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Tuesday, May 13

One of the Best Field Trips Ever

Intern Monkey Jeff* and I had a great field trip last week. We went to the lovely and friendly confines of Chicago Mastering Service

where we listened to music in the best listening room I will ever enter.


The first time I visited last year with Intern Monkey Erin**, I heard things on Abbey Road that I'd never heard before. How is that possible?

We watched and listened to mastering engineer Jason Ward do his thing to the new LPs for KatJonBand and Darling Downs. After EQing them in the control room, we headed off to the lathe room.

I've pressed a decent amount of vinyl, and sold way more, but have never witnessed the magic of turning sound into grooves in a piece of lacquer.

The digitized info is fed into these old computers (with a few modern rack mounts)

where the sound is delayed,

analyzed for volume fluctuations, and then fed into the early 1970's variable speed Neumann cutting lathe that maximized the number of grooves on that side by speeding up on the quietar parts and slowing on the louder ones.

There a helium-cooled sapphire stylus cuts the groove into the vacuum-attached lacquer.

The lacquer goes off overnight to the pressing plant where it is plated and then waits in line for pressing.

It was....really, really cool.

Check out the pages on Loudness and Vinyl at the CMS page.
Also, here's a fun link to a short but enthusiastic 2001 interview with mastering guru George Peckham (hello! Beatles!) at Porky's Mastering that explains a bit more, plus it's all done in a great accent.

All great stuff!

*Name bestowed upon Jeff at lunch on his last day by Hot Doug (
and shouted with verve over the din when our order came up).

**Retroactively bestowed upon NTHS version 1.0, Erin.

Somewhere, somebody can make this layout better, but that person is not me!

All photos ©2008 Jeff the Intern Monkey

RIP Robert Rauschenberg


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