Audeze interviews engineers Bernie and Dale Becker

June 17, 2023

Bernie and Dale Becker are engineers engaged in an "unending search for the truth in monitoring audio." Most of the work Bernie does is private and behind the scenes in some of the most demanding situations most people's imaginations would never create. Dale's current work can be found on Becker Mastering's website.

Bernie Becker in the studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones
"Audeze headphones are vital to our workflow."  - Bernie Becker
Here's our conversation with Bernie:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

I have been in this business since 1977. I believe that says something. Besides my other clients, I got an opportunity to work with Neil Diamond in 1989. I still work with him and have helped him with over 40 releases (in addition to remastering his entire catalog). Beyond that my son Dale is well recognized in the business and has a wonderful roster of successful clients also.

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

Recording, Mixing and Mastering. With the advent of our current tool set many of the traditional lines that were established in audio have changed. If you are diligent, and have a great imagination and proper tools to work with you can really elevate almost any piece of audio you come across.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I started as a singer-songwriter. That evolved into recording my own music and then helping others by recording their music. I really do love listening to most music but still have a soft spot for singer songwriter music.

Bernie Becker's Audeze LCD-X headphones
Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

I have had the opportunity to work with so many industry greats and spent enough time to learn something from each of them. No matter how accomplished you might be, there is always someone better to learn something from. Being challenged should never be considered a threat, it's a golden opportunity to rise higher and do better. You can't do today what you did yesterday and expect to be successful tomorrow.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

It is so important to do the best with what you have. Much of my frustration came from thinking that if I had better equipment I could make better records. Yes is the answer to that, no doubt. But one of the biggest revelations I ever had was always trying to get a better electric bass sound. One day a client hired Lee Sklar. He showed up and went direct into the same setup I had used a thousand times before. It was the best bass sound ever, period. I quickly learned that equipment was a small part of the equation.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

That's a really tough question. I find that mastering music these days is difficult, due to the extreme number of ways it is created and how many colleagues have touched it before it ends up with me. It's not one set of tools anymore. It's more about trying a variety of things until you find something that is complementary to what you were given. Much of the time the end result of what I use is different than what I might have thought would work initially.

I generally prefer to have a chain that includes a passive and active eq, some type of compressor and a limiter.

Dale Becker in the studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

Yes, if music and or audio is your highest desire, follow it and don't give up. Be willing to accept where you are and acknowledge that there is a long way to go. I tell myself that daily.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I have worked in headphones of some form since forever. No matter how bad or good headphones are they show a picture of the sound that speakers just can't. The opposite is true also. Many people are happy with one set of speakers or one set of headphones. That is not my favorite way to work. I prefer two or three sets of speakers and two sets of headphones. I can work with either phones or speakers and trust what I do with one set of monitors if needed but only if the situation can't be changed.

Do you have any additional comments or stories you want to share?

It was always a challenge for me when clients would bring in refs to listen to. For mixing and mastering. I thought hey, why copy what's already done. I did finally learn it wasn't about copying anything. It was about establishing, getting into and staying in the "Zone". Make a set of trustworthy refs that you know and listen to them at least daily.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

Headphones, now Audeze headphones are vital to our workflow. Having trusted monitoring sources takes time. We have been utilizing the LCD-X for the last few months.

First we use them in our workflow of preparing and checking the material we receive from our clients to master. Making sure we are not mastering something that has a flaw or misprint.

We then use the headphones as we master. Everything is checked, depending on the engineer involved, in at least two or as many as 6 different sets of Monitors (Speakers and Headphones) to make sure everything we work on translates across all platforms of release. 

Finally, the QC process is rigorous and almost always involves using headphones as our primary source of monitoring as we strive to give our clients the best audio possible.

A partial list of current well known clients include SZA, Khalid, Doja Cat, Debbi Nova, Harry Styles and Neil Diamond. We also have many clients that are on their way to becoming successful and well known and their efforts deserve to be mentioned as well. 

Dale Becker's Audeze LCD-X headphones