Has everyone been enjoying the stream of the new Cloacas album, ...and the skies are not cloudy all day, this week at sfreporter.com? Of course you have, which is why we tracked down Will Dyar, the mastering engineer behind its phenomenal sound. Dyar has also fine-tuned any number of local albums for the likes of Greg Butera, Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand, Nathan Smerage and so many others it's almost crazy. Check him out at hillsaudio.com and right the heck here in our pages right the heck now.
Can you explain the difference between recording and mastering a record?
To me, recording is about the performance. I've found that you can record in a lot of different ways, and if the performance is there, the rest is going to be cake. Then you've got the mixing phase, which is getting the balance and maybe adding effects. And then mastering is the final phase, and I look at it like I'm trying to accent everything that's come before to bring out the best qualities. It's there to support, not to step on things or leave my mark.
Why should bands master their albums?
Number one, to get a second set of ears on something you've maybe heard a hundred times and lost perspective on. Getting someone to critically listen, to make adjustments that are subtle but that make a big impact, to bring consistency.
Do you have a solid piece of advice for bands that might record?
Yes—to practice as much as possible and to do as much of the recording live as you can. We feed off each other, and there's an energy and vibe created when there's more than one person in a room playing together. Have that conversation together and there's a much better chance of that vibe coming through.