Dave Kutch, mastering engineer at Masterdisk finds the API 2500 compressor indispensable for his mastering techniques.
Dave Kutch, a mastering engineer at Masterdisk in midtown Manhattan, recently discovered the API 2500, a musical sounding stereo bus compressor. "I've actually pulled out a more expensive piece of gear and have replaced it with the 2500," reports Kutch, who acquired the unit about two months ago from local dealer, Studio Consultants. "This is my key and only analog compressor in my chain."
With Pro Tools becoming an increasingly common production medium, Kutch reveals that he has found himself equalizing significantly more in the analog domain over the last couple of years, rather than he did five years ago, when he was equalizing 50 percent in the digital domain. The API 2500 fits that paradigm perfectly, according to Kutch, who expresses dissatisfaction with the inability of many compressors to pass transients. "It gives me a little bit of tone, a little bit of color and, most importantly, it's preserving my bass and kick transients better than any other compressor that I've used."
Kutch, who has been mastering since 1995, reveals that his API 2500 stereo bus compressor is implemented in an unusual way. "I actually use the compressor in an M-S or sum and difference set up. The left channel of my API is compressing my mono program and my right channel is compressing the stereo program independently."
With the API 2500 wired into a signal chain, that also includes Sontec and Prism EQ units, the engineer is able to separately process different aspects of the stereo soundfield. "I can EQ my center program and my stereo program independently. That gives me significant control of the stereo image. I can EQ the lead vocal without equalizing background vocals, and vice versa," Kutch explains. "Once I started working that way I couldn't go back. With major labels pushing mastering engineers to make albums louder than ever before, I've been forced to compress songs to the point where kicks and snares get squashed to avoid distortion. With the API 2500 I can get the volume I need to make the labels happy, while maintaining a transient, hard-hitting bottom end, which makes the artists, producers and myself happy. All this and no distortion. The API 2500 is just what I've needed!"
Previously with Herb Power's House of Sound and Hit Factory Mastering prior to that, Kutch has mastered some of hip hop and R&B's top artists, including Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy, Kanye West, OutKast, Pete Rock, Missy Elliot, Lauryn Hill, Jaheim, Whitney Houston and Nelly & the St. Lunatics. Having mastered OutKast's Stankonia album, Kutch was among the first group of mastering engineers to be recognized by the Recording Academy when the Grammy Award categories were expanded in 2002.