Tony Maserati

Oct 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Blair Jackson

NEW YORK MIX KING HEADING WEST?

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Maserati's studio is built in a barn on his property in upstate New York.

Maserati's studio is built in a barn on his property in upstate New York.

What do you mean “new way you work”?

Upstate, I have all the same outboard gear I've been dragging from studio to studio, including a giant Pro Tools rig, for the past 20 years. I've got lots of analog compression — I've got my LA-3As, my 1176, an old ITI and lots of newer gear like the Chandler TG1. I still sum analog using a Chandler 16-channel mixer, a Neve 12-channel sidecar and a Dangerous 2-Bus. I choose which one I'm going to use directly from [Pro] Tools, depending on the sounds. So typically I'll use the Neve for my kick, snare and bass. The Chandler handles most of the vocals, guitars and piano. And the Dangerous will pick up whatever is left — keys, strings, etc. The Chandler eventually sums everything before going to my Lavry A-to-D converter and into [Pro] Tools. I've also got my [SSL] X-Logic rack, with SSL EQs and compressors. Essentially, I've got a lot of analog stuff I use to get my usual analog sounds, but I do all my automation in Pro Tools. And I have a minimal recall time — usually about five to 10 minutes; that's pretty quick to do a recall.

How is that different from what you were doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago we had a 96-input SSL J, and recalls could take upward of four hours. My assistant would have to sit there and reset 96 channels of the board. Then he had to reset all that gear and all the patches. Now, even the [SSL] Duality is quicker because it allows multiple people to recall the board.

So it turns out to be a nice confluence of record company budgets shrinking but you being more efficient because of technological advances.

That's exactly right. It's helped me be more competitive. I find in meetings that many of my clients like to be able to make changes up until the last minute. I just uploaded files for mastering last night — where the producer is traveling on the road and I'm either streaming to him or sending him MP3s or full bandwidth, depending on how close we are, and he's able to make comments about parts and edits and things like that in a moment's notice. I can do a quick change and re-send files for mastering up until the last day, whereas, going back to when we worked with tape, we had to set aside three days to make sure everything was ready; now it's three hours.

So you're not using analog tape for anything.

I'm not. I have a half-inch machine, which I can roll out, but the last few times I've recorded to tape, either the mastering engineer decided not to use it or the client decided on an alternate pass that didn't make it to half-inch. It's a lot of extra work for me and my second, and if they're not inclined to use it, what the heck are we doing here?

Well, there was that period when some mixers were nervous about completely eschewing that analog tape sound so they brought it in at the end.

That's true. It was very much a part of my sound — how I manipulated the tape saturation, the compression. I used to call it my “glue,” where my last step was gluing it together with the oxide on my tape, and how hard I hit it was part of my sound. And I actually didn't hit it very hard, but I chose my level and my bias and things like that, and now I'm thinking quite differently, as you can imagine.

Are there things you're doing to compensate for not having your “glue”?

Absolutely. I'm doing lots of things. In the days of tape, I was relying on the beauty and electronics of the machine and the things that tape did — the way it all affected my overall frequency content, how the print-through was working either in my favor or against me. So what I tend to do now is I'll add the things that I remember tape doing — I'll put really subtle and minute millisecond delays on lots of things — just to glue, and then that gets compressed with my 2-Bus compressor. So I'm thinking about things in that way and trying to replicate some of that glue. Parallel compression; things of that nature.






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