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London’s Famed AIR Studios Launches AIR Mastering

Alchemy Mastering at AIR has moved into AIR Studios' Lyndhurst premises in London and is now known as AIR Mastering.

Barry Grint at AIR Mastering
Barry Grint at AIR Mastering.

London, UK (April 18, 2023)—Alchemy Mastering at AIR has moved into two new mastering suites at AIR Studios‘ Lyndhurst premises in London and is now known as AIR Mastering.

When AIR Studios acquired Bary Grint and Phil Kinrade’s Alchemy mastering house in 2020, it stated that its long-term aim was to house the entire mastering business under one roof. The completion of two new suites, along with an upgrade of AIR’s existing mastering facility at its Lyndhurst premises, has brought this plan to fruition and given AIR’s international client base access to studios operated by the team.

“Mastering is an important part of AIR’s business and therefore it makes good commercial sense to invest in facilities and equipment that give AIR Mastering a competitive edge,” says Nikki Affleck, manager of AIR Mastering. “Our new studios are specifically built for this purpose. As well as incorporating the best equipment on the market, they are also acoustically accurate, aesthetically pleasing and very comfortable places for staff and customers to spend time in.”

Veteran mastering engineer Barry Grint, who has more than 30 years’ experience of building and operating mastering facilities, took charge of studio design using a modular system supplied by custom-build specialists CIPOD.

“CIPOD panels consist of a metal back plate and mesh front plate with rockwool filler between them,” Grint explains, “This ensures high levels of soundproofing and exceptional acoustics, which is important for mastering as you need to hear every detail of the track you are working on. As the panels slot together easily, we were also able to reduce the amount of time it took to build each room.”

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Grint adds, “We have worked hard to ensure that each room meets the same high standard so that projects can be easily transferred between them. This is why we have chosen the same monitoring for each room. All three rooms are equipped with ATC SCM150 monitor speakers and use Sequoia mastering software with an extensive array of plugins.”

With vinyl cutting accounting for nearly 70% of AIR Mastering’s business, Grint has specified Neumann VMS80 lathes, modified so that they can make half-speed cuts, for all three studios. “Alchemy and AIR have always had a strong reputation for cutting vinyl, and given the current resurgence in this format, it is important that Air Mastering’s equipment is of the highest standard,” he says. “Having the ability to cut at half-speed is attracting a lot of interest because labels understand that this gives them a quality product, which in turn can be retailed at a higher price point.”

Grint adds that for cutting from analog tape, AIR Mastering also has a Studer A80 preview machine, which has been modified to use Ampex ATR100 playback electronics.

Mastering 1, AIR’s existing studio that was originally opened in 2006 and was home to Ray Staff for many years, is now the domain of Phil Kinrade, a specialist in catalog, mainstream, compilations, and restoration.

Mastering 2 houses engineers John Webber and Jasper Ward and features an extensive range of outboard equipment from manufacturers such as Sontec, Manley, API, Thermionic Culture, Crane Song, Chandler and Dangerous Music.

Mastering 3 is centered around a Maselec control system with outboard equipment from Sontec, Elysia, Dangerous Music and Whitestone. This studio is home to Barry Grint and Cicely Balston.