OXFORD, UK: A mastering/mixing engineer with credits ranging from Iggy Pop and Rod Stewart to Los Lobos and Tina Turner, New Jersey-based Dave McNair most recently lent his technical and aesthetic expertise to David Bowie’s instant classic The Next Day. Warmly embraced by critics and fans alike, Bowie’s first album in ten years has accrued universally positive reviews, strong sales and, extensive YouTube viewing thanks to its avante garde look and sound.
McNair, who has worked with producer Tony Visconti, a long-time Bowie collaborator, on several previous projects, took particular advantage of his Sonnox Fraunhofer Pro-Codec on The Next Day. I’ve been using the Pro-Codec to preview encoded files in real time since it was introduced,” McNair says. “It’s become invaluable in previewing various codecs on the mastered higher resolution files for clients who will be making MP3’s or lower resolution files for digital distribution. I’ve found that the higher the bitrate, the less overs are created when making an MP3 or AAC.”
McNair uses the Pro-Codec via his Sequoia mastering rig. It enables him to hear (and visualize) exactly how an encoded file will sound. “A miniscule amount of red in the NMR (Noise-to-Mask Ratio) display in the FFT window (or, no red at all if I back the Bitstream level down) means there’s less or no audible distortion created in the encode stage,” he explains
The Pro-Codec was particularly useful on Bowie’s The Next Day album. “This recording was captured at 96kHz and also encoded for the Mastered for iTunes format.” McNair reveals. “The CD target level for Bowie was -0.6dB for the 96K session. After sample rate conversion to 44.1 kHz, it probably ended up closer to -0.1dB. Based on what I was seeing with the Pro-Codec and a later check using the Apple Mastered For iTunes software, the 96K files sent to iTunes were delivered at – 0.8dB. Overall, the Pro-Codec is a great tool. It really helps with my workflow. It was an honor and a great personal pleasure to be associated with this incredible project,” McNair concludes.
Photo: Mastering/mixing engineer Dave McNair recently worked on David Bowie’s The Next Day album.
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