Recording - September 2014 - 59

By 2013, Lucey had the opportunity to
open a new facility in LA, and to take his
use of the Modular Kits to a new level. The
new LA room is larger, based on an open
design concept, which gave him a more
accurate "blank canvas" around which to
design the new mastering studio. Larger
rooms generally have fewer problems than
smaller rooms, particularly in the low end,
and can require less treatment overall (proportionate to the size of the room) to get better results. By using the Modular Kits to create an acoustically coupled space within the
larger room, he was able to get the best of
both worlds: an outstanding, accurate
soundstage with exactly the right amount of
ambience, a perfect reflection-free zone at
the listening position, and even better low
end response from the larger room.
The new LA room has now been open for
several months, and Lucey remains as busy
as ever, mastering an average of four
records per week. He has gone on to do
more work with both Tchad Blake and the
Black Keys, including El Camino (which netted another Grammy for Best Rock Album),
as well as the recently-released Turn Blue.
"The new one has a single out now, called
'Fever,' which is one of three pop tunes on
the record. The rest of the record is really
interesting, I hope the world likes it as much
as I do. It's very textural, sort of vibey. It's
not hitting you over the head like the last
one, it reminds me of a Pink Floyd vibe.
One track is like 7 minutes long."
Ray LaMontagne's Supernova has "an
early-'60s beautiful kind of optimism,
almost like a Beach Boys, layered vocal
thing. A bit more straightforward pop song.
Ray is a really sweet man with a great
voice. This record was produced by Dan
Auerbach (of The Black Keys) so it has a
real vibey, interesting quality. Dan's a great
producer, he brings in people and lets them
co-create and be a part of the process. He
produces things the right way."
Other albums Lucey has worked on
include Dr. John's Locked Down (Blues
Grammy winner), Lydia Loveless, David
Lynch, Ryan Bingham, O.A.R., Newsted,
Bombino, and hundreds more. "I work with a
lot of people on all levels. I base my rates on
the resources available for the project, and
still work with some up-and-coming artists that
don't have major label budgets. I wish I could
talk about everyone I work with."
One constant throughout Lucey's career
has been his awareness of how important
it is to have a great-sounding room and an
accurate monitoring system, which is in
many ways more important than the aesthetic qualities of the mixes he works on.
"I talk to people after working for them.
They often ask me, 'what do you think of
the mix' or 'what should I have done' or
'how can it be better'? That's a difficult
question because it's really none of my
business what your snare sounds like or
how loud you want your vocal to be, or

how you mix your record. That's not my
call. If I was hired to mix or produce it,
that would be a different conversation."
"So inevitably I end up talking to people about room acoustics and monitoring,
because that's the place that's pretty obvious to me to make improvements. I
always encourage as much bass trapping
as you can get away with, killing the first
reflection points, and then from there tuning the room to taste. When people
address the room in those ways, it really
makes a huge difference. At this point
that does seem the weak link [in many studios]. It's not sexy, and it doesn't seem
fun, but once you do it it's really fun-
because you realize these tools that you
had are really quite good! The room is
inevitably the weak link for pretty much
99% of the people that I talk to."
Brian's view of choosing gear also comes
from intuition and musicality, where the gear
speaks through the engineer as part of the
artistic process. There is so much great gear
available now that it is easy for an engineer
to put together a chain that sounds good.
The difference between one quality piece of
equipment and another is often extremely
subtle, especially in comparison to the
impact that simply fixing the room will have
on the sound an engineer will get.
"It's been 7 years since I changed my
chain, so I'm a few years removed from
being a certified gearhead. But the thing
about gear that is valuable is that there is
also an artistic element. This is where the
gear comes in: how the equipment speaks
through the engineer. I completely sympathize with the focus on the preamp, the
compressor, the microphone, and the converter. The gear that I have is a big part of
my success; my chain sounds like my chain,
and as soon as I run a mix through my
chain it's getting very close to what I put out
to the world. I'm not trying to devalue what
the mastering engineer brings to the table,
but I picked my chain-the chain speaks
with my voice, just like what I do when I
turn knobs and how I tweak this or that also
speaks with my voice. The gear is important, there is no doubt about it, but if you
can't hear it you can't really know what you
are doing. It's a tricky balance everyone
has to find in their own way."
You can find more about Brian Lucey
and Magic Garden Mastering at his website, www.magicgardenmastering.com.
James Lindenschmidt (lindenschmidt@
recordingmag.com) is the General
Manager at RealTraps, and would like to
thank Brian for his time. You can learn
more about the treatments mentioned in
this interview, and also find a lot of free
educational material about acoustics, at
www.realtraps.com.
Photo of Brian Lucey courtesy Beth
Herzhaft of Beth Herzhaft Photography,
www.herzco.com.
RECORDING September 2014

59


http://www.equatoraudio.com http://www.magicgardenmastering.com http://www.realtraps.com http://www.equatoraudio.com http://www.herzco.com

Recording - September 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2014

Contents
Recording - September 2014 - Cover1
Recording - September 2014 - Cover2
Recording - September 2014 - 1
Recording - September 2014 - 2
Recording - September 2014 - 3
Recording - September 2014 - 4
Recording - September 2014 - 5
Recording - September 2014 - Contents
Recording - September 2014 - 7
Recording - September 2014 - 8
Recording - September 2014 - 9
Recording - September 2014 - 10
Recording - September 2014 - 11
Recording - September 2014 - 12
Recording - September 2014 - 13
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Recording - September 2014 - Cover3
Recording - September 2014 - Cover4
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