Audio mastering has come a long way since the days of mechanical recordings and magnetic tape. Today, the discipline could be considered equal parts art and science, with experienced professionals making judgments on how to use the latest technologies to achieve the ideal sound. For Maor Appelbaum, a prolific Los Angeles-area mastering engineer who frequently works 14-hour days for top acts including Lupe Fiasco, Faith No More, Meatloaf and Yes, this balance is best summed up in his own words, “People like to say it’s not the gear, it’s the ear. But without the right gear, there may be limitations.”
“I work with and have tried a lot of gear,” he said, “so I experiment and look for what is a good fit and brings the desired sound for the specific project.”
With this level of knowledge about which electronics are best for each project, it’s not surprising that Appelbaum has come to rely on Furman power conditioning equipment to ensure his studio runs smoothly around the clock and under all conditions. Every studio is an evolving workspace, and as such Appelbaum has added three essential pieces of gear over the past 12 months that increase his ability to minimize line noise, protect against power surges and spikes, improve clarity and dynamics, and maintain the integrity of his hard work.
“I call it my tower of power,” he said. “The first piece I purchased was the Furman Elite-20 PFi linear power source, and I was amazed how much it helped clean up unwanted noise when mastering. About eight months later, I added the Furman SPR20i voltage regulator and the P-2400 IT symmetrically balanced power conditioner to lower the noise floor as much as possible, enhance surge protection and improve playback detail.”
All the electricity in Appelbaum’s studio now runs through his ‘tower of power,’ starting at the SPR20i which feeds the tower. Stable regulated AC Power then goes to the Elite 20PFi, where AC is split into two sections - one through Furman’s low impedance power factor technology for the monitors and amps, and the other to the P-2400 IT. From there, the P-2400 IT Balanced Power unit feeds the rest of the studio equipment, including the mastering desk and computer. With so much coming from the tower, reliability and build quality are paramount.
“In mastering, every bit of improved clarity makes a huge impact on the final product,” he added. “With this gear I can crank up the monitors without hearing line noise. It also helps to make the transmission pure by ensuring every piece of gear operates at its optimal level. I work seven days a week, often in long stretches, so one of the most important factors for me is that everything works 100% of the time. After thousands of hours, I can trust my Furman gear to keep my studio running.”
In addition to a product’s technical advantages, having a reliable relationship with the manufacturer can be the difference between a headache and a finished project. We’ve all had bad experiences with manufacturers or service providers, and Furman’s dedication to customer support was one of the deciding factors when it came time to invest in new gear.
According to Appelbaum, “Michael Anderson (at Furman) did a great job explaining what different components do and how they can work together. He was instrumental in my decisions to switch to Furman after using other brands in the past. It’s a major benefit to have someone who is there to answer questions and explain things.”
Another advantage of his new setup is that every Furman product is designed to minimize noise during operation. This attention to detail ensures the studio and the audio mix are a pristine environment to make the most of every recording he masters. By working hard to design a studio with minimal noise or interference, Appelbaum has successfully made his job easier - with less line noise comes less need to work around it.
“When I began trying to lower the noise floor of my studio and workspace, I was hoping to improve clarity,” he said. “After doing this, I now feel more movement in the audio, it sounds better and reacts to my adjustments better. I hear more dynamics, improved clarity, and better separation and width, which often means I can do less alteration to achieve a perfect product.”
To learn more about Maor Appelbaum’s studio and his extensive mastering clientele, visit www.maorappelbaum.com.
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