Numero Group: By The Numbers


Sounds Good: Peek Inside Peerless Mastering, Boston
July 13, 2015, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Methodology | Tags: , , ,

It would be easier to name the Numero Group releases that Peerless hadn’t mastered than to lay out the sprawling roster of catalog entries they had. As far as transferring, restoration, revitalization, and reverence for original vision, Peerless is unmatched. I passed through Boston recently and decided to pay founding engineer Jeff Lipton a visit. It was late on a Saturday and Jeff was busy, but I felt a few items from my ten-cent Peerless tour deserved to be shared here.

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For instance—would you look at this damn turntable? I should have placed a quarter on top for perspective, but this contraption is HUGE. It might fit on top of a washing machine. That ring, that looks like frosted glass, is about 12 inches in diameter so I’ll let you do the mental calculations. There are two motors and two belts on the left that rotate a governor, keeping the revolutions utterly precise. There is a four-figure stylus on the end of that tone arm which clearly boasts all manners of calibration features. Naturally, the Numero Group prefers to work from tape. But when you have to transfer something from vinyl and you want to make the best possible reproduction, don’t you feel pretty good about this scenario?

Speaking of transfers from vinyl, T.L. Barrett was just such a project. Tapes for the pastor’s Like A Ship… (Without a Sail) LP were long gone, and an unplayed copy of the record was all we had to work from. Jeff selected “Like A Ship,” the lead track from Good God! Born Again Funk, and invited me to sit in the driver’s seat of his massive mastering console. At the mathematically precisely perfect intersection of the left and right channels, we listened to this masterpiece and it kind of blew my brain back. I’ve often known there was a lot of special things happening on this mix, but this provided a new dimension of musical enlightenment. A word to the wise: calibrate your speakers.

P.S. Skippy White’s

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While you’re in Boston, consider stopping by Skippy White’s. This place has been in business since 1961, yet several Bostonians I quizzed had never paid a visit. I found the photo above online—the Roxbury shop looks more like this today [below]. While I was browsing, a customer was quizzing Skippy (who is still there everyday) on dozens of obscure gospel titles, which Skippy could not only sing, but provide color commentary regarding production, instrumentation, improvised outbursts, etc. I’m willing to bet he also has some entertaining stories about New Edition, New Kids On The Block, Maurice Starr, or any other artists who’s manufactured soul music in Boston during the last half century. RECOMMENDED.

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