Up Close: Kevorkian Mastering, Inc.


A Passion for Mastering: Fred Kevorkian’s background in electronics and passion for music originally led him into the world of audio consulting and studio design. After launching his career in Paris working for the sound company Sonofrance, he moved to New York to become chief recording engineer at Sear Sound, where he collaborated with owner Walter Sear in building and customizing unique vintage gear. He improved his skills by engineering countless jazz and rock sessions. His evolving interest in mastering led Sear to create Studio B, where Kevorkian spent five years mastering albums for indie and major label artists. 

After a subsequent five-year stint at Absolute Audio, in 2004 he launched Kevorkian Mastering, which operated for years at Avatar/Power Station and recently relocated to the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn. While mastering indie artists and bands are his longtime “bread and butter,” over the years he has worked on projects for numerous rock superstars and jazz icons, including The White Stripes, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams, Phish, Iggy Pop, Sonny Rollins and Billy Cobham. It’s a two-man operation with veteran manager/engineer Larry Lachmann, who started working with Kevorkian years ago. 

Analog Mastering: Kevorkian’s introduction to and work with analog in the 90s still informs the unique sonic aesthetic he brings to his mastering projects today. One of his most popular vintage tools is the 1950s Ampex 351 tape machine (converted to ½” 15 ips) the electronics of which he completely custom rebuilt by hand to his own specs. “The modified machine sounds more accurate for modern mastering needs, and having a half inch rather than quarter inch keeps the noise floor down,” he says. Another key playback source is the Ampex ATR 102 (1/4” and ½”). Analog equipment includes the Sontec MES-432C/6 Parametric Equalizer, the Pultec EQM-153 Mastering Equalizers and the Manley “Variable-MU” Lim/Comp (Mastering Version). Besides their classic analog gear, high end digital processing and a perfectly balanced acoustical environment, Kevorkian and Lachmann say they mostly rely on their well-trained sets of ears.  

Remastering and Restoration: Kevorkian is also involved in restoring/remastering older projects for several artists. They include the Gentle Giant catalog, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion catalog, and an ongoing project of Jerry Garcia live recordings including the beautiful box set Jerry Garcia— Before the Dead. He has the experience, knowledge and proper tools to handle and safely play back a variety of formats, and the processing power to correct most recording issues and aging degradation.

Quote from Fred Kevorkian: “With every project, I see my job as simply making things sound better. Critical listening is essential, but at Kevorkian Mastering, we also make it a priority to listen to the client first. Knowledge and experience are obviously important in this business, but the key to being successful, in addition to knowing your tools, is understanding what our clients want. Once you get that, everything else falls into place. We’re the last stop before a project is released, so everything has to be just right.”  

Contact Kevorkian Mastering, Inc., [email protected]