Absolute Audio was founded in 1991 by brothers Jim and Tom Brick, who have spent their entire adult lives in the professional audio industry. Both worked their way up through the ranks, so to speak, with stints at several major New York City recording and mastering facilities. Their cumulative experience and acumen resulted in the creation of Absolute Audio, one of the leading mastering studios in the U.S., with a credit list that belies its relative youth. The Absolute Audio team, along with mastering engineer Leon Zervos, has done exceptional work for clients such as Aerosmith, ‘N Sync, INXS, Eddie Palmieri, Placido Domingo, Whitney Houston, KRS-One, Francis Dunnery, Ace Frehley, Big Punisher and the Black Crowes.
The facility’s reception area is warm and modern. Down the hallway lined with Gold and Platinum albums are two mastering suites. Both rooms are trimmed with rosewood, as are the mastering consoles themselves. The place, simply put, has style. But here, personal style merges harmoniously with client preferences, says Zervos, whose broad and varied career as a mastering engineer in his native Australia has continued to expand since he joined the company in 1991.
“The philosophy has always been to have the best gear possible, whether it’s analog or digital,” he explains, noting some of the more exotic pieces on hand, including NTP 179-170 comp/limiters, Manley Variable-MU comp/limiter, Z-Systems MEQ-1 equalizer and Sontec MFES#432C/6 with 11/42dB steps. “You want to have the best of the old and the new-to meet the tastes of our many clients, whether for CD or vinyl, which is still in high demand. Keeping that kind of balance in our technology has been critical to our success over the years.”
The same sort of balance exists in the facility’s overall operations, says manager Melissa van Twest. “We do a lot of crossover work here; a single day can go from Aerosmith to ‘N Sync to Big Punisher,” she says. “From dance to rock to rap and back again. So we have to be flexible and make the clients as comfortable as possible. At the same time, there are schedules to be met, and we pride ourselves on keeping the company running very efficiently.”
Absolute Audio’s chosen approach to technology means they are watching the emerging DVD-Audio situation closely, and mastering for that format, with attendant 5.1 monitoring capability, is planned for the near future. In addition, the studio’s Prism converters have been upgraded to 96kHz capability, and its three Sonic Solutions workstations are 24-bit capable.
“There’s a big difference between being cutting-edge and being trendy,” observes Zervos. “We definitely feel as though we’ve been able to stay on the leading edge of technology, yet stay focused on what we know works. As a result, our clients keep coming back. When the industry undergoes major shifts, we’ll be ready for that, too.”