Nick Litwin – Director and Chief Engineer of Mastering Mansion - has 24 years of experience in the audio business and more than 17 years of experience mastering in countries such as Argentina, Spain and UK – where he spent several years perfecting and investigating in this field and working with a large variety of artists, besides graduating in Recording Arts at Middlesex University in London, until he decided to settle definitely in Madrid.
Up to this day, Nick has mastered more than a thousand albums, EPs, singles, vinyl recordings and various references, from which around 600 were mastered during the last 5 years at Mastering Mansion, largely exceeding the barrier of 100 mastered references during the same year, starting in 2008; a tendency that keeps growing since then and specially now that he has built the biggest Mastering Room in Europe and the only one in the world made entirely from scratch (the whole building following the shape of the room!) Nick approached the writing of the following article with the same thoroughness and passion with which he approaches his mastering projects!
The role of the Mastering Engineer
“I truly believe that the mastering engineer’s roles are many and are becoming more and more important in modern day recording due to the lack of a standard production process (and producers!) like in the pre-digital era.
“The main goal of a mastering engineer is to make the artists’ music sound the best possible way in as many different systems as possible. More and more, we do have to take into account that reproduction gear has changed and widened a lot, making the reproduction outcome completely different when one reproduces something in an “old school” home stereo system, a car, a club or a PC, an iPod, iPad, iPhone or other telephone devices (not even to talk about Vinyl, Radio and TV!).
“To get a sound that fits well on all (or most) of those systems – and excells on some – is a very hard job.”
“And to do this respecting the artist’s wishes, even more so.”
“Therefore, a good Mastering job make a certain piece of music not only more competitive but also should help to bring the music’s artistic message closer to the listeners, helping that record to withstand the test of time.
“But a professional Mastering Engineer should also be able to solve most of the many problems of a project deficiently mixed or with a low budget tracking and mixing process – happening more and more unfortunately – shortening the final quality gap between a high budget musical release and a self-produced, home studio record.”
“For me as a music lover as well as a Mastering Engineer and an audio geek, it’s extremely sad to hear how bad sound got in general in terms of music production during the last couple decades, accentuating exponentially with the advent of the mp3 era and the hypercompression/limiting trends (what we mastering engineers call the Level Wars). It’s still striking to listen to how good many of the records of 1970’s (and even before that!) through beginning of 1990’s sound (in terms of general sound production…. not talking about musical trends or tastes here…) in comparison to most of the records made during the 21st century….. it makes you realize that quite possibly the biggest change in music technology and trends of the last 20 years was that recording technology got easily available to most everyone and this fact has had a terrible effect on sound quality (yes, it also gave access to the musical creation processes and opened a whole new musical scene for a lot of people that before that could not get their music recorded or published, but that’s another story which does not involve sound quality).