Stubblebine Mastering Masters With Z-Systems

Feb 19, 2003 12:00 PM, Editors


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For nearly 30 years, Paul Stubblebine has been working in the San Francisco Bay Area mastering records for a varied clientele that includes Richard Strauss, Roy Rogers, Jerry Gracia, Herbie Hancock, Sly Stone and Tony Bennett. For the past three years, his mastering studio has been using Z-Systems technology.

"I first became familiar with Z-Systems through their switchers and routers when I was mixing a project at Skywalker Sound," Stubblebine said. "Although I'm purchasing some of this equipment now, the first pieces we brought into our facility were the z Q6 6-Channel Mastering Equalizer and the z CL6 6-Channel Dynamics Compressor/Limiter." Stubblebine said that he has been using these two pieces of gear almost exclusively on surround projects: "If I'm working in surround sound on a music recording, the producers might have taken one instrument--the kick drum, let's say--and put it in all four corners but not the center speaker. In that case, when it comes to the mastering process I'd probably want to apply compression to every speaker but the center. Z-Systems has designed their equipment to let me dial-in those choices very quickly. Let's say we're doing a film mix the next day. In that case, the rears will probably be receiving ambience, which is totally different material than is being sent to any of the other speakers. So I won't want either of these speakers linked to anything else."

Stubblebine decided to incorporate a Z-Systems 64.64.r Digital Detangler Pro with Router Remote Control into his facility because he does not use a mixing board. "We've got three workstations here: Sonic Solutions, SADiE and Sonoma," said Stubblebine. "Since the dawn of the workstation, I've made them the center of the signal flow. I surround these workstations with outboard gear, and over the years, the number of pieces has grown significantly. The Z-Systems 64.64.r Detangler is a delightful, fabulous piece of gear with 64 input/output ports serving as a patchbay router/format converter and distribution amplifier. This router performs at least two essential tasks for us. For one thing, it cleans up the clocking in the room, which makes the whole system sound better. It also gives me complete flexibility with regard to routing, memorizing settings that we use repeatedly and reconfiguring the studio on command. Software that runs on either a PC or Mac gives the user a visual confirmation of the routing scheme. With all of the equipment that a facility like ours uses, it's easy to get confused. But Z-Systems has tackled routing with the same intelligence that they brought to equalization and compression."

John Greenham, a staff engineer at Paul Stubblebine Mastering and DVD, recently used all of the studio's Z-Systems equipment on a release by the popular Latin band, Quetzal. Michael Romanowski serves as another key staff engineer. Contact the studio at Visit Z-Systems online at

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