R.I.P. Legendary Mastering Engineer Stan Ricker

Legendary mastering and recording engineer Stan Ricker passed away today. That is all I know at this time. As I learn more I will update this news item.

Ricker first made his mastering presence known as a disc cutter along with Jack Hunt, for the original Mobile Fidelity 1/2 speed mastered LPs released in the 1970s and 1980s.

Ricker mastered the controversial original Mo-Fi Beatles box set in the early '80s. It was controversial because the equalization seemed extreme and not in keeping with the original sound. The treble and bass were boosted, which left a "midrange valley".

Ricker told me many years later that the EQ choice was not his, but rather that of another Mobile Fidelity employee, whose name I won't repeat here because this is second-hand information. However having known Stan over the years I take his word for it.

Like the late Doug Sax, Ricker cut lacquers until his passing. He was a vinyl enthusiast throughout his life and cut many, many great records during his long career.

This is from his website:

"Stan is Owner/Engineer Of SRM, a musician (acoustic and electric bass and tuba,67 yrs.) who understands the importance of serving the needs of music. He has a BME from the University of Kansas. [1962] Over the last 48 years, his path has taken him through teaching, performing, conducting, recording, producing, engineering and mastering many projects. Stan is well known for his keen hearing and attention to details that some others simply do not understand. "The difference REALLY is in the details," says Stan.

Stan Ricker belongs to the Hollywood Sapphire Group, and formerly was a member of the Audio Engineering Society. He was voted "Disk Cutting Engineer of the Year" in 1981 by "Playboy Readers Poll" and was voted "Recording Engineer of the Year" in 1984."

The photo above was taken at The 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

moosehunt's picture

I am Saddened to see so many artists: writer, technical, and performer gone from the scene, so much skill and knowledge gone in such a short period of time. I have never had the privilege to meet any of them but their work has brought me tremendous pleasure over the years. Reading this made me wonder, is there a younger generation of technical craftsmen coming up to fill the ranks, who can apprentice with the masters of the craft? If yes, who are some of the names to keep an eye on? If not, do you have thoughts on how to change that?

Michael Fremer's picture
I'd say Ryan K. Smith at Sterling but at this point he's "up and came"! Ryan has been cutting some of Analogue Productions best sounding reissues in my opinion. He's in the 30s.
Jon's picture

Those Living Stereo reissues are the best sounding I have ever heard.

amarok89's picture

One of the best ever.

thomoz's picture

His versions of the London-era Stones, DSOTM, Abbey Road, Year Of The Cat and Manhattan Transfer Live are among my favorites to this day.

vinylsoul1965's picture

I appreciate Michael your discussion of the "midrange" on the Beatles MFSL set. For many of us kids who didn't own UK imports yet, Abbey Road was a revelation. For those of us involved in the industry we understand the demands of labels and companies wanting a certain sound. For me as a kid in 1982, I was hearing details and imaging I had never heard before from my many Canadian pressings of that record. Stan opened up the whole world of "audiophile pressings" for me and the pursuit of the best available tape source (the MFSL set still sounds wonderful and for those who can, we change the EQ settings to more reflect the sound we want to hear - the source however was the original tapes in an all analog environment. Something we did not experience for the stereo remasters).

Very grateful to Stan for his amazing work over the years, especially "Out of the Blue". For those on the Steve Hoffman forum, there is a lovely thread where Stan's passing was announced and some personal contributions have been shared. http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/stan-ricker-has-passed-away.448745/

If you were touched by Stan's work, please feel free to leave your regrets :)

vinylsoul1965's picture

(contributions from his family members that is)

vinyl1's picture

Not only was Stan an outstanding mastering engineer, he was a fun guy to talk with on the phone and by email. I only wish I had been able to meet him in person.

Stan, your great records will live on! RIP!

Jay's picture

Thank you sincerely for the joy your work has given us all over the years.

Superfuzz's picture


Dr Freejazz's picture

who once liked something I wrote about Glenn Gould will be missed enormously. It's so sad he's not among us anymore. His wonderful contributions to our great hobby will never be forgotten.

Rudy's picture

One of the "good guys" in the industry. I have a good sampling of his work in my collection. He will definitely be missed!

mobileholmes's picture

Stan told me the same thing about EQ. You can tell which records he had a "free hand" in mastering, because the "meddler" wasn't interested in classical and jazz as much as the pop releases. Stan was perhaps THE least likely person, that I knew in audio, to lie about such a thing. And his ears and taste were too good to make an EQ choice like THAT.

Anyway, he was the friendliest person I've met in audio. I think gregarious is the right word. A good musician, person, father, mastering engineer, mentor, etc.. I will miss him.

oscelm's picture

God bless Stan Ricker. I emailed him about 5 years back to thank him for his incredible work, and he replied right away. Super friendly and humble. He commented that he believed the half-speed process was still the 'best way to inscribe a lacquer'. A great loss to the industry, but what a legacy.