We never set out to manufacture audio electronics; it was born from the desire for better results in the music we record and produce. We have all been working in the music industry for decades. Doug owned and operated a studio which catered to major labels and, though he is too modest to ever speak about whom, has recorded several legendary artists. We have worked for years as session players, and continue to deliver tracks to other producers. In an unlikely twist of fate, we wound up working on many projects for the pop market in Poland for top producer Adam Abramek, including an album for Kasia Kowalska that was certified gold last spring.
Adam’s son, Alan Maze, had been living in Los Angeles and working with Andrew Kawczynski and Hans Zimmer’s team doing sound design for some very high-grossing films. He moved to New York just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and we invited him to come stay and work with us in Doylestown, PA.
Alan had been writing and producing songs in the Pop genre for years, and had one he was working on. We immediately felt that it had huge potential and agreed that we should co-produce it with him. The mission was clear: There was no room for compromise in quality of any aspect from performance to sound design, from arrangement to signal path. We set out to make the absolute best piece of audio we could.
Alan had the bulk of the instrumental parts already laid out very well, so we replaced the soft synth and samples one by one with real instruments, starting with acoustic bass, which was recorded with a Beyer Dynamic M88 into a VLC. The drums we re-recorded by our favorite session drummer and band mate John O’Reilly, Jr, using only four microphones (Coles 4038 pair on overheads and two dynamics, one each on snare and kick) into four VLC preamps. Our 1887 Steinway B was captured with an AEA R88 into a VT-2 preamp, as was our Hammond A-100. All synthesizer parts were created between our Moog Prodigy and Siel DK-600, using the DI on the VLC. Alan’s beautiful Gretch electric guitar was recorded using the M88 and the VLC. A VT-7 compressor ran lightly on every track in the chain after the preamp.
When it came to Alan’s vocals, we insisted on doing the minimum amount of tuning possible. As there are many vocal layers, this proved an extremely demanding effort to get takes that sounded right before processing. Alan spent three months with a Shure SM-7B and a VLC, trying for perfect vocal takes. We believe this to be essential for the final product to connect emotionally.
When it came time to mix, we called upon our friend Jon Castelli to craft the most competitive sound for the Pop market. Jon’s work is highly praised in the industry, and many of today’s biggest stars rely on him. We have done many projects with Jon over the years, so it’s easy for us to communicate with him what we’re looking for in a mix. Jon stemmed the tracks out to his rack of twelve VLCs, and the mix bus employed his VT-7 compressor and VT-5 EQ.
The other half of the LA dream team is mastering engineer Dale Becker of Becker Mastering. He and Jon Castelli often tag-team major Pop projects. Dale put the final finish on the track, using an VT-7 and VT-5.
The final product, “Papierowe Miśli,” or “Paper Thoughts,” hit all of our design objectives: Carefully crafted lyrics and composition, uncompromised audio at every stage, the best sounding instruments and performances possible for us, and a feeling of connection, excitement and fun. We can’t wait to do it all again.