Room with a VU(3)

STUDIO NAME: Massive MasteringCONTACT: LOCATION: Chicago area, ILKEY CREW: John Scrip (owner, engineer); Travis McIver (assistant, apprentice engineer)

SOURCE PLAYBACK: TASCAM DV-RA1000, DA-30mkII, Alesis Masterlink ML9600, TEAC 1/4", Sony cassette, MiniDisc; Sensory Science DVD/hi-fi VHS

MONITORS: Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) M-802 Series 3, Wharfedale Diamond Series 8.2, Bryston 4B amplification, Velodyne and Sony subwoofers, PreSonus Central Station, Cobalt cabling

CONVERTERS: Lavry Engineering LE 4496 “Blue” series M*Sync, M*AD 824, M*DA 824; Apogee Mini-Me, Lynx AES router

OUTBOARD: Manley Variable-Mu limiter with factory mastering modifications, GML Model 8200 parametric, Crane Song STC-8M, Art Pro VLA

COMPUTERS: Sonica-X R340 P4/3.4Ghz Pentium Prescot, “FrankenPuter” AMD Athlon 2400, Plextor Premium Series drives (approximately 1/2-terabyte drive space)

SOFTWARE: Samplitude Professional, Universal Audio UAD collection plug-ins, PlexTools Professional

ROOM TREATMENTS: Modular Acoustics, Auralex, Illbruck

STUDIO NOTES: Keep the quality high and the overhead low. That’s mastering engineer John Scrip’s philosophy. Like many “commercial” studio operations, his former partner was paying high overhead to support a large building, receptionists, and fancy client amenities — yet more and more of his mastering business was coming in via mail — few clients were attending the mastering sessions. “Some of my clients may remember the old JEM Complex in Niles, IL, with custom lighting, hot and cold running receptionists, and a 400 square foot lounge with a Sony 60" TV and a selection of video games,” he relates. “But most of my mastering clients won’t remember, because they’d send in their tapes, I’d do the work, and send them their master discs. It wasn’t a lack of business that led us to give up that facility, rather it was a surplus of space and assets that were tied up for nothing. I was thinking ‘Hey, I could almost do this out of a stuffy little office and no one would care.’ Well, guess what . . . now I work from a cozy little spot with no receptionist, no foyer, and no custom wall sconces. (I do kind of miss those sconces.) You’d be surprised how much you can lower your rates when you slash that much off your operating expenses.”

As audio technology has changed, Scrip has changed his gear arsenal as well. However, he keeps an open mind as to which technology to apply to a given situation. “I’ve been at this for a while in several capacities and several locations, with gear ranging from ‘toys’ to the top-of-the-line. As most mastering studios have gone more DAW-based, I have kept up-to-date. But most projects here go through some sort of analog processing along the way. There’s just no substitute for great hardware.”