The Colorway Blog

Audio mastering legend Bob Ludwig to put finishing touches on The Black Sky Sequined

You may not recognize the name Bob Ludwig right off the bat.

But chances are if you were to pull out a handful of major label releases from your CD/vinyl collection his name would be somewhere in the credits on more than half of them.

A quick look at Bob’s catalog will find more than 3,000 credits dating back to 1962. It includes such legendary and diverse artists ranging from The Rolling Stones, Steve Reich, all of Nonesuch Recordings classical catalog, Bryan Ferry, Lou Reed, Paul McCartney, Suzanne Vega, Mariah Carrey, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Phish, Daft Punk (which won him one of four Grammys last year) . . . and after Monday, November 24, I am proud to say that Colorway will be able to include his name in the liner notes as well.


Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America


What is mastering?

Good question.

Mastering is the final stage a recording goes through before pressing. The mastering technician’s job is to make sure that all the songs (and the sounds contained in them) are at equal levels and the equalization is exactly where it should be so that the final, or “master”, version of the album can be duplicated with the utmost precision. It is also done to ensure that it can be played back on any method (CD player, iPhone, turntable) achieving the same results. It takes great skill, patience, and specialized audio gear to achieve the perfect final product. And while there are many local and even regional people who are qualified to take up this task I felt that this album deserved the best ears in the business.

That’s why I called Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine and arranged for the all-day session, which I am planning on being present for.

I’ve also been dreaming of this to become a reality since I first read his name in the liner notes of The Stones Their Satanic Majesty’s Request. And then I kept seeing his name over, and over, and over again. He became part of my musical upbringing. He became a constant. He was there so many times as I cracked open a new album and put it on the turntable and read down past the member’s of The Who or Rush or even John Mellencamp’s names and got to the recording part–the part that meant so much to me as a kid always wanting to make my own record.

More often than not Bob Ludwig’s name was in there somewhere.

A little history compiled from a brief internet search:

For the last forty years Grammy award winning mastering engineer, Bob has had a hand in the making of some of the greatest records of our time. During his time as vice president of Sterling sound in New Hampshire in the 1960s and 1970s his work included Led Zeppelin II, Houses of the Holy, Jimi Hendrix and several of The Band’s most famous albums.

After seven years at Sterling Bob moved on to NYC’s Masterdisk Corporation where, as vice president and chief engineer, he worked on albums from artists such as U2, Phil Collins, Sting, The Police, Bryan Adams, Barbra Streisand etc.

In 1993 Bob left Masterdisk and opened his own studio, Gateway Mastering, in Portland, Maine to be more in control of his own gear and design the listening and working rooms that he wanted. It also has an outdoor swimming pool that I’m guessing is closed for the season. 🙂

I could go on and on at how excited I am for this to finally become a reality in my life. But I am going to stop here and just say that I firmly believe that The Black Sky Sequined (engineered and recorded by Mark Alan Miller at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA) is an album worthy of the attention and care that I’m certain Bob Ludwig will give to it.

This album is me.

It is my present, past and future.

It was made with love and patience and with the people I feel best brought my vision to life.

And if anybody is going to tie a big red bow on it and call it “done” I think Bob Ludwig is the man to do it.

The Black Sky Sequined won’t be released until the coming spring, which will give me time for promotion and preparation. I realize that’s a long time from now (especially with multiple feet of snow in certain parts of the region) but I can assure you it will be worth the wait.

Thanks for hanging tight with me.

And on we go . . .


~Alex J