Audeze speaks to Mastering Engineer Matt Colton

January 27, 2024

Matt Colton began his mastering career in 1997 and has mastered records for an array of the world’s most renowned artists including Arctic Monkeys, Thom Yorke, Steven Wilson, Shania Twain, George Michael, Depeche Mode, Aphex Twin, Ellie Goulding and the Rolling Stones. Matt currently works out of Metropolis Studios in London.

Matt Colton wearing Audeze LCD-MX4 headphones mixing

"I've rarely used headphones in my work as a mastering engineer until I discovered Audeze, and they are now very much part of my workflow." - Matt Colton
Here's our chat with Matt:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

James Blake - James Blake

Arlo Parks - Collapsed in Sunbeams

Flume - Skin

Christine & The Queens - Chaleur Humaine

Michael Kiwanuka - K I W A N U K A

Arctic Monkeys - The Car

Ozzy Osbourne - Patient Number 9

Wet Leg - Wet Leg

Iggy Pop - Every Loser

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

I am primarily a mastering engineer working on all stereo formats (digital, vinyl, CD, cassette), but also do Atmos mixing and mastering, plus 5.1 mastering.

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

I played drums and guitar in various local guitar bands from the age of 12, and at about age 16 got into Midi sequencing and electronic music. I went from listening to The Cure and Mudhoney to Aphex Twin, Juno Reactor and Leftfield. But really I have always listened to a wide variety of styles and genres, why wouldn't you? My work as a mastering engineer feeds into this, and I am lucky enough to hear hundreds of great new (and sometimes old) tracks every month.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

I guess the most influential figures on my career as a sound engineer have been the sound engineers who have helped me along the way; Mastering engineers Mike Marsh, Paul Solomons and Ray Staff had all played a part in my career and where I am today.

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?

There are often frustrations in the work, but they are soon forgotten and by the time the record is released into the world it's rare that I can remember what they are. In terms of how I would do things differently? We all like to think that we are on a linear path of improvement, but I like to try and live in the moment, and keep facing forward. I imagine I could master every single record better now than when I did it, but who knows if that is true? I did my best at the time, and that's really all that matters. Every record is a snapshot in time, the moment captured.

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

The room and the acoustics are the most important part with what I do, so as long as they are good then generally I would say I am good to go. That being said, with stereo mastering my natural inclination is to try some analogue processing in the signal path. It doesn't always stay there, sometimes I will work entirely in the box or just with digital hardware, but I usually like to try a little analogue flavouring.

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

Everyone's path is different, but I know that in my career there have been many occasions when I have had to make things happen for myself - times when nothing was going on for me and the breaks werent happening. There isn't always an open door to walk through, sometimes you have to find another way in.

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

Until I discovered Audeze I never really liked using headphones, but now they definitely form part of my workflow. Aside from checking for things like clicks, I find the Audezes a great reference for checking the tonal balance of my masters, both in stereo and in Atmos.

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

My view on the studio is that it's a safe space - what happens in the cutting room stays in the cutting room!

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

I've rarely used headphones in my work as a mastering engineer until I discovered Audeze, and they are now very much part of my workflow. The open backs sound great and I reference them frequently, especially when Atmos mixing and mastering. They sound less like headphones and more like monitors than any others I have ever heard, which is fantastic for me. My assistant uses the closed backs often to check and prep things in my studio while I am working on the main monitors, and they also provide another great alternative reference for me when working.

Audeze LCD-XC headphones on mixing table