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Mastering Outside The Box with DiGiCo Helps Engineer Vinnie Alibrandi Take It To #1

Engineer Vinnie Alibrandi has found a new use for his DiGiCo SD11 console in the post-production world. The 19-inch rackmountable mixer, which has typically ended up on small tour riders and install gigs where small but powerful were the major requirements, proved to be the perfect solution for Alibrandi to handle mastering duties in the studio. Alibrandi, who is a Post Production Engineer at Capitol Christian Music Group, also engineers at FOH at Nashville's HopePark Church on the weekends. Two of the artists he recently mastered for Radio, iTunes, and CDs charted at #1 on the iTunes Christian Gospel charts: Tye Tribbett, with the single "If He Did It Before (Same God)", and Tasha Cobbs' album Grace (plus the single "Break Every Chain"). Alibrandi will be also be mastering CeCe Winan's ICON album (coming in July) on the newly named Gospel Motown label.

"The concept of mastering is expanding into the film world of using 'stems' for surround and I found that the DiGiCo SD11 served as a fantastic mastering centerpiece," he explains. "It's well suited to mastering for its center section layout. With the same engine as DiGiCo's larger-format consoles, the SD11 offers built-in multi-band compression,  snapshot automation (including effects allow for a more efficient automation vs. the linear method that DAWs use), plus having the ability to allow any of its many channels to become true stereo channels,  surround channels, or custom-built multi-channels, is unparalleled."

Mastering has become an important step for Alibrandi in the process of readying CCMG's songs for broadcast consideration. "We value the sonic difference between our mixes and our masters.  Sometimes a song 'comes to life' in the mastering and even though the music may be used just as a 'bed' track underneath dialogue, we still want the artistic statement  that our artists signed off on, preserved  The team that I work with has the opportunity to coordinate mastering instrumental tracks, and at times, mastering in-house along with co Post Production Engineer Bryan Raitt.  I believe it helps the film or TV show have a more meaningful impact when the underlying vibe is as impacting as the dialogue and the sound effects. The SD11 allows us the freedom to let the music dictate what to do with the gear; not the other way around."

At Capitol CMG, the in-house Post Production group also works directly with its artists on acoustic videos for YouTube/Vevo.  "In the fall of 2012, I multi-tracked, mixed, and mastered acoustic music videos for our label group artists.  Acoustic videos can be challenging because of ambient mic bleed.  I have learned a lot about Izotope RX, an amazing application that lets you erase sounds that are usually thought to be permanent, such as random noises from the set even continuous underlay sounds such as air conditioning noise. It's also a life saver for any post work where the source was captured in the field. The SD11 is an amazing counterpart to any DAW especially via MADI allowing 56 channels of audio to flow to and from the console (with word/house sync) and its layer and banks allow the engineer to quickly move from channel 1 to channel 32 without scrolling."

Alibrandi's independent mastering company, Mastering.me, has also handled audio post on the SD11 for a few independent films, namely Alex Dreaming by Dane Dakota.  "With so many new amateur film makers out there with newly purchased HD cameras, there also exists a huge potential for post audio work.  The obstacle most of these ventures run into is in capturing audio that's as stunning as the video.  Great field recording is a paradox. With so many 'clean up' tools available some amateur filmmakers either try to 'fix it in the mix' or say, 'I meant it to sound edgy or raw.'  I have found that once you get a client hooked on quality, there's no going back.  Just having the single function of total recall on a center section style console like the SD11 on your desk is more than helpful.  When working with indie films—or indie anything—having the ability to save and recall the entire state of your studio with date codes is, again, a time saver and a project saver."

"Around the office at Capitol CMG," sums Alibrandi, "I am know as an 'outside of the box' thinker. I just really like to make the music sound open and alive. Mastering outside of the box with the SD11—besides giving me a second chance with my 'upper transient bit resolution'—is just more fun!"

Watch Alibrandi's pilot podcast, "Let Them Hear Music & Mastering" here: http://mastering.me/mastering/Mastering_Videos.html


About Capitol Christian Music Group:
Capitol Christian Music Group is the world's leading Christian Music company and market leader in recorded music, distribution, and music publishing. Part of Universal Music's Capitol Music Group, led by Chairman and CEO Steve Barnett, Capitol Christian Music Group operates several divisions including Capitol CMG Label Group (Sparrow Records, ForeFront Records, Credential Recordings, sixstepsrecords, Hillsong), Motown Gospel (in partnership with Motown Records), Capitol CMG Publishing (including Brentwood-Benson Music Publications) and Capitol Christian Distribution, CCMG owned labels are home to artists Chris Tomlin, TobyMac, Jeremy Camp, Hillsong United, Smokie Norful, Tye Tribbett, Britt Nicole, Newsboys, Colton Dixon, Mandisa, VaShawn Mitchell and many others. Capitol CMG Publishing, in addition to publishing many of CCMG label's premier artists/writers, represents many of the leading writers in Christian/Gospel including Matt Redman, Ben Glover, Matt Maher, Kirk Franklin, Mark Hall, Chris Stevens, Laura Story, Aaron Lindsey, David Garcia and many others. Key Distribution partners include The Gaither Music Group, Marantha Music, InPop Records, Worthy Book Publishing and Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment. Led by President and CEO Bill Hearn and a strong executive team of long-time Christian and Gospel music veterans, Capitol Christian Music Group is characterized by a passionate commitment to our artists, songwriters, our customers, business partners, and one another, as well as a strong spirit of community service.

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