Equipment detail

Although we believe that in any audio production, techniques are far more important than equipment, to ensure processing quality, Mastering requires special gear.
At Steps Ahead Sound, each piece of our mastering equipment has been carefully selected to meet this goal, almost every item widely recognized as “best in class”.

Merging – Pyramix Mastering IWS

The most powerful digital audio workstation in the world today!
Pyramix is well known as the audio industry’s most advanced digital audio workstations. It offers supreme sonic quality and versatility, also convenient for Film and Television Post-production, Multi-channel music record/editing and CD/SACD & Streaming Mastering.
Pyramix is the latest and most powerful ‘real-time’ processor; its editing model and speed are far more efficient and reliable than rendered processing technologies. This is one of many reasons why so many mastering professionals around the world choose Pyramix: Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering, Darcy Proper at Sony/Galaxy, Ted Jensen et al at Sterling Sound…
As an example of the immense processing power available in Pyramix, our Integrated Workstation provides true record, editing and mixing capability in 32 bit floating point at 352.8 kHz operation. Is the only system in the world that can achieve this and still the only system capable of multi-track DSD/DXD recording, editing, mixing and mastering for 1 bit 2.8MHz SACD production, both for stereo and 5.0/5.1 surround programs.


TC Electronic M6000 Mastering System

Ultimate Multi-Channel Processing
With the introduction of System 6000 TC Electronic is taking a major step towards breaking the two-channel sound barrier. By combining elements already known from the M5000, VSS technology and state-of-the-art mastering technology of stunning new multi-channel processing platform, System 6000 provides the professional audio industry with the perfect tool to explore the creative potential of multi-dimensional sound.
The M6000 features:

  • Surround Sound, Stereo and M/S Multi-band Compression
  • Surround Sound, Stereo and M/S Equalization
  • Exceptional Reverb algorithms
  • Unwrap: Taking a Stereo mix and converting it to surround sound
  • Very High Quality Limiting
  • Restoration Processing
  • George Massenburg Equalization algorithms


Weiss EQ1 Mk2 DYN LP Dual 7 band Digital Parametric Equalizer

Dual Mono, M/S Linear Phase, Non-Linear Phase, and Dynamic Equalizer
Sampling frequencies supported are 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96kHz.
The EQ1-MK2 is now further extended with a linear phase response. This means that the delay induced by processing is now constant across the whole spectrum, unconstrained by EQ settings – this is not the case with standard equalizers, where signal delay varies with frequency, with delay length depending on amplitude response.

The sound, or character, of an equalizer has been said to be influenced by phase response ( John Watkinson: “…much of the audible difference between EQs comes down to the phase response”. Studio Sound 9.97). The EQ1-LP is therefore the ideal tool for corrective amplitude adjustment, without the unwanted phase distortion added by standard equalizers.
The linear phase feature can be turned off, resulting in the exact same sound as the EQ1-MK2 one. So for creative sound designing, there is the benefit of two different equalizers in one machine.

The EQ1-DYN features four freely adjustable dynamic bands, and additionally three linear bands per channel. Setting up the dynamic bands is as easy as setting a linear band. There is just one additional parameter to be adjusted by the user, the threshold control. This makes multi-band dynamic control as easy and as versatile as adjusting a parametric equalizer.


Weiss DS1 Mk3 Digital Compressor/Limiter/De-esser

Digital Compressor/Limiter/De-esser

The DS1-MK3 is a compressor / limiter / de-esser, supporting all the features needed in a DVD or CD mastering environment: 96kHz 40bit processing, simultaneous de-essing and limiting spiced with a host of signal processing capabilities.


Waves L2 Ultramaximizer Hardware Processor

We can use L2 to significantly increase the average signal level of typical audio signals without introducing audible side effects. It’s superb for mastering, mixing, and recording, but equally capable of extreme limiting, intentional pumping, and vintage dynamic processing effects. Take L2 with you to every live sound venue, recording studio, mastering house and DAW for producing the hottest audio wherever and whenever you want.

L2’s Increased Digital Resolution word length reduction system features ninth-order noise shaping which can increase the perceived sound by as much as 18dB. For example, when you start with original sources of 20 bits or more, 16 and 20 bit masters may have the perceived sound quality of 19 and 23 bit signals.


Digital Domain DD-2K Ambience Processor

The best stereo processor, unsurpassed quality, created by one of the most acknowledged Mastering Engineer: Bob Katz.
The DD-2K helps us get that BIG sound recovering lost ambience, space, depth, imaging and clarity-subtly and naturally.
Provides post-production control of reverb returns, after the recording has been made and preserves the mix, without changing center levels, without causing phasiness or comb filtering.
Compensates for lost ambience and space when using low-bit-rate coders or when reducing wordlength from 24 to 16.
Reveals hidden ambient detail in recordings and helps get that “phat” sound without resorting to compression.


Crane Song HEDD-192

Harmonic Processor
HEDD, short for harmonically enhanced digital device is a technological breakthrough in signal processing. HEDD is engineered to be musically transparent while providing the capability of generating tube/analog sounds in the digital domain.
HEDD allows sounding more and more analog and has the following features:

  • High Quality 24 Bit A/D and D/A Converters
  • 24 Bit Processing
  • Adjustable Triode, Pentode and Tape sounds
  • Digital I/O, AES and S/PDIF
  • External WC Sync Input and Output

HEDD can operate as an effects device or as separate A/D and D/A converter with the sound enhancement process applied to either the A/D or D/A converter.
HEDD has transformerless balanced analog inputs and outputs, transformer isolated digital inputs and outputs, and uses separate power transformers and supplies for the analog and digital sections.


Manley 16×2 Custom Pre and Tube Mixer

Our custom Manley 16×2 Preamp and Mixer provides the warm character of analog processing , adding depth, punch and air to even the blandest of home recording.


Manley SLAM! Mastering Limiter

Our Manley SLAM! Mastering Limiter, with an electro-optical stage (LA-2A) and a second FET stage (1176) – the best in limiting, provides the warm character of analog mastering.


Apogee Trak2 AD Converter

World-Class 24b-96kHz AD Converter
Apogee is virtually synonymous with A-D and D-A converters. In fact the company’s pedigree dates right back to the start of the digital age in the early ’80s, with the manufacture of replacement and OEM anti-alias and reconstruction filter stages.
Trak 2 is a high-quality converter with onboard digital signal processing, available in the form of Soft Limit and Soft Saturate functions. Soft Limit can be used to protect against transient overloads and thus extend the effective headroom providing a few decibels of extra loudness, while Soft Saturate emulates tape-saturation or valve ‘warming’, which may be useful during tracking, also.
The UV22HR bit-reduction algorithm – highly regarded throughout the mastering industry – allows high-resolution 24-bit recordings to be reformatted for 16-bit media whilst preserving most of low-level information. It includes a host of signal processing functions featuring:

  • World-class stereo preamp paired with an equally amazing 24-bit/96kHz ADC.
  • Soft Limit™ overload protection
  • Soft Saturate™ analog tape compression effect
  • Apogee low-jitter master clock, and
  • Apogee’s industry-standard UV22HR™ bit reduction for retaining the punch of 24-bit signals when storing audio at 16 bits.
  • Dedicated D-A converter built in for feeding a monitor headphone socket on the front panel.


Dangerous Monitor

The Nerve Center for the Mastering Environment
The Dangerous Monitor provides an integration control that allows us to use our high-quality outboard equalizers and compressors in even more flexible and creative ways.
Built by the very same Chris Muth who designed the mastering equipment for many of New York’s top mastering engineers and studios as Sterling Sound, the Dangerous Monitor forms the centerpiece of a fantastic analog and digital mastering system. It ties together our choice equalizers, compressors and de-essers by providing accurate level control, easy monitoring facility. The integrated Input Monitor allows us to focus on the sound of our master without being fooled by the pre- and post-process level differences. An elegant integration of distinct functions specifically designed to give us immediate and intuitive control, with the accuracy we need:

  • Analog and Digital Input Switching
  • Onboard D to A Conversion by Custom Designed by Troisi Designs, Ltd. with Superior Depth, Detail and Resolution
  • Comprehensive Full console Monitoring Functions: L&R Phase reverse, L&R Mute, Mono, Dim, Alternate Speaker and -6 VU Meter Offset
  • Analog and digital meter feeds
  • Stepped attenuator volume control for precise adjustment and repeatability.


Dorrough Custom Loudness Monitor: 40-A2 & 240-A