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17 Years Of Fat As Funk Mixing & Mastering!

fat as funk mastering 17 years old

They say time flies when you’re having fun. Never truer than when spending the last 17 years working on amazing music.

I don’t really talk about myself much at all (ever really), but 17 years is quite a while to be doing a job, so this post is a little bit about my journey so far.

Firstly, It’s been an absolute pleasure and privilege to work on all your amazing tunes over the years. I appreciate every one of you, from those just starting out in the game, through to some of the biggest independent labels, artists, sync agents, music libraries and pressing plants in the industry. I’m very glad to have made some real friends along the way too.

Far too many to name in this post without excluding others, but you can check out my (probably very incomplete) client list.

The Journey So Far

Fat As Funk was one of the very first mastering companies to offer a free taster back in 2006. This approach combined with trips to numerous music conferences and networking parties got me a lot of clients quite fast, and off we went. 17 years later and I’m not quite sure where the time has gone!

It’s really satisfying to help a new producer get their first release sounding as good as their inspirations, and hearing just how thrilled they are – wonderful! Take that enthusiasm forward and blow up your scene! Likewise when a band like Bilk drops their debut e.p. and it exceeds all expectations it’s great to have been a small part of it.

Also very satisfying seeing some tracks I’ve worked on getting major radio and DJ support all over the world, including several times the number 1 slot on Spotify for their genre, or a couple of times Radio 1’s “Hottest Record In The World Right Now” (Tommy Farrow “Let’s Just” and Prospa’s “Prayer”). Recently I noticed my regular client Lau.Ra did her first BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix. As a huge fan of the series growing up, this made me smile.

Occasionally walking into a shop and hearing something on the radio, like the ubiquitous “Another Lifetime” by Luxxury & Scavenger Hunt and”Keep It Together” by Kraak & Smaak which I keep on hearing in unexpected places a couple of years after their release.

Hearing my work in an A-List Hollywood trailer or movie is a buzz (especially when I’ve also helped land the sync placement, but more on that later).

A few times, artists have sent me a reference track to emulate for their mastering, and I come back to them saying “I mastered that one” and we have an instant “Ayyyyyyy!” Bro moment ūüôā

I lost track of exactly how many tracks I’ve worked on a while back, but it must be well over 14,000 now. I’ve worked on music from literally every continent, and feel lucky to hear what’s cooking in the underground in some of the most far-flung corners of the world.

“The Underwater Hunter” by the Industrial Battle Orchestra. Mixed and Mastered by Fat As Funk.

Music S.O.S.

I get a special warm fuzzy feeling from rescuing old treasured recordings, sometimes for the families of people who have died, or an old-timer wanting to get their legacy in order and sounding great for their grandkids. They are so overjoyed to hear these wonderful memories restored, it makes me emotional every time. These jobs don’t happen very often, but they are always special when they do. I am currently cleaning up and augmenting some folk songs by a guy in the US which were recorded “on a $25 tape machine many years ago” including a song he recorded for his wife who died. There wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house if you heard it.

Likewise when the itch to scratch some vinyl comes around, but artists only have their masters pushed hard for digital use, and without access to the unmastered files we step in to solve the problem. Although people do sometimes risk pressing super-pushed masters on to vinyl, it is not recommended as they will often not translate brilliantly, and can even run the risk of making the needle jump if there are low frequencies out of phase. I have done a tonne of pre-vinyl rescue work over the years including for superstar Sophie Ellis Bextor and recently the controversial but critically acclaimed UK rapper Potter Payper.

We can optimise any tracks for the best vinyl results. Vinyl is so expensive to get pressed, there’s no point taking a risk at the last stage.

It’s a pleasure to make people so happy with their music. You can read some testimonials to see some nice things people have said.

Moving In Sync

I have also been working in the sync world for a while, visiting Los Angeles 6 times to hustle up direct connections in Hollywood and setting up a 3rd party licensing agency Rinse The Sync. This went pretty well, getting my artists music placed on many shows and films like Royal Pains (NBCUni), The Driver (BBC), A Hundred Streets, Spotless, The Five, Underworld:Blood Wars (trailer and movie) – all Fat As Funk mastering clients.

I have since moved away from 3rd party representation, and instead have set up a sync-focused music library Alternative Reality Music which has been picking up speed. It’s still fairly new, but I have a great sub-publisher based in LA, and we are starting to get placements on Netflix and other platforms. More of a slow burn, but also more sustainable.

I am looking to sign material in all genres for the library, and have signed up lots of tracks from Fat As Funk’s roster already for the catalogue. There is more chance of your music being noticed and pitched from a smaller library like ours than one of the huge ones with 6 million tracks. I am also gathering tracks for a different flavour library with a grittier, harder electronic edge. If you are interested, send me an email for more details (but use a different email address to the mastering one please: publishing (at) rinsethesync (dot) com )

I’m lucky to have had some of my own music placed too. Most notably landed some music and sound design in the international trailers for Alien:Covenant, Antlers, a Sprite advert, The Driver, had some of my sound design in the Logan trailer and music in The Book Of Boba Fett promo with a track I composed 50/50 with a buddy.

Some TV and Podcast Work

I came to the rescue for two series of wellness programmes on Sky TV “Feel Good Factor” on recommendation. The producers were having a nightmare as the sound recordist had ended the relationship on bad terms and left them with a load of extremely messy audio. Some of which was horrifically recorded, and they could not re-record the interviews due to Covid. I came in around part way though the first season and made the audio broadcast quality.

I have done various other TV mixing and post production, including remixing Ludacris’s tracks for the cool Netflix kids show Karma’s World for seasons 1 and 2. The same agency commissioned me to edit the music for a pilot cartoon show with Ronaldo and Messi called GOAT, which I don’t think ever came of anything, but was a fun job anyway.

I’ve recently been working on some spoken word audio including the excellent “Pitch Masters” podcast which is nominated for the MR2023 Podcast award. As a complete contrast, late last year I edited some rather fruity “adult” voiceover for the female-centered erotic story company Emjoy. Never done that before, but it was great fun! Never a dull day in the studio.

Final Thoughts

What I am most thankful for is the vast majority of my clients are regulars who come back time & time again, and most new clients come from their recommendations.

This means I have not needed to advertise at all for many years, and it also buffers against my rubbish social media presence haha (phew!). As I say every year… I must do better on the socials haha. Maybe this year will be the one…. Now that I mention it, If you would follow/like/share and all that stuff it would be appreciated. I often send out exclusive discounts on services to my email subscribers too.

As a lover of the countryside, I haven’t been tempted to move to London (although I do love visiting it), so have been able to keep my overheads low, and my prices extremely competitive. I truly feel Fat As Funk offers the best value:quality ratio in the business, and I’m very proud of that.

If I can help with mix evaluations, mixing, mastering, sync advice, vinyl optimisation, podcasts or anything along those lines, feel free to get in touch.

Likewise, if you have some excellent back-catalogue sitting around gathering dust consider sending it over for consideration into the library. Or you could write us something fresh!

So once again, thank you for being such awesome people. Keep the music coming! We’ll make it Fat As Funk together.

All the best,

Loz.

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Can You Use Digital Masters To Cut Vinyl Records? – Or Do You Need Separate Vinyl Masters?

can you use digital masters to cut vinyl records

We’ve had several jobs recently remastering audio for vinyl, so I’ve written a short article about why it’s important, explaining the difference in mastering for digital vs vinyl, and answer common questions such as “Can I use digital masters for vinyl records?”.

Releasing a vinyl record is an expensive business. It’s tempting to cut corners where possible to save money, and inevitably at some point the question gets asked… “Is a separate master really necessary for vinyl? Or can I use CD masters for vinyl music?

Short answer = You should really use a separate vinyl master for the best results.

Your Masters that are created for digital use (Streaming/download/CD) are the no-compromise, perfect sound quality version you as the the artist wants. On digital platforms, and on CD there are virtually no creative limitations to what can be achieved in the stereo mix and master, as digital playback systems can deal with it.

It’s not the same on physical vinyl. If you try to use the digital master on a vinyl cut, suddenly you might find that awesome bass effect sounds quite different, or worse makes the needle skip. You may find the sparkly upper midrange now sounds a lot more harsh. You’re sure the digital master sounds punchier, more vibrant, more alive. What’s up?

Often masters for digital are accepted by the vinyl pressing plant, as they are technically OK to press on vinyl, but the end result could be disappointing sound quality which may sound less vibrant than the same masters listened to on digital streaming platforms like Spotify or a CD.

Using masters optimized for digital use to press vinyl can result in a slightly flatter sound, less dynamic range, various levels of distortion, skipping needles when playing back, and less overall “life” than on the digital masters – a shame after spending so much money on getting the records pressed!

Why Does Dynamic Range Matter So Much When Pressing Vinyl?

What is dynamic range? = a measurement of the difference between the absolute quietest sound, and the absolute loudest sound that something is able to represent.

An unplugged electric guitar can play very quietly, but can’t go very loud at all, so it has a low dynamic range. A drum can play just as quietly as the guitar, but of course can go way louder, hence a large dynamic range.

Related to mastering: A slammed, super-loud EDM Pop master would usually have much less dynamic range than a space-jazz epic.

Different mediums have different dynamic ranges too. CD, vinyl, cassette and digital files all have different limitations of dynamic range.

In contrast to what you might expect, the louder and heavier the digital master is, the flatter, quieter and generally more-rubbish-sounding the vinyl will usually be! Why? Because the dynamic range on vinyl is massively less than is available on digital formats, so compromises must be made at the pressing plant to compensate for your massive digital master.

So although many people feel vinyl sounds “better” it is scientific fact that in terms of dynamic range, digital can handle louder-louds, and quieter-quiets.

Without getting bogged-down into too many boring academic details and variables like dithering which can skew the measurements, let’s quickly check out the difference in the dynamic range of 3 common mediums:

24 Bit WAV digital audio (common “studio” quality for recording and bouncing final mixes pre-mastering): a dynamic range of 144dB, which goes from really-bloody-quiet, right through to thunderously loud!

16 Bit WAV (CD quality): dynamic range is 96 dB, so you see there’s dramatically less possible volume difference between the loudest sound and the quietest sound. 48 dB is a lot of difference.

Vinyl: Can vary dramatically, but it averages out around 80dB dynamic range, with some wriggle-room. That’s much louder-quiets, and quieter-louds available on vinyl!

You can see that only taking into account the factor of dynamic range, there are big differences that should be accounted for when mastering for vinyl.

If you are absolutely in love with your existing fat digital master, we can adjust it for you to suit the vinyl medium specs and translate beautifully in the way you want and expect.

Mastering for vinyl records is a very worthwhile part of the process. For a comparatively small extra charge, you can have faith that your tracks are represented as well as possible, and you won’t ever be wondering if your record could have sounded a bit better if you’d got the additional pre-vinyl mastered versions…

Case Study – Preparing Digital Masters for Vinyl



A client wanted to use his CD masters for vinyl pressing, and sent them to us, as the pressing plant warned them the cut would have issues because the masters had been pushed quite hard, and had some low-end phase issues. He didn’t have the unmastered mixes anymore, so needed to use the existing CD masters.

Often CD masters have been pushed hard for volume at the expense of dynamic range, and this could lead to a compromised vinyl cut sounding flat and lifeless. Of course, they are also at 16 bit too.

So we did a little restoration: We restored the dynamic transients from the original CD masters, increasing the dynamic range, restoring life, bounce and natural energy, and ensuring a stomping vinyl cut!.

Look at the picture: Blue waveforms = original masters, Orange ones = after we restored the dynamic range.


Notice how the lower waveforms look more open and natural now. The transients have been delicately & naturally restored. You can see how the natural subtle energy has been given back, and the life breathed back in.

He was happy with the overall sound of the original masters, so we were careful not to mess with the tone and only adjust the technical aspects, including increasing dynamic range and transients, ensuring there was no low-end phase problems, checking the upper-mids and high-frequencies carefully to ensure they wouldn’t sound harsh on vinyl, and providing some extra headroom.

To the listener it sounds very much the same as the previous masters, but the new files are much more suited for the vinyl medium. Mastering for vinyl specs will give a better quality cut, and generally soundbetter.

Using Digital Masters For Vinyl – A False Economy

So to answer the question “can I use digital masters for vinyl records?” = Maybe, but why risk making the vinyl sound rubbish to save a small fraction of the overall cost? It’s like buying a house but not a bed.

If your test pressings come back sounding bad, and you realize it’s the digital masters at fault, you will have to order (and pay!) for more test pressing next time around. PLUS the cost of getting proper pre-vinyl masters done next time around too!

Vinyl pressing plants have long lead times already (6 weeks is pretty standard), and small delays can cost extra weeks in the real-world. We dipped our toes into being a vinyl broker once and it was a nightmare with the ever-changing lead-times, so it’s important to send everything off right first time and save yourself time, money and hassle in the long run.

Make Your Vinyl Sound Fat As Funk!


Fat As Funk has been mastering for vinyl since 2006. Whether it’s remastering old recordings for vinyl, getting fat digital masters with proper pre-vinyl masters made at the same time (for a massive discount), or remastering already-mastered material to be optimized for vinyl – come to Fat As Funk!

Our mastering for vinyl price is the same as for digital if that’s the only format you want, and if you want an alternative master for digital use done at the same time, we can do this at a huge discount.

Cost example: If you get 10 tracks mastered for digital it’s ¬£230 all-in. You can get proper pre-vinyl masters done at the same time for only ¬£10 each/¬£100 – a saving of ¬£130 when bought at the same time!

You can try our online mastering free, just upload a track. When you are ready for full mastering, consider getting pre-vinyl masters done at the same time if you are getting vinyl pressed, or even just a few custom vinyl record dublates.

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How to prepare a track for mastering: tips from a mastering engineer

One of the most common questions we are asked is “how do I prepare a song for mastering”. It’s an important stage to get right, as the quality of audio going into the mastering chain makes a big difference to the final result of the master.

When you’re looking for the best song mastering services, it helps even the best mastering engineer if your mix arrives nicely prepared. What if you have lost the project file & only have a rough mixdown? We’ll explore that scenario too.

Continue reading How to prepare a track for mastering: tips from a mastering engineer