Mastering Engineers Talk Shop

Ballroom Dancing: Music Panels

SXSW Live Shots
Photo By Gary Miller

Mastering Engineers Talk Shop

Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 19 Imagine musicians as carpenters, measuring, cutting, and assembling the wood, and mixing engineers as designers that envision the end product, this drawer here, that knob there. Mastering engineers, then, are the artisans who apply the finishing touches, some light sanding here, polishing there, etc. Technically speaking, mastering engineers prepare studio output for commercial production, and SXSW couldn't have picked a better group to talk about this little-known world. Masterdisk's Howie Weinberg (U2, Nirvana, Tom Waits) moderated Austin's Jim Wilson (Richard Thompson, Flatlanders, Bob Mould), mastering mandarin Bob Ludwig (too many platinum albums to mention), and Moonlight Mastering's Nancy Matter (Ray Charles, Slash, Billy Preston), filling in for Sterling Sound's Greg Calbi, who couldn't attend due to weather-induced flight cancellations. In the new world of accessible recording technology, the goal of mastering is even more important to, as Ludwig explained, "getting the recording as perfect as possible." Weinberg talked about fine-sounding Pro Tools projects, while other digital recordings have "a little too much resolution." Matter recommended that musicians contact mastering houses for input while recording, "if nothing else, to save money." Topics such as vertical modulation, dithering, and harsh high transients assumed a basic understanding of the recording process, but those in attendance were treated to valuable insights from some of the industry's best ears.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Wednesday Interview
Wednesday Interview
Delta Spirit

Jim Caligiuri, March 20, 2015

Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
First night SXSW Music recommendations and hints

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Faster Than Sound: SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
Virtual festival forecasts incoming local debuts and tentative fall touring.

Rachel Rascoe, March 26, 2021

Faster Than Sound: Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Nostalgic livestream and rising Austin talent fundraise for the Austin Parks Foundation.

Rachel Rascoe, Oct. 16, 2020

More by David Lynch
Rock & Roll Summer Reading
How Can I Keep From Singing?: The Ballad of Pete Seeger

May 30, 2008

Texas Platters
That Damned Band
999 Surreal Eyes (Record Review)

Feb. 15, 2008

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle