A visit with Sterling Sound's Ryan K. Smith
Fans of our Analogue Productions reissues are undoubtedly familiar with the excellent work of Ryan K. Smith, our go-to mastering engineer at New York's Sterling Sound.
Ryan has been with Sterling since 2002, where he was offered a job as an assistant, not long after graduating college and working for a bit at another New York studio. He's a protege of the late renowned mastering engineer George Marino and works today in the same room and with equipment that George used to cut many of the greatest records of the LP era.
In this interview with AnalogPlanet's Michael Fremer, Ryan shares a bit about his career path and his approach to the mastering engineer's craft.
“I definitely try to take a 'Do as little as possible' approach to things, but at the same time, you want to do what's going to make the record sound good, too. Sometimes nothing isn't always the answer,” he says.
About cutting sides, and learning the ins and outs of lathe craft, Ryan says it's a skill that's perfected with time.
“It's not super hard to learn it, but it's pretty hard to get good at it. It's pretty easy to cut a bad record,” he laughs. “Learning just the basics was not so hard, but learning all the nuances and subtleties of how to make a good sounding disc, it took a lot of time and a lot of blown sides.
“I didn't set out to be “Oh, one day I'm going to be a mastering engineer cutting records,” he confides. “It was kind of one thing that led to another.”