Professional Sound - August 2017 - Page 40

( L-R ) Lacquer Channel Cutting Engineer Kevin Park ; Senior Mastering Engineer Noah Mintz ; Senior Mastering Engineer Phil Demetro & Studio Manager / Mastering Engineer Maeghan Ritchat .
PS : On that note , are there any other current technologies or trends in audio mastering or audio production in general that are significantly impacting your profession ?
NM : Plug-ins are changing mastering for better and for worse . Plug-ins are getting better . The UAD plugs sound very close to the analog gear they are emulating . They are still missing something . I don ’ t think they can emulate the sound of the actual power of analog equipment . Every studio has different power . The same piece of gear can sound different in different rooms ; all UAD Pultecs sound the same in all studios .
PS : Overall , do you find music creators today more or less in tune with the importance of professional mastering when it comes to a formal release than they generally were , say , five years ago ? What do you think contributes to that ?
NM : I think mastering is much more misunderstood than it ever was . It used to be a “ black art ” in which people didn ’ t know what we would do ; they would just send in mixes and it would come back sounding better . Now , there is so much information out there that everyone knows something about mastering but much of it is false information . People ’ s expectations from mastering can be way beyond what mastering can or should do . Good mastering is evident unto itself of its value .
PS : As you said , vinyl is still a popular commodity for music releases while digital downloads and streaming are now the dominant method of consumption , meaning creators often want different masters specific to these platforms . Maybe it ’ s not so cut-and-dry , but is this something that ultimately benefits the professional mastering industry ?
NM : Vinyl records can sound great . The problem is that rarely do people master separately for vinyl . We do it as standard but we cut records here so we know that a vinyl master must be treated differently . Any mastering studio or engineer worth their salt knows this , but with so many recording and mix engineers also calling themselves mastering engineers , they tend to provide the same master for vinyl that they do for digital . I know this because we cut about 20 albums a week , mostly from outside studios , and more than half of them are the same master as the digital version . We work with it of course , but it ’ s a shame that the artist is not aware that with a little extra work at the mastering stage , they can have a much bettersounding vinyl record .
The popularity of vinyl signifies that consumers want something physical that sounds different than streaming . It ’ s not always bettersounding but it certainly has the potential to be . There ’ s just something about an analog signal that people connect with , granted that they are actually playing it back analog . That ’ s not always the case .
PS : Has the popularity of streaming services and overall digital consumption affected your workflow or overall operations in any other ways ?
NM : The crazy thing about streaming is that all the free services are at a lower bit-rate than the first generation iPod , which was 128 kbs , which everyone in the music industry ubiquitously agreed was not high enough quality for music . No one complains about the quality of free streaming because it ’ s free . I think quality is enough of an issue to get people to pay for streaming to get a higher bit-rate like 320 kbs . We just haven ’ t valued the quality of audio like
we have video . No one would go back to VHS , even if the movies were free .
There are standards for streaming and while we ’ re mastering , we always have that in mind . We have software that we can use in real-time to audition how it will sound on the various streaming platforms . It doesn ’ t often affect our mastering decisions but it can . If it sounds bad on Spotify , we need to change something in the mastering to make sure it doesn ’ t . We ’ re always thinking about how the audience will be listening , be it streaming , vinyl , radio , or even cassette which , for better or worse , is making a comeback .
PS : On a related note , what would you say is the biggest change to your or Lacquer Channel ’ s regular operations between now and , say , three years ago ?
NM : Answering that honestly , I would say it ’ s financial security . Even a few years ago , people were doing albums . Now we get more EPs than albums . There ’ s less money for artists so there ’ s less money for studios . We ’ re really busy – busier than we ’ ve ever been , but our billing is flat because people are doing fewer songs , demanding more , and paying less . I and everyone here at Lacquer Channel – there are 10 of us – are so lucky to be able to do what we love . I love mastering – so much so that I don ’ t give a shit that I won ’ t be able to retire anytime in the next 6,000 years . I ’ ll figure that out when the time comes . For now , I ’ m just happy I get to work on amazing music everyday . Only the businessman in me wishes we all got paid more . The musician and audio engineer in me is excited to get up every morning to hear what new music I get to work on . It ’ s cliché , but it ’ s like Christmas every morning when I unzip those . wav files .

40 PROFESSIONAL SOUND
(L-R) Lacquer Channel Cutting Engineer Kevin Park; Senior Mastering Engineer Noah Mintz; Senior Mastering Engineer Phil Demetro & Studio Manager/Mastering Engineer Maeghan Ritchat. PS: On that note, are there any other current technologies or trends in audio mastering or audio production in general that are signifi- cantly impacting your profession? NM: Plug-ins are changing mastering for better and for worse. Plug-ins are getting better. The UAD plugs sound very close to the analog gear they are emulating. They are still missing some- thing. I don’t think they can emulate the sound of the actual power of analog equipment. Every studio has different power. The same piece of gear can sound different in different rooms; all UAD Pultecs sound the same in all studios. PS: Overall, do you find music creators today more or less in tune with the impor- tance of professional mastering when it comes to a formal release than they gener- ally were, say, five years ago? What do you think contributes to that? NM: I think mastering is much more misunder- stood than it ever was. It used to be a “black art” in which people didn’t know what we would do; they would just send in mixes and it would come back sounding better. Now, there is so much information out there that everyone knows something about mastering but much of it is false information. People’s expectations from mastering can be way beyond what mastering can or should do. Good mastering is evident unto itself of its value. PS: As you said, vinyl is still a popular com- modity for music releases while digital downloads and streaming are now the dominant method of consumption, mean- ing creators often want different masters specific to these platforms. Maybe it’s not so cut-and-dry, but is this something that ultimately benefits the professional mas- tering industry? 40 PROFESSIONAL SOUND NM: Vinyl records can sound great. The prob- lem is that rarely do p ѕȁ͕Ʌѕ)ȁ٥尸]Ё́хɐЁݔЁɔ)ɑ́ɔͼݔ܁ѡЁ٥封ѕȁ)ɕѕɕѱ丁䁵ѕɥՑ)ȁݽѠѡȁͅЁ́ѡ̰ЁݥѠ)ͼɕɑ́ͼ)ѡ͕ٕ́ѕɥ̰ѡ)ѕѼɽ٥ѡͅѕȁȁ٥封ѡ)ѡ䁑ȁх$܁ѡ͔́ݔ)Ѐյ́ݕѱ䁙ɽͥ)Ց̰ɔѡѡɔѡ)ͅѕȁ́ѡхٕͥ]ݽɬ)ݥѠЁ͔Ёӊé͡ѡЁѡѥ)́Ё݅ɔѡЁݥѠѱɄݽɬЁѡ)ѕɥхѡ䁍ٔՍѕȴ)ͽչ٥封ɕɐ)Qձɥ䁽٥封ͥ́ѡЁ)յ́݅ЁͽѡͥѡЁͽչ)ɕЁѡɕ%ӊéЁ݅́ѕȴ)ͽչЁЁх䁡́ѡѕѥѼ)QɗéЁͽѡЁ)ͥѡЁЁݥѠɅѕѡ)ѡ䁅ɔՅ她ЁQӊe)Ё݅́ѡ͔)AL!́ѡձɥ䁽ɕ͕ȴ)٥ٕ́Ʌхյѥ)ѕȁݽɭ܁ȁٕɅɅѥ)䁽ѡȁ݅)94QɅѡЁɕ́ѡ)ѡɕ͕٥́ɔЁݕȁеɅєѡ)ѡЁɅѥAݡ̰݅̀)ݡٕ役ѡͥՉդ)ѽͱ䁅ɕ݅́Ё՝Յ䁙)ͥ9́ЁѡՅ䁽)ɕɕ͔ӊéɕ$ѡՅ)́՝ՔѼЁѼ䁙)ɕѼЁȁеɅє̸)]ЁٕeЁمՕѡՅ䁽Ց)ݔٔ٥9ݽձѼY!L)ٕѡ٥́ݕɔɕ)Qɔɔхɑ́ȁɕݡ)ݗeɔѕɥݔ݅́ٔѡЁ)]ٔͽ݅ɔѡЁݔ͔ɕѥ)ѼՑѥ܁Ёݥͽչѡمɥ)ɕљɵ̸%ЁͻeЁѕЁ)ѕɥͥ́ЁЁ%Ёͽչ́)Mѥ䰁ݔѼͽѡ)ѡѕɥѼɔЁͻeи]eɔ)݅́ѡЁ܁ѡՑݥ)ѕЁɕ٥尰Ʌȁٕ)͕єݡȁѕȁȁݽ͔́))AL=ɕѕєݡЁݽձԁͅ)́ѡЁѼȁȁ1Օ) éɕձȁɅѥ́ݕ)ͅ䰁ѡɕ啅́)94ݕɥѡЁѱ䰁$ݽձͅ䁥ӊe)͕ɥ丁ٕ܁啅́)ݕɔյ̸9܁ݔЁɔÁѡ)յ̸Qɗé́䁙ȁѥ́ͼѡɗe)́䁙ȁՑ̸]eɔɕ䁉䃊Lͥ)ѡݗeٕٔȁЁȁ́Ё)͔ɔݕȁͽ̰)ɔ她̸$ٕ役ɔ)Ё1Օȁ Lѡɔɔ̃Lɔͼ)ՍѼѼݡЁݔٔ$̴ٔ)ѕɥLͼՍͼѡЁ$eЁٔ͡ЁѡЁ$)ݽeЁѼɕѥɔѥѡЀذ)啅̸'eɔѡЁЁݡѡѥ̸)ȁܰ'eЁ$ЁѼݽɬ)ٕͥ呅丁=ѡͥ͵)ݥ́͡ݔЁɔQͥ)Ցȁ́፥ѕѼЁ)ٕ䁵ɹѼȁݡЁ܁ͥ$ЁѼ)ݽɬ%ӊéЁӊé ɥѵٕ́)ɹݡ$չѡ͔݅؁̻