Thomas Hahn, Producer of Hard Rock group Monochrome, Germany
This is Thomas - engineer/producer of Monochrome - writing.
What a great job you've done mastering the Monochrome record! I really enjoyed listening to the mastered songs! Open, punchy, very dynamic, great overall balance! I am 100% pleased with the results. Your final touches to our mixes regarding EQ and compression are very musical, moderate and precise! Well, "chapeau!" as the french would say! The Mastering really helped putting the songs together as a record!
My partner Bv?ni and me (we go by the name of Hahn&Hahn) were very happy to hear from your enthusiastic feedback on our work through Marten! Thanks! You were asking for some details on the studio/production environment so let me give you some information.
Our studio is a quite small comfy place (120qm) located in the south of germany in a town called Bietigheim close to Stuttgart which is where we live. Make sure you stop by for a coffee & talk whenever you're around!
We work on a ADT MT5 48 channel inline desk (ADT is a german brand. get more information here: http://www.adt-audio.com) with either Pro Tools (recording) or Nuendo (mixing/mastering) running as a DAW. If a mixing job (like the monochrome record) doesn't demand 100% total recall :) we are going analog with some UAD plugins in the DAW. Then recording the mix and stems back into the digital world through a Lavry Blue A/D unit at 2444.
Outboard processing with stuff like Altec 438, Urei 1178, SSL 4000, Tubetech CL1B, DBX 165A, ADR Compex F760X, ADL C/L 1500, the ADT console EQs, Summit, Siemens and Eckmiller EQs, Chandler LTD-1 and Curve Bender, Siemens Telefunken TAB Chandler API and ADT preamps.. Lexicon 480L, MXR, TC, Roland, Echolette and Dynacord FX units.. well the list goes on but so does the wish list :)
The monochrome mixes went through the ADR Compex F760X Compressor at 2:1 doing about 0-2 db of compression depending on the song and the Chandler Curve Bender EQ as the sum EQ before A/D. Did you check out the Curve bender yet? To my ears it's a great sounding unit with a pleasant color and punch. I use it in mastering and it's a life saver to those poorer and less charming mixes that are coming in every now and then. No need to say it's even better on great mixes! ¬†
We are monitoring on Infinity Kappa 9A, Smart Audio II, NS10s
Get back to me if you have any more specific questions about anything. I hope we'll be working together more in the future! best regards and thanks again for doing a great mastering job!
Aran Lavi, Engineer, Ramat-Hasharon, Israel
I want to thank you again, you have mastered about 20 mixes i did the last 6 months and i feel you are the only mastering engineer I've ever worked with that gives my mixes all they are missing without killing what they already have, I've worked with many mastering engineers the last few years who almost always "damaged" my mixes, you are the only engineer who instantly understand what I've tried to create and making it sound great !
Rob McGuire, Producer/Engineer, Skerries, Ireland
After thoroughly enjoying your email bundled with festive references I listened to the master.
I think it is absolutely fantastic! It is exactly how I asked for. The vocals are more defined and crystal clear while the instrumental bounces with fun. Everything is balanced with no unpleasant jumps in frequencies, as was the problem with the mix. The overall quality of the song has jumped ten-fold! This isn't the standard of song I would have ever dreamed of sending you but you have reassured me that no-matter how silly a track may seem, you will make it more credible with your outstanding work.
In particular, the rap sections are more defined to my ears. The mix probably needed some multi-band compression as clarity was an issue here, but now even my mother is bobbing her head and rapping along with lyrical precision. The bass in the instrumental is as delightful as you described and I think it will sound great coming from the intended speakers of a pub late at night. (...Pity not many pubs are designed with acoustics in mind though).
I have gained more confidence in this track, which is a noteworthy mention!
It is always an unsettling experience for someone to step outside of their comfort zone, but if you risk little you stand to gain even less. It's just nice to know there is a very strong safety net available at Digital Domain for us to rely on.
Thank you kindly for your brilliant work and for the speed at which you performed at.
I offered the deadline of the December 11th and I received a 110% job done on December 8th (of the same year of course!)
This is just another reason among the many I will be continuing to work with you and I look forward to more projects of mine being sent your way.
And back to the Christmas references! Each time I unzip a DigiDo Mastered folder and line it up on Pro-tools it feels like I'm unwrapping a present. And that present is always the one I had topping my list.
Have a great Christmas and New Year and I look forward to working with you again early 2011!
Thanks again Bob,
Andre Woodvine, Engineer, Barbados, West Indies
The difference between the mix that I sent you and your mastered track is like the difference between lite beer and lager.
Andre (Andre's recorded and mastered several CDs with Bob. Andre's Website)
Mano Murthy, Composer of Indian Music, Hollywood, CA
Listened to the master on a high end system and it is simply superb. Exactly
what I had hoped for. I will listen to it on a couple more lower end systems
and headphones and will call you tomorrow.
Thank you very much.
Sunnie Paxson, Composer/Jazz Musician, Los Angeles, CA
The mastering sounds GREAT!!! Thank you for a sensational job!!!!
Sawan Dutta, Producer, Mumbai, India, of "Underground", 3-disc set of rock from various Indian cities on HMV Saregama Records
Another thing I've been waiting to tell you - the Underground Launches finally happened, in all three cities....and i finally got a chance to listen to all the songs you'd mastered at the launch, on huge speakers, after a nice long gap of time which really helped me to react to things afresh with a clean mind......the songs sounded AWESOME, Bob...and i'm so thrilled - no, thankful, actually, for whatever you did with my song - everything, the vocals, the punch, everything sounded so much better than i remembered it sounding at my studio. This was one hell of a crazy project with so many different genres and kinds of qualities of music thrown in - and you totally totally saved everyone's collective ass, by making it sound better than I'd imagined it ever would - so a huge huge big thanks, from me and from many of the artistes who may never quite know what you put into this project.
Lots of love,
Cormac O'Connor, Rock Producer, Ireland
I'm delighted with that. Will hand over to client tomorrow and I expect a happy response.
Thanks again, more tunes soon
Gordon Cotton, Producer/Musician, Texas
The master was (well) received today. Entirely wonderful. Listenable. Smooth.
Thanks again from myself and the Dixons.
Carl McEvoy, Pop/Rock Producer, Band: Martelo Music, Dublin, Ireland
We've all listened to the track and are very pleased, sounds like an A+ to us anyway! We'll be in touch over the next couple of months with some more material. Until then take care and thanks again.
Gary Hughes, Co-Producer, Bombay Dub Orchestra, London, on Six Degrees Records, San Francisco
Bob...just wanted to say again many many thanks for your stellar mastering on the Bombay dub record .
Best wishes: Garry
Fabian Krapp, Producer, Archai (Classic Heavy Rock/Metal Group), Germany
I downloaded the master this morning - and I am bowing low! It's awesome!
So much better than the mixes! It's so _clear_¬† and the dynamics are greatly enhanced. Well... to be honest.. everthing seems to be enhanced.¬† :-)
I like the edit at the end of "solitude" - it's way better now, same for "rites". Thank you so much! There's one little thing, I think that the end of "solitude" has some sizzling noise on it. The crossfades and gaps are all great, everthing is exactly as it should be and way better than I expected it. Now it's an "album", not just nine tracks in a row. I'm _very_ happy with it!
I know that this recording is far away from being a grade A production, but investing into good mastering was the best descision ever. I had my bandmates listen to it and they love it! Everyone thinks that he's loud enough. Good sign, I guess. We talked about the loudness, too. I'm quite happy with it as it is, but some of my bandmates fear that it won't be loud enough on MySpace or that labels could complain. I'm not allowed to decide about this alone. So I simulated this with an L2 and "2dB hotter" was the democratically agreed value. I hope that there's enough headroom so we don't have to compromise too much.
Fabian, of Archai
Then Fabian added in another letter:
It's me again - I'm very happy that you liked the mixes. I know
I'm not a pro, but I tried to give my very best. And you helped me very much
with your advice, I think that I learned some important lessons due to your
aid. I've switched between the mixes and the master and that's like another
lesson! It's "listening, recognizing, trying to understand".
That's something which can't be measured in money. The next thing is: Your
customer relation is superb. We had some bad experiences here in Germany.
So I have to say "Thank you very much, Bob! *all thumbs up*" in the name of
the whole band! We slept on the "2dB louder"-thing. Without the "fear", it's a no-brainer:
You made the best master possible. It's perfect, why compromise it? We'll
stay, no further adjustments.
Ps: You told me to remind you on the end of "Solitude".
Paul Stephenson, Electronic Music Producer, Austin, Texas
Hmm, hard to describe exactly how I feel right now.¬† Slightly emotional and super excited.
I know that was my track, but the fine detail and subtle elements that I could hear really made me actually happy!!!!¬† Very, very, very nice work.¬† I really can't wait to get the rest!¬† The warmth, depth, clarity of the kick, the attacks on the effx, the suspense, tension....Nice...
I hope that I might be able to ask some questions, like where did the magical fairy dust come from?¬† Seriously I am very happy and pleased with what you did.¬† I toiled for about 4 months of my life working 3 jobs and only a few hours every few days on the track.¬† That made it all worth it.
Tons of people including my partner (Jason Jenkins) and loving girlfriend (Manda Freytag) on my end provided feedback and constant listening to help make this track and I think they are all going to really enjoy what you did.
Thanks Bud you just got a life long customer...
P|honik S|tudio W|erks (PSW)
Living The Dream - D:Fuse - (Quarry Sixx rmx)
ps.¬† I hope I might be able to trouble you for a few minutes of your time to find out what you did to the track.¬† I really want to learn from this great experience.¬† Thank you!
Shane Power, Producer/Engineer, The Guggenheim Grotto, fantastic rock band from Dublin, Ireland
The tracks sound amazing! I listened to them on a couple of different systems over the course of the last day or so;
once again (as with 'Digital Audio The Art and The Science') you've made me re-think my approach to sound and music.
My trusted 'Quested' Monitors are now showing their short-comings especially in the bass department. There are some problems with the mixes, but your Mastering makes the record sound like I had only dreamt it would.
I'll get back to you with any revisions then. I doubt there will be any apart from moving the fade-out in 'Vertigo'.
Is this OK?
Once again, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!
Hope all's well there.
Shane, The Guggenheim Grotto
Dave Risley, Producer, Tolland, CT. Bob mastered two versions, with a "loud version" 1 CD because Dave might want to "make it loud"
I listened to both reference CDs. The first version sounded good, however, after the 4th song my ears were getting tired from the compression. With that said, THANK YOU for Version 2!!
Version 2 is awesome, just amazing. I hoped it would come out good but this is incredible!!
Its so HUGE!!! I liked everything no changes needed.
Lets go with Version 2 please!!
Tell Bob Excellent job, I love it to death!!
Helge Sten, Producer, Oslo Norway of The White Birch, "Indie/Pop" band on Glitterhouse Records, Germany
I have listened to the White Birch master again today and I must say I am very impressed!¬† I have worked with this album for a long time and often it is hard to listen to projects after such a hectic work period.¬† However with this master I am able to sit down and enjoy the music and its effect without any "project fatigue".¬† I also spoke to Ola today and he said the same thing.
Even though my mixes pointed in a specific direction, your mastering has really joined all the songs together into a great sounding
experience.¬† It is the first time in a while where I felt that the mastering preserved and respected the original mixes and at the same
time made them shine in such a beautiful way.
What gear did you use for this mastering?¬† Not that it matters a great deal as I do think the engineer is the key in this process, but I am intrigued to know...¬† Did your K-stereo processor play a major part? Oh, I would love some insight into that machine by the way.
The band and all the people involved will go out tomorrow and have a little celebration and it would be great if you were there, but for obvious reasons that can not happen.¬† However we will have a drink in your honor!¬† Take care and I hope to speak to you soon.
Audio Virus LAB
Tracey Terada, Producer/Engineer "Inner Session", Acoustic/Progressive Rock group from Hawaii
After listening to the Inner Session master, i can say now through personal experience that you are amazing.¬† The tracks sound better than i had ever imagined they would.¬† There are certain songs where the Snare drum sounds incredible and i wonder how you did it.¬† The beefed up vocals really did the trick for certain tracks as well.¬† I do have a couple of questions regarding a couple of the tracks.¬† Does it seem like track 5's (Down the road) vocals are a bit thin?¬† When i listen to the track before it, It seems like something changed.¬† Also, on track 9 (Music) the vocals seem to be missing reverb.¬† Did I accidently leave the reverb off the track?¬† If so i will need to resend that vox track to you.
Please let me know on this Bob, I am so impressed by what you did to the tracks.¬† The label hasnt heard it yet but he has asked me to wait till everything is complete.
and a followup letter:
Thank you so very much for your opinions and advice Bob.¬† Thank you also for taking such care and consideration when mastering my mixes. With the pointers you have given me thus-far, I am already excited to record the next inner session project.
Both Rachael and yourself were a delight to work with. I do hope that Digital Domain decides to contact some of the distribution companies here in hawaii as i think it will result in higher quality of CDs coming out of this place.¬† Thank you for everything Bob, and i do look forward to working with you again soon.
Dan Worley, Producer/Engineer
About the credit card. Charge it! You're worth every penny, and then
I am totally thrilled with this master. Over the moon kind of thrilled.
The main thing for me is that you didn't try to force the song where it
shouldn't go. There are no hyped-up frequencies. No processes obviously
throbbing away. You didn't try to push the RMS levels up too high, which
in my opinion would have ruined the song. The levels are perfect for
this song--kind of like the old days at around -14. You kept the mix
rough and raw and didn't try to add a bunch of polish to make it sound
slick, but yet it sounds professional and ready for the airwaves. In
other words, You Got It!
Carolyn (my friend and business partner, and the producer of this album)
is also thrilled with this master. She said she knows you have all kinds
of powerful, expensive equipment at your disposal, but the use of it is
transparent, in the sense that we don't hear it working. It's just
obvious that the mix is better, more powerful, with more intriguing and
interesting energy to it, instead of just LOUD.
I am the most pleased with the vocal. The body you added to it is just
right. I also feel like there is added ambiance around it that helps it
sit right in the mix. Personally, I think my vocal might be a little bit
too loud, but I've learned not to trust myself when it comes to the mix
level of my vocals. Most of the time I don't like my voice (though I
love to sing), and because of that, I find it to be the hardest thing to
place in the mix. I'm always dropping it further and further back.
Carolyn keeps telling me to bring it more up front. She thinks the level
of the vocal in your master is perfect. Others have agreed, so I acquiesce.
The entire mix has more body, punch and drive to it, and it's not that
it's just louder. The lows and low-mids are stronger without being muddy
or tubby or flabby. The high frequencies are just right, they kind of
round off at the top like a symphony or something. I don't know how to
I feel like there's more room in the entire mix with this master. More
ambiance. A better more defined space. The reverb tails seem to last a
bit longer but don't get washy with too long of a decay time. I don't
know, maybe I'm just hearing things. It's very subtle but I could swear
that's happening. The brass section sounds like it sustains longer when
their notes end. I have really cheesy reverbs here. As I did with this
mix, I usually end up running through delays first and then running the
delays through reverbs to get a better more complex sound. Now it sounds
even better. Did you add some slight reverb to the entire mix?
Well, I could go on and on, but I'll give you a break and stop here.
Needless to say that I will be honored if you will master the entire
album when it's ready. You're definitely someone we want in our corner
when it comes to creative and technical collaboration. I can hardly wait
to play this for the band when they come for rehearsals this weekend.
I've already had my friend in Australia and my drummer in¬† Virginia
download it from your ftp server. They both love it.
I want to thank you for being so supportive and for saying such kind
things to me on the phone yesterday. I have been beaming away on cloud
nine ever since. You have no idea how important that was to me. It was a
watershed moment in my life. A milestone in my journey down the road of
audio and music. I have worked so hard to improve my mixing skills, but
I have deep insecurities about what I'm doing. I have the same problem
with my song writing, but I love it so much I can't give it up, and I've
had enough people tell me they're good that I almost have to believe
them. I've been writing songs for 38 years now. Ever since I was 12.
Bob, you did a fantastic job! Carolyn and I couldn't be happier. Thank
you so much.
Glenn Hubbard, Producer/Engineer, Knoxville, TN
Yes, we do have a winner. I love the master! Pam and I are both very pleased. I believe
I'm starting to think a little like a mastering engineer (don't worry,
you job is safe!), because there were things here and there I had been
hoping you'd bring out, and -- sure enough -- you did! It's been very
satisfying listening for me, because little things that bugged me
throughout the mixing process don't bug me anymore. Thank you for
One more observation I thought you might get a kick out of: These
tunes are almost as loud as my last Nashville mastering job -- and
yet, they sound twice as full, twice as dynamic, and twice as pleasing
to the ear. I'll take a little credit for a better recording job (and
some new gear), but mainly I'd say you're making the loudness wars
look pretty silly. Why would anyone pass up this level of quality just
to get a miniscule increase in perceived loudness? It makes no sense!
Thanks again for everything!
Kevin Hennessy, Jazz musician, Columbia, MO
Pete, Sean, and I re listened to Chunky and really love how it sounds.
We're ready to go ahead and have the rest of the CD's sent.
I will call Todd this morning and let him know...
Thank you again for your help in the final listening phase... Your comments really helped us!
I look forward to working with you again, on my future projects.
Rebecca Hall, Folk musician, Vermont
Wow--what a difference!¬† We just listened to the master and it's like night and day from what we sent to you!¬† It's so much clearer and more open, and the vocals especially sound fantastic. Thank you so much for working on our project (Hungrytown ).¬† We couldn't have done it without you.
Ken and I have listened to the CD several times now, on several different systems, and it sounds awesome everywhere!¬† Every instrument is so distinct, and the sound overall is so much more cohesive.¬† The songs really shine through, and that's the whole point.¬† I am so, so happy with this final product!¬† Thank you so much for working with us, and for helping us meet our deadline.
Bob Duskis, President, Six Degrees Records, San Francisco, CA
Thank YOU for finding the time to do the Cheb I Sabbah single, Bob.
You always bring that extra magic to the music,
Bob D - Six Degrees Records
Peter Doran, Musician, Ireland
Dearest Mr. Katz,
I receieved the mastered version of "Wood" today and I have listened to it a few times at this stage! I just wanted to email you to thank you for doing such a wonderful job with my music and for bringing it to it's full audio potential. I can't thank you enough.
I hope to have the pleasure of working with you again at some stage in the future!
Best wishes always,
Vinny Baker, Engineer/Producer, Ireland
This is Vinny Baker, engineer and co-producer on Peter Doran's album "Wood" which I have just heard since you mastered it, and am very very impressed with the results. It is so much punchier and warmer sounding, magic indeed!!
Thank you for your comments on the recording which Peter passed on to me, I was indeed aware of some of it's shortcomings which are now not so obvious since you mastered it, but it's always a learning curve and am already looking forward to working with Peter on his next venture.
Again, thank you for the wonderful job you did and I hope to glean some more information from your very detailed book, Mastering Audio, which I have already read once, but need to read it a few more times in order to digest all the very detailed information therin.
Best wishes to you and yours Bob,
VeeBee Recording Studio
Republic of Ireland.
David Huntsinger, Producer, Nashville, TN
I write to report that I am completely pleased with your work on the "Classical Praise: Lutes" project.
The reverb you added to some of the pieces simply improved the warmth of the overall sound and placed the lute and other instruments in a more pleasant space. We lost no definition and gained a good deal of beauty.
What I had not expected but so pleasantly surprised me was the improvement in the mandolin sound. John Mock is a delicate mandolin player and never sounds like those biting bluegrass players, but there were still times I felt the instrument was speaking too forcefully, too transient. After mastering, it seems just right.
Thanks for your great work. I so admire your restraint, willingness to make subtle changes that result in significant esthetic improvements, and observance of that old medical nostrum, ‚ÄúFirst do no harm.‚Äù
Very nice, my friend. Thank you. David Huntsinger
Vance Thompson, Producer, Nashville, TN
Thanks so much for your work on the The Knoxvlle Jazz Orchestra project. You made a tremendous difference. Everyone who has heard it has been knocked out by your work!
Joseph Toliver, Musician, Dallas, TX
I just want to say thank you for all of your advice and work to master my project. I really appreciate you and the sound you gave to it. We are really pleased. I also want to compliment your staff. Everyone that I have talked to or corresponded with has been a joy to work with. I have already referred you to two friends that are in various stages of projects. I hope they call you!
All the best,
Joseph M. Toliver