Doug Sax

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Doug Sax
Doug Sax.jpg
Sax in 2014
Background information
Birth nameDouglas Sax
Born(1936-04-26)April 26, 1936
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedApril 2, 2015(2015-04-02) (aged 78)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Mastering Engineer
Associated actsBob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa

Doug Sax (April 26, 1936 – April 2, 2015) was an American mastering engineer from Los Angeles, California. He mastered three of The Doors' albums, including their 1967 debut; six of Pink Floyd's albums, including The Wall ; Ray Charles' multiple-Grammy winner Genius Loves Company in 2004, and Bob Dylan's 36th studio album Shadows in the Night in 2015.


Early life

Sax was born in Los Angeles on April 26, 1936 to Mildred and Remy Sax. While attending Fairfax High School in West LA, Sax played the trumpet alongside trumpeter Herb Alpert. Upon graduation, Sax attended UCLA and then was drafted into the Army where he played trumpet in the 7th Army Symphony from 1959-1961. [1]


Doug Sax with 4 Lathes Doug Sax with 4 Lathes.jpg
Doug Sax with 4 Lathes

From an early age, Sax was interested in recorded sound, and although he had established a career as a symphonic trumpeter, on December 27, 1967, along with Lincoln Mayorga, a friend from junior high who had become a music arranger and pianist for Capitol Records, and Sax's older brother Sherwood (Bert), an engineer, he opened The Mastering Lab. One of the first big albums Sax mastered at The Mastering Lab was The Doors' debut album which was inducted into the Library of Congress on March 25, 2015. [2]

The Mastering Lab uses equipment designed by Sherwood, which features handcrafted electronics, from the tape machines to the equalizers, compressors / limiters, A/D - D/A converters, and monitoring amplifiers. [3] That, combined with his ears and expertise, helped Sax forge a long and successful career at The Mastering Lab. [4] In 1970, Sax and Mayorga founded Sheffield Lab Recordings, an audiophile label which produced direct-to-disc classical and jazz albums. [5] [6]

In the 1970s he helped establish the audiophile record company Sheffield Lab, with his friend Lincoln Mayorga. Known for their Direct-To-Disk and Live to 2-track recordings, they recorded such artists as Dave Grusin, Thelma Houston, Harry James, James Newton Howard, Michael Ruff, Pat Coil, and Clair Marlo.

By 1972, Sax was mastering 20% of the top 100 chart in Billboard magazine. Albums mastered by Sax and released in 1971 included such titles as The Who's Who's Next , Harry Nilsson's Nilsson Schmilsson , The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers and the Eagles' debut album. During his career, Sax cut thousands of LP masters with his custom designed, all-tube signal path including Pink Floyd's The Wall (and all subsequent Pink Floyd releases up to 2014's The Endless River ), the reissue of the Slayer thrash metal group's Vinyl Conflict box set and Pantera vinyl reissues, the Eagles' Greatest Hits, and Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin.


Sax died on April 2, 2015, aged 78, from cancer in Los Angeles. [7]

Recording engineer and producer Al Schmitt released a statement on Sax's death:

Sorry to say but one of my dearest friends and in my opinion the greatest mastering engineer in the world passed away this morning. He mastered all of my recordings and I don't know what I will do without him. He taught me so many things. I will miss his silly jokes and the great lunches we had whenever I was mastering with him. I love you Doug Sax, mastering in heaven just got a lot better.


Grammy Awards

TEC Awards

Sax has been nominated seven times for the Mix Foundation TEC Awards for Creative Achievement, winning twice for:

AES (Audio Engineer Society) Lifetime Honorary Membership Award [12]

Selected works

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  1. "7th Army Symphony" . Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  2. "New Entries to National Recording Registry" . Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  3. "Mastering Lab CEO" . Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  4. "Engineers" . Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  5. "Oral History - Doug Sax" . Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  6. "Sheffield Lab History". Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  7. Legendary Mastering Engineer Doug Sax Has Passed Away,; accessed April 5, 2015.
  8. "Technical Grammy winners 2004". Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  9. "Best Surround Album" . Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  10. "Mix Foundation TEC Awards 2002" . Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  11. "Mix Foundation TEC Awards for 2005" . Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  12. "Oral History - Doug Sax" . Retrieved March 20, 2015.