Recording and Production in the News
Prism Sound equipment is the hub of The Lacquer Channel MasteringToronto, Canada: Mastering engineer Phil Demetro has made a significant investment in Prism Sound equipment, which he describes as the hub of his entire mastering chain.
Mastering engineer Phil Demetro at The Lacquer Channel
Based at The Lacquer Channel (www.lacquerchannel.com) in Toronto, Demetro says: "I use a Prism Sound Dream DA-1 converter in my process chain and this provides Digital to Analog conversion to get Wav files off of my computer and into my analog console. Once there, my main AD is a Dream AD-2 Analog to Digital converter, which helps me get digitally back into the DAW. I then use a Dream DA-2 to monitor everything that is selected from my Dangerous Music Monitor section (my speakers/amp are fed by a Dream DA-2). Playing all of my multiple sources through this one DA has not only helped me do great sounding and consistent work, but it also enables me to easily know where I am at any given point."
Phil Demetro has worked at The Lacquer Channel since 1997, when he joined as an assistant to legendary chief mastering engineer George Graves. He spent many years tackling tape copy and production work and doing Q.C. on Masters before anything went out the door.
"Talk about ear-training! Everything was done in real time in those days and I had to make detailed notes on anything I heard that wasn't part of the recording or mastering process," he says. "It was serious and showed me about the "old-school care" in a big way."
When increased demand presented Demetro with the opportunity to become a mastering engineer in his own right, he jumped at the chance. That started a quest to put together the best mastering system he could with session money that he had saved. He asked a lot of questions about gear and researched the equipment lists of mastering engineers that he admired, in order to come up with a system that he really wanted.
Eventually Demetro was able to acquire the entire facility, which he now owns in conjunction with mastering engineer, Noah Mintz.
"We have two great sounding rooms and a lot of combined engineering experience among the staff," he explains. "The Lacquer Channel is Canada's oldest professional mastering facility and has been in operation for more than 35 years. The facility is still home to George Graves who has been mastering since the late 1960's and has worked with everyone from Peter Gabriel to Rush. Things just tend to sound good coming out of here - I really wouldn't want to have my mastering studio setup anywhere else."
The Lacquer Channel is consistently busy and in recent months Demetro and his team have worked on projects such as the new dual Hawksley Workman releases Milk and Meat, a release entitled Steel City Trawlers from Sarah McLaughlin's guitarist, Luke Doucet and a song from Metric called Eclipse (All Yours) that appears on The Twilight Soundtrack.
"Everything we do goes through the Prism Sound path and I remain astounded by the sound quality of these converters," Demetro says. "There is just this effortless, liquid presentation that features all the detail and image presentation I could ask for. I own and have owned other brands of converters but the Prism Sound equipment just allows me to get my sound faster and, in the case of the AD-2, allows me all the headroom I need to be competitive. I simply can't hit these hard enough - I can send enormous level to them and they won't fall apart - they just have this "hit sound" that everyone recognizes. What's more, since using these converters I have fewer clients asking for changes. It's never been easier to get the sound I'm looking for."
Demetro adds that it's not just audio fidelity that makes him such a Prism Sound fan. He also likes the fact that his equipment helps solve specific problems, particularly those associated with the requirement for different sampling rates.
He explains: "Every so often I need to output Masters with different sample rates for various destinations. This might be 16 bit/44.1KHz for CD or MP3, or quite often 16 bit/48KHz if the artist is shooting a music video. Naturally, outputting to higher rates like 88.2KHz or 96KHz is also common when the client wants to archive the Master at the highest resolution possible. The AD-2 does all of this, of course, and very easily, but what makes it stand above the competition is that I can output to various different formats or even multiple sample rates. There has been demand for 44.1KHz and 48KHz and I can output them both at the same time. Also, my mastering system is XLR Balanced, yet, I am still able to interface the commonly unbalanced equipment that the client often brings to the session. It just works. I can run multiple identical feeds to the various metering I have also. It's so convenient and transparent to my workflow that I've taken it for granted. The time it has saved is enormous - and it has helped me look like I know what I'm doing!"
Demetro has recently added a Maselec MLA-3 Tri-Band Compressor to his equipment list - an item that he describes as 'a great problem solver that should be the mainstay of every professional mastering facility'.
"It's a deep box but still very intuitive and great sounding," he explains. "I bought it because I recognized a need for more flexible compression because there is a lot of variety in the music that I work on, not to mention the radical energy (im)balances in mixes these days."
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