Stockfisch Records is an audiophile record label situated in the small town of Northeim, Germany. By using superb recording and mastering techniques Stockfisch Records produces highly acclaimed albums, appreciated by both an audiophile audience as well as professional musicians and sound engineers around the world, and made Stockfisch a reference quality record label.
Stockfisch Records: record label and recording studio
Stockfisch records was founded in 1974 by tonmeister Günter Pauler, who later also founded Pauler Acoustics. The label and the studios are located in an old mansion, once served as a monastery. Pauler first rented this location, then bought it. Apart from a recording studio, the mansion also houses a cd & sacd pre-mastering studio and a DMM cutting studio. (DMM = Direct Metal Master).
Stockfisch – the art of recording
In the studios every link in the audio chain is optimized with utter precision. Stockfisch posesses about the best audio equipment available, in terms of recording, monitoring as well as mastering. For instance the studio has a very large collection of exclusive microphones, some of them are not available in any other studio in the world. Pauler can hereby choose the right solution in any given situation. This choice of microphones can make a night and day difference, he claims in Stereoplay (edition 1/2015). Naturally not only the quality or correct placement of such microphone is of importance. Anybody can place a microphone, but not everybody can analyse the sound image and can come up with a satisfactory result. Experience is key factor here. Further reading of Stereoplay (same issue) reveals Paulers opinion about eliminating interferences in the studio. According to him the main culprits are WLAN, wireless networks and mains power contamination. These items are completely banned from his studios, the mains power is filtered and Pauler has deliberately chosen LED lighting in the building instead of (the more commonly used) light bulbs.
When Günter Pauler is asked in Stereoplay to describe his typical “Pauler” trade sound he answers: “I recently dug in the archives and came up with a very old recording of mine. I was surprised how good it sounded. Through the years the same tendens is apparent. The most important thing to me is to record as clean as possible.”
This typical “Pauler” stamp, which Günter presses on all Stockfisch recordings, succeeds beyond the borders of Stockfisch and beyond the borders of Germany. In the last couple of years he has become a big name in Asia, more specific in China. Forty percent of Stockfisch revenue is due to his work in the Far East. They entrust him with ancient recordings on tape, which survived the cultural revolution, and which Pauler then revives.
To illustrate that this musical “Orient Express” pays off: in 2015 Pauler and his sound engeneer Hans-Jörg Macksch were nominated for a Grammy Award in the category “best surround sound album” for their recording of Chinese singer Song Zuying.
DMM – Direct Metal Mastering
Furthermore Pauler delivers on demand for external clients, for instance by applying DMM (Direct Metal Master) – a technique he has developed himself. With this technique the digital mastertape is cut on a metal platter. This “metal master” is then read and directly digitalized in SACD format. This way the final musical result has all the charming sonic advantages of a record, without any of the disadvantages. Stockfisch cuts 8 record sides each day, either on demand, or for their own productions.
More info about the DMM technique can be found in our article “Stockfisch Records Direct Metal Mastering”.
Musicians at Stockfisch Records
Stockfisch Records mainly focuses on singer-songwriters. Examples of such artists are Chris Jones, Allan Taylor, Paul O’Brian, David Roth & Steve Strauss. In 2001 Pauler managed to sign “Queen of Audiophile” Sara K after her contract with that other audiophile label – Chesky Records – had finished. Sara K. mentions that she was convinced to sign after Pauler had gotten Chris Jones as accompaniment and sent her a fair but unheard of one-page record contract. The live album Live in Concert (2003) which resulted from her 2002 Bowers & Wilkins-sponsored “Nautilus” tour was chosen as the best audophile CD of 2003 by the readers of the German magazine Stereoplay and received their “Hifi Music Award 2003”.
Credit where credit’s due
Although Günter Pauler is the face of Stockfisch, his lifework would have never been accomplished alone. Luckily Pauler is assisted – in the studio and beyond – by a select team of dedicated collegues.