mastering studio

Nathan James | Chief Mastering Engineer

Mastering Engineer

"A musician's mastering engineer."

Those are the words we hear most often when clients speak about their experience mastering their albums with Nathan...and it's fitting. In one corner of his mastering suite is his cello, in the other, his mandolin. He holds a music degree from the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music and honed his sound chops engineering recordings for Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, Dave Brubeck, John Pizzarelli, Andre Previn, Boston Pops, and the Boston Symphony Orhcestra.

His devotion to the art of sound recording and his early engineering accomplishments landed him an opportunity to work with the team of crack engineers at New York City's Classic Sound (Scott Hull, Tim Martyn, Tom Lazarus). There he assisted on hundreds of albums including projects for John Mayer (Room For Squares), Anoushka Shankar (Live at Carnegie Hall), Garbage (Garbage 2.0), Dave Douglas (Freak In) and the Gypsy Kings.

Several years later, Nathan joined the crew at The Hit Factory Mastering Studios mastering music for acts such as The Bravery, Charlie Hunter, and The Fray. This stint began his mastering service's relationship with the regional New York City music scene, a relationship that continues to thrive today.

After The Hit Factory was laid to rest, Nathan moved to a mastering studio called Jigsaw Sound, where he fine-tuned his mastering technique and in the process, built up a loyal and musically diverse client base in New York, the US and throughout the world.

Nathan created The Vault Mastering Studios in late 2006 so that he could deliver a vision to his clients; a comfortable and creative musical space that catered primarily to independent musicians and mixing engineers/studio owners, cutting not a single corner in terms of mastering technology and those immensely important free-flowing lines of communication. Fortunately, that vision clicked and Vault Mastering has since enjoyed a steady flow of great records, interesting artists, and many unique mastering experiences.

Nathan can now be found mastering records out of his new mastering studio in the Phoenix area. See pictures of the new studio here. Arrangements for attended sessions in New York can be made with two months of notice.

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What Nathan's clients are saying...

Client Testimonials


"In the 13 years that I've been performing and recording music, this is the best mastering engineer I've worked with thus far. Not only was he able to make the fixes and adjustments that I requested, he intuitively improved a host of other aspects of the mixes. I plan on using Vault for all my future projects."

New York Horns

"Nathan did a fantastic job on our newest release! We couldn't be happier with the results, and his willingness to work with us to put everything in a great sonic space was exceptional. We sincerely appreciated Nathan's ear and musicality in the choices he made for our mastering - he brought a new and fresh dimension to the music. THANK YOU!"

New York Horns

Darren English

"We are all awestruck at how good it sounds! I always expect the best from you, but this one has a special warm quality that makes the very diverse musical selections on the album hang together quite well. Darren was really pleased with the way his trumpet sounds and it's impossible to not notice how well everyone is imaged - the bass and trumpet in particular."

Tony Wasilewski

Shallow Side

"Being a touring band and living on the road constantly, there isn't a lot of people who understand speed and quality. Working with The Vault Mastering Studio and Nathan James was exactly that. Our turn around rate was incredible not to mention the quality of the sound, which in turn was just as impressive.

The help that Nathan James provided with answering questions replying to emails and being spot on with answers or walk through's was something that you cant find everywhere. We have already started pushing the name of the company through this experience. Thank you Nathan and The Vault!"

The Upset Victory

"Nathan is by far one of the most professional and pleasant people to work with in the music industry. Vault Mastering's pricing is right on point, the turn around time is extremely manageable, their knowledge and expertise is amazing, and Nathan left us at ease during the whole process. Nathan went above and beyond and assisted us during our disc duplication process as well and was a huge asset to our overall project. Look no further than Vault Mastering if you're considering professionally mastering your record!"

Stephen Campbell

Shaun Michael Poore - pianist

"Nathan was absolutely fantastic to work with both on a personal and professional level. He gave me what I envisioned the mastered album to sound like and was readily available to listen to my requests and concerns. I'm working on a 2nd album and will hands down work with him again. Thanks mate!"

Shaun Michael Poore

Making Change

"Our CD came out sounding great and Nathan was very helpful and responsive throughout the entire project, couldn't have asked for a better experience!"

Watering Can

"Nathan was fantastic. Easy to work with, punctual, thorough, and personable. Would definitely recommend to others, and use again myself!"

Jackson Hardecker

Do You Have the Time

"I have found that most mastering services are fairly impersonal with little time and consideration given to the artist's vision for their fans and listeners. That is not the case with Nathan at the Vault Mastering Studio.

One of the most important things that I recognized working at the studio is that Nathan provides a second set of ears, critical to objective listening. Honestly I must admit, that I was unable to detect some of the distractions found in our final mixes which Nathan was able to highlight and adjust with discussion and approval.

Not only was the mastering experience an eye-opening one, but listening to the sequence and mood for the master was as important as the professional sound. All I'm attempting to say is that, our music was created and recorded for a listening audience, and the listening experience began at the Vault, and our album did not come out from the session until we were satisfied that our music was exactly the experience we wished for people to hear.

Thank you for your insights and knowledge Nathan. I came for a product but forged a friendship that goes beyond a working relationship."

Spooky Kool

8 Keys

"What a great experience working with the Vault! Nathan was very perceptive and extremely skilled in raising the quality of the release to a very high standard. My sincere gratitude. We will be seeing you again soon for the next one!

Steve Bach