United Recording has launched its new mastering division, it was announced by Robin Goodchild, studio manager. United was founded in 1957 by recording engineer, studio designer and electronics inventor Bill Putnam and mastering is a key element of the studio’s heritage.
“Mastering was always a key aspect of Bill’s predominance in the recording studio world,” comments Goodchild. “We are simply bringing it back as a convenience to our clients, but also as a re-imagined service operating in today’s Internet world market.”
United’s new mastering engineers are Erick Labson and Warren Sokol, formerly with Universal Mastering. Their combined discographies include decades of major albums from top artists in virtually all musical genres.
“When you’ve produced your masterpiece in the studio, and recorded it impeccably, sweetened it with overdubs and mixed it to perfection, there is only one final step before manufacturing and distribution: mastering. This is when your work is finalized so that it sounds the very best to the listener. Mastering needs the latest technology and a gifted engineer to deliver the best music possible,” explains Steven Miller, United’s executive consultant on the new mastering studio.
Located in the specially designed acoustic space, formerly the home of JVC’s mastering suite, United’s new studio features Lipinski L700A monitoring with JL Audio Fathom subwoofers, as well as a wide selection of popular headphones and earbuds. For computer playback and recording, the studio utilizes the SADiE system running Prism Sound’s latest SADiE 6.1 audio recording and editing software across its mastering platform. Analog processing includes the Pendulum ES-8 Compressor, Dave Hill Titan Compressor/Limiters, SPL Passeq, Manley Massive Passive EQ Mastering Version, and Sontec Mastering EQ.
Acoustic design for the new suite was provided by Hanson Hsu and his team at Delta Design. “United Mastering wanted a truly life-like realistic acoustic experience, predicating the use of ZR Acoustics(r),” explained Hsu. “Using strategically positioned ZR Micro Twins, SR24+‘s and SR12+‘s in a custom design layout (CDL), the primary, first reflection off the front wall was quantized, creating spherical dimensionality while elegantly matching the existing decor.”
Joe Harley, SVP at AudioQuest, provided cabling for the new suite. Harley explains, “Some of the greatest recordings ever made have emerged from those United studios and I have produced many sessions there over the years. It’s a great honor for us to provide all of the connections cables and contribute to a continuing tradition of excellence.”
United will be accepting all popular recording formats and delivering final masters to suit the tastes of the individual clients. Goodchild continues, “If you want the ultimate audiophile experience, we have it; if you are aiming for maximum impact listening through earbuds, you can have that, too. But bear in mind that bandwidths will increase and higher resolution playback will become the norm, so it is best to prepare your music for that future now.”
Erick Labson graduated magna cum laude at San Francisco State University, where he earned his B.A. in Broadcast Electronic Communication Arts. In 1992, Universal Mastering Studios was established and Labson was hired to help design and supervise the operation. During the last 24 years, he has mastered thousands of albums and major motion picture and TV soundtracks. Labson comments, “Who wouldn’t want to be part of a studio with such a rich and legendary legacy of talented musicians, artists and producers? I look forward to being a part of this new era at United.”
Warren Sokol started his career as a recording and mixing engineer in Arizona and honed his skills in audio production while teaching at The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Science. In 2010, Sokol moved to LA as an analog to digital archiving engineer at Universal Mastering Studios, and was soon brought on full time as a mastering, production and tech engineer. Sokol has worked on hundreds of albums for popular artists was also highly involved in the beginning of the Mastered For iTunes process. “I’m very excited to join the team at United,” he says, “and am honored to be bringing mastering services back to such an historic studio.”