Denis 'Bilbo' Blackham


Denis Blackham:

One of the best mastering engineers in the world!
CD mastering

My mastering room is a lovely place to spend my days with beautiful views across the sea with Harris of the Outer Hebrides sitting proudly on the horizon; a very different atmosphere from the often windowless studio situations us musical people are used to.

My mastering system is based around the Sadie5 hard-disk editor, but most of my processing is achieved using a variety of outboard  equipment; using valve, analogue and digital hardware.  I can work completely in the digital domain if required, or a mixture of everything, which is my normal way of working.  My D to A and A to D converters are DCS 902 and Prism ADA-8; I use these to convert signals from any other pieces of equipment I use.  For instance, if I am working from a DAT or CDR source and want to use some valves or analogue processing, the audio will leave these units in the AES digital format, converted to analogue and back up to 24 bit digital via my converters. I have a Tascam 24 bit DAT machine, and  a lovely Studer A820 tape machine for 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch analogue tape masters, with Dolby A or SR processing if required.  If you only have vinyl or a cassette to work from there is a Technics SL.1210 MK2 turntable and an Aiwa cassette machine standing by.

For sound processing I have a Manley valve compressor/limiter, a Prism MEA-2 analogue equaliser, Waves Linear Multiband, L2 Ultramaximiser, L3 Multimaximiser, L3-LL Multimaximiser, L3-16 Multimaximiser and the TC Electronic M6000 digital processor.  The M6000 has four digital engines set up for digital multi band compression and limiting, digital equalisation, reverbs and effects as required.

I have the well known Cedar sound restoration system here for sorting out those clicks and crackles, and for cleaning up anything from vinyl.  The system I have is their latest Cedar Cambridge computer version running as many processes as I need to use, all at the same time!  A very powerful tool producing much better results than the previous computer based or stand alone systems.  To compliment this I also use Cedar Retouch within Sadie for sorting out problems like drop-outs and other extraneous noises that normal de-clicking software cannot deal with.

The ATC.100 active monitors provide very accurate un-coloured listening conditions in my home setting.  The location on Skye is very peaceful, with beautiful views across the hills, and out to sea, with wonderful views of the Outer Hebrides.


Last Updated: 25-09-2014 

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