1000 recorded Masters or Mixes for ToKwerX. Today we clocked up the one thousand file number on the KORG DSD Recorder, which is responsible for capturing all the analogue mixes and masters. Quite a milestone really. WooHoo-ness!
This week and next I am completing the debut release for Erin Downie and Rebellious Bird.
This EP has been over two years in the making during which we have endured: Moving homes (twice), Full Time Study, Floods, Single Parenting and Broken Hearts.
But we persevered.
I am incredibly proud of this upcoming release and consider it some of my best work. Erin sings beautifully on these tracks and the band is wonderful. Horn section will be dropped in next week.
Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard and at times sacrificed part of themselves to complete this project.
This EP is testament to the gift of love and the privilege of sharing music. Not an opportunity to be taken for granted.
I will deliver the masters to Erin before the end of September and sincerely hope something is done with this recording, for a debut release of this quality is a very rare gift indeed.
2020 is the year, which happens to coincide with the test result that shows ‘normal’ vision. I have commenced planning the implementation of a DOLBY ATMOS 5.1.4 speaker configuration to allow for mixing music in the ATMOS format. I sincerely believe this will introduce my clients and their audience to an inspiring and physically immersive sound for their releases. With both YouTube and Facebook using ‘Ambisonics’ for their audio playback engines the ATMOS mixes will be translatable to these platforms, heralding in a new era in music listening.
No longer just a song - with ToKwerX and ATMOS these will become a sonic experience!
A previous post of mine contained incorrect information, largely due to the fact Ben Langdon and I never actually discussed it. So I listed his latest SOLO EP incorrectly as a release by the Bean Project (Ben's other project). So...
Ben Langdon's SOLO project Grand Baxter has recently completed a four-track EP, mixed and mastered here at ToKwerX. CORRECT ;)
This evening I experienced the most inspiring sound mixing format ever in Dobly Atmos. Think of Surround Sound (with Left, Centre, Right, Left Rear, Right Rear and a Sub') but now add another Four Ceiling speaker channels. This introduces HEIGHT into the sound stage and has been adopted by the film industry for cinemas and home theatres as the new standard.
But what about MUSIC in Atmos? It is beginning; slowly. Several artists have embraced the format. In 14 months when ToKwerX upgrades the studio for what is likely my final business lease, the speaker system will be an ATMOS 5.1.4 system. With so many artistic possibilities I have launched the plan to build my new system around this format. PROTOOLS Ultimate (formerly HD) with a Dolby ATMOS monitor array is the future at ToKwerX. Music for the new era in the most incredible advance in sound mixing since stereo! So excited!
Last year I was fortunate enough to record, mix and master a double CD for Melbourne Jazz artist Chris Young. Also had a cameo on trumpet for a track. This release was mixed and mastered entirely at ToKwerX on the hybrid system to DSD then brought down to CD audio formats. John Shand from the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) has published a very positive review of this release, attributing 4/5 Stars. LINK to On-line article.
JAZZ Christopher Young Trio
DIGITAL ANALOGUE (Newmarket)
Christopher Young has a gift for crafting charged atmospheres in which to improvise. This gift is especially prominent on this double album's 20-minute centrepiece, the slow, dreamy Out of Time, which has minimal harmonic movement, instead using layers of post-Robert Fripp guitar played by guest Brendan Hains, whose long, sustained notes frost with tension the improvisations from Julien Wilson's tenor saxophone and Young's bass clarinet. This sharp edge of anguish is passed between clarinet, saxophone and guitar, without either the effect becoming overwrought or its impact diminishing. Meanwhile bassist Alistair Watts and drummer Daniel Brates maintain a soft, restrained, but nonetheless buoyant dialogue to keep the piece afloat. It is among the most compelling works I've heard this year, and amazes me afresh with each hearing. The rest of the album keeps you in its grip, too, with Young developing such full-blooded sounds on his saxophones, clarinets and flute, and his compositional ideas asking different questions of himself (sometimes multi-tracked) and his collaborators. Wilson's brawny tenor also guests on There Is Always a Way to Know and trumpeter Tony Norris spices up Eternity. JOHN SHAND
Since the age of 7 I've had an affair with the Trumpet. At 15 I entered my first recording studio and fell in love with the art of recording and all it's machinations.
Finding a balance has always proven problematic for me, especially over the last two decades where folks have been more than happy to pay me six times what they'd pay for a Jazz gig on the Horn and have me record, mix or master their performances. This is still essentially the same, with musicians being paid around the same performance fees that we were thirty years ago; sort of depressing isn't it?
But as life see-saws and weighing up the need to prioritise finances over artistic indulgence alters the scales it appears the balance is beginning to change. I am managing to find small pockets of time between parenting and engineering to devote to practice.
Today I bought a new stand for the Horn so 'she' can sit alongside me whenever I'm engineering. Within arms reach like the rest of my analogue hardware, so is now the first love of my life; and the affair continues...
HARRISON Consoles out of Nashville Tennessee have been designing, developing and manufacturing ultra high end consoles for decades, with the company founder Dave Harrison introducing the "in-line" configuration of a channel fader and a tape return (baby fader) on the same channel strip. His now famous 32C console and the same-named EQ are synonymous with musicality and technical perfection. The company has been developing it's own DAW known as MixBus and I've lauded their products over the past few years both here on ToKwerX and also under my role with RMIT University's Sound Production program.
Harrison have ported one of their digital designs long available in their flagship consoles across to other formats to allow engineers access to these within the AAX, AU and VST systems and it appears this will not be the last; the AVA Mastering EQ.
Unique in it's ability to create a flat curve between adjacent frequency bands this final stage EQ is designed to add the final touches to a mix or master. So far I've run this across some projects recently completed as a comparison and it's subtle ability to open up air in the top end, add presence to upper mid range and depth to subs in the 60-80Hz realm has proven wonderful. Harrison are offering a special price on this EQ so check out their site whilst this remains available. Harrison Consoles.
The Clunk Orchestra 2nd Album is almost complete. Final mixes going down to DSD tonight - Stay Tuned...
The current mixing and mastering facility at ToKwerX is a beautiful balance of analogue and digital devices. Allowing the immense control and immediate recall of digital but gifting the ability to enhance with saturation, warmth and real vacuum-tube harmonic distortion to the mix or master. Add to this an expanded perception of stereo image and depth of field derived from 16 stems into analogue summing. The modern mixing & mastering facility need not be huge but can be incredibly powerful, whilst retaining the sonics that only analogue produces.
Some of my all time favourite digital processors are from iZotope and they have released a FREE version of the Stereo Imager from the OZONE Suite of plug-ins. This is a a single-band edition only but gives all engineers the ability to apply a mid-side based stereo image expansion. Think of it as lowering the centre to raise the sides of your stereo field, resulting in an enhanced perception of the actual width. Click on the OZONE Imager icon above for the link...
From the developers at Newfangled Audio, who have previously worked on Eventide plugins. EQuivocate essentially offers a Graphic EQ but allows unique scaling of bands, adjustment of centre frequency slope for each band, the number of bands and up to 26 discreet frequency targets. Add to this a default MEL scaling of frequencies shaped to our human non-linear responses or a Custom mode, a really easy Match EQ with side-chain learning, an Auto Gain control so your ears aren't fooled by changing levels and the ability to Solo each band.
Oh - did I mention for a limited introductory time it is FREE?
Within minutes of ToKwerX this is where you can be. So special and unbelievably close to the new studio. So whilst you're undertaking editing, mixing or mastering at ToKwerX take a break and breathe some of the amazingly fresh air and listen to the birds chatter over the symphonic chorus of the forest.
Most clients just send through their projects these days but I invite and encourage you to come, stay a while; complete your project amidst the peace that is literally moments from our door.
Um, ok. Let's try that again?
Take 2 for ToKwerX relocation in the beautiful forested area of the Dandenong Ranges. The studio is now located in Upper Ferntree Gully (UFTG) alongside the State forest and close to the famous 1000 Steps National Park. Beautiful. Let's see how the birdlife enjoy the soundscape?
Cleaning out the archives of ToKwerX as the process of recommissioning continues... so for someone this is truly a stack of Gold: AMPEX 1 x 1/2" 499 Gold & 4 x 1/4" 456 Grand, unused tape. Still in the plastic bags inside the original boxes. Also a couple of 1/4" pick-up spools. Make me an offer - come and pick 'em up - they're yours! You can find my phone number on the Contact Page of www.tokwerx.com
It takes quite some years of experience to get the pieces right, whether you're composing, recording, mixing and of course mastering. Given it is the final opportunity to get things as best you can, I highly recommend having your hard work professionally mastered. Too many artists experiment with their own approach and often the results are less than satisfactory.
As a special re-commissioning offer any new artists to my client list will be given the same 20% discount on the mastering fee as my returning clients receive - please consider ToKwerX for both Mastering and your Mixing requirements.
Well, it’s been nearly six months of “no studio” status - profoundly affecting my general outlook on life and definitely impacting my creative output. Relocating the teenagers and myself to my partner’s home was never going to be an easy or simple task, so the December 30th flooding of the house that rendered the allocated studio space, master bedroom, ensuite and laundry uninhabitable certainly added a few more layers of complexity that none of us could possibly have prepared for.
But we are somehow nearly there and beginning with the studio, finally commence putting all our plans into action - only then will we really have any idea of how this “tree-change” has worked. It is when faced with unimaginable hurdles that dealing with the other elements in our lives becomes exaggerated and amplified. I am the first to put up my hand and state I’ve not dealt with it very elegantly at times and sitting in the studio space for the first “listen” last night was profoundly confronting.
So here’s a very sincere message to those I dearly love. Those closest to me who have literally put up with me during this studio-hiatus and soul-searching period. The same people who actually feed my heart and soul with the very reasons I have to create - you are each my muse and my sustenance. To each of you, for all you’ve done for me over the last six months… THANK YOU.
Next post: Re-Opening special rates on Mastering.
Eventide’s Audio division recently released a new entrant into the Transient Shaping collection of digital audio tools available to the modern engineer, although this processor is a lot more than just a means to emphasise the attack transient and shorten the decay elements of a sound.
I am loving “Fission.” This is practically splitting the atom when it comes to accessing the elements of the sound envelope and most importantly gives the engineer independent control between both, with a powerful library of dedicated effects assignable to each component: Transient & Tonal.
Sure, split a Tom hit and you can alter the balance between the attack strike and the decay of the shell - you can now even Tune the decay independently of the attack with the Pitch algorithm - but this is a sound sculpting tool, not just a Transient Designer of sorts. If you’d like to literally divide the sonic elements that are the DNA of your targeted sound and manipulate them both in beautifully musical (and non-musical) ways then check out “FISSION” by Eventide.
New home for my pair of Quad Eight CL22's. Proudly sharing the ToKwerX right-hand rack with the Harrison 32C's. Both units were racked and modified by Rob Squire @ Proharmonic in Adelaide. Even passing signal through the CL22's adds a density and low-mid body to the signal. Very reminiscent of the UA1176 and Empirical Labs Distressor. One Happy ToK!