The Mastering Engineers Handbook – Bobby Owsinksi

For the most part, the things noted are equipment though there are couple items on technique. The book basically interviews many engineers. Interesting to note the same kind of equipment being used over and over again.

  • NARAS – National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
  • How to get level – overdrives two, sometimes three and even four pieces of geer…one of them being and a/d converter and other ones being digital level controls. Find that if spread the load out among several different units and add them together, then able to get it as loud as I can. Don’t put soft limit or finalizing on things.
  • Possible signal chain – EAR compressors and EAR EQ’s … the MEQ, avalong comp, avalong eq. Manley tube limiter compressor or vari-mu. Doug Sax line amp. ATR analog deck, studer 820, dbTechnologies converter. Z-Sys for digital EQ, Weiss comp, TC5000, Finalizer
  • For person trying to do his own mastering or understand mastering, the main thing is that all you need is one experience of hearing someone else mastering something. Anyone trying to learn mastering…realize there’s a hidden element that the more flexibility you have and the more time and patience you have, you can really come up with something that’s going to be better. No shortcut. Keep A/B’ing. Can be amazing how far off you can be sometimes even when you think you’re doing everything right
  • Sonics workstation
  • ProAc Response 4 monitors and powered with Audio Research Stereo 300
  • You never have a great sounding CD if you don’t have a great bass sound. It cant be great unless the bass is great. The thing most engineers frustrated about
  • When getting stuff in that hasn’t been mastered with vinyl ears, what are the problems that occur? – Frequency balanced? – Look for anomalies that poke out..don’t want that. Used to voice rooms to flatten out monitors so they sounded good and the way you get rid of all the problems is to feather any ED that got used.
  • What distinguishes a great mastering engineer? – One piece of equipment is dB max … was really meant to be a radio station processor but can work really good. Waves L2 a good peak limiter.
  • How important is mono and should you listen that way? – Always check mono. The signal on FM radio becomes increasingly mono as the signal strength decreases
  • What signal chain is used? – ATR-100,
  • What monitors? – Genesis 500’s, Quested 108s, B&W 802
  • What else used in signal path? – Studer 820, Prism analog EQ, Manley VariMu, Waves L2 limited, dB Technology A/D converter, TC dB Max, Weiss digital EQ
  • What workstation is used? – Sonic Solutions USP
  • When should effects get added/what box to use? – Lexicon 300, Sony 77, Eventide Orville
  • What effects? – B.A.S.E. (special processor)
  • What gear to help fadeouts – EMT250 and EMT252. Son V77
  • Signal path? – like the waves renaissance comp
  • How did monitors get picked and how should someone else go about it? – Use the LEDR test (Listening Environment Diagnostic Recording invented by Doug Jones). Then, using the from Daniel Dehay called Reference EA (
  • What console? – Z-Systems EQ
  • A good room needs to be pretty big…30′ long and a 17-18′ ceiling
  • Level controls made by Massenburg
  • Aphex Compellor or the Empirical Labs Distresser for dynamics
  • Surround sound mastering – M6000, Daniel Weiss, TC Electronics, Waves
  • Verb effects – Lexicon 480L
  • Sutder A820 with Cello class A audiophile electronics. Stock ATR, tube ATR, unbalanced ATR. Tim de Paravicim 2track machines
  • Sonic Solutions workstation.
  • Duntech Sovereign 2001 monitors
  • Cello Performance amplifiers and Mark Levinson amp
  • Cello Performance Mark II amp, Eggelston Works Andras speakers and Eggelston Works Ivy speaker. Alternate monitors are NS10M’s and Proacs
  • Signal path – George Massenburg/Sony electronics, dCS, Pacific Microsonics, Apogee, Neumann EQ, NTP, Manley, Aphex Compellors, Weiss 96/24 and bw102, Waves
  • Waves L2 but also SPL units and Junger units for comp
  • Kinoshita monitors, B&W 100’s and NS-10’s
  • Compression technique – use a 1.15:1 comp ratio and put it down at -20 or -25 to get comp early. Get 3 db of comp but can bring the average level up 3 or 4 db.
  • With regards to rates…careful about hourly charge and number of hours to bill (duh)
  • With regards to ratio of CD-R’s to 1630’s to sent out…use a St5agetech verifier…can charge $350 to do this
  • With regards to media being received – if DAT then go thru a Millenium Dual, Prism AD2, Z-Sys EQ then SADiE with Apogee UV22, Z-Sys 6 channel EQ and Weiss EQ comp/limiter
  • Lexicon 300L for verb/effects
  • Subwoofers an M&K and then Genelec full range
  • NuVerb
  • Speakers – Duntech Sovereigns for subs and also M&K then BBC LS3/5as for satellites along with Hafler 9505 with big Thiel speakers with the largest Mark Levinson amp
  • Workstations – Sonic and new HD Sonic along with SADiE
  • When clients come…be sure to have “fun” things (kitchen, games, couches)
  • Monitors – Tannoys, Dual 15’s Tannoy System 600s, Aria subs
  • Favorite gear – digital Weiss desk, Manley Vari Mu, Tube Tech, Manley, Avalon, Waves L2 and Junger

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