Abbey Road Rooms: Mastering Suite 6 with Sean Magee and Oli Morgan – PART TWO

Abbey Road Rooms: Mastering Suite 6 with Sean Magee and Oli Morgan – PART TWO

The second part of our behind-the-scenes look at Room 6 sees Abbey Road mastering engineers Sean Magee and Oli Morgan take us through even more of the equipment they use on a daily basis.

As part of our Online Mastering Team, Sean and Oli use a mix of analogue equipment and the latest digital tech to help make all the music they work on sound as good as it possibly can.

Below we detail even more of what they use and how they use it. In case you missed part one, you can read it here.
1. Junger Accent 2 Digital Dynamics Processor / Junger d01 Digital Dynamics Processor

Sean: "The great thing about these limiters is that they are either off or they’re on. We chose them because there is so little you can adjust on them. This one (d01) only goes up to 48k, so we got the Accent 2 to handle higher sample rates. But I refused to get rid of this one because it has a unique character. The pre-sets are just ever-so-slightly different.”

Oli: “I sometimes use the Accent 2 to take a dB off peaks. All the way along my chain I’ll just take little bits of gain off as I go, rather than having to smash something with one plugin or limiter. You can end up making stuff louder transparently that way.”
2. Patch bay / Moscow custom built monitoring and routing matrix

Sean: “The Moscow was designed by the mad genius engineer Colin Johnson. That always used to be his joke, he’d get up to leave and say: “As they say in Russia – Moscow!”

“On an earlier configuration of this desk, he made a control where you could switch the units in an out and called that the Ethiopia because, “As they say in Ethiopia – Abyssinia!”

Oli: “The Moscow is essentially a digital patch bay. It’s asynchronous so you don’t have to have everything clocked at the same rate. You can use any bit of digital gear, at any rate, and choose where you want it in your chain.

“You can’t do anything without an analogue patch bay. It’s the bit that makes anything talk to anything else. It allows you to use multiple pieces of gear at once or change the order around.

“The patch bay controls analogue routing whereas the Moscow is digital. You can also route signal to the cutting lathe with it. For example, Sean uses the lathe in a slightly different way to the way I use the lathe, so we can both use it how we want to using this patch bay.”
3. Manley Variable MU Valve Compressor

Sean: “Again, quite simply, it sounds lovely, does everything you need it to do, and it’s got its own character.

“You can put a song through that and not really have it doing much and it will change the sound. Whatever the valves are doing is just nice-sounding and it keeps life simple. Sometimes I use several of these limiter / compressors together and sometimes I use nothing at all. There’s always that option.

“I have clients that say to me “I come to you because of what you don’t do”. That is why an experienced ear is important because they know when not to do stuff.”

Oli: “I use this compressor on ‘limit’ mode mostly because the attack and release is a bit quicker than the ‘compressor’ mode. I find the ‘compressor’ setting is a bit too polite. In general, I don’t tend to do much programme compression anymore because of loudness / normalisation stuff. You don’t really need to compress things in that sense. But with the ‘limit’ mode, it works really well to take some of the peaks off.

"It’s also got the sidechains which are helpful, so that it’s not triggered by loads of bottom-end. I think it’s at about 100 or 120Hz.”
4. TC Electronic M6000

Sean: “A digital device that you can adapt to anything. So there’s EQ in there, there’s compression, it does everything. The EQ I normally use with this is the George Massenburg plugin. An industry standard that just sounds good. It also provides the delay line for our cutting lathe. We have a delayed signal so you can look ahead while cutting.”
5. Avantone Speaker

Oli: “The Avantone is my equivalent to Yamaha NS10s, something closer to what consumers might have. I often use it for reference when I’m mastering from stems.

“If I hear something on the Avantone that sounds too loud for example, I’m able to go back and change that. It allows me to hear if anything seems out of place in a kind of “real-world” scenario.

“It’s about changing the space you’re in. By whacking it on this speaker it’s like you’re listening to it for the first time again.”
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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