Abbey Road Rooms: Mastering Room 7 with Alex Wharton

Abbey Road Rooms: Mastering Room 7 with Alex Wharton

Abbey Road is undoubtedly one of the most famous recording studios in the world.

All music fans will be able to picture the iconic steps leading to the front door and the wood-panelled studio two where The Beatles recorded a vast majority of their songs.

However, there are parts of the building that are rather less well known. Little rooms and spaces where our engineers get to work mastering tracks from the biggest names in music through to projects submitted via our online mastering portal.

Here mastering engineer Alex Wharton pulls back the curtain to give us a guided tour through his room and take us through the kit he uses to make every track sound as good as it possibly can…

1. Shadow Hills mastering compressor

“This really is my go-to piece of kit. A discrete optical valve compressor that has a lovely colour to it. I use it to smooth over those transients and peaks for a well-rounded sound.”

2. TG 12410 Mastering Console

“This is a unique piece of vintage equipment developed by EMI for vinyl cutting in the early 1970s. So well-built that they are still used every day in our mastering rooms. I believe my transfer console was built in 1972 with both Prog and Control Channels. The transformers are great on this, tone (EQ), comp/limiter and filters are all go-to processes – not just for cutting the vinyl but using it to texture the sound in the mastering process.”

3. Manley Massive Passive EQ

“This is the main valve stereo equaliser I use. Great for all ranges, especially for the air at the top. It helps to smooth, broaden or warm the sound.”

4. Neumann VMS-82 cutting lathe

“We now use lacquer rather than copper discs to cut our masters. The 82 has been specially converted and cuts beautifully like a hot knife through butter. It’s a really delicate process so you need something as good as this to get the sound you’re after with no sibilance or distortion.”

5. PMC MB2-S-XBD-A monitors with Bryston Amplification

“The transparency and clarity of these is exceptional. If there are issues with the audio, you know about it.”

6. Moscow custom-built monitoring and routing matrix

“This was invented by retired technical guru Colin Johnson, it is the in-house custom-made brain of the room. It works as a digital audio router/switcher which allows you to listen to the audio at any point in the mastering chain. The order in which you place things in the chain will create a different sound so we can tweak things on a really minute level to create the exact sound that we’re after.”

7. SADiE 64-bit DAW v.6.1.16

“SADiE is a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) dedicated to mastering. It is different to ProTools because it includes PQ encoding points (start IDs), ISRCs (International Standard Recording Codecs) for CD production or broadcast WAVs, and metadata. Here we use VSTs and CEDAR RETOUCH to get clinical and capture to digital. Then output to any digital format or cut the vinyl.”

8. Yamaha NS-10m’s

“These are classic near-field monitors that are great for mids. They are much closer to consumer monitors so they act as a great benchmark for a second reference beyond the PMCs.”

9. Black Box Analog Design HG-2

“Our newest piece of outboard gear which I’m very excited to start using. It’s a stereo tube/valve saturator which adds an awesome harmonic air to the track, controlled by a 3-way frequency selector – I can’t wait to get properly stuck in and discover everything it can do.”
Pass your songs through the incredible gear and experienced ears in Room 7 by using our newly refurbished Online Mastering service.

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