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San Francisco Bay Area Mastering?
Old 18th March 2018
  #1
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San Francisco Bay Area Mastering?

Please forgive me if I’m posting in the wrong place. I found a GS thread about this on Google but it’s out of date. I have one great ME that I use but he’s sometimes booked up. I’d love to find another experienced go to ME, and I want to be able to sit in. CD, digital and vinyl premasters will be needed for various projects. A few spots here are charging $80 to $125/song. Hoping to spend around half that much but I still want good sound. I see several places on Google. Hoping to narrow the search.

Google shows:
Tone Freq
Trakworx
Coast
A. Hammer
25th st.
Fantasy
Data Stream
Bay Area
Pyramind
Neato

Thanks so much!
Old 18th March 2018
  #2
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Silvertone's Avatar
Can’t go wrong with the crew at Fantasty. Even if Michael doesn’t do the mastering for you, you can’t go wrong with the other ME’s there. You can probably negotiate a better rate for one of them as well. Great quality control and feedback. Give them a call or shoot them an email.

I was on Tape Op mastering panel with Michael, Greg Calbi and a few other ME. Greg, Michael and I really hit it off well. We hung out and talked a lot in between the panel discussions about what mastering was and about doing the best possible work. About serving the needs of the song and such.

Anyway good luck with your decision, I’m sure other will chime in. I just don’t know the other Mastering facilities.

Funny thing is when I own a couple studios in the Bay Area in the 80’s, George Horn at Fantasy did all my mastering. lol
Old 18th March 2018
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
Can’t go wrong with the crew at Fantasty. Even if Michael doesn’t do the mastering for you, you can’t go wrong with the other ME’s there. You can probably negotiate a better rate for one of them as well. Great quality control and feedback. Give them a call or shoot them an email.

I was on Tape Op mastering panel with Michael, Greg Calbi and a few other ME. Greg, Michael and I really hit it off well. We hung out and talked a lot in between the panel discussions about what mastering was and about doing the best possible work. About serving the needs of the song and such.

Anyway good luck with your decision, I’m sure other will chime in. I just don’t know the other Mastering facilities.

Funny thing is when I own a couple studios in the Bay Area in the 80’s, George Horn at Fantasy did all my mastering. lol
Thanks! George Horn is still mastering at Fantasy! He’s above the budgets I work with though.

I don’t see a Michael at Fantasy, but maybe you mean Coast. Also way out of price range :(

It’s hard to convince clients and bandmates to drop over a thousand bucks to master an album that will probably only sell a few hundred copies these days. Some day...
Old 18th March 2018
  #4
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Silvertone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretSauce View Post
Thanks! George Horn is still mastering at Fantasy! He’s above the budgets I work with though.

I don’t see a Michael at Fantasy, but maybe you mean Coast. Also way out of price range :(

It’s hard to convince clients and bandmates to drop over a thousand bucks to master an album that will probably only sell a few hundred copies these days. Some day...
Coast moved into Fantasy a couple years back. George retired about three years ago... unless he couldn’t take retirement and went back but that was the last I had heard.

I understand the on the budget vs. sales but I’m telling you from a ME POV most ME’s work with acts these days and try to, when they can, help them with their budgets.

Never hurts to ask. I get asked all the time.
Old 18th March 2018
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
Coast moved into Fantasy a couple years back. George retired about three years ago... unless he couldn’t take retirement and went back but that was the last I had heard.

I understand the on the budget vs. sales but I’m telling you from a ME POV most ME’s work with acts these days and try to, when they can, help them with their budgets.

Never hurts to ask. I get asked all the time.
Fantasy has George Horn listed as the only ME on their website. Coast did move into the same building but seems to be a separate entity. You’re right that it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Old 18th March 2018
  #6
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I should mention that most of the budgets I work with are in the $50 or less per song range for mastering. Even at that price I have to talk some people into paying for mastering. I have one local ME in that price range who I like a lot. I need a second one for when he’s booked up. Sometimes we need ASAP service!
Old 19th March 2018
  #7
Lots of mastering studios here Best Audio mastering in San Francisco, CA - Yelp

Not sure about prices but probably worth a look on line or a phone call.

FWIW
Old 19th March 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Lots of mastering studios here Best Audio mastering in San Francisco, CA - Yelp

Not sure about prices but probably worth a look on line or a phone call.

FWIW
Yeah yelp is really useful, especially in this area since it started here. That’s how I found my current ME who has been great, just busy sometimes. Guess I was hoping more people on GS would have experience with the affordable MEs in my area and make it easy for me haha. Maybe I should ask in the main forum instead. Or just rely on yelp again like you said. Thanks!!
Old 19th March 2018
  #9
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balanceman's Avatar
 

I do a lot of mastering. Megasonic Sound – Recording Studio
Recent projects include: SFJAZZ 2017 season double CD, Lyrics Born - remastering of entire LB and Latyrx catalog, new CD for Carl Weingarten, several projects for avant garde guitarist, Henry Kaiser and a bunch of other projects that don't immediately jump to mind.
Feel free to hit me up and we can discuss or I can do a test master for you.
In North Oakland for 10+ years and working in the Bay Area doing audio for 25+ years...
Cath you later!!
Old 19th March 2018
  #10
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balanceman's Avatar
 

PS: That yelp list is ridiculous. I think I am now excluded b/c I told their salesman to take a leap! in that link are: my former intern, who now runs a nice little budget room and does not do any mastering. My electrician who has a warehouse tracking studio and would never try to do any mastering. Several $25/hr bedroom studios that do not have the ability to do professional work. Better to ask around in the scene (like you are doing) than to rely on yelp for anything but restaurants. They already got in trouble once for manipulating reviews. My page has about 17 reviews or something, but in a search it shows up with 3 reviews.
"If you pay us $400/mo, we can assure you of front page placement and won't filter your reviews".
That's a ridiculous price for sketchy business practices.. Sorry to hijack your thread. Come by the studio and check it out in person!
Old 19th March 2018
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretSauce View Post
... Trakworx ...
I resemble that remark.

------

Maybe try hiring a few local studios to master one of your mixes so you can compare their work on the same song. Or ask if they will do a free sample on your song. I do free mastering samples here but I can't speak for the others on your list. PM me if interested.

------

I see that those Yelp search results are imperfect, but of the 10 studios on the first page, 5 are legit mastering options and 3 of those look to be on the "affordable" end. Your Google search seems more spot on though.


Best of luck!

.
Old 24th March 2018
  #12
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In case anyone is reading this, I am following the advice to get samples. Waiting for results from a few local MEs in my price range who seem experienced with rock bands. Can’t wait to compare!
Old 31st March 2018
  #13
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Conclusion

Anyone still here? Lol. So I got back samples from some SF area MEs. I just gotta say, Trakworx = WOW. All of the samples are good about translating but Justin’s has more of a ‘vivid’ 3D beefy rock sound. Not the loudest of all the samples but not the softest either. Def loud enough and the drums punch in the chest. And the price is super reasonable. I don’t want to name the other MEs because they all did good jobs and were cool guys. Just passing along my favorite in case it helps someone. I recommend anyone to do a taste test like I did. You might choose differently but it’s eye opening to hear all the versions of the same song. And fun!
Old 31st March 2018
  #14
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balanceman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretSauce View Post
Anyone still here? Lol. So I got back samples from some SF area MEs. I just gotta say, Trakworx = WOW. All of the samples are good about translating but Justin’s has more of a ‘vivid’ 3D beefy rock sound. Not the loudest of all the samples but def loud enough and the drums punch in the chest. And the price is super reasonable. I don’t want to name the other MEs because they all did good jobs and were cool guys. Just passing along my favorite in case it helps someone. I recommend anyone to do a taste test like I did. You might choose differently but it’s eye opening to hear all the versions of the same song. And fun!
I'm happy to give it a go if you are still shopping around...
Old 31st March 2018
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretSauce View Post
Anyone still here? Lol. So I got back samples from some SF area MEs. I just gotta say, Trakworx = WOW. All of the samples are good about translating but Justin’s has more of a ‘vivid’ 3D beefy rock sound. Not the loudest of all the samples but def loud enough and the drums punch in the chest. And the price is super reasonable. I don’t want to name the other MEs because they all did good jobs and were cool guys. Just passing along my favorite in case it helps someone. I recommend anyone to do a taste test like I did. You might choose differently but it’s eye opening to hear all the versions of the same song. And fun!
"beefy rock sound" - haha - alright, I'll take it! Next time I'll include some steak sauce. This review may hurt me with vegans though.

Seriously though, thanks so much for the very kind words. I'm happy that you like the sample and your search has been fruitful!

Cheers,

J~
Old 1st April 2018
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Next time I'll include some steak sauce.
I think you mean “SecretSauce”
Old 8th January 2019
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
Coast moved into Fantasy a couple years back. George retired about three years ago... unless he couldn’t take retirement and went back but that was the last I had heard.
Hi Silverstone, I would like to correct you. George Horn mastering is still in operation, and George never retired. His studio is still located in the former Fantasy Studios and they have added two engineers to the staff since 2014.

I guess you are welcome to check on him again if you have new projects!

George Horn Mastering
Old 9th January 2019
  #18
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Silvertone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmnieto View Post
Hi Silverstone, I would like to correct you. George Horn mastering is still in operation, and George never retired. His studio is still located in the former Fantasy Studios and they have added two engineers to the staff since 2014.

I guess you are welcome to check on him again if you have new projects!

George Horn Mastering
Oh dear, my deepest apologies, I swear I thought I read that somewhere he had retired ... I should have done a bit more fact checking before I posted that. I’m glad he is still mastering, Golden ears like his are a godsend to the profession. I consider him one of the top 10 mastering engineers in the country.

If I could amend my post above I would but it is not giving me an option.
Old 9th January 2019
  #19
Hard to believe George Horn is still working well into his eighties - his Discogs credits date back to 1968 - more power to him!
Old 9th January 2019
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Hard to believe George Horn is still working well into his eighties - his Discogs credits date back to 1968 - more power to him!
Well, he is You should see the current pile of projects they have to do... Since the vinyl craze started I guess it pays off to be the only studio in the Bay Area that cuts lacquers.

(I am an interested party here, I am married to one his engineers)

David
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