Meet the Masters: Abbey Road Engineer Alex Wharton

Abbey Road engineer Alex Wharton talks us through his life in music and explains how all musicians can take advantage of online mastering.
Mastering engineer Alex Wharton began working at Abbey Road Studios in 2003 and in that time has mastered tracks for some of the biggest names in music, from Paul McCartney to Radiohead.

But the mastering talent at Abbey Road isn’t reserved for music royalty.

Our online mastering service allows anyone, from anywhere in the world, to work with our expert engineers and have their music mastered at Abbey Road.

Here Alex takes us on a whistlestop tour of his musical journey so far and explains why mastering is so important…
 

What made you want to get into music?

“My sister Nicky was a big influence. She was five years older than me and would take me to clubs and festivals, gigs and DJ sets. My dad ran a folk club called The Noke in St. Albans back in the day too, so there was music everywhere around me.”
 

What is it like to work at Abbey Road Studios?

“It’s kind of surreal, a real honour and a pleasure too. Everyone is here for the music so there’s a real connection, you get to meet amazing creative people from all walks of life. The hard work is worth every second and I’m always learning something new from different people.”
 

What are some of your favourite tracks you’ve worked on?

“It’s impossible to answer. There have been so many special moments for me. From working with my heroes to hearing a soulful gem by someone producing from their bedroom. Moments where you feel a portal opening to the other side – they’re my favourite tracks!”
 

How has technology changed your job in the past few years?

“Software and plugins have really changed the game but we still mix up the old and the new. You still can’t beat the analogue valves, transformers, harmonic distortion. I love using the TG desk and Shadow Hills compressor to layer and colour the sound. The digital side of things is great to clean up and get surgical.”
 

Why is mastering so essential?

“Firstly it’s an experienced final set of ears listening to and preparing your music for the ether. We make the sound cohesive across the album and get rid of anything that distracts from the music. We then prepare for any format like vinyl, HD to MP3, CD and streaming services.”
 

Can online mastering make a bad track a good track?

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? What is a bad track or a good track? We provide a service to get the best out of the sound provided.”
 

What are the most common mistakes you see when people master tracks themselves/don’t get a track mastered?

“Dynamics is key in music, I also like music that you can turn up. Forsaking the music for loudness is usually the main issue.”
 

What is your process when mastering a track? What are the first things you look for?

“Usually, I listen to the track and take out any plosives, clicks, noise that distracts from the music itself. Then I use the analogue gear to gently compress and colour the sound. After that it’s digital all the way subtracting harsher frequencies and paying special attention to the vocals and bass usually. Every song is different, so I adapt to what’s in front of me.”
 

If you could give one tip to aspiring artists when it comes to production/mastering what would it be?

“Don’t overcomplicate things as you end up going down a rabbit hole and can’t see clearly. Take breaks and play on different monitors if possible, making sure the instruments and vocals are cohesive and whole.”

Learn more about online mastering and working with our team of world-leading engineers now.
 

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