The Grammys in HiFi

The Grammys in HiFi

Here at TIDAL, we live for good music and specialize in sound quality.

So we’re surely interested when we can combine the two – great music that sounds perfect.

We’re as excited as anybody about this year’s Grammy Awards. Between the competition, the performances, and the stars, it is surely the music world’s biggest night.

Rather than focusing on the same old popular awards, we decided to take a closer look at the production side in some of the more technical categories, which you probably won’t see recognized during Sunday’s big broadcast.

Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical)

Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer: Bass & Mandolin
Richard King & Dave Sinko, engineers
Robert C. Ludwig, mastering engineer

Mandolin master Chris Thile is the founding member of Punch Brothers, and spent 15 years as a member of the Grammy-winning, multi-platinum selling group Nickel Creek. Throughout a lifetime of performing and composing, Edgar Meyer has turned the double bass into a modern virtuoso instrument that is equally at home in classical music and in the American vernacular.

Meyer and Thile began playing together 15 years ago, and first performed live in 2003. They made their recording debut as a duo in 2008, and the aptly-titled Bass & Mandolin finds that pair at the pinnacle of their combined talents.

This self produced recording, superbly engineered by Dave Sinko, seems to capture every nuance and detail of the duo’s performance, from sprightly, rapid-fire mandolin runs to deftly handled harmonics. There is a palpable ambient room sound too, which succeeds in lending atmosphere and resonance to the music. Listening on headphones is an immersive experience. (MusicOMH)


Keb’ Mo’: BLUESAmericana
Ross Hogarth & Casey Wasner, engineers
Richard Dodd, mastering engineer

Recorded in Nashville and produced by Keb’ Mo’ and Casey Wasner, BLUESAmericana features some of the three-time Grammy winner’s most poignant and joyful songs on his first new album in three years. The record is comprised of 9 original songs and a cover of “That’s Alright,” a song Keb’ first heard sung by Mississippi Sheiks’ Sam Chatmon. “I only make albums when I’m inspired to, and these 10 songs come from a very honest place,” says the ‘modern ambassador for the blues’ himself.

Part of the magic of this production is that it is not overblown. In spite of having twenty or so contributors the finished result never sounds more than an ensemble of four or five. The basic framework for this expansive project were basic tracks laid at Keb’ Mo’s home studio on the outskirts of Nashville with co-producer Casey Wasner and drummer Keio Stroud. They then seemed to texture in elements of Delta Blues, Pop, Jazz and Doo-Wop. (Popmatters)


Beck: Morning Phase
Tom Elmhirst, David Greenbaum, Florian Lagatta, Cole Marsden, Greif Neill, Robbie Nelson, Darrell Thorp, Cassidy Turbin & Joe Visciano, engineers
Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer

Beck’s first album in almost six years, described as a companion piece to his acclaimed 2002 album Sea Change. It turned out to be one of the most critically-acclaimed in his career, and hailed as an instant folk-rock classic by Rolling Stone.

For me ‘Morning Phase’ is a very visual album. It’s very cinematic. There’s a lot of talk about mornings, and there’s an undercurrent of the sea, like with the track “Wave,” which is just Beck and the orchestra. It was the first song for the album that I mixed, and it created a blueprint for the entire record. It sounds a bit like a West Coast seventies record, it has the solid drum sound you associate with Neil Young and the records from that era. (Tom Elmhirst, Audio Technology).


Lee Ann Womack: The Way I’m Livin’
Chuck Ainlay, engineer
Gavin Lurssen, mastering engineer

Another artist that kept us waiting for a while, this is the first new music from Lee Ann Womack in six years. “I wanted songs that talked about how life really is, the raw spots, the tough places, the meltdowns and messy parts,” Womack said in a press release.

“That is one of my favorite records of all time that I have been involved with,” says engineer Chuck Ainlay in an interview with Mixonline. “All the right buttons get pushed when I listen to it, and that just starts and ends with her voice. She’s got harmonics that just seem to reach inside me.”


Thomas Dybdahl: What’s Left Is Forever
Tchad Blake, Oyvind Jakobsen, Jo Ranheim, Itai Shapiro, David Way & Thomas Dybdahl, engineers
Bernie Grundman, mastering engineer

This is the sixth album from the Norwegian singer-songwriter, on which he collaborated with Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell). Here he adds some funky flavor into his hushed folk-style.

Some of this new experimentation could be owed to mixer (and sometime producer) Tchad Blake, celebrated for his work with Suzanne Vega, Stina Nordenstam and Lisa Germano. Blake has always had an unusual way with mixing drums sounds, giving them a coyly alien resonance at once artificial and organic. These beat-experimentations are the highlight of What’s Left Is Forever, and they play especially well with Dybdahl’s percussive guitar playing. (Popmatters)


Producer of the Year (Non-Classical)

Paul Epworth

“Pendulum” (FKA Twigs)
“Queenie Eye” (Paul McCartney)
“Road” (Paul McCartney)
“Save Us” (Paul McCartney)


John Hill

“All You Never Say” (Birdy)
“Burning Gold” (Christina Perri)
“Can’t Remember to Forget You” (Shakira Featuring Rihanna)
“Goldmine” (Kimbra)
“Guts Over Fear” (Eminem Featuring Sia)
Strange Desire (Bleachers)
Voices (Phantogram)
“Water Fountain” (Tune-Yards)


Jay Joyce

About Last Night (Sleeper Agent)
It Goes Like This (Thomas Rhett)
Melophobia (Cage the Elephant)
Montibello Memories (Matrimony)
Mountains Of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song (Amos Lee)
The Outsiders (Eric Church)


Greg Kurstin

“Beating Heart” (Ellie Goulding)
“Chandelier” (Sia)
“Double Rainbow” (Katy Perry)
“Gunshot” (Lykke Li)
“Money Power Glory” (Lana Del Rey)
1000 Forms of Fear (Sia)
Sheezus (Lily Allen)
Wrapped in Red (Kelly Clarkson)


Max Martin

“Bang Bang” (Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj)
“Break Free” (Ariana Grande Featuring Zedd)
“Dark Horse” (Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J)
“Problem” (Ariana Grande Featuring Iggy Azalea)
“Shake It Off” (Taylor Swift)
“Unconditionally” (Katy Perry)

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