Bob Ludwig

Have you noticed how often you see Bob Ludwig in the credits of a great new CD?

Over a 35-year career, Ludwig has worked with everyone from Jimi Hendrix and Philip Glass to Beck and Green Day. During one two-week period last month, he mastered music for Dave Matthews, the Bee Gees, Creed, Spiritualized, and Nine Inch Nails. A few days ago, Ludwig received a call from Columbia Records. Could he do a rush job on the Concert For New York City? A two-CD set, DVD, and Superaudio Surround CD? Of course, he would find the time, probably in between Bonnie Raitt and the Kronos Quartet.

Mastering is the crucial but little-known final step in the record-making process, when the sound of the music is tweaked for the last time before an album’s release. A typical session lasts eight hours and involves an extraordinary level of fine-tuning – one that requires both creative and technical expertise. Ludwig is widely considered the finest craftsman in the field. His job, Ludwig says, is a little bit like fiddling with bass and treble controls on your home stereo – except master engineers have access to any frequency imaginable, limitless band width, and compressors that will constrict or enhance the music’s range to suit the sensibilities of industrial headbangers and classical conductors alike.

In 1993, he decided to turn the dream of owning his own mastering studio into reality. With an initial investment of $1.6 million, Ludwig opened Gateway Mastering in Portland – the first time a major mastering facility had been established outside the music business epicenters of New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville. Now, Gateway does more than 200 sessions annually; the average fee for a session is about $5,000.

via We love BOB!.

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