Ry Cooder Has Mastered iTunes

Who says you can’t teach an (59-year) old dawg new tricks? He’s heading into his seventh decade this year, and we bet he does more with his iTunes than you. We’re speaking of course about Ry Cooder (Rolling Stone’s 8th Best Guitarist of all time, not the Tortoise song) and his newfound love for mastering albums using iTunes. Via NYT:

But he hasn?t been prolific as a solo artist recently, mostly because he has had trouble capturing the sound he wanted on a compact disc. On his new album, he achieved that sound with a little help from an unlikely source: Apple?s iTunes program.

Last year, as Mr. Cooder worked on ?My Name Is Buddy,? an oddball folk and blues concept album about a red cat that travels through a mythic American landscape, he ran into familiar problems … ?It started to sound processed,? he said. ?We were losing the feeling of the thing, and this is not music that can withstand this.?

Then Mr. Cooder noticed something else: When he burned a copy of the album using Apple?s iTunes software, it sounded fine. He didn?t know why until one of his younger engineers told him that the default settings on iTunes apply a ?sound enhancer.? (It?s in the preferences menu, under ?playback.?) Usually, that feature sweetens the sound of digital music files, but Mr. Cooder so liked its effect on his studio recordings that he used it to master ? that is, make the final sound mixes ? his album. ?We didn?t do anything else to it,? he said.

NYT then quotes mastering master Dave Fridmann, who recounts that Clap Your Hands loved listening to the new record on their iTunes, adding, “it beefs things up and brightens them and you can definitely tell the difference.” So, sound engineers: Ever used the iTunes-master technique? We know how painstaking the mixing and mastering process is; here’s your shortcut. Or, at least you can make like Fridmann and playback the fruit of your knob-tweaking labor through your iTunes. Your clients will marvel at its beefy brightness.

Tags: Ry Cooder