November 25, 2021
There are so many amazing projects that have come through our doors, it’s difficult to highlight even just a few. When I think of our history as a company, I’m most proud of the consistency of our work and the passion and dedication we put into it. As a team, we hold ourselves to a very high standard of excellence which goes beyond how we make things sound. It has to do with how we handle projects and the individuals involved. We strive to leave people in a place where they would recommend us to everyone they know, and I believe it is that pursuit that has allowed us to continue to flourish and stay in demand. Living with that as the main goal creates less of a focus on particular highlights but rather on the global consistency to the way we approach our work. When I look back to all the years, it’s one giant highlight.
When I was young I loved listening to classical music. I would dance around the living room and embody the music. My father and I would listen to music in the car on the way to school identifying the different instruments in the arrangements and also counting time signatures. When I was about 12 years old I have a distinct memory of the first time I saw someone click the distortion button on a guitar amp. I remember being so blown away by the fact that one simple button could create such an amazing sound. From that moment on I was determined to learn the electric guitar. I became obsessed with music and it became my sole focus throughout junior high and high school. Once I graduated, I set my sights on moving to Hollywood and attending Musicians Institute to learn the fundamentals of music production. Just before completing the program, I met Gavin Lurssen who agreed to take me on as an intern. He was still working at The Mastering Lab at the time. I was incredibly enthusiastic to be there, observing and absorbing. He quickly saw the passion and eagerness I had to be involved and agreed to mentor me. As the years went by, I gradually built up my skillset and confidence in the discipline. Since all different styles and genres come through our doors, I have grown a fondness of all styles of music, ranging from heavy metal and hiphop to pop and electronic music. I enjoy it all, although there is still a special place in my heart for a full orchestra.
I’ve been so lucky to have great musical mentors in my life. I think the first inspiring figure was a man named Marco Andrade, the music teacher at my middle school. He was so encouraging and supportive, and came from a place of pure fun and joy. I also had an excellent guitar teacher at that age named Steve Miles, who taught me technique and musical theory on an advanced level. Gavin Lurssen is the man who taught me how to be a Mastering Engineer. He began to teach me how to listen when I was just a teenager, and the subtlety of excellence in sound. Through his mentorship, I was able to witness countless conversations via attended mastering sessions with the very best of the industry. Throughout all the years I’ve refined my abilities to not only create great sounding masters, but also how to guide a project to the finish line in all the ways required.
When you’re first starting out, there is a level of self doubt and worry that can creep into your own inner dialog when working on music. I think this is something most people have to grapple with in the creative process. Over time, I feel I’ve overcome these feelings by continuing to trust myself through the process. I let the music tell me where IT wants to live and almost remove myself from the process entirely when doing so. I try to put myself in a state of flow when working. I’ve found that when I am aligned with the vibrancy of the music it always lands in the place of where I’m completely satisfied. I’ve also found that when I accomplish this it’s more likely that everyone involved in the project also feels the same way with the end result.
I love to use the EAR 825 tube EQ. I think of it as the “master shape maker”. I can almost always find the balance I am looking for with this tool in a very musical and pure way. It’s a tool that I’ve come to rely on for this.
You have to be patient not only with the long path to it takes to success but also with yourself in the process, refining these abilities takes time and dedication. Currently the technology supports the notion of a speedy result no matter your industry, but the machines are still used by humans and so using the technology to refine a vision is a process that takes time and should be embraced appropriately in order to leave no stones unturned. When working in the arts at this level you have to give it everything you have… maybe even more at times. That’s what it takes.
Headphones are a big part of our workflow. When QC’ing material or doing restoration work, headphones are the go-to. I’ve grown quite fond of the Audeze LCD-Xs. They are so hi-fi and detailed, its like having hi-end monitor speakers as headphones. As we begin to work more and more in these immersive formats, headphones are crucial to make accurate balance decisions. I rely on the LCD-Xs because I’m acclimatized to them and they tell me everything I need to know.
The Audeze headphones have proven themselves to be an excellent tool to monitor the binaural fold down incarnations of the immersive work (Atmos etc). They not only give us an accurate read of what’s translating, but also allow us to make detailed balance decisions. When working in these formats we’re constantly switching between monitoring the array of speakers and the headphones. Having a familiar and revealing headphone is crucial for this workflow.