Sony Music Mastering is part of the technologically and creatively diverse entity of Sony Music Studios-Santa Monica. The facility is as aesthetically eye-catching as it is capable, with a chic lobby and reception area that is usually a beehive of activity around the clock. Light wood decor and skylights-actually a mural of a skylight which includes the visages of several employees cleverly worked in-give the facility a sense of spaciousness that extends to the main mastering suite itself.
The suite’s dimensions are large enough to comfortably hold the unique Dunlavy SC-V main monitor system. Coupled with the equally accurate custom Dunlavy subwoofers, the room yields a completely flat frequency response (without room EQ) using Mark Levinson and Pacific Innovative Electronics amplifiers and a Bryston crossover. The Vincent Van Haaff-designed mastering suite allows for both personal and acoustical intimacy and accuracy. Other features of the suite, which opened in 1992, include a fully loaded Sonic Solutions 24-bit workstation with full NoNoise features, along with top-shelf analog and digital signal processing equipment. In addition, all digital equipment is clocked to an NVision Universal Sync generator with NVision distribution amplifier, allowing for the absolute lowest-possible digital jitter.
The studio’s technology complement is diverse and comprehensive, and includes the ability to restore vintage masters for re-release. Sony Music Mastering has managed to strike a careful balance between implementing crucial technologies and maintaining a comfortable, personalized atmosphere at its Santa Monica facility. For instance, the EDNet long-distance transmission system is in place, allowing producers, engineers and artists to stay on top of mastering sessions even when they’re half a world away. At the same time, those who are on-site enjoy perks like Sony’s on-premises cafe and valet parking. In addition, all clients can elect to use the adjacent audio facilities that are part of the larger Sony Music family, including state-of-the-art recording studios, a MIDI facility, Avid-based video editing capabilities and audio-video duplication services. In short, an extremely comprehensive package of services is available under a single umbrella.
But the best in equipment and services is only as good as the engineers behind the board. David Mitson, the talented and experienced Chief Mastering Engineer, is responsible for pristine productions for such artists as Neil Diamond, Kenny Loggins, Carlos Santana, Social Distortion, Willie Nelson, Boom Boom Satellites, Robert Johnson, Taj Mahal, Bessie Smith, Pete Seeger, Johnny Winter, Len, The Chieftains, and dozens of other top recording artists from Sony Records and other labels.