Colin Leonard, owner and chief mastering engineer, has outfitted his world class SING Mastering facility in downtown Atlanta with an Argosy GV22 Universal Workstation configured with three 9RU 19-inch racks bays.
Leonard includes Leona Lewis, Kimbra, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Justin Bieber, Wale, Cash Out, Paulina Rubio and Waka Flocka on his list of recently completed mastering projects.
Leonard, who served as Governor of the Board of Directors of NARAS—the organization behind the GRAMMYs—between 2008 and 2010, ordered his desk with three 19-inch racks bays, allowing him to locate all of his mastering equipment conveniently within arm’s reach.
“It’s got plenty of room for all my gear. And it’s great for mastering, because I could put my Dangerous Music monitor control equipment right in the middle. I also installed the optional racks in the back. It’s nice how Argosy provides metal grill covers to hide all of that—I have my power and a couple of secret pieces of equipment back there,” he says.
He adds, “I really like the Argosy desk; I just like the layout and the simplicity of it. I also think the build quality is really good in comparison to other desks that I’ve used. That’s what I like about it the most. I’ve been using it for almost six months now, and it’s really solid.”
The Argosy desk rack bays house a collection of analog mastering tools, including the Dangerous Music Bax EQ, SPL Passeq, Langevin Mini Massive and a customized Pendulum Audio OCL-2 electro-optical compressor/limiter. “I have a bunch of different converters,” he adds, including a Fred Forssell Technologies MADA-2. The desk also houses separate playback and record systems, the monitor screens for which he has custom mounted on either side of the desk.
Leonard has developed a patent-pending mastering technology: “It’s called SING technology—it’s a combination digital and analog process for making music as loud as commercial releases are now without using a digital limiter to get it that way. So it retains a lot more of the dynamic content of the mix than with a look-ahead digital limiter or analog compressor.”
He is also appreciative of the Argosy desk’s design, which works well with his monitor system, a pair of Tyler Acoustics Decade series D1 mains plus a pair of subwoofers, powered by Pass Labs amplifiers. “I like that the desk doesn’t go all the way down to the floor. I have a couple of servo drive subs up in the front and I don’t like it when the desk blocks all the airflow.”
SING Mastering is located within English Avenue Yards, a former industrial building that now houses a variety of small businesses. “The reason why I chose this building is the location—I’m right in downtown Atlanta—but also because of the ceiling height: it’s over 16 feet tall. That’s hard to find, and it really helps with the sound.” The room’s dimensions were constructed based on research by acoustician M. M. Louden in the early 1970s: “It’s the gold standard for mastering. This is an optimized version of his best sounding ratio. The room is well over 30 feet deep, and pretty flat down to 20 Hz—you can really hear everything.”
Leonard concludes, “It’s a nice comfortable place for people to come to a mastering session. I’m trying to differentiate myself from the online studios. Even though I get a lot of work from all over the world I have branded myself in a way that people realize they can come in, and they do. Probably 40 to 50 percent of clients do attend sessions. It’s really nice because then you get to sit with the client and get the vibe of the music.”