This week at Mastering Academy #1
Hi! My name is Thomas and I recently started working at the Mastering Academy. As the newest member of our professional, international team, I’ve noticed that the things that happen behind the scenes at the Mastering Academy are often exciting. To give an insight into what’s happening here and what projects are in development, I’m launching this blog series. From now on, you can find out what’s going on here once a week in our blog “this week at Mastering Academy”. I’d be very happy about comments, feedback, and sharing.
In this first post, I want to focus on two topics:
- 1st thoughts and impressions on the current situation in front-of-house mixing (FOH) and
- 2nd the visit of Norbert Lehmann from Lehmannaudio at the Mastering Academy.
Thoughts and impressions on the state of FOH mixing
Have you too noticed recently that the sound quality at concerts and festivals has decreased? I was a regular visitor to festivals and concerts before the pandemic, and like many others for sure, I’m glad that it is now possible to visit such events again. For this reason, I decided to attend the Elbriot Festival at Hamburg’s Großneumarkt this year. A total of nine bands performed there, and their performances were often affected by poor sound mixing. Only the headliner Bullet for my Valentine and co-headliner Accept had convincing sound. For example, with Alestorm the mixing is noticeably bad. It was impossible to hear some of the instruments during the first three songs. During the shows of other bands, the bass range is emphasized so much most of the time that it suppresses any other aspects of the music.
The Sound Experience
This negative hearing experience unfortunately is not the exception. For example, at this year’s Wacken Open Air – especially in front of the smaller stages – bad sound was no exception. When I got to talking about this situation with Friedemann Tischmeyer, our CEO, earlier this month, he mentions that at the Elbjazz Festival this year (which took place in June) some concerts were so badly mixed that he just left. Even at many concerts in clubs and halls that I have been to recently, the sound was rarely well mixed.
It hurts any music-loving person when music is not presented during a live situation as good as would and should be possible. How is it that concerts have lost sound quality, although you feel incredible joy in playing the majority of musicians and bands have since the pandemic situation has receded? Many people who have worked in the live music industry – from stage hands to mixing engineers – have been forced to adjust themselves in the pandemic and have left the industry as a result. Something must be done about this shortcoming!
At the Mastering Academy, we are currently receiving regular asked for FOH mixing engineers. We are not talking about just any small concerts or the like, but performances by well-known artists. This has been going on for a few months now and as a result, we decided to explore the possibility of a FOH course and what it could look like as an online mixing course. We are constantly working to improve our courses. We are committed to helping as many of our students as possible to enter the audio industry job market by accessing our extensive network of contacts.
Currently, we are receiving many requests for FOH mixing engineers from the music industry, which again encourages us to offer this market-relevant training. All our coaches work in the music industry. Therefore, we can provide practical, industry-standard courses. For us, in the context of a FOH program, that means creating a new curriculum and finding a way to work with our coaches and some venues to allow our students to gain hands-on experience during the coaching. We’ll see in the future what a FOH program will exactly look like. Certain is that such a program is a great investment in the future.
Norbert Lehmann Founder and CEO of Lehmannaudio visits the Mastering Academy
As I walk into the Mastering Academy this Monday morning, there is a productive tension in the air. Employees bustling with activity and great anticipation for the man who will come through our door in a few minutes: Norbert Lehmann, who designed and built the world’s best headphone preamplifier, the Linear Pro.
That morning right after the HiFi Days in Hamburg Norbert Lehmann makes a short stop at Mastering Academy for an interview. During the pre-talk, the question that many people probably ask themselves arises: What is the difference between the Linear and the Linear 2? Suddenly, the good-humored audio technology guru hands me two circuit boards that look quite similar at first glance.
At this moment I get a glimpse into the inner workings of the normal Linear headphone amplifier and its 2nd variant. The first thing I noticed when looking at it is that some of the components are different. Further that the circuit board of the Linear 2 seems much thicker than that of the Linear. But before I can ask any more questions, the interview (in which these questions were answered) starts. In conversation with Friedemann Tischmeyer, the two acknowledged high-end audio professionals visibly enjoyed themselves. During the filming, I feel a bit as if I am just being embraced by the knowledge of two masters in the audio industry.
During a meal, where the conversation continues lively, the idea arises that Norbert Lehmann could interview Friedemann Tischmeyer in exchange, which is going to be published by Lehmannaudio. In this conversation, I learn a lot about my current boss and the Mastering Academy that I had not been fully aware of before.
Friedemann Tischmeyer used to travel around the world with his courses. Nowadays, this all takes place digitally, which means that our students now take part in the Mastering Academy’s mixing and mastering courses from their own studios – their familiar working environment – without having to come to our mastering studio in Hamburg. As a result, the Mastering Academy’s Master Classes are now much easier to access than they were just a few years ago.
From our mastering studio, the audio is transferred directly to our students’ studios using an uncompressed 24-bit audio connection. In addition, individual counseling, as well as the personal coaching of our students, could be raised to a new level by switching to live video coaching.
Suddenly, time runs out and Norbert Lehmann has to go on to another appointment. After he leaves, reality catches up with me right back. Copy video footage, take down lights, and then start editing the video. The interviews will appear on our channels in the coming weeks.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into two current processes at the Mastering Academy. Next week, another blog post will appear here with the topic “this week at Mastering Academy”. Until then, have a great time!