Abbey Road Rooms: Mastering Room 6 with Sean Magee and Oli Morgan

Abbey Road Rooms: Mastering Room 6 with Sean Magee and Oli Morgan

The latest in our behind-the-scenes tour sees us step inside the room of Abbey Road engineers Sean Magee and Oli Morgan.

Sean and Oli have worked on music by everyone from The Rolling Stones and Iron Maiden through to artists such as FKJ and Ariana Grande. They are also both a part of our online mastering team and are available to master your music to get it sounding as good as it possibly can.

In this first part, Sean and Oli take us through some of the equipment they use to master tracks from the latest digital tech to analogue equipment that has been a part of the Abbey Road mastering process for decades…
1. B&W 800D’s Bi-amped with Classé CA-M400’s

Sean: “They are truly great speakers. You can sit in front of these things for 12 hours a day and not get tired - and you can’t hurt them!

“You can’t be in the room with them when they’re loud enough to break and they don’t distort because the tweeters are made from diamond – the distortion frequency is up around 70kHz.

“They are basically high-end hi-fi speakers, so you could be at home, and you’d be able to sit and listen to your music at full tilt and it not hurt your ears.”

Oli: “The B&Ws are flat and clean. Nice, but not too nice so you can’t hear what you need to fix. If they were too complimentary, then you wouldn’t end up fixing anything because it would already sound brilliant.”
2. EMI TG12410 mastering console

Sean: “Here we have the mainstay of the room – the TG12410 mastering console.

“Originally designed to transfer audio to vinyl, so it’s got things like de-spreaders, filters and stuff like that. But mainly I use the TG12412 which is the basic EMI TG EQ.

“It’s got a nice, sweet tone and its frequencies are quite musical which I think are based around the key of C.

“It’s got its own unique sound and the EQ curves aren’t standard which gives it its character. With this it’s not just about which frequencies you select, it’s about how that selection effects the frequencies on either side.”

Oli: “I use the TG12412 Tone unit a lot for vibey bottom-end. It’s cool for adding to electronic music to kind of fill it out. If there’s something that’s a bit too digital-sounding or just feels a bit light, I’ll add that bottom octave with this.

“I sometimes just use the input and output transformers and not the gear in between. So if I don’t really need to use an analogue EQ or analogue compression, but I still want to run it through the TG desk, then I use the transformers.

“Thanks to technical guru Colin Johnson, the input transformer is called Witchcraft and the output is called Voodoo.”

3. Neumann VMS-80 Lathe

Sean: “This cuts a wiggly line onto plastic and music comes out of it!

“The VMS-80 is the very last lacquer lathe Neumann made in 1980. You’ve got to be careful that you don’t throw high frequencies at it at any significant volume because if it’s oscillating too much, it gets hot. And if it gets too hot, it melts – and that’s expensive to fix.

“Apart from that it kind of looks after itself. I’ve only had one head in 25 years.

“We’re using sapphires for the stylus at the moment, which do wear out after around 45-50 hours of use. Some people will run them forever if they look alright, but I’m not too keen on that.”
4. Prism Maselec MEA-2

Oli: “The MEA is a really nice, clean EQ. I’ll either notch annoying frequencies or resonances out or I’ll use it for a broad top-end boost. So if I want top end I’ll be adding it on the MEA and if I want bottom I’ll be adding it on the TG12412.”

Sean: “You can get a bit tighter to the frequencies with this EQ rather than the TG or Massive Passive. I mean, it’s not wild. Not as tight as you can get with a digital EQ for instance.”
Chiswick Reach Valve Compressor

Sean: “I think this is a British made valve compressor. There was a studio called Chiswick Reach and I think it’s the same people who made this. It’s a lovely compressor and brutally simple. You don’t have much to adjust and nor should you have. It’s just nice and gentle, I would use that on a jazz trio or something like that.”
Pass your songs through the incredible gear and experienced ears in Room 6 by using our newly refurbished Online Mastering service.

Lucy Launder

Head of Mastering Services
+44 (0)20 7266 7000 

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Please note that Abbey Road is a working studio and business and as such, is not open to the general public for visits or tours. For information on vacancies and internships in the UK, please visit the Universal Music website.

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