Once thought of as a Rock and Roll Mecca, Atlanta is now a burgeoning Urban and Film market. SING Mastering is uniquely positioned, providing an excellent service to the region as well as to national and international clients. Colin Leonard was kind enough to take us through the facility and let us hear some incredibly diverse mixes from Jay Z, Phil Tan, Fabian Marasciullo, Al Dimeola, and Alessia Cara through his custom Muth Console and Duntech towers. In addition to being an incredibly talented mastering engineer, Colin has also developed and patented an automated analog mastering process and service called Aria Mastering. We caught up with Colin to clear the light for us on the often misunderstood topic of professional mastering.
Colin Leonard from SING Mastering
Sonic Circus: I noticed you are using Prism Dream ADA8’s in all of your set ups here. What is it that you prefer about Prisms.
Colin: I like the transparent nature of the Prism converters. I personally don’t want much color in DA-AD conversion, I will use different analog pieces if I require color. They are also very reliable and I believe Prism will always service them to new condition for a small fee. I can’t say enough good things about the company. Every time I have dealt with them they have been an amazing company to deal with.
SC: Can you explain some of the problems you encounter when people deliver mixes for you to master. Do you have some practical advice for everyone that can make your job easier, and improve their end result?
Colin: I don’t think there’s really a most common problem. Usually most of the mixes I get are very good. The best advice I can give is to go with what you feel as far as vibe and be creative.
SC: How can I best prepare my mix files for mastering and how do you prefer I deliver them?
Colin: If you have a final limiter you are using just for volume you’ll want to bypass that and send us 24 or 32bit WAV files of your final stereo mixes in the same sample rate the song was mixed at.
SC: What is your thought process when you here a mix. What are you listening for?
Colin: When I first listen I focus on what I envision in my head as far as where I think the feel and vibe could go, where I think I can take it and this comes almost immediately when first listening. Obviously if there are any problems I will listen for that as well but mostly I approach it from a creative angle. If the mix is very good sometimes I do very little.
SC: It seems like you generally prefer analog gear, Muth, Manley, Pendulum, SPL. Why?
Colin: I really like to use analog tools. I think they can bring a bit more creativity to a project and sometimes sound slightly less immediate than digital tools and can bring a little more of a ‘real’ vibe to a project.
SC: Is experience important in mastering?
Colin: Oh, definitely. I think there are a lot of aspects of mastering that are not intuitive and you have to learn these as you go. It is also important to be a student of music and study the fashion trends of what is happening. Mastering is very similar to being a professional musician to me and the more you play, the better you get.