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The Trials of a Mastering Engineer

Unless we were born with the proverbial silver spoon in our mouths, we have to pay our dues during that slow, 10,000 hour march toward mastery. George Geurin, owner and chief engineer at DES Mastering in Dallas, has seen it all during his quarter century career in digital audio mastering. In a recent ’net posting, he recounted a story of the fun stuff folks often have to endure to keep the lights on…

“At one point, probably 15 years ago, easily half or more of my business was mastering rap, and I mean street-level and below. So I had to do a LOT of radio edits using the reversing method in Sonic (a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation favored by mastering engineers) as has been discussed. One of my big clients was Stampede Records, and they released a double CD album of some of the most foul mouthed rap you can imagine. Well, someone convinced them that they needed to have clean versions of every song on both CDs, which I tried to talk them out of, but they were convinced. This took me three solid days of editing, as some songs literally every third word had to be reversed (in time, so they are O.K. for broadcast). I told them on some of the songs why not just reverse the entire song and get it over with?

Anyway, when I was done I was looking things over, and realizing that Sonic puts all of the reversed words for each song into a separate folder, I realized that I could re-reverse the words from each song, put them back together, and have nothing but a constant string of curse words, sexual expletives and racial slurs! Well, let me say when I was done I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life. A few of the songs were literally a full minute and more of solid cussin’. The few friends I’ve played this for absolutely rolled. I feel like if I could release it somehow it’d be instant gold.

Many thanks to George for this tiny tirade…You can find him, and his careful work no matter what the task, at desmastering.com…

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