Edmeston, NY — After Atlanta Mastering Engineers Glenn Schick and Colin Leonard put the finishing touches on a surround DVD and broadcast version of Shawn Mullins’ release “Live at the Variety Playhouse” (Vanguard) Glenn checked it against some other surround releases and was “pleased as punch” at the quality he’s getting through his Dangerous Music equipment. His all-analog surround mastering room that features three Dangerous Master mastering consoles (to cover the 6-channel work), paired with the Dangerous Monitor ST/SR stereo and surround monitor controller, turned out to be everything he hoped.
Schick commented, “We do almost all of our work in the analog domain. We’ve honestly tried so many times over the last few years to go the all-digital route, but really nothing out there gives us the kind of results that a good analog chain does. We’re just pleased as punch, we’re killing the work we did years ago. We are getting more out of the Dangerous setup than anything we could have imagined. The system lets us get a great musical, lively sound — it’s doing wonders for really ‘dead’ DAW tracks that we’ve been getting as source material.”
Schick is not a newcomer to Dangerous gear, he has a history with the company, “My relationship with Dangerous Music goes back a-ways. I started working with [technical engineer and product designer] Chris Muth years and years ago, who obviously has a huge hand in designing the Dangerous products. He had built some custom gear for me back in the day for one of my first studios.”
“Because I knew Chris, I was able to get one of the very first Dangerous Masters to be built. There were a lot of people waiting for this box to hit the street, since while Chris was at Sterling he was contractually bound not to make a console for any other mastering houses worldwide. It was interesting – we actually had commissioned some custom pieces [of equipment] from some very well-known companies that we immediately replaced with the Dangerous Master when we heard it because we were so much happier with the sound. In addition to the sonic quality and the character of it, the feature set is ideal, it’s made as well as anything you could want, and very reliable. The Master is quite elegantly designed – obviously by somebody who knows what a mastering engineer looks for. I love the piece to death!”
“You really don’t want your mastering console coloring your signal path. You have pieces of outboard to do that, and at the time and place of your choosing in the signal path. You definitely want a transparent console though, and the Master does a wonderful job of this.”
Commenting on the use of the “S&M” mid-side processing section of the Dangerous Master, Schick stated, “ We use quite a bit of the S&M processing in both our surround and stereo work. We even use the S&M in the rear channels. I’m very happy with it; it’s a pretty transparent process. Chris is the guy who originally developed this “magic box” for mastering back in the ‘80s. The Master lets you work in M/S easily, and without compromising the signal. I’ve had other pieces of gear that attempted to do this but they ended up diminishing the sound.”
“We set up a full analog surround sound room last year,” said Schick about his latest enterprise. “I believe we are one of the few people in the country who do full 5.1 analog surround mastering. We have the Dangerous Monitor ST/SR surround monitor controller along with three Dangerous Masters in that room as well. We have the nicely named A.S.S. box for D/A conversion and digital input switching. We have the ST/SR monitor controller set up for both stereo and 5.1 and we can instantly switch between our stereo setup and our 5.1 setup. This is in our second room.” Schick added, “We have one room that is a dedicated stereo room. The stereo room uses a Dangerous Master with one of Chris Muth’s original monitor controllers.”
Discussing the recent project for the Vanguard label, Schick went into detail about the steps it took, “We just did a DVD and surround broadcast project for Shawn Mullins, ‘Live at the Variety Playhouse’ which has been broadcast on Direct TV in standard rotation. Shawn is an old client of ours and a wonderful friend and artist. His drummer Gerry Hansen, who’s also his recording engineer, came in to us and said, ‘hey Glenn – I got this project, it was kind of rough, we recorded the show live, but surround was an afterthought’ — as happens quite a bit with surround — ‘I’ve got some stuff and I’m really going to try to cobble this together.’ They ended up bringing us tracks that were a little rough around the edges when we first got it. What we ended up doing was massaging this fantastic sounding disk out of it. We all are just overjoyed with what started as kind of a low-budget afterthought, but turned into a wonderful project that sounds fantastic.”
One of the ways Schick knows how well the Shawn Mullins project turned out is his capability using the Dangerous Monitor ST/SR to compare recordings, “In our 5.1 surround mastering room, we can A-B surround music using the Monitor ST/SR. We have a DVD player setup with analog outputs so that we can A-B product-against-product, with the volumes trimmed exactly. It was interesting because we A-B’d against about 20 other commercial DVD’s after we were finished, and when we put our work against what’s out there we were just shocked at how much better our results were on the definition, the body, and the clarity — it was so much nicer! The Dangerous Monitor ST/SR takes both balanced and unbalanced signals and has programmable make-up gain for -10 dBv devices, which lets you compare easily and exactly, which is nice. We actually will encode our stuff into DolbyDigital as well and A-B it, so we have proper ‘A’ against ‘A’ comparison.”
Revealing his work style on such projects as a stereo release and a surround version on HD Net for Indigo Girls “Live at the Roxy” Schick says, “In my place we actually work on surround disks as a team, myself and my other engineer Colin Leonard, who has a background in a lot of television and film work. He comes to it from more of a technical standpoint and I’m more on the creative end. We bounce off each other on each project, it’s a really nice way to work.”
The mastering studio is doing quite well, even in this economic climate. Another recent project was the Keith Sweat disk “The Sweat Hotel” — “It certainly reflects well on Dangerous Music that we had a 30-percent increase in our business this year. We are doing more work than we ever have, and we are busier than we have ever been. With the bad economy and everything else — I just can’t complain!
Contact Glenn Schick Mastering via their websites at: http://www.gsmastering.com and