Free Music Mastering for Students
By Cammie Breuer- Arts and Culture Editor
Darkhorse Recording Studio, located in Kittery, Maine is owned and run by Zach Romanoff, an audio engineer and producer with 25 years of experience in the music industry. As a way to help local artists get their music ready to go public, Romanoff is offering free music mastering for local college students attending the University of Southern Maine (USM), as well as the University of New Hampshire (UNH).
Mastering is the final step before a song goes out. All the various audio clips have been layered, stitched, and strung together; now, special effects are applied to synchronize and equalize the different parts of the audio, so everything sounds crystal clear whether it’s coming from your earbuds or car radio. “You have your songs ready to go, you’re working on the songs, you come in and have someone like me help shape and produce your songs.”
Romanoff explained how his passion for music began in middle school, but wasn’t serious about a career in it until high school. After graduation, he attended college in New Hampshire before transferring to the University of Southern Maine, where his father was a professor. It was at USM that he took a philosophy class. Students were given a project where they had to write a story about a tragic event that had happened in their lives. Naturally, Zach turned his project into a song. Shortly thereafter, he was in New York with his band that had just been signed recording their first album where that song became the single. Though Romanoff only spent a few semesters in his Freshman and Sophomore years at USM, he graduated from Full Sail University with a degree in audio production. Since then, he has written, mixed, and produced music for artists across the country.
Zach’s years of work in the industry has impacted his experience when listening to music: he now finds himself thinking more about the technical, behind the scene, aspects of music. He recalled listening to Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten, when it was first released in 1991. Upon being introduced for the first time, he came to the (correct) conclusion that it was a great album and Pearl Jam rocked. When he listens to them now, it is the little details that Zach picks up on. “I wonder what microphone they had on the snare drum, or, they really took a lot of the low end out of that second guitar part.” His advice for aspiring young musicians: “Never stop learning, and never stop listening.”
Zach explained how the thing that he loves best about making music is “getting artists to realize their potential, and see that lightbulb go off and they’re like ‘wow’ hearing it come back through the headphones.” For new artists, the whole recording process can be daunting, and music mastering can be tedious, time consuming, and costly. If you are a current student at either USM or UNH the mastering is free of charge (conditions apply). Music being mastered either has to be recorded, mixed or both at Darkhorse. By offering his time, Zach is hoping to be an aid in the journey of student artists who are trying to develop their songs and give them studio experience.