Leading Finnish mastering studio installs SSL AWS 948 console

Renowned Finnish high-end mastering studio, Chartmasters—used by major international artists such as Rammstein and Amorphis and Finnish-star Chisu—has installed a Solid State Logic AWS 948 Hybrid console/controller into its Green Room studio.

Helsinki-based Chartmakers decided to install the AWS 948 so that they were able to retain the analogue workflow they already have whilst also gaining the advanced DAW control to work with their clients’ project files.

“We have found that by running an existing mix through the AWS from Pro Tools we can really enhance the overall sound of a track before it is finalized,” explained Chartmakers’ Mastering Engineer, Henkka Niemsto. “Our in-the-box clients are now lining up for our services because of the AWS.”

“As a mastering facility, we see that artists are finalising their music mixes mainly in the box using programs like Logic, Pro Tools® and Cubase,” added Niemisto. “In the past, when those files arrived here for mastering, the mix could sometimes sound thin, narrow and dull, so we would start the process of rescuing the sound – with our analogue equipment – at the mastering stage.

“Now that we have the AWS for mixing,” he continued, “with its extremely good analogue sound, we can achieve sonic excellence for a track right from the start. This means by the time we bring an AWS project to the mastering stage, we don’t have to worry about doing any more rescuing, we can just do the fine-tuning. The AWS allows us to expand our business in a new direction – what we call sum-mixing – while enhancing our primary mastering business.”

Chartmakers was launched in 2004—the same year the SSL AWS series was launched—when mastering engineer Svante Forsbäck and long-time associate Henkka Niemisto decided to start the company in order to serve both Finnish and international clients interested in high-quality audio mastering services for CD, vinyl and DVD. Since then they have worked on albums including Rammstein’s Made in Germany (2011) and Mein Land (2011) and Amorphis’s Beginning of Times (2011).

Whilst searching for a high-quality analogue mixing console Chartmakers started trialling the 48-input SSL AWS 948. During this time, the team worked on a project with the 30-year-old Finnish singer-songwriter, Chisu.

“Chisu is a very talented young lady who writes, performs, produces, records and mixes her own projects,” added Niemisto. Chartmakers had previously worked on Chisu’s first two albums Alkovi (2008) and Vapaa ja yksin (2009).

“We mastered her first project, and for the second project we worked with six stereo stems which we individually tweaked to improve the overall sound of the track,” he continued. “We won accolades from distributor Warner Music for the improved sound quality of this second release.”

It was their experience of using the AWS 948 on Chisu’s third album Kun valaistun (2011) that convinced the team that the SSL console was the right one for them.

“For the third project we used the AWS 948 that we were evaluating and the results were excellent,” added Niemisto. “Based on this experience, we bought the console and our process now is to sum-mix tracks as a form of pre mastering before final mastering.”

Recently Chartmakers launched an online mastering service designed for independent artists and small labels looking to submit their tracks for mastering over the internet, Emakers.