Universal Audio WebZine
Volume 1, Number 8, November 2003
[UA Universe] [Ask the Doctors] [UAD-1 Feature] [Compression Obsession]
[Support Report] [Dealer Focus] [Digi-Talk] [Analog Dialog] [Featured Promotion]
[Graphic-Rich WebZine]
[Back Issues] [UA Home]

Digi-Talk: Q & A with Audio Engineering Legend & Pro Tools User Elliot Mazer

Elliot Mazer accepting four 2192s from UA President Matt Ward, AES NY 2003
Is it possible for a surround mix to sound so good that upon hearing it, you'd have to run out and buy a car? Well, Universal Audio's President, Matt Ward and UA co-founder, Bill Putnam recently visited esteemed producer Elliot Mazer in Manhattan where they were treated to a listening session of several surround projects Elliot and his wife, Diana Haig are working on. They were so impressed with what they heard that Matt ran out and bought a new Acura TL, which comes standard with an excellent DVD-A surround system, and Bill is now threatening to do the same. Matt now spends way too much time driving around Santa Cruz listening to Elliot's "Sinatra Live at the Sands" DVD-A. He says it sounds like Frank's sitting on the dashboard singing to him. Hmmm.

In addition to making a surround addict of our president, Elliot has worked on projects ranging from Neil Young to The Band to Linda Ronstadt to the Rat Pack. I even have it on good authority that he bought his wife, engineer/producer Diana Haig, a Universal Audio 2-610 mic preamp for her birthday! And they say romance is dead. Clearly, Elliot is a man I had to have a chat with.

Q: Who were you mentors in audio engineering?
A: Rudy Van Gelder was the first engineer that I worked with. He had made some of my favorite records and I was fascinated with him. He had (has) his own studio and has a very unique way of recording. I liked records made by some of the Columbia engineers like Frank Laico and Fred Plaut.

Q: When did you start working in digital?
A: I was introduced to digital audio in the late 70's at CCRMA, Stanford. They had a system that consisted of a PDP 11 computer and a massive custom DSP box. The thing worked in non-real time and it was capable of doing synthesis and some digital processing.

Q: What were some of the strengths and weaknesses of working in digital compared to analog?
A: Digital gives one the possibility of complete automation and control over every aspect of the recording process. If one is not extremely careful, the end result can sound bad. Digital audio needs great A/D-D/A conversion, great software and judicious care in how things are done.

Q: Describe your digital system.
A: PTHD on a MAC, UA 2192 Converters, NHT A-B-C monitoring system, Furman power conversion, Monster Cable, many plug-ins, DTS Encoder/Decode

Q: How do you like the Universal Audio 2192s?
A: When we first lit up 3 of the 2192s and listened to a few minutes of the Sinatra/Jobim 192 stuff we are currently mixing. I was so amazed I had Diana come in to listen and she could hear the smoothness and warmth even off-axis. This is thrilling, thank you for making it possible.

Q: Wow, thanks! What analog gear do you use in conjunction with your digital system?
A: Aside from speakers, little else. On the "Cheap Thrills" Janis Joplin SACD, we used the UA 2-610 to process the two voice tracks. It warmed them up nicely.

Q: What makes you decide whether or not to take on a project? How about a surround project?
A: The music, my availability and the potential for success.

Q: Describe your approach to surround mixing.
A: I picture how to present the music visually and what the POV of the listener should be.

Q: What are some of your most memorable projects?
A: Too many to list.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: The Sinatra/Jobim Reprise records for DVD-A

Q: How have you used UA's plug-ins for Pro Tools in your projects?
A: I use the 1176, LA-2A and Pultecs a lot. On Santana, the Pultecs are on most voices and Carlos' guitar. They seem to come alive with a little Pultec EQ (just like the old days- but you can have 10 of them in a 96 session and I never had 10 Pultecs in one room). The 1176 and LA-2A work exactly like their analog parents and are as helpful to control sounds and to create great effects.

Q: Where do you see the future of surround projects, both from the consumer and engineering point of view?
A: I think that the consumers are going to get hear their favorite music sound even more exciting. The labels are going to release music product simultaneously as CD and DVD and likely on the same disk. Soon consumers will be able to buy legal downloads of 5.1 music.

Q: What are you working on now and in the near future?
A: Currently, we're working on DVD-A/SACD releases including:

--Interview by Dave Crane, intro and edits by Matt Ward

For more information on DVD-Audio:

For more information on SACD:

Questions or comments on this article?