Simon Heyworth, now at Super Audio Mastering in Devon, UK has specialized in the field of mastering following his successful career as a recording engineer (not least of all on Tubular Bells!) It was Bill Bruford who recommended him to me after Simon remastered the King Crimson catalog; he went on to do several Yes releases and has mastered my last six releases.
Unhappily, Simon’s name is erroneously missing from the credits of ‘New Frontier’ by the Steve Howe Trio. His credit will be added on all following pressing, thankfully. Mastering a recording is the final contact one has with the overall sound and inter-track balances. It’s something I’ve taken a keen interest in over the years, as it brings roundness and finality to the whole recording.
I was thinking recently about how Eddie Offord made quite a performance out of this process during the first part of the 1970s… Then it was as much about the bass end and its frequencies than anything else. Everyone was restricted to around 22 minutes per side but it was The Beatles who had some of the best ‘sound-to-level’ ratios. There were some great limiters/compresses at Abbey Road, locked away, for those who knew how to operate them and maximize their results. The magic EMI compression held the sound almost stationary on master level meters. This meant that something in the music was always being featured while the overall sound was constantly held at the peak level! Then from the 80s, digital CDs started up a race for sheer level.
This trend still exists but a more worthy approach has come about to overshadow the ‘level’ issue with the actual ‘quality’ of the sound being the main feature now; mastering becoming specialist by CD, vinyl, streaming and downloads etc. What do you all think?