Monday, August 26th, 2019

The Bob Katz Interview

By Carolyn SelbyApril 30, 2012


Bob Katz is a world renowned Mastering Engineer who has mastered three Grammy award-winning albums and written, what most professionals agree, is the definitive mastering handbook,  ‘Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science’.  Following a hugely successful recording career in records, radio, TV, and film as well as building and designing recording studios and custom recording equipment, Bob taught at the Institute of Audio Research and in 1990 he founded Digital Domain which masters music from pop, rock, and rap to audiophile classical.  In the 90’s, Bob invented three commercial products, found in mastering rooms around the world. The first product, the FCN-1 Format Converter, was dubbed by Roger Nichols the Swiss-Army knife of digital audio.  Then came the VSP model P and S Digital Audio Control Centers, which received a Class A rating in Stereophile Magazine.  These devices perform jitter reduction, routing, and sample rate conversion.

Bob has delivered lectures and seminars to the Audio Engineering Society at the conventions and sections and chaired AES workshops.  He has been Convention Workshops Chairman, Facilities Chairman and served as Chairman of the AES New York Section.

Bob’s latest invention has earned a U.S. patent.  He has designed and introduced an entire new category of audio processor, the Ambience Recovery Processor, which uses psychoacoustics to extract and enhance the existing depth, space, and definition of recordings.

It would be fair to say that Bob knows a fair amount about the art and science of audio recording, mixing and mastering!

In this audio interview, recorded on 18 April 2012 with Audio Times co-editor Carolyn Selby, Bob discusses his love of music, the essential elements of successful mastering, and the impact which recent advances in DSP and digital delivery formats have had in the recording and mastering of high quality material.  Enjoy …

Press PLAY below to listen to the interview.

You can reach Digital Domain at

If you would like to get a better idea of the breadth and variety of Bob’s work then check out the following;

Bob Katz in Beijing when he gave a one week-seminar to audio engineers there

1) Kenny Rankin: Because of You, Chesky Records.  Audiophile recording, one of Bob’s all-time favorites.  Bob captured the torch singer at the height of his prowess with a small jazz combo, all the depth and interaction of a live performance, recorded and mixed direct to 2 track through a customized ADC built by Bob, using minimalist miking.  Later mastered by Bob with minimal eq and no dynamic processing.

2) Bombay Dub Orchestra.  On Six Degrees Records.  Over 75 musicians participated in each of two albums.  Impacting fusion of Indian classical instruments with synthesized drums and keys whose low end goes down to the center of the earth.

3) Monochrome: Cache, on Stickman Records.  This German hardcore rock group comes across with grit, power and energy, and most of all, “I was able to get some good dynamics and impact, despite it being a fairly loud album.  The band was going for good sound and accepted something that’s probably about 2-3 dB below the current competition’s level in order to get it,” says Katz.

4) Cassandra Wilson: Silver Pony, on Blue Note.  Produced by John Fischbach.  The Grammy-winning singer went back to her acoustic and blues roots for this small combo recording made with New Orleans’ best, plus guest appearances by John Legend and Ravi Coltrane.  Bob says the level of this master falls around his current quality pop average, and “the sound is open, dynamic, pure, warm and natural, yet still reasonably competitive in level for the genre”.  He’s also captured a non-peak-limited 2496 version of this master, for future HD Tracks or Blu Ray versions.

5) Ruben Blades: Siembra, on Emusica Records.  Original recording engineer: Jon Fausty.  Bob remastered the best-selling Salsa album of all time (1978) from the original analog tape, restoring the purity of tone, depth and impact of a concept album that has been popular around the world for decades.  Hint: There’s a 2496 version available if the record label successors to Emusica/Fania ever want to put it out on HD tracks.  Be sure you get the version on Emusica Records for the Bob Katz remaster.

6) Necrophagist: Epitaph, on Relapse Records.  Pretty darn dynamic and impacting speed-metal album for the current genre.  Bob worked with the artists and the label to make the best-sounding album that would still be acceptable to the metal listening audience. “There’s probably a better-sounding album in the can, if levels ever go down,” says Katz.

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