HP Mastering – one of the most in-demand mastering studios in Germany is owned by Hans-Philipp Graf. As with most sound engineers, the love-of-music came to Hans-Philipp in his school years. There he played guitar in a various funk, fusion, and jazz-rock bands before getting involved with emerging hip-hop, and discovering Cubasis.
The excitement of creating his own music led him to the purchase his first synthesizer. Digital console, more synths, and outboard gear quickly followed. Starting with music production and mixing, Hans-Philipp gradually moved into mastering, where he found himself most comfortable. He quickly learned to add that final piece of emotion into a track. Now, Hans-Philipp has already mastered multiple gold and platinum records by top artists such as Jan Delay, Xavier Naidoo, Oddisee, Kollegah, Kool Savas, Clueso, Tim Bendzko, Annett Louisan, Laith Al-Deen, Solomun, Stimming, and David August. He enjoys working with a variety of genres ranging from Hip-Hop, House, and Pop to Jazz.
Hans-Philipp loves testing new gear but keeps a healthy balance between daily work-routine and experimentation. Currently, he relies on Wavelab feeding the signal through Crane Song Solaris into his analog chain. His preferred EQs are Knif Audio Eksa, and Soma, and preferred compressors are Knif Audio Pure MU, the Maselec MLA-4, and the Dramastic Audio Obsidian. Hans-Philipp continues the description of his setup saying “I have Maselec the MPL-2 Limiter|HF Limiter and a Maselec MTC-1X Mastering console with Grimm Audio cables. The processed signal is then digitized with a PrismSound Dream AD-2. Oh … and I also have Amphion speakers …”
Hans-Philipp admits that hype always makes him a little skeptical, and that’s why he initially delayed testing Amphion studio monitors. “Over time, I became curious, as I continued receiving recommendations to try Amphions. They were coming from people whose opinion I greatly valued,” recalls Hans-Philipp. Amphion’s German product specialist and also a mastering engineer – Tom Porcell – arranged a demo for Hans-Philipp. “My first reaction was not so positive, and if I had tested them alone, they would have gone back immediately,” admits Hans-Philipp. “Fortunately, Tom took his time to position them correctly, and suddenly it all clicked,” says Hans-Philipp.
“I am not the technical type who has studied the theory down to its last detail. I prefer to capture the emotion of the mix and enhance it so that the listener can take more away with him.” This is where Amphion Two18 studio monitors and BaseOne25 system fit his workflow. “Monitoring must have the quality to convey emotions. At the same time, monitoring must bring out the most subtleties and differences in sound. It must work simultaneously in the “big picture” as well as in the representation of the “sound nuances,” says Hans-Philipp and continues,
Hans-Philipp finds the option to adjust the base amp very helpful. “I work mainly at quite low listening volumes but would like the feeling and the information in the low-end to translate well. So, I set the base amp a bit louder than a neutral position to catch the thrust in the bass even at low levels,” shares Hans-Philipp. “The DSP systems that I have heard so far are cool, analytical, and perhaps unnatural. The Amphions, on-the-other-hand, are much more sympathetic – analogous, and passive without many frills,” says Hans-Philipp.