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Por ta understands the impor tance of competing for people's sonic at- tention while still maintaining what is right for the project musically, no matter what the medium. He explains how the first step of his process is understanding his client: "I typically star t by requesting as many notes and references as pos- sible so there's a clear understanding of what the client is going for before I star t working on the project. Once all of this info is compiled, I like to send out a couple of test tracks to make sure the client is loving my ap- proach before proceeding with the entire project. Sometimes, if I feel it's necessar y, I'll provide the client with some different mastering options with var ying levels of compression and/or EQ. That gives them an op- por tunity to check out several possi- ble flavors to choose from. I believe that this step of the process is crucial to providing great customer ser vice and avoiding miscommunication." LaPor ta's record album experi- ence perfectly illustrates how the trend to be loud has fed upon itself over the years. "Unfor tunately, many people these days equate a quieter record with sounding inferior or lack- ing in quality. However, if you turn that quieter record up on your stereo, it has the potential to sound better than the louder mastered record. Ever y ar tist, producer, and label fears their record coming on next will not be as loud as the previ- ous one, whether on the radio, iPod, etc. This fear is understandable, but for some records going louder may be doing more harm than good." The Lodge's digital audio worksta- tions include Sonic Solutions and Pro Tools|HD with key processors from Avalon, Z-Sys,TC Electronic,Tube-Tech, Manley, Dangerous Music and Empirical Labs.They use A-to-D converters from Lavry, Prism and Apogee, with speakers by Genelec and Duntech. When it comes to music, adding more compression or limiting to make things louder can actually help a musician or a composer achieve a stylistic sound and sonic approach. "I think that the loudness wars have ru- ined a lot of records, but it has also worked for some others," says La- Por ta. "It's definitely not meant for all genres. Some ar tists and producers aren't content with their original mixes and request for the tracks to get slammed in order to obtain the life and energy they were initially looking for during mixing. However, if the mixes aren't up to the caliber they were aiming for, it's my job to ex- plain what a realistic outcome would be and why. Other times, the mixes are great to begin with and the label demands it to be comparable to 'so and so's' record, neglecting to keep in mind what is possibly being lost in the process. As a mastering engineer, you must be extremely careful and make tasteful decisions that will end up with the best possible results, while still maintaining the client's vision. "Of course, we can voice our concerns regarding the mastering approach, but we are here to keep the client satisfied," he continues. "Mastering engineers get a lot of criticism about the material that reaches the consumer, but people forget how many decision makers and reference discs are involved be- fore the approval occurs." LaPor ta and his clients manage to keep a nice blend of loudness while not being overbearing. "More often, my clients tend to request things like, 'We'd like it loud and energetic, but it doesn't have to be the loudest thing in the world,' which is great to hear. I believe that the handful of articles, fo- rums and YouTube videos addressing loudness has been quite helpful and artists, producers and labels are much more aware of this issue now." Raising awareness of any pitfalls of this trend will most likely continue to have positive results industr y wide. "Ever yone needs to do their own thing and do what's appropriate for the specific project being worked on," he explains. "More attention should be put into maintaining the true characteristics of the original source, rather than being competitive and sometimes de- structive to the recording. I would love to see the industry gradually dialing things back a bit, but it's going to take a while. We'd even- tually have a balanced selection of records that could have an im- proved dynamic range and poten- tially sound better, but it'll just take a few years for ever yone to be on that same page."

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