Unique Mastering Service Offers Stem Mastering and Mixing with Dangerous System
Mastering engineer NoÃ«l Jackson
Edmeston, NY â€“ March 9, 2010 â€“ Mastering engineer NoÃ«l Jackson began getting into music and recording and then moved into mastering when he realized just how good music could sound. Jackson recalls when he was a teenager growing up, â€œInstead of watching TV, I listened to records.â€? And listening on a great system inspired Jackson. â€œThatâ€™s how I got into mastering and what I love about it.â€? Jacksonâ€™s studio is filled with handpicked gear from many of the top names, including Dangerous Music. He has the Dangerous Monitor ST monitor control, Dangerous Master analog transfer console, and two Dangerous 2-Bus LT analog summing amps.
Jackson says, â€œI love all the Dangerous Music equipment. I use the Monitor ST as my monitor section, the Dangerous Master as my mastering transfer console, and two Dangerous 2-Bus LTs
for my mixing and stem-mastering path, which is fed by two Lynx Aurora 16s for 32-channels of input and output. That sounds like a lot of outputs but thatâ€™s what got me hooked on mixing and mastering – being able to replicate the analog console sound and headroom while simultaneously allowing me to use a DAW and all the capabilities of the computer. I started using computers 20-years ago, Iâ€™m an ultra-geek. I program a lot, I do a lot of recreational activities on the computer aside from music. Being able to use the computer and still get the analog sound is the best thing for me and my clients.â€?
Having started by mixing using the analog summing process with the Dangerous 2-Bus, Jackson now provides a similar service for mastering clients who provide stems, but also continues to master from stereo mixes. â€œI do both. If a client has stems I will run them through the 2-Bus and show them what their in-the-box mix sounds like summed in analog. When they hear it, without having to remix it, just running separate [stem] channels of audio, they are extremely surprised and very happy with the result. Sometimes Iâ€™ll go that route. For other clients Iâ€™ll do complete mixing with them, however in the end itâ€™s always a mastering job. Sometimes Iâ€™ll need to do mixing to get the song to the point where it is ready to master. I focus on mastering, but with a mind to the changes that Iâ€™ve seen in the recording industry. There are your superstar label artists, but most of the music youâ€™re hearing today is independently produced.â€?
â€œControl of the final summing process lets me deliver better mastering results. Mixing and mastering from stems gives me a lot of flexibility. For instance if a client mixes down a song in the box and says to me â€˜I really want these highs to sparkleâ€™ but the vocals and snare have tones in them that would be accentuated in a bad way through the processing required for the rest of the song to sound good, without having the stems youâ€™d have to go back and ask them to remix,â€? states Jackson.
Jackson adds, â€œI have clients coming to me that are creating pop tunes and other styles with a lot of layers, a lot of harmonies, and being able to run 32-channels of audio through the 2-Busses is a great thing. It produces sounds that you canâ€™t get anywhere else. From there I run straight into the Dangerous Master. The Master is such an obvious choice after the 2-Bus path. The transparency of the Master allows me to select the highest quality gear on the market and insert it at various stages to achieve the sound Iâ€™m looking for. The Manley Massive Passive is my go-to equalizer, for too many reasons to list, and likewise the Manley Variable-Mu is my go-to compressor. After that, I have a whole gang of inserts to really have fun, some Empirical labs equipment, some old Alesis compressors and some Drawmer gear. The Dangerous Master is precise and really brings an extremely transparent sound to the table while easily and simply allowing me to carve out the sound Iâ€™m looking for.â€?
Jackson continues, â€œAnother great function on Master is the â€˜S&Mâ€™ mid-side processor â€” I use it all the time. You can use it for affecting your sides and your middle independently, and it also can act as a stereo widener to give it a little more â€˜oomphâ€™ and kind of pan things around your head a little bit more. The Master sounds great, has really good craftsmanship, itâ€™s cost effective, and itâ€™s going to last forever.â€?
â€œOne thing that I really love about the Monitor ST is the fantastically functional [remote] controller. I put my Focals and other speakers on the outputs and easily switch between them right on the remote. Itâ€™s really an awesome piece of gear – the attenuator for the volume control in the Monitor ST is all analog and stepped – every time you change the volume you can hear relays click in the rack mount box. The volume doesnâ€™t drift or waver at all because each of the output channels is changed very precisely by the same amount, and it is repeatable. Iâ€™m not aware of any other monitor section that offers this capability. Thatâ€™s one thing that I really love. Itâ€™s very precise, very easy to use, the remote looks cool and it lets me A-B and C-D all my mixes.â€?
â€œA client of mine, Deastro, does all his recording at home, he records in his bathroom or his closet for vocals. The shift to â€˜do-it-yourselfâ€™ has changed the need to mix in a big studio now that people are getting good results at home. A lot of hip-hop artists are do-it-yourself, they make their beats and they record their vocals. Being able to do an analog mix for them is a huge shift. Lots of professional musicians who have worked in the big studios are realizing that they would rather be home – they want to be in that environment, but they still have all this music that they want to get mixed down sounding the way it did in a studio on an analog console. The Dangerous Music products have allowed me to turn the shift in music production into a business and a service thatâ€™s really needed. People need to have their music mixed down, but have it sound like a professional studio,â€? says Jackson.
Placing a high priority on the company behind the products, as often is the case in the audiophile world that Jackson knew from his early listening experience, he is impressed with Dangerous Musicâ€™s customer service too, â€œIâ€™ve never had a company be so responsive to questions and inquiries. I sent Dangerous a question through their website and within about 4 hours I got a response that was 6 paragraphs long, explaining in detail exactly what I needed to know about the specific question that I asked. Their equipment is really good, and thereâ€™s a lot of companies that produce quality equipment, but thereâ€™s not a lot of companies that give support on this level,â€? adds Jackson. â€œThe people at Dangerous are phenomenal. They are real people that know what theyâ€™re doing, they make really good gear, and they treat customers really well. My studio is small, I do mostly smaller record labels, not your Virgin, more like Ghostly Records and small electronic labels. My studio is not a million-dollar studio, but Dangerous Music treats me like a million-dollar client.â€?
Jackson is busy with a variety of clients, he recently worked with techno legend and DJ Kevin Saunderson, who was a pioneer in Detroit dance music, and essentially created the â€˜technoâ€™ genre along with a couple partners back in the day. Phil Agosta is a DJ and electronic music producer and remixer who came to Jackson for both mixing and mastering. On Ghostly Records is Deastro, a â€œLo-Fiâ€? artist that Jackson has been mastering tracks for. On Palms Out Sounds, a big Indie Electronic label is Melt, an experimental project, from two incognito artists producing ambient house music, as a vinyl project. Jackson has been mastering big-name remixes for electronic dance music artists Urchins Urchins. A hip-hop group called Detroit CYDI is putting out a 12-track remix LP that Jackson mastered. It was a challenging project with 12 different people doing the remixes, he had to match the sound to make it all cohesive as a record.
Jackson has also turned people onto other Dangerous products like the Dangerous D-Box, a single-rack space combination of 8-channels of analog summing, monitor section with speaker switching, D-to-A converter, dual headphones amps and more, â€œEverybody that I talk to thatâ€™s tried out a Dangerous product like the D-Box, they say â€˜This is awesome! This is the coolest thing since the computer!â€™ Itâ€™s cool to bring artistsâ€™ production level up in their own studio. It gives them more power to create good music,â€? says Jackson.
About Dangerous Music, Inc.
Dangerous Music, Inc. designs and builds products that are indispensable to any DAW-based recording environment. Dangerous Music electronics designer Chris Muth has spent over 20 years working in and designing custom equipment for top recording and mastering studios. Muth and company founder Bob Muller pioneered the concept of the dedicated analog summing buss for digital audio workstations with the Dangerous 2-Bus in 2001. Today the company offers a wide range of products for recording, mastering, mixing and post-production facilities, all designed and built with mastering-quality standards and a practical aesthetic. Key products include the Dangerous 2-Bus and 2-Bus LT, Dangerous Monitor ST-SR and its Additional Switching System expansion units, Dangerous D-Box, Dangerous Master, Dangerous S&M, Dangerous Monitor and Dangerous MQ. For more information visit www.dangerousmusic.com phone 607-965-8011 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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