Celebrating its 15th anniversary next year, Northeastern Digital Recording (NDR) has maintained a unique status in both the pro audio and music industries, consistently remaining on the cutting edge of technology. Before major labels had committed to the compact disc format, NDR was one of the first facilities in the world to offer digital mastering and editing using the Sony PCM-1610/30 system. As the rise in catalog sales drove the pop music market, the facility started remastering a huge array of artists, including Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Bob Marley, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Cockburn, NRBQ and Joan Jett, among many others. At the same time, NDR worked with an equally wide and impressive collection of contemporary and upcoming artists, including Alison Krauss, Richard Thompson, Morphine, Burning Spear, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Bob Mould, Paul Winter, Medeski Martin & Wood, J. Geils and Magic Dick, Bill Morrissey, and Susan Tedeschi.
Historically, the company has been closely aligned with independent labels, which have fueled much of the music industry’s growth in the last two decades. Through the mid-’80s, NDR helped pioneering labels like Rounder and Rykodisc launch their innovative CD catalogs. The critical importance of NDR’s contribution to this market is underscored by Don Rose, president of Rykodisc, when he says, “Audio mastering by Northeastern Digital Recording is the foundation upon which our reputation for high quality is built.”
NDR has never been afraid to invest in new and innovative technologies. Recognizing the increasing role of computers in digital audio and multimedia, NDR was among the first to bring in the Sonic Solutions system in 1989. Armed with Sonic’s NoNoise system and 24-bit conversion, NDR has created several historic CD retrospectives, such as Rounder’s Jelly Roll Morton anthology and MGM’s many feature film soundtracks.
NDR has also paced the industry’s growth of hybrid formats. In 1991 NDR began offering PC and Macintosh write-once CD-ROM services. Several hundred CD-ROM projects later, NDR’s services now include a wide variety of CD and DVD formats, including Hybrid, Mixed Mode and Enhanced. To complement its audio mastering, the facility also offers video, graphics and multimedia services.
What changes will the 21st century bring to NDR? “Our focus will always be audio, but now we have the expertise to put together all the pieces of a multimedia package,” says owner/engineer Toby Mountain. “That means offering newer technologies like DVD, surround sound, Web streaming and MP3.”
Each member of NDR’s staff, led by Mountain, has the musical training and production experience to provide an aesthetic as well as a technical advantage.