AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - March 29, 2012

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PNW's March 2012 meeting presented Seattle mastering engineer Steve Turnidge and his new book, "Desktop Mastering" (published by Hal Leonard). Steve is a past AES PNW Section chair and committee member, and his Ars Divina mastering business is but one of his many audio pursuits. About 46 (AES Members 13) attended at the Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, WA, north of Seattle.

Steve outlined the chapters in his book, noting errata he's already found. During the free flow of Q and A, he would read some book passages and tell personal anecdotes.

For him, desktop mastering is all ITB (In The Box), or all done in the computer, rather than using external, separate, physical processors or a combination of the two. His secret sauce would be his particular chain of plug-ins, their settings and use. He is PC based and even favors an older version of Sound Forge.

Like the book's chapter 1, Steve gave his conceptual overview of mastering and his chain or sequence of processing.

Further chapters covered:
the listening environment; digital audio concepts; mixing for mastering (how to give good stuff to the mastering guy); the mastering process; the desktop mastering chain; sequencing and mastering for CDs; mastering as a business; fundamentals of audio, electricity and electronics; glossary; Steve's discography; and a DVD-ROM with example files of before/after and screenshots of settings.

Why master a recording? His metaphor was it's like making a pie. Even after all the preparations, a good Mastering Engineer (ME) will add the small touches that give the final product the most "deliciousness."

How did Steve get started? He read his original unused preface for the book - a long account of his personal journey to where he is today. It was deemed too long and edited from the book. He worked many positions at NW audio companies like Rane, PAVO and Digital Harmony.

Responding to a question as to whether he listened to the result of each step, or the end result of his whole chain, Steve noted that older computers couldn't do the whole chain in real time, and he actually developed some processing quirks to exploit that. Now, he listens to the end result of his chain of processors.

A break was held, the door prize winners were drawn:

CDs mastered by Steve won by:
Jim Bartz, Nathan Hasbargen, Ken Meyer, Andyman, Jay Kenney, Michael Springer, Gary Beebe, Mark Dance, Christian Heilman, Scott Mehrens, Rich Williams, Ed Gruse, Mark Fauver, D. Campbell, Barry McCord

Copies of "Desktop Mastering" by Steve won by:
Stephen DeVore, John Jaunese

Resuming, Steve showed the DVD ROM from the book, with examples of plug-in settings, 24 bit pre-mastered example files, and resulting files.

He demonstrated how he does his 8-steps of processing in some detail and with anecdotes.

Some Q & A covered the time needed to master, ear/brain fatigue, CD production, production master CD-R burn speeds and blanks, and the DDP (disc description protocol) format.

Also, kudos were given to local authors Jake Perrine, (ex PNW committee) who also has a new book on Ableton Live, and Glen Lorbecki (present at the meeting) with a new book on Protools. David Miles Huber (present) also has a new edition of Modern Recording Techniques out.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society