Maor Appelbaum is a mastering engineer who has worked with such bands as: Faith No More, Yes, Ill Nino, Dokken, Fates Warning, Sepultura, Lita Ford, Halford, Mayhem, Yngwie Malmsteen and many many more. We talked about analog vs digital, taking breaks, current state of music production and much more. Check out his website here.
1. What was the thing that got you into Mastering?
Like a lot of people in the business., I was a musician and an engineer but also I was a DJ and a music journalist. That gave me a different perspective on the presentation of the music and what can be done to enhance the listening experience. I always felt that my forte was being the buffer between the production and the listener hearing the finished product and how it will engage with the audience. that’s where I feel I can bring my best to the table.
2. What’s your stance on the digital vs analog battle?
To me there is no battle – both are great in the right hands and in the right situation. there is no magic bullet you just need to see what works best and how it fits the sonic concept.
In some cases analog will bring something really nice and in others the digital will work better. There are so many qualities and grades in both so you just need to find what you like to work with and how that applies to the project.
3. Do you think one day software, emulation-hardware etc will surpass the real thing? Technology develops all the time – we can’t fight that and we should embrace good things, but honestly to me it doesn’t matter – Its about being efficient and creative at the same time while enjoying it. I like both in a respected way. knobs, buttons, lights and actual gear are part of my workflow in addition to plug-ins and DAW editing functions, so I can be fast and efficient when changes and recalls are needed.
4. How do you see the current Music Production scene? The pros the cons, what we might be missing/what we could improve?
Like in every scene – Its good to know where it comes from, where its going to and how to create a future for it.
There is a lot to learn from how things were done back in the day from when recordings started and all the years after but also to embrace the newer technology and be creative with the new styles, workflows, tools and platforms.
There are downsides to each one so its good to learn what you can and apply that to what works best for you and the projects.
What we are missing today is mentor-ships and that’s due to the fact that a lot of big studios had closed down so there are less people with that experience and the ability to pass it on to the next generation.
So everyone needs to learn by themselves from the information they can get by personal experience, schools or online. The good side is that its an opportunity to break some audio rules without feeling guilty about it and some do bring really interesting sounds that you would never think of.
5. What’s the latest piece of gear (hardware/software) that made you go bananas?
Honestly. I have so much gear that there is no one thing that makes me go crazy. But what excites me nowadays the most is the fact that there are a lot of small companies who really put the time and effort in creating unique products for a small market and some have a very interesting sound and quality. Its not one or two its a bunch of them and you just need to search and find, hopefully you will like what they do.
6. Let’s say we could get the brightest of the brightest and smartest of the smartest to come up with a piece of gear (software/hardware) and it could eliminate one annoying thing, what would it be (could be audio or anything, physically impossible or possible)?
If there was something that would replace the need to make an income for a living and to replace the reasoning for wars. If that thing was ever made it would have been the best thing in the world. and I am sure the music world would also benefit from it.
7. If you could give one piece of advice to a young starting home-studio producer, what would it be? Make as many projects as you can to learn as much as possible and then share notes with other people who are doing the same as you. You would be surprised how some things are the same for all and how some are different. learn from both similarities and differences as they are important in order to improve your skills. Its a never ending learning process so always be open to hearing new things.
8. What is usually the first sign of ear fatigue, when you know that you need to take a break/call it a day? When you start feeling drowsy or that you start feeling you need to add more volume to listen. Another thing is when you start feeling its overpowering you and loose focus due to so much volume or density.
Any tips how to fight ear fatigue or how to reset your ears during a long session? Take short breaks – pick up the phone when there is a call – Its a perfect excuse to take a break , check your emails, walk the dog for a short one , do something else that takes a few minutes and come back with new energy