The Truth About Recording & Mixing Podcast, Ep. 17: Amy Dragon

Welcome back to the Truth About Recording And Mixing.

After returning her social worker’s license with a note saying “don’t call,” Amy Dragon made her way to Portland, Oregon to pursue her love of music. She is now a digital mastering engineer and vinyl cutting engineer at Telegraph Mastering. For many years, she was the general manager at Cascade Record Pressing, just as they were getting their plant up and running.

On this episode, we talk about the process of making a vinyl record from start to finish. Amy’s in-depth knowledge and natural curiosity make for a fun and educational listen.

The Truth About Recording And Mixing is brought to you by the Fretboard Journal from Crackle & Pop! Studio in Ballard, Washington and is supported by Izotope. Get 10% off any Izotope product by going to their website and using the code FRET10 at checkout.

Topics covered:

1:00 TARAM at the Fretboard Summit, Aug 25 through 27.

2:00 This podcast was recorded using a Universal Audio Apollo Twin and Cleanfeed.com and edited using UA’s LUNA DAW

3:25 Welcome: Amy Dragon. Early days moving around the country, college, and early career as a social worker.

12:30 Moving out to Portland and finding new opportunities. Meeting Adam Gonsalves of Telegraph Mastering and starting an apprenticeship there. Telegraph’s history and growth.

17:20 Working with the Scully lathe as compared to the upgraded Neumann VMS70. Finishing up her apprenticeship to become a full-fledged mastering engineer.

24:40 Working at Cascade Record Pressing as they were starting up the pressing plant. Refurbishing vintage record presses and figuring it all out! Getting a pressing plant up to capacity.

34:00 Leaving Cascade to pursue a full-time freelance position as a mastering engineer.

36:20 The steps involved in making a vinyl record from the point where mixes are done to having a product in hand. Cutting a proper lacquer and the challenges therein.

43:45 Electroforming and making stampers.

46:45 Direct to metal mastering.

47:45 Stampers arrive at the pressing plant. Next up, test pressings. What happens when there are problems with the test pressings? And what are common problems? Non-fill, regrind ratio, dishing, centerhole is off, walking, warping…

01:00:00 Our test pressing is approved, now moving forward with the actual production run. Issues that can occur in this phase of the process. Quality control processes at Cascade Pressing.

01:04:45 How is mastering for vinyl different from mastering for digital? Working with the physical limitations of the vinyl groove and the cutting head.

01:17:00 What questions should a band or artist be asking when looking to make a vinyl record?

01:22:30 Are new presses an advantage?

01:26:30 Should one ask for a test acetate?

01:28:30 Why does it take so long currently to make a record? Apollo Masters fire, pandemic, supply chain issues, helium shortage, a perfect storm.

01:34:00 Teaching, outreach & getting more women into audio!

01:39:00 What’s coming up? Independent Mastering Conference in Portland 2022. Helping out at Soursound Transformers.

Thank you for listening to the Truth About Recording & Mixing. Please keep sending us your questions (voice memos are great!) to podcast@fretboardjounal.com