Pete Lyman – Mastering Engineer
(The Who, Weezer, Tom Waits, Phish)
5 August 2020
Case Studies | Videos
An in-depth interview with Vintage King client and Infrasonic Sounds chief mastering engineer Pete Lyman in his Nashville facility. Working over 3 different facilities, Pete tells us how the ST2 Pro has become an integral part of the monitoring for all the rooms they run in different cities, allowing for seamless portability and enhanced acoustics. With a career spanning over 20 years and many hit records, Pete goes deep into explaining how the Optimizer has changed the way he and his team work.
Can You Please Tell Us About Your Nashville Facility?
I moved out here about two years ago and joined forces with the producer named F. Reid Shippen, we share a building together, we’ve got Reid’s big SSL mix room on the other side and three mastering works here. When this facility became available I came in. I ended up having to do some construction in this room to start but because of our ST2 Pro I could get up and running pretty quickly. Without The Trinnov, it would have been a very difficult move, it would have taken me a lot longer to learn the room.
I also do spend time in Los Angeles and the rooms have to make sense to me, so we have the same speakers in all of our locations, and we have Trinnov’s in all of ours locations so being able to just walk into the studio, spend just a couple of minutes getting used to some subtle differences but it being a familiar sound is critical.
What Was Your Initial Take On Room Correction?
My take on room correction before I became familiar with the Trinnov was it just seemed like complete voodoo to me, like something that shouldn’t be done but what the Trinnov does, it just gives you a lot more flexibility and allows you to do small micro tweaks in the room so, it’s been really helpful for us. When the Trinnov is doing its thing, we don’t pay any attention to it so it is completely transparent to us other than making sure that it’s set up for the user, we don’t even think about it, just like you don’t think about your power amps every day! So, we don’t think about the Trinnov, it just does what we needed to do.
Pete’s room at Infrasonicsound Nashville featuring the PMC BB5XBD
Do You Remember The First Time You Heard The Optimizer In Action?
The first time I heard it in LA is when Trinnov came to do a demo. They did a demo in my room, and it was amazing, but it was interesting to be able to hear the before and after, and then they showed us how to integrate a sub, and I was sold! That’s when we bought our first system, then when I moved to Nashville I picked up another system and my assistant has a system as well: so three ST2’s !
For You, What Are The Biggest Benefits Of Using The Optimizer?
The most significant difference I heard was the strength of the center and just better stereo imaging and depth, I think that’s the strength of the Trinnov, it’s not just applying EQ, I don’t understand everything it’s doing but I don’t need to because that’s the Trinnov‘s job!
The incredible (and very rare) Lathe machine at Infrasonicsound
How Has It Affected Your Workflow?
It’s definitely one of the strongest points in my monitoring chain and I really would have a hard time working without it, as I have to constantly monitor a bunch of different sources and be able to flip flop back and forth so having it at the end of my chain, I don’t have to worry about anything.
So, I don’t think about it, it’s made me work a lot faster: I probably shaved two and a half hours a day off a normal album just from using the Trinnov, it’s so much easier to work, there’s no second-guessing, everything sounds like I expect it to sound if the audio comes in and if it sounds bad, I immediately know what I need to address.
Your monitoring system is your microscope so if you can’t trust that or if there’s a thin layer of Vaseline over the lens of your microscope, you’re not going to have accurate results and I think the Trinnov kind of takes that Vaseline away: it sort of un-obscures the image, you learn the room and the speakers. You let the Trinnov do its thing once it’s doing what it needs to do, you can kind of tailor it to your liking, and it’s straightforward to make those adjustments on the Trinnov
Looking back, Do You Think It Was A Great Investment?
Bottom line is: if you can’t hear what you’re doing, you can’t work, and you shouldn’t be working. If you can’t trust your room nor trust what you’re hearing then you shouldn’t be buying any of this gear.
My biggest piece of advice for new engineers especially if you’re getting into mastering, and maybe you’re starting in a room where you didn’t have a chance to do a hundred thousand dollars build-out, and it’s just not feasible, you’re better off working entirely in the box with a Trinnov and an excellent set of speakers than you are trying to buy a bunch of fancy outboard gear, your results are going to be better.
The amount of money I spent on the Trinnov is peanuts when you really think about what you’re getting and what it’s doing, the amount of money you would spend on an ST2 is really nothing compared to the increase in productivity and just the ability to be able to work and travel with the unit if you need to, or take an already good space like this and being able to have multiple engineers that like a slightly different sound work on the same system is great. I wouldn’t be able to do that without the Trinnov.
What Would You Say To Fellow Mastering Engineers If Asked About The Trinnov?
I would say The Trinnov is a room correction system but it does so much more. It’s a tool that allows you to get the job done without anything obscuring your vision. It takes the room out of the equation, this is the way to get world-class results almost anywhere you know. One of the coolest things about this system is the ability to be able to store presets and set it up in a new room, shoot the room and have that room sound pretty close to the room that you might be familiar with. I don’t know any other system that can do that.