Fotios Koulakos Hello to all of you, my name is Fotios Koulakos. I am a mastering engineer currently residing and working in Canton, Ohio, U.S.A. If you permit me a moment of your time, I will share a little bit about my background.

As a young boy, I had an interest in electronics and Hi-Fi equipment. The latter was an influence from my father, as he was an avid audiophile. The art of “listening” was an invaluable lesson that would serve me in the future. But, I am getting ahead of myself….

Audiophile equipment and electronics weren’t odd bedfellows I suppose, but the real fun began when I picked up my first guitar at age 13. I soon discovered what many a musician before me had known; the joys of sound on sound recording. Not multi tracking mind you…(that would come later)….just the crude method of recording onto one cassette recorder, then playing that back to a second cassette recorder, while simultaneously playing a fresh guitar line over the whole thing! To a fourteen-fifteen year old: MAGIC!

That was it. The moment when all of my interests culminated into one solitary vision: The blend of music, audio, and electronics.

The natural progression of things took shape. As my guitar playing improved, I added bass guitar to the agenda. Improved musicianship led to composing. As said composing became more proficient and sophisticated, the need for audio recording/production and multi tracking became critical. Mastery of audio/studio recording was the next order of business. The goal was to be able to fulfill my musical ambitions without compromise. In the late eighties I furthered my music education at Kent State University.

At this point I started teaching guitar, bass, and music theory; and with the audio skills learned so far, I set forth to fulfill my goals. This led to work at local studios, which gave way to finally realizing my dream of owning a “real” studio.

In 1995, that wish became reality. A full 24 track analog studio was built. Outside work was steady; I was learning new tricks on the job….and ultimately applying them to my own projects! All was going according to plan.

1st Call Mastering

All green lights ahead, right? Well, not so fast. One hurdle remained. The “black art” of mastering. That was the final step. The step lacking in my work. Mastering….sonic Valhalla! That, was what gave “professional” records and CDs that, well, “professional” sound!

A “Do It Yourself” attitude was in order. The knowledge available today with online sources (just like the site you’re on now!) did not exist back then. Studio engineers were reluctant to talk about their “craft”. Mastering engineers? Zip. Nada. No one knew what “sorcery” these were up to!

Silliness aside, getting any useful information on mastering proved to be the most difficult for me. Despite the steep learning curve, I got to cut my first master in 1998 for a friends CD and started down a new career path which led to the creation of my current mastering business in 2006: 1st Call Mastering. For those who would like to know more, the mastering website is

I humbly thank you for giving me your attention.

Moving right along, here are some of the things I plan on covering and contributing.

The upcoming series will guide you in a step by step manner in training your ear to identify, recognize, and recall frequencies. In short, you will train your ears in much the same manner a musician would. The only difference being this: A musician will train his/her ear for a musical/artistic perspective, while you, the audio pro will do the same in order to serve the technical perspective of your audio craft. It’s this precise knowledge that will bring out the best in the artists you will work with.

The series will start from the beginning, establishing a base for what sound is, how it is measured, and ultimately how to go about frequency training. As the series progresses, the complexity of sound and frequency will broaden. We will be discussing fundamental frequencies, compound frequencies (as very few sounds are simple), harmonics, and hearing equalizer bands. Of course, each step of the way, there will be “homework”. Don’t worry. Work slowly, and at your own pace. Your ear will learn at its own speed. So, keep in mind, these assignments (with audio demos) will be for you to go over and over as much as you need to.

Topics that will be on the horizon will be: real life studio applications, real life sound analysis, and real world guides and principles to recording and mixing. In short, you will use your ear training every day!

More discussion will eventually include a breakdown of audio effects used in the studio or stage. The common thread here is that ALL sound is tied by frequencies. If there is one thing you take away from this series, and indeed even this website, it should be this:

The “alphabet” of sound is frequency. It all revolves around frequency.

Concerning the cornerstone (our ears) of ALL of our collective professions; this information is here, at your fingertips. I wish all of you a successful journey in your audio/musical pursuits. Have a blast!

Yours truly,

Fotios Koulakos

We’ll be hearing more about Fotios’ series on frequency training tomorrow with his post “What’s ‘Frequency Training’ All About?” In the mean time, please welcome him to the new, and if you have any questions, speak up in the comments below!