5 Questions:

With Sigurdor Gudmundson

Sigurdor Gudmundson is a Icelandic musician, mixing and mastering engineer at Skonrokk Studios He currently lives in Denmark with his wife and two sons where he works on mixes and masters from wide variety of musicians in eclectic styles, ranging from field recordings, jazz, electro pop to punk and metal.

Follow him on Twitter & Instagram: @siggidori

1 – What would you be lost without?

Sigurdór: Coffee! … and well… my family. I love my Focal Sm9 monitors. Everything else is replaceable I guess. But having great plugins from UAD, PSP, Slate Digital, Brainworx/PluginAlliance, MeterPlugs, iZotope, Soundtoys, MeldaProduction and FabFilter (to name a few) makes the work a pure joy!

2 – What is the most common misconception you encounter about the role of a mastering engineer?

Sigurdór: I’ve had rather enlightened customers so far I think. But there are some. One of my clients wanted to learn mastering from me. When he arrived with his Pro Tools session it turned out that all the songs were not even mixed so after a while he gave up and I got the mixing + mastering job. So some might not know what happens in the mixing sessions and what happens or could happen in mastering. Many are also not aware of all the audio formats and codes (ISRC, tags etc…). Oh and it sometimes happens that people think that exporting at maximum sample rate is the best thing to do … even though they worked at 44.1 kHz.

3 – Do you work in the box entirely, out of the box entirely, or do you blend the two realms?

Sigurdór: I work ITB. I’ve been thinking about getting some valve/tube EQ’s and compressors though.

4 – As a mastering engineer, how would you suggest mixers prepare their mixes for the mastering process?

Sigurdór: Make the mixes sound great! Or as good as you can get them given your situation. Establish a good relationship with the mastering engineer and get comments and suggestions from him if you need to. I prefer to get files from clients in 32 bit floating point and at the sample rate of the mix session. Gain wise then we should be good if the mix is in 32 bit float and the gain structure was good in the mix, no (unintentionally) distorting plugins and such. I sometimes hear unwanted distortion (mainly in the higher frequencies) as a result of people pushing plugins to hard gain wise. Why these things go unnoticed (at the mixing end) is a bit of a mystery. Could be a monitoring issue or simply lack of attention. So play it save, practice proper gain staging and don’t push the levels too hard just to gain loudness would be my general advice.

5 – What is the most valuable lesson you had to learn the hard way?

Sigurdór: Sleep on it. … and check if you have enough stock of coffee!