Ears Chicago July meeting to host mastering legend, Bob Ludwig

(312) 929-2811 | Google Maps Link


– Please note this meeting is on a WEDNESDAY, not the usual Tuesday.
– Groovemaster Recording has a big parking lot with plenty of parking.
– The meeting is open to non-members and members alike.
– Adult beverages and light food fare provided courtesy of EARS.
– 7 p.m. Start time.

The following information is taken from the July edition of the EARS Newsletter, Eardrum.

What do all these classic records have in common?
Sam Cooke-Ain't That Good News The Rolling Stones-Aftermath Velvet Underground-Velvet Underground Jimi Hendrix-The Cry of Love
Led Zeppelin II Queen - Queen 2 Rolling Stones-Tattoo You Frank Zappa-Shiek Yurbouti
Bruce Springsteen-Born in the USA Madonna-Like A Virgin Roxy Music-Avalon Talking Heads-Stop Making Sense
Rush-Moving pictures Police-Ghost in the Machine Metallica-Ride The Lightning Peter Tosh-Mama Africa

They were all mastered by this man
Bob Ludwig

This month, EARS is privileged and honored to meet with quite possibly the finest and best known mastering guru on the planet, Mr. Bob Ludwig. Having garnered many multiple Grammy and TEC awards as well as hundreds of Gold and Platinum records, he operates Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine specializing in audio mastering and DVD authoring. Bob has graciously taken time out of his busy schedule to meet with EARS via the marvel of skype for an evening of revelry, mastering lango, and an insight on his personal philosophy about record production and mastering. EARS is sovery fortunate to welcome this industry icon as our special guest.Bob Ludwig began his professional career in 1967 at A&R Recording as an assistant engineer working with Phil Ramone, Roy Halee (who worked there for a short time), Don Hahn, Roy Cicala, Shelly Yakus, Elliot Scheiner and other A&R Recording staff engineers. Bob learned the art of vinyl record mastering at A&R with Mr. Ramone as his mentor. He started on the fixed-pitch mono Neumann lathe and worked his way up to the first stereo Neumann computer controlled lathe owned by an independent studio. He was the first engineer in North America to audition the revolutionary SX-68 cutter head Steve Temmer brought over from Germany. His first big single was “Kentucky Woman” by Neil Diamond.


Gateway mastering room
Gateway Mastering Studio.
Mastering Console by spl, audiophile speakers by John Dunlavy (Sovereign).

He moved to Sterling Sound, Inc. shortly after it’s incorporation in 1969 and became Vice-President. Sterling was the first mastering facility in the Western Hemisphere to use the new solid state Neumann mastering electronics with Telefunken M-10A and Studer tape machines. They were also the first to use VMS-70 lathes and then the powerful SAL-74 cutting electronics with the SX-74 cutterhead. Bob cut many famous records at Sterling including Led Zeppelin II, Houses of the Holy, Jimi Hendrix, most of The Band’s well known albums and many others. Probably due to producer Paul Rothchild’s insistence that Bob master Janis Joplin’s new single, “Me and Bobby McGee” for Columbia, they revised the way their Union rules applied and Bob became the first independent, non-union engineer to cut lacquers for CBS records.
Gateway Rewiring SPL mastering console

(1) In 2003, Gateway Mastering was completely rewired by Transparent Cable Company. The new components required thousands of feet of additional cable. (2) The centerpiece of the upgrade is a custom designed SPL MMC1 analog 8-channel mastering console and insert switcher. “The MMC1 sounds fabulous – my clients are surprised that my room could sound even better than before. I’ve never heard a mastering console as musical as this one.”–Bob Ludwig After 7 years at Sterling Sound he moved to Masterdisk Corporation where he was Vice President and Chief Engineer. He continued mastering many hit records including U2, Phil Collins, Sting, The Police, Bryan Adams, Barbra Streisand etc. As Chief Engineer, Bob continued being involved with many firsts. Bob cut his first album from a Soundstream digital recorder for Telarc in 1978. Masterdisk was one of the original 3 mastering companies that commissioned Neve to produce the first all digital mastering console. In 1987 Bob was one of the first engineers to master using speakers designed for audiophile use, the Duntech Sovereign. Today, most mastering studios use audiophile speakers including John Dunlavy (Sovereign) designs. Masterdisk took delivery of the first CDR-90 Compact Disc Reference System in America, which was the first practical recordable CD system (1989). The system incorporated the Sony 1610 as a playback source along with special PQ Senior software developed by Harmonia Mundi. Masterdisk became one of the few mastering studios in the US to own the Teldec/Neumann DMM (direct metal mastering) lathe where for the first time one could cut directly into a copper substrate instead of a lacquer acetate. These coppers could be used as “Fathers” to electroplate “Mothers” and “Stampers” and eliminated the difficult silvering process that was the cause of so many ticks and pops on vinyl pressings.“Mastering” evolved during the days of vinyl, when the translation from analog tape to the vinyl disc and the inherent physical challenges that entailed, became a specialty. It soon became evident that all translations from source media to consumer media could use some attention and care. Mastering can enhance and preserve the sound quality in different playback scenarios. Since the mixing process is such a different focus, and is usually a time consuming process for all involved, it’s helpful to have a new perspective on how the project sounds. The mastering engineer has the knowledge of what can be changed or amended from the mixed stereo or 5.1 tracks. They are focused on the final touches.

Adam Ayan Adam Ayan's mastering suite at Gateway

(1) Adam Ayan, protégé of mastering guru Bob Ludwig. Adam’s diverse list of credits includes Nirvana, Madonna, Foo Fighters, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Incubus, Nine Inch Nails, Sarah McLachlan, and Rascal Flatts, to name a few. (2) Adam’s mastering suite at Gateway.

This final bit of wisdom from our special guest this month, Mr. Bob Ludwig in his own words…GEAR and PHILOSOPHY
Bob LudwigA mastering engineer’s gear is like the artists palette. We have a great collection of gear that we know intimately. We have many different equalizers and compressors because their different sounds represent the “colors” of our acoustical palette. Mastering is a very creative process. It’s important to have the right gear at your fingertips to help work holistically and not spend time going from the right brain over to the left brain to work out a technical problem or figure out how to work a plug-in.When I conceived Gateway Mastering Studios, my intent was to have world-class quality available in every aspect of the studio. By starting my business in Portland, Maine instead of a huge metropolitan area, I was able to build one of the best sounding studios in the world with one of the best monitoring systems available. No expense has been spared to create our facility and acquire the highest quality equipment in the world, but ultimately, great ears, experience, and technical abilities, set good mastering engineers apart from the pack. Our delight is to work with the world’s best artists and help them achieve their vision. You have to create an organic space in order to live in the music.– Bob Ludwig

A HERO’S WELCOME HOME:Johnny KEARS would like to congratulate and welcome our own Johnny K home from his jaunt out in San Marcos, CA where he has been hard at work producing the new record “TH1RT3EN” for MEGADETH at Vic’s Garage Studio. We have it on good word that Johnny has been busy mixing the record here in Chicago at GROOVE MASTER RECORDING STUDIOS. Johnny K is the producer of hard hitting records such as Disturbed, Three Doors Down, Finger Eleven, Kill Hannah, Plain White T’s, Simple Plan, Avenged Sevenfold, Fallout Boy, The Academy Is, Sum 41, and Mudvayne to name a few.Our meeting will take place on the big screen at Johnny K’s vast recording complex Groovemaster Studios, located at 1719 W. Clinton St. in Chicago. …. If you attend one EARS meeting this year, make it this one!


– Please note this meeting is on a WEDNESDAY, not the usual Tuesday.
– Groovemaster Recording has a big parking lot with plenty of parking.
– The meeting is open to non-members and members alike.
– Adult beverages and light food fare provided courtesy of EARS.
– 7 p.m. Start time

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