary musicians for Hi Rhythm and Stax Records and the Memphis sound, who worked closely with artists like Al Green and Isaac Hayes, decided to get together one more time to work on my album,” Moreno continues. “We have LeRoy Hodges on bass, Lester Snell on piano, Joe Restivo on guitar, George Sluppick on drums, Rev. Charles Hodges on Hammond, the sensational Barnes Brothers on backing vocals as well as the Masqueraders.”

“This album is simply amazing,” says mastering engineer Paul Grundman, “as is the story of Sue Moreno losing her mother and then deciding to do these old-style songs of worship in Memphis with the original musicians. Sue’s team in the Netherlands really came here to find that unique musicianship and were able to record some of the best soul music I’ve ever heard. Sue and the players reached so high and they nailed it, making my job very straightforward. It was all there; I just brought in some subtle touches in the final mastering.”

Bernie Grundman Mastering • www.berniegrundmanmastering.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

FOCAL Stellia Headphone, Arche Amplifier | REVIEW

I don’t listen to headphones like the Focal Stellia (website). Okay, let me back up—I listen to headphones all the time, just not for pleasure, but rather to check my work in the studio and occasionally to make eq decisions on a master. Words by Dave McNair and Nan Pincus When Eric Franklin Shook asked me if I wanted to review some headphones, I said “Uh, I don’t think so.” “Wait, these are special ‘phones—the Focal Stellia AND their killer headamp the Arche,” he says. “Okay, I’ll give it a shot,” I reply since I know Eric to be the best at deciphering the fake news you can trust. Dave McNair’s Take So here I am with these gorgeous, French-made beauties. The Focal Stellia headphones look like they’d be at home on location at the season’s showing of the new Chanel or YSL line. Not too blingy but a certain unmistakable French elegance in fit and finish. After I whipped up a batch of Coq au Vin and got out a bottle of vintage Bordeaux, I sat down to listen to some Serge Gainsbourg. Tonight, the headphones will deliver you the words I can’t say The first thing I did [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Making Vinyl Conference Goes Virtual

Making Vinyl VirtualNew York, NY (November 25, 2020)—Making Vinyl conferences have been making waves for the last few years, connecting players throughout the entire vinyl production and retailing chain. The latest edition will move online with Making Vinyl Virtual set to take place December 8-9, presenting a two-day line up of speakers and panels, ranging from top mastering engineers holding forth on the intricacies of their work, to renowned packaging designers, to pressing plant operators.

Among the confirmed speakers are mastering engineers Kevin Gray, Scott Hull, Clint Holley, Adam Gonsalves, JJ Golden, and Greg Reierson, who will trade notes on lacquer supplies and cutting trends. In a related session, cutting newcomer Robyn Raymond will share how she attended her first Making Vinyl in 2017 without knowing anyone and launched her career.

Record Made of Soap Plays a Song for our Times

Pressing plants Independent Record Pressing, Optimal, Furnace, Gotta Groove, Hand Drawn will hold forth on how to maintain quality control and run a lean operation; and hand-in-hand with that, indie labels speaking about vinyl production include Mute, Merge, Epitaph,  Secretly and Coleman.

If you’ve ever wondered how the decisions for what catalog releases get reissued—and how, not to mention on what label—a top choice may be to catch Universal Music VP of A&R Harry Weigner explaining that very process. Along with that, Rhino’s A&R, designer, packaging coordinator, and project manager will dissect the massive LP deluxe boxed set for The Stooges’ Fun House.

On the retail side, Record Store Day co-founder Carrie Colliton will give an update on how the three “Drops” and Black Friday fared; Urban Outfitters and Newbury Comics will discuss vinyl’s growth and special editions; and musician Jeffrey Lewis will share the real-world economics of touring with vinyl vs. CDs.

While speakers and panels are key components of the event, there will also be plenty of opportunities for one-on-one meetings, chat functionality for networking and more. Each day runs from 11 AM – 3 PM, and registration packages start at $95.00.

Making Vinyl • https://makingvinyl.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Grundman Masters Herbie Hancock Anthology

Herbie Hancock in the studio
Herbie Hancock is the focus of the new 11 LP boxset, VMP Anthology: The Story of Herbie Hancock. David Goggin

Hollywood, CA (November 20, 2020)—Bernie Grundman has remastered all 11 LPs in the new eight-album VMP Anthology: The Story of Herbie Hancock, which was curated by Vinyl Me, Please and Herbie Hancock.

The anthology celebrates Hancock’s 80th birthday and his more than 60 years of altering the landscape of jazz. Grundman cut the lacquers from the original masters. Takin’ Off, Maiden Voyage, Head Hunters, The Piano and Future Shock were cut AAA from analog tapes. The River: The Joni Letters and1+1, which were recorded digitally, and Live Under the Sky, which has been re-sequenced at Hancock’s request, come from master digital audio.

Remastering Classic Grateful Dead for New 14-LP Set

Grundman originally mastered a number of the original releases, including 1973’s breakthrough Head Hunters and the 2008 Grammy Album of the Year, River: The Joni Letters. Recalling the original Head Hunters mastering sessions, he says, “When they brought that in, I was working at A&M at the time, running their mastering department. Well, that record was shockingly different from what I expected a Herbie Hancock album to be. His approach was different from just about anything I had heard before. Herbie modernized jazz pop music and because of the mentality that he has and that he put into that, it makes it even more interesting. It had a lot more depth than most records I had heard up to that time. It stood out as being really unique. It wasn’t derivative, or copying what was out at the time. He did something that could communicate with a much broader listening public.”

The new box set includes albums from every major era of Hancock’s career, from his early albums as a bandleader to his later fusions of jazz with funk and hip-hop, and his Grammy-winning work from the ’00s. As with past VMP anthologies, the set comes packaged with access to an exclusive podcast series featuring interviews with Hancock, his collaborators and those he inspired, and Grundman.

The LPs are pressed on high-quality 180g black vinyl and housed in heavyweight tip-on jackets. A first edition heavyweight two-piece slip and slash box with original design by Clay Conder is hand-numbered and limited to 1500.

Bernie Grundman Mastering • www.berniegrundmanmastering.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Coast Mastering Opens Immersive Room

Mastering engineer Michael Romanowski recently completed a new facility at Coast Mastering
Mastering engineer Michael Romanowski recently completed a new facility at Coast Mastering

Berkeley, CA (November 19, 2020)—Mastering engineer Michael Romanowski recently completed a new facility at Coast Mastering that is outfitted to handle projects up to Dolby Atmos 9.1.6.

The new mastering room was designed by Romanowski along with acoustical consultant Bob Hodas, who also tuned the room. California-based audio engineer and studio design consultant Bob Levy worked closely with the build-team from the beginning of the project.

Coast Mastering features equipment chosen over Romanowski’s 30 years as a recording, mixing, and mastering engineer, both in Nashville and the San Francisco Bay Area. On the audio software side, Romanowski has been mastering immersive audio projects using the Steinberg Nuendo software for many years.

Compiling the Box Set of America

A main feature of the new studio are the Focal Scala Utopia EM speakers for left, right, and center channels which tower at almost six feet tall, and Focal Utopia Diablo Evo speakers for the six surrounds, which are all paired with Bricasti amplifiers and converters, and Wireworld cables. The subwoofer is by Meyer Sound, while the six height speakers are by Neumann. Stillpoint Aperture acoustic treatment was used throughout the new studio.

“As a music fan, I have really been enjoying the variety of styles of music that I have mastered in Atmos, with Alicia Keys, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The U.S. Army Field Band, Fantastic Negrito, The Devil in California, and a local Bay Area Latin fusion band, Vibrason, among many other projects,” said Romanowski.

“I built my first mastering room in 2000 for 5.1 surround with Paul Stubblebine, then moved to immersive sound adding height speakers in 2018. My new mastering room was built specifically for immersive formats including Dolby Atmos. It’s such a joy to work in and to really hear the music as it is, so I can make the best decisions for my clients.”

Coast Mastering • www.coastmastering.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Bettermaker Launches Limited-Edition Darthlimiter

Bettermaker Mastering Darthlimiter
Bettermaker Mastering Darthlimiter

Las Vegas, NV (November 4, 2020)—Bettermaker is marking the sale of 1,000 Bettermaker Mastering Limiter units with the introduction of the “very-limited-edition” Darthlimiter. Only 200 will be produced.

The new Darthlimiter updates the original Mastering Limiter with the addition of a new capacitive touchscreen with improved contrast and viewing angle; a Burr-Brown™ OPA1656 op-amp for lower noise and extended dynamic range; and, as might be expected from its name, an all-black front panel with a black frame and black knobs.

Bettermaker Unveils Stereo Bus Compressor

Both the Darthlimiter and Mastering Limiter include frequency-dependent saturation with separate odd- and even-harmonic components and fully-adjustable clip and limiting settings. In addition to digital recall and automation, the front panel offers an array of metering, including all varieties of ‘analog’ meters (VU, PPM, RMS, Peak), LUFS, K-metering, FFT, Goniometer, correlation and more.

TransAudio Group (US Distributor) • www.transaudiogroup.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Explosion, Fire Destroys Blue Sprocket Sound Studio

A gas leak explosion and fire ripped through Blue Sprocket Sound recording studio in Harrisonburg, VA on Saturday.
A gas leak explosion and fire ripped through Blue Sprocket Sound recording studio in Harrisonburg, VA on Saturday. Chris Jackson

Harrisonburg, VA (October 20, 2020)—A massive explosion rocked a shopping mall in Harrisonburg, VA at about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, destroying a number of businesses in the ensuing fire, including Blue Sprocket Sound recording studio. “The initial explosion did not happen in our studio. Another part of the building blew up and the rest of the structure caught fire,” says owner and chief engineer Chris Jackson.

Local residents reported feeling the shock of the explosion from miles away. One witness told a WTVR-TV reporter, “I saw a big mushroom cloud.” Five people were reported hurt, two seriously.

Blue Sprocket Sound's control room was centered around a rare Rupert Neve-designed Amek 9098 desk.
Blue Sprocket Sound’s control room was centered around a rare Rupert Neve-designed Amek 9098 desk. Chris Jackson

Michael Parks, Harrisonburg’s communications director, said the mall, which was also home to a vape store, a halal market, a nail salon and barber shop and a musical instrument store, was “a total loss.” A number of nearby businesses, including a Wendy’s, suffered damage from the explosion’s shockwave.

On Monday, Oct.19, the Harrisonburg Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office released a determination that the explosion and fire was the result of a natural gas leak inside the building. The exact origin of the leak and ignition source are still under investigation, according to the statement.

“There’s a lot of emotion around the loss, but at the end of the day I try and remind myself that it was just a building and it was just stuff,” Jackson says. “People still make professional recording equipment and we can move on from this, though it will be a long road.”

Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson

Jackson, a Harrisonburg native, opened Blue Sprocket Sound in 2013. He had previously spent some time in Nashville, where a friendship with Dave Piechura of Vintage King Audio led to an introduction to Vance Powell, studio manager and chief engineer at Blackbird Studios, who offered Jackson an internship. Jackson started working at Blackbird shortly before the grand opening of Studios C and D and later also worked as a staff technician for Korby Audio Technologies.

In 2018, Jackson returned to his hometown and set up a basement studio with an Amek G2520 mixing console purchased in Nashville, an MCI JH-24 tape machine and Pro Tools. He eventually began to draw up plans for a larger facility, which he constructed in a 4,300-sq.-ft. building at the Park Place Plaza. The two-story building allowed for 18-foot ceilings in the live room, which could accommodate an orchestra, as well as lounge areas, a tech shop and offices.

Studio Showcase: L.A. Studio Follows Its Muse

Having initially moved his basement studio gear into the spacious control room at Blue Sprocket Sound’s new location, Jackson later upgraded to a rare Rupert Neve-designed Amek 9098 desk that was formerly in Studio B at Full Sail in Florida. A portion of the second floor, including Jackson’s mastering room, outfitted with a Mac Pro, Crookwood console and other gear, was saved by firefighters, but was declared unsafe and demolished.

Firefighters managed to save part of the studio's second floor but it was ultimately deemed unsafe and was demolished.
Firefighters managed to save part of the studio’s second floor, but it was ultimately deemed unsafe and was demolished. Chris Jackson

Investigators have been moving debris around in search of the source of the explosion, says Jackson. “They shoved our part of the building out of the way; I’m sure there’s a molten mass in the middle that was a 9098 console.”

In 2018, Jackson opened a vinyl pressing plant, Blue Sprocket Pressing, in a separate building a few hundred yards from the studio. The pressing facility was largely unaffected by the explosion. “There’s a little extra space in the building, so we might try to prop up a little mastering suite and get back to work,” he says.

Members of two local bands have set up an online GoFundMe fundraiser for Blue Sprocket Sound and Hometown Music, the adjacent instrument store, with proceeds to be split equally between the two businesses.


Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com