The Tale of Mastering

I stepped into the RFI Mastering Studio and was immediately impressed. The room was spacious and the console and computers were set up in the middle of the room, with speakers and screens set around the perimeters. A black leather couch awaited our arrival where we would have a great view of the action under the large wooden a-framed beams of the ceiling.

I immediately liked Ed Brooks, the mastermind. He wore a knitted hat and had an easy-going smile. Within minutes he had fired up his computers and equipment and was ready to roll. Pete Welch,  who is helping me produce the album, was with me and we joked about which rock stars had sat on that very couch before us.

Then the mastering began. Ed flipped quickly back and forth between the songs, adjusting knobs and reading graphs. He described mastering like cleaning the windows, and as he worked the songs became more and more brilliant. He added a little compression on one song and adjusted levels on another, so that when the listener hears the album, it will have a consistent and tight feel. He determined the spacing between the songs, sometimes playing the next one to the beat of the last, but mostly just going with the feel of the song, making sure the last had a chance to breath before the next one played.

We took a break for lunch and Pete and I went to the nearby Essentials Bakery for sandwiches  and talked about album art and distribution. It was raining outside, but I felt warm and comforted that the album was so close to being finalized.

When we returned, we worked on more songs. Ed noted that "Had to Know" was very catchy and had several hooks. He thought I'd probably get tired of playing it after time. We chatted about friends we share, Pete Droge, Greg Dember, and other musicians from Vashon Island.

When it was finally time to leave, we felt like we had made a new friend. Just like leaving the recording studio for the last time, it kind of felt sad to leave the mastering studio behind.

So many great musicians had come there before me and so many more would come after. I wondered if I deserved to have a place on that couch. I'm so grateful for this opportunity. And I'm anxious to finally get my songs out there to be heard. Maybe someday one of my CD's will find its way to Alabama, or Massachusetts, or maybe even Africa...