Mastering at The Lodge in NYC with Emily Lazar.

I took the Amtrak down the night before, but it was a bit of a rush (what’s new?) and it was only as I was greeted by rain on my way to the studio that I realised I hadn’t brought a raincoat. So I was slightly damp arriving at 10.50 after a Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger (it’s right across the street) breakfast.

I have a hard drive and two safety DVDs with the files on –
12 master mixes (24 files – L and R for each) at 88.2 24 bit
12 instrumental mixes
and 12 vocal only mixes
and a track listing .doc.
I also have 6 reference CDs so we can compare our record with ones I like sonically
Gillian Welch – Soul Journey (track 3 is perfect sounding)
Lucinda Williams – Essence (awful album but Lonely Girls is perfect in all ways)
F Mac – Rumours
N Cave – Boatman’s Call
Aimee Mann – Magnolia (I brought this because I think You Do is great but is slightly TOO warm sounding)
and my Etc, which Mick Mixed and Emily mastered

Assistant engineer Joe LaPorta takes the files and loads them in to whatever software it is they use (really, I don’t know) and I catch up with Emily who is the second person in the last couple of months (and EVER) to tell a nice Lou Reed story. Maybe he’s not such an ogre… at least not around younger women (Joan W is his pal also).

To start with we listen to the CDs I brought with me in the listening seat to accustom myself to the sound of the speakers and the room. And to let Emily know what I’m after. Which is WARM with clear vocals and nice AIR at the top. Good news is track one sounds pretty close right away.

Emily’s uses Pultec EQs, Avalon EQs, Z System EQs, Tube Tech compression, Dangerous Music Imaging thingy, Genelec Monitors (same as mine but she uses them with a sub).

We spend the next 6 hours or so going through the songs – basically making sure the top of the sound is open enough, the bass is consistent from song to song, and the vocal is loud and clear enough, without being harsh. Comparing to the ref CDs every now and then to be sure we’re on track. Damn that Gillian Welsch song, though. It is just perfect…

Around about 8 PM we assemble the songs and figure out the gaps between them. Dave Derby (who arrived around 1PM), Joe and I do this. We want the gaps short, without rushing things and there are a couple of cross fades – one great one that D Bates recommended. Listening CDs are made for Dave and I. These have to be made in real time. We will collect them in the morning. Heba (the Lodge manager, lets me leave my brief case in her office so DD and I can go straight to dinner and celebratory bourbons at the Brandy Library.

I pick up the CD (and new Lodge mug to go with my ten year old one) feeling only slightly groggy, and take the 11.30 train back to Springfield. Once home I listen on my Genelecs and then on my Tivoli audio speakers and I now wish I had fixed my Pro Acs as they are somewhere between the two.

That’s where I’m at. I need to listen again today. It is scary to sign off on the whole thing. Everything is certainly close, maybe perfect, maybe some small tweaks still needed. DD and I will discuss ASAP. I will update this page when the PMCDs (production masters) are sent to Germany.