“Walk of Life” | Shooter Jennings
Single: “Walk Of Life”
Album: The Wolf (Universal South)
Date Mastered: July 3, 2007 at MasterMix in Nashville
Producer: Dave Cobb
Engineers: Dave Cobb, Erick Jaskowiak, Mark Rains
Mixers: Chris Lord-Alge, Greg Gordon with assistance from Nik Karpen, Jason Mott
Mastering Engineer: Hank Williams
Other Projects: For 30 years, Williams has mastered for artists including Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Lucinda Williams, George Strait.
Single Songwriter: Mark Knopfler
Mastering Monitors: PMC BB-5 with Bryston amps and crossovers (main); Rogers LS 3/5a with Crown Macro Reference amp (alternate).
Mastering Console: Custom built Class A mastering console with signal path, interface and ancillary equipment designed by Ken Love, circuit design and production by Grant Carpenter of Gordon Electronics.
Mastering Workstation/Recorders: Sonic Solutions HD (24-bit, 88.2-kHz ata files), Cube-Tec Audio Cube, ATR Services ATR-102.
Mastering Processors: Prism Sound Dream DA-2 and AD-2, Sontec MES-430B, TC Electronic System 6000 running Massenburg DesignWorks Hi-Res EQ and TC Electronic Multiband Dynamics, Avalon 2077 EQ, Prism MLA-2 compressor.ENGINEER’S DIARY
For Shooter Jennings’ raw version of the Dire Straits classic “Walk Of Life,” Nashville-based mastering engineer Hank Williams was given an analog mix on 1/2-inch tape to create two separate masters: the single and the album cut. Most important to this particular mastering job, offers Williams, was to keep the vibe intact: “It had to stay tough,” he offers.
(click thumbnail)Hank WilliamsAccording to Williams, no analog compression was used for the single, while Prism Sound Dream AD-2 and DA-2 converters brought him in and out of the digital realm. “[Mixer] Chris [Lord-Alge] did a stellar job on the single,” explains Williams. “His use of dynamic control is masterful. That’s why I didn’t use any more analog compression in my signal chain; sometimes you need to stay out of the way. The Sontec MES-430B worked well with the single’s timbre — more so than my other EQs. I typically have three analog EQs in my console to choose from, and the Avalon 2077 did the trick for Greg’s mixes on the rest of the album.”
For the album version of “Walk Of Life,” Williams used the same Prism converters, Avalon 2077 EQ and a Prism MLA-2 compressor alongside the TC Electronic System 6000 running Massenburg DesignWorks dynamics.
At MasterMix, one of the country’s most prolific mastering houses, Williams and his team have crafted a purpose-built facility like no other. “Our mastering console does exactly what we want,” explains Williams in describing the unique signal paths available at his firm. “That’s why we had to have it custom-made. Our facility was designed by the amazing people at Russ Berger Design Group; our Technical Director, Jim Kaiser, keeps MasterMix ready for the future.”
Jennings’ latest project came Williams way via Universal South Records President Mark Wright, a long-time client of Williams and MasterMix. “My goal was to keep the energy and rawness of Shooter’s track,” he explains. “At the same time, I gave Mark a vocal perspective that he expected.”
According to Williams, Jennings’ cover of “Walk Of Life” took a lot of … gumption: “I don’t think I’ve ever run across someone with the stones to re-cut a Dire Straits tune. Hey, he pulled it off and he owns his version!”