Among audio engineers, Justin is probably best known as one of the most prolific writers in the pro audio field, acting as a featured contributor for outlets including SonicScoop, Trust Me I’m a Scientist, Tape Op Magazine, The Deli Magazine and many others.
During the first 10 years of his career, Justin worked mostly as a recordist, mixer, and an occasional live sound technician, serving such artists as Josh Dion Band, Amanda Palmer, Fiery Furnaces, Sufjan Stevens, RZA, Deerhunter, Battles, Flight of the Conchords, Wynton Marsalis, Willie Nelson, Sugarhill Gang, Jadakiss, Chrisette Michele, Jimmy Webb, Brent Green, Vijay Iyer, Black Dice, Brothertiger, Mahogany, Hotels, Dead Leaf Echo, Jandek, The Shaggs, Rebecca Pronsky, DeLeon, Monocle, Soundpool, Team Genius, Bryce Dessner of The National, Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins and Glenn Kotche of Wilco.
By 2010, Justin began to receive an increasing number of requests from colleagues to master their recordings. Apparently, they knew something he didn’t. Eventually Justin grew tired of saying “no”, started saying “yes”, and the rest is history. Today, he focuses almost entirely on the mastering side of the craft, sending almost all of the recording and mixing requests that remain to his friends, colleagues and clients.
At the start of 2013, Justin joined with old friend and mentor Joe Lambert—one of his own favorite mastering engineers in New York City, and by extension, the world—in order to take full advantage of JLM Studios’ impeccable listening environment, world-class gear collection, and the guidance of one of the best mastering engineers working today.
Justin believes that there are two main approaches to mastering: “Do as little as possible to make it sounds great” and “Do whatever it takes to make it sound great.” He also believes that one of a mastering engineer’s greatest strengths lies in his ability to know which of these approaches to take on any given project—and just how far to go in that direction.
“As with mixing a song or setting an EQ,” he says, “the important thing in mastering is to strike the right balance, and help the music speak for itself.”
Whichever approach makes sense for any given project, Justin says that the mastering engineer’s real job today is: “To help your record sound the way you meant for it to sound. Only better.”