Production Notes: ‘Mastering Toto’

Guy Davie at Electric was engaged to master the album and producer John Hollis was very keen to retain the subtly and dynamics of this acoustic recording at this stage.

The first step in the mastering of Totó’s album was for a couple of the album’s mixes to be sent over to me for a listen and to do a preliminary test mastering. It was decided that the final sound of the album should be very open and natural, retaining the clarity and integrity of the original recordings. I’m very privileged to have access to some rare high-end mastering equipment at Electric, coupled with pristine Prism da/ad converters, and selecting which pieces to use was the next stage.

Once converted from the 96k mix files, the analogue signal was passed through the eq’s and dynamics processors with a straight “in series” flow (with the shortest possible cable runs of course). Only small amounts of eq were needed, and for this I chose to use early 70’s EMI TG “Curve Benders”, a Sontec MES432C, and my beloved pair of EAR822Q valve eq’s. A tiny amount of limiting was applied with the Manley Mastering Slam! valve compressor/limiter. The mastered analogue signal was then converted back to 96k digital via the Prism converter to my Pyramix workstation for final production parts to be prepared and offloaded.

The album was an absolute joy to work on – musically engaging and exciting with stunning performances, coupled with beautiful recordings and mixes. We set out to master the al-bum without compromising (or crushing!) the dynamic range at all. In this respect (with the pressure to create super-loud digital masters showing little signs of abating) the project was a very welcome breath of fresh air, and I honestly believe that we’ve achieved a much more open, clear, natural and indeed exciting sound that has retained the energy of the wonderful performances.

By Guy Davie at Electric Mastering
Totó La Momposina y Sus’ album Tambores is available to download from Society of Sound.

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