The most important equipment in a mastering studio is the room and playback system. Perception is paramount in mastering and what the engineer is perceiving, advises on the adjustments that may need to be made in order to yield the best results for our clients. Mastering is the last step in the creative process, and the first in the manufacturing & distribution process of releasing music. This is a final, and crucial step, that demands a critical listening environment. When the channel count rises above stereo, the design of the room becomes even more important with signals emanating from all around the room.
Coast Mastering has been rebuilt in 2020 from the ground up, literally. We did not just add speakers to an existing room, we started from scratch. An approach focused on accommodating a large variety of immersive and stereo formats, including Dolby Atmos, Sony 360RA and Auro-3D.
When building the main mastering studio, we dug down far enough to have the room sitting on an almost 30” slab of rebar and concrete while still being mostly underground. We worked with acoustic expert Bob Hodas and project manager Bob Levy, to design the dimensions and composition to create a 9.1.6 mastering environment before the first shovel went in the ground.
Working out as many details as possible before starting a project helps to ensure a smoother build process. Multiple layers of sheet rock, quiet rock and hat channel were used to isolate and give consistency to density and reflections. Our final internal dimensions are approximately 21’x16’x11’. With almost three feet of bass trapping uniquely situated above the mastering room. We used Apertures from Stillpoints to both absorb and diffuse energy in the room as needed to allow for a very direct presentation from the speakers. Imaging and localization are incredible. We also decided to remove the console from obstructing the direct audio path from the speakers. All of our external gear and console are located to the right and left of the engineer position, rather than traditionally in front.
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The playback system consists of Focal Stella (supported by Iso-Acoustic Gaia Titans) and Focal Diablo Evo speakers on the main level, driven by Bricasti amplifiers. The Height speakers are Neumann 310s. A Meyer Amie sub handles the LFE channel. Speaker position adjustments can be made to fit the needed format. Digital to analog conversion on all channels are the Bricasti M1s. The SPL DMC, MC16 and Hermes are the core of the mastering console. With external gear from GML 2030, EAR 825/660, SPL PQ/Iron, Spectra Sonic v610s and more.
Main analog playback is an ATR 104, modified by ATR Service Co. and heads from Greg Orton that can accommodate everything from 1/4” mono/stereo/4-track, 1/2” mono/stereo/4-track and 1” stereo. A Spiral Groove SG1/2 turntable with multiple cartridges handles the playback for restoration and test pressing QC. All speaker wiring and interconnects are from WireWorld and are fed under the floor from the machine room and side credenzas.
We have been mastering stereo records in the Bay Area for over 26 years. We added capabilities for surround in 2001, and moved to adding the height channels in 2018. The new Coast Mastering main room was built specifically to incorporate and address the detailed and unique needs of immersive audio. If you would like to know more, or schedule a consultation, please call or contact us. We would be happy to help make your music, the best it can be.