Sign up to the Matthew Gray Mastering email list to receive occasional newsletters containing special offers, tips & tricks.


Follow us on TwitterLike us on FacebookGet the latest news via RSS

Upload your mix:

Online Mastering starts here.  Upload your mix to our secure servers, we'll master the audio, then you can download the finished product.

Upload your mix to our secure servers
Building a custom mastering equaliser
Sunday, 10 November 2019 15:45

When you’ve got some of the best equipment in the world at your fingertips, how do you go one better?

Besides the many improvements we have made by modifying some of our gear, we sometimes dream up equipment that doesn’t exist off-the-shelf, or at least not to the exact specifications we need or with the features we want.

This is when we turn our mind to building exactly what we want. Right now we are part-way through building a custom solid-state mastering EQ. The design provides complete customisation for every band, and the input and output sections can take integrated circuits or discrete opamps allowing virtually endless possibilities.

As part of the process, we’ve been researching and testing many of the best opamps available and will be auditioning them band-by-band and case-by-case. We’ve also made sure to source electronic components of the highest quality, with extremely tight tolerances between channels.

The design goal with this EQ was not to make every band sound tonally or dynamically the same; part of the reason you’ll generally see three or more analog EQs in a mastering studio is that each one has strengths and weaknesses in different frequency ranges. For example, the Neve 32087, which we previously owned, sounded great in the lower frequency bands but compromised in the upper mids and higher frequency bands. So when this EQ was chosen for a project, we mostly used it for low boosts and had to use an additional EQ such as the Sontec or Buzz REQ for the higher bands to complete the sonic picture we were looking for.

With this custom EQ, we’re hoping to eliminate the need for having several EQs by creating the ‘ideal’ sonic character we’re looking for in each frequency band.

custom mastering equaliser build 2 img 3383 web

custom mastering equaliser build 3 img 3019 web

Building a mix room
Monday, 30 April 2018 19:00

Does the room you mix in cause problems and frustrations: noise restrictions; acoustic issues; monitors that cannot be trusted; insufficient low-end extension and inaccuracy?

We're working on a solution for you: a mix room where the focus is on the acoustics and monitoring, and you'll be able to hire for reasonable rates.

Mix room - under construction - small

Accurate monitoring

The main point of difference our mix room will offer is a monitoring experience that you can trust due to extensive acoustic design, treatment and monitoring.

The main monitors are full-range and identical to what we use in the mastering room for detail, imaging and accuracy without compromises.

We understand some people may not be used to mixing on detailed full-range monitoring which is why we've added a second option: near/mid-field monitors that have a proven track record with some of the best engineers in the world. These will still sound very balanced due to the room acoustics, but won't be as detailed or extended in their frequency range; this can be useful for judging the all important midrange balance.

High-end analogue gear

Mix room - Custom Transformer Box - small

Another draw card will be the range of custom one-off and popular analog hardware processing available for individual tracks within your mix session and mix buss processing including the Smart Research C2 compressor, custom M250EP 5-band discrete T-Filter EQ, vintage Neumann passive inductor EQs, Studer A807 quarter-inch 2-track analog tape machine and a custom vintage transformer processing unit that has a range of different transformers to choose from including Neve, UTC, API & Neumann.

The analogue hardware will all be routed through a custom-built insert switcher which has M/S options, a parallel blender and even order flipping on four inserts. The input and output of the analog processing will be handled by a mastering-grade set of converters, the Antelope Pure2, which will also clock the whole system.

Mix room - Analog Rack Gear - small

In the box

If you're used to working in the box, you'll love the fast 12-core Mac Pro with the latest Pro Tools HD software, Lynx Aurora 16 interface with Lynx AES16e, Antelope Pure2 and UAD Octo card. We'll also have a plethora of high-end plugins personally chosen and tested by Matthew: Waves, UAD, Acustica Audio, Plugin Alliance, Sound Toys and many more.

Professional mix engineers

If you need, we can provide a professional mix engineer to help you extend the quality of your mixes even further than what you can achieve on your own.

Discounts and advice

To top it off, we'll be offering mastering discounts to any artist or engineer who hires the mix room. Of course, where possible, we will be available to check final mixes and offer advice before you do your final prints.

Do you need a separate master for streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify?
Thursday, 20 July 2017 06:55

With so many different delivery formats and streaming services available for music today, it's important to be clear on where your mastered song is going to be delivered and how that medium will affect the audio: a master that is perfect for iTunes and CD will likely be completely inappropriate for Spotify, YouTube or vinyl.

So how many masters do you need?

Before we answer that, let's talk about what happens to your music when it is streamed.

In 2015 YouTube implemented a level correction algorithm that assists with keeping all audio at a consistent volume; their objective is to maintain the same volume for the listener no matter what they are listening to on YouTube. While this is generally a welcomed feature, it's important to understand what this means for you as an artist when it comes to uploading your music to YouTube. For example, if we were to upload to YouTube a regular full-level master that's suitable for CD or a standard iTunes release, its volume will be decreased significantly in order to meet YouTube's new target loudness level. So essentially there is no benefit to mastering loud for anything destined for YouTube as it will only be turned back down and in the process will sound flatter and weaker than if it was mastered to meet YouTube's required level.

This sort of auto-levelling algorithm isn't just an isolated case either, with many different variations of this loudness algorithm being used today in streaming services such as Spotify and Tidal.

How to make your music sound great on YouTube etc.

So how do we prepare the audio in such a way that it won't be turned down by these streaming services? We maximise the dynamic range and allow higher peak headroom so that the music sounds more lively and punchy, which in turn creates a competitive edge over traditionally less-dynamic masters.

This is easily proven: the attached image shows the waveforms for two masters of the same song we recently uploaded to YouTube - the first being a competitive master and the second a dynamic master optimised for YouTube - along with the audio we captured after playback from YouTube. Comparing our optimised YouTube master to the competitive master is a real eye- and ear-opener: the competitive master sounds squashed, distorted and weak while the song optimised for YouTube's levels are clearer, punchier and perceptively louder.

youtube test results watermark

Back to the question: how many different masters do we need?

Do we need a different master for each medium and service? In an ideal world, yes we do. But practically speaking two masters is close enough to the ideal; typically this would mean a traditionally competitive (less dynamic) master if you're releasing your music through iTunes or plan to do a physical release on CD, along with another more dynamic master for releasing to Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and Tidal etc. We also offer mastering for vinyl and Apple Digital Masters which have their own set of specific requirements. We recommend that you discuss with us which formats and streaming services you'll primarily be releasing to in order for us to work out the best options for mastering your music.

With all the different formats and various requirements available these days it's easy to get confused and hard to keep up, but we've got you covered: we are constantly keeping up with the latest in developments so you don't have to. We'll get your music sounding amazing not only wherever it's played but whatever format or streaming service it's played on. 

Digital-to-analog converter shootout: Cranesong Solaris vs the rest
Friday, 19 May 2017 16:14

We take our equipment seriously, and our digital-to-analog (DA) converters are no exception. It's critical to have supremely accurate DA converters in the equipment chain to ensure music is converted into the analog domain precisely ahead of both monitoring and analog compression & equalisation; a DA converter that is lacking will degrade the quality of the music from the get-go.

In our never-ending quest to apply the latest design breakthroughs to enhancing and improving our mastering process, we recently compared three popular DA converters from leading manufacturers to the ones we already have in our rack. Here's the full list:

  • Dangerous Convert2
  • RME ADI-2 Pro
  • Cranesong Solaris
  • Antelope Audio Pure2 (which we already own)
  • Forssell MADA-2 (which we already own)
  • Dangerous (Chris Muth)
  • Monitor DAC (which we already own)

We placed the DA converters ahead of the analog compressors and equalisers and tested the units in a very precise manner, level matching all the converters' reference levels to within +/- 0.01dB to ensure a level playing field. While we found every unit to be a quality piece of gear up to the task, we added the Cranesong Solaris to our rack as the primary choice for DA converter. We will continue to use the Forssell DA when it suits the source, but the Pure2 DA converter, which was previously our second converter option, has been removed from service. Here's why:

Cranesong Solaris DA converter


The Cranesong Solaris was a clear standout: everything sounded more connected and fluid, yet alive, like the sound was leaping off the speakers. For a moment in time, we forgot all about the converters and were just immersed in the music filling the room; it was like the sound was coming from a band in the room rather than the speakers. We put this down in part to improved clocking techniques, the advanced jitter suppression and an extremely well-designed high-end analog output stage.

The tonal balance was spot on: extremely natural and, while flattering on great mixes, it didn't gloss over any problem areas; in fact it tends to reveal issues in a detailed manner. The Cranesong Solaris is natural and organic and as such suits pretty much any style of music.

We found it really difficult to fault the Solaris and, when paired with one of our Analog-to-Digital converters (Antelope Audio Pure2 AD or Forssell AD), it's a real thing of beauty to master music through.

What about the other converters?

We like to have two sets of DA converters that compliment each other in different ways so we can choose the one which benefits the music we're working on. While the Crane Solaris came out on top, our Forssell MADA-2 DA is a great converter, with its presentation being slightly more flattering hence favouring pop and EDM styles; we'll be using both the Cranesong Solaris and the Forssell MADA-2 ongoing.

The Dangerous Monitor DAC will remain our primary monitoring DA converter, but at some point we may consider upgrading it with another Solaris, as the Solaris also excelled as a monitoring DA converter. 

Tips for releasing your project on vinyl
Friday, 29 July 2016 00:00

vinyl-recordVinyl has made a steady resurgence in recent years, and a number of indie and commercial bands have been jumping on board and getting small runs of vinyl pressed. We've been mastering for vinyl for some time now and we know a lot about the vinyl process. Here are some tips which you might find useful when considering releasing your next project on vinyl:

  1. Decide on how many songs you want to put on the vinyl and work out the total running time of your single, EP or album. Why? Because this is a critical factor in working out what size record is suitable, what speed is best and how loud it can be cut. For example, if you have an album of songs and it works out to be over 22 minutes of music per side, there is a good chance it will need to be cut at lower levels to prevent distortion and may not sound as good especially on the last couple of songs on each side of the vinyl; in such a case you may have to factor in the cost of getting a double album cut and pressed. See below for our recommended running time chart.

  2. Get your songs professionally mastered for vinyl. There are a number of areas to consider when mastering for vinyl in order for the finished record to sound it's best, and I've seen people waste a lot of time and money when skipping this very important step.

  3. Leave yourself plenty of time to get vinyl reference cuts and test pressings done and send them to us to check that there aren't any technical issues with the vinyl cutting, plating or pressing before approving the rest of the copies to be pressed. In other words, don't set your release date or album launch date until you've worked out how long these processes can take. Time may vary depending on factors such as the cutting engineer's schedule and how many jobs the pressing plant are working on. It's better to give yourself too much time than not enough.

  4. Use someone reputable for the vinyl cutting. If you're wanting the best quality, or if you need to fit a lot of songs on each side, or if your vinyl needs to be cut loud, we recommend talking to us for an appropriate vinyl cutting vendor for your job. If budget and turn-around is critical we believe you can get decent results using Zenith Records in Melbourne for vinyl cutting and pressing.
Michelangelo Custom Tube Mastering EQ
Monday, 27 June 2016 00:00


We've recently installed a custom tube Michelangelo mastering EQ built by Chris Hendy at Hendy Amps in the USA.

This EQ is stereo ganged and acts like a broad shaping tone control for the mix. With the "Aggression" (tube drive), "Bass", "Mid", "High" and "Air" controls along with some custom mods that include a cleaner signal low impedance or a more coloured high impedance switchable option, the EQ becomes extremely versatile and quick to dial in. The EQ points and curves are also extremely musical, allowing broad shaping of the mix with precision control. The sound is deliciously smooth and big due to the minimalistic circuit and the all-tube and transformer signal path. This rounds out our analog EQ collection very nicely: with four analog EQ's to choose from, there is an EQ that suits every genre and mix style.

Book your job in today to hear the Michelangelo in action on your next project.

<< Start < Prev 1 2 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 2