Andy started High Fidelity Mastering in 2007 with the desire to combine his love of music, his electrical engineering background, and his audiophile passion for having the finest playback capability for Stereo and Surround Sound. He wanted to have a Mastering facility where he could restore noisy recordings, have the ability to create 5.1 Surround Sound from 2-channel sources, create a 5.1 effect for headphones, and create any reverb effect for music, film, or television.
All of these capabilities had to be accomplished on whatever media the original source material was on, be it record, reel-to-reel, 8-track, cassette, video tape, video disc, DVD, or CD. Andy saw a real need to be able to provide the capability to restore recordings on a source that the clients could no longer playback themselves, but wanted to hear those old, priceless recordings once again. In the last couple of years, New Mexico has also made a big push to get the film industry to make movies and TV shows here, so it made sense to include the ability to master in reverb effects for the television and film industry.
At first he researched to see if there was such a facility already here in Albuquerque. What he found out was that there was no such facility in the city, the state, and few other places in the country as well. The result, Andy has assembled state-of-the-art digital and analog equipment as well as a collection of vintage analog equipment to get that just right sound. What his business provides is described in its name. High Fidelity Mastering is the high-quality reproduction of sound that improves the original recording. His goal with every project is to create the finest possible sound from the original recording.
Here are some of the show notes from this segment:
1. What exactly is Mastering?
Mastering is the process whereby the mastering engineer prepares and transfers recorded audio from the original source material onto a master CD or DVD. This master is the source from which all copies are produced. It’s crucial, therefore, that the master is made properly for the best transfer to occur at the production facility. This allows mass production of your recording at the best possible level of quality.
2. What is High Fidelity Mastering?
High Fidelity Mastering is the high-quality reproduction of sound that improves the original recording. By using a collection of specialized mastering equipment, the mastering engineer can create the sensation of being in the presence of the actual performance. This is accomplished by a variety of means, such as eliminating noise, adding depth, widening the soundstage, and increasing dynamic range of the recording.
3. What does the mastering engineer do with my recording?
Your recording is improved through various means such as equalization, compression, and expansion. Additional tasks, such as editing, pre-gapping, leveling, fading in and out, noise reduction, and other signal restoration and enhancement processes, are applied as necessary during the mastering stage. Program material is then put in whatever order you request. In the end, you receive a CD or DVD master that’s ready for a production facility to produce as many copies you request.
4. What is it you listen for?
Essentially, everything! These are just some of the things that will improve on your original recording. We take out the bad, accentuate the good, and make your talent shine through!
• Proper tonal balance, depth and width of the soundstage.
• Noise, distortion, sibilance in the vocal, and out-of-phase sound caused by improper microphone placement during the original recording.
• Proper imaging of the vocal and placement of instruments to recreate the feeling of being at the original performance.
• All songs at the same volume level from one song to the next.
5. Do all professional musicians use a mastering facility?
If you look on any CD or DVD made within the last ten years, you’ll find in the list of credits two very distinct recognitions: “Recorded by…” and “Mastered by…” Yes, all professional musicians use a mastering facility.
6. The recording studio provided me with a master already. Why would I need another one?
Listen to your recording studio master repeatedly, over a period of time. You may find that you’d prefer that the vocals be more forward of the instruments. Or you may hear a buzz or hum you hadn’t noticed before. Or you’d like to have a wider soundstage or a greater depth to the music. Or you may like more reverberation, or perhaps more punch to the kick drum.
You could return to the recording studio, but their studio time is more expensive than our mastering time — and they may not have the equipment and skills needed to make the necessary changes. That’s when you want a specialist, High Fidelity Mastering.
7. Can you restore an old recording that has a lot of noise in it?
Yes, we can remove clicks, pops, buzz, hum, tape hiss, unwanted transients, and distortion. We can also remove acoustical noises from engines, ventilation, wind, water, insects, and other sources. The noise reduction process we use is NoNoise II by Sonic Studio. It won an Emmy Award for outstanding technical achievement. We also use the Izotope RX software.
8. Can you convert a stereo recording to 5.1-surround sound?
Yes, we use the UnWrap software by T.C. Electronic to create a 5.1-surround DVD master.
9. Do you work with musicians out-of-state?
Yes, we’re set up to work with anyone anywhere in the world. You can send us your audio files via the Internet in any format you have. You can also send us your project via ground mail. We can work in a variety of formats; CD, DVD, 33 1/3, 45, or 78 rpm Record, 1/2 track and 1/4 track Reel-to-Reel, Audio or VHS Cassettes, 8-Track Cartridge, Laser Disc, CD-Video Disc, and Capacitance Electronic Disc. We also can work with any DVD format regardless of what region in the world it was created. The DVD master we create will be in the U.S. Region 1 format.
10. How is High Fidelity Mastering different than other local facilities?
We’re the only facility in New Mexico that has the combination of world-class equipment with the proper education in mastering to do a truly professional mastering process. We’re the only mastering facility that utilizes the Masterpiece Analog Mastering System and the T.C. Electronic System 6000 Multichannel Processing Platform.