“A lot of us came to this business because of sound quality…” – Bernie Grundman

… because of sound quality

~ 16:50 into

because of sound quality

The album “Aja” by Steely Dan is widely regarded as a landmark album in the realm of jazz-rock and fusion music. Released in 1977, “Aja” represents a high point in Steely Dan’s career and is considered one of their most critically acclaimed albums.

Here are some reasons why “Aja” is highly regarded:

1. **Musical Complexity**: “Aja” is known for its intricate musical arrangements, sophisticated harmonies, and virtuosic performances. Steely Dan, led by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, were known perfectionists who spared no effort in crafting each song to perfection.

2. **Fusion of Styles**: The album seamlessly blends elements of jazz, rock, funk, and pop, creating a unique and eclectic sound that appealed to a wide audience. The musicianship on “Aja” is top-notch, with contributions from some of the finest session players of the era.

3. **Innovative Production**: “Aja” was produced by Gary Katz and engineered by Roger Nichols, who employed cutting-edge recording techniques and studio technology to achieve a pristine and polished sound. The album is known for its sonic clarity and attention to detail.

4. **Hit Singles**: While “Aja” is best experienced as a cohesive album, it also produced several hit singles, including the title track “Aja,” “Peg,” and “Deacon Blues.” These songs helped propel the album to commercial success and solidified Steely Dan’s reputation as a leading force in 1970s music.

5. **Enduring Legacy**: Over the years, “Aja” has continued to garner praise from critics and musicians alike, and it remains a favorite among fans of jazz-rock and fusion music. The album has been recognized with numerous accolades and awards and is often cited as a classic of its genre.

“Aja” is certainly a significant and influential album that has left a lasting impact on the music world. Its innovative sound, meticulous craftsmanship, and timeless appeal continue to resonate with listeners to this day.


Bill Schnee is a renowned American recording engineer, mixer, and producer known for his work with a wide range of artists across multiple genres. He has been involved in the creation of numerous hit albums and singles throughout his career, earning acclaim for his technical expertise and musical sensibilities.

Some of Bill Schnee’s notable credits include:

1. Steely Dan: Schnee worked as an engineer on Steely Dan’s landmark album “Aja,” contributing to the album’s acclaimed sound and sonic clarity.

2. Gladys Knight & The Pips: Schnee engineered and mixed several albums for Gladys Knight & The Pips, including “About Love” and “Visions.”

3. Whitney Houston: He worked on Whitney Houston’s self-titled debut album, which included hits like “Saving All My Love for You” and “Greatest Love of All.”

4. Boz Scaggs: Schnee collaborated with Boz Scaggs on the album “Silk Degrees,” which featured the hit singles “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle.”

5. Barbra Streisand: He engineered Streisand’s album “Guilty,” produced by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, which included the hit duet “Guilty” with Barry Gibb.

6. Ringo Starr: Schnee engineered Ringo Starr’s album “Ringo,” which featured the hit singles “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen.”

7. Kenny Loggins: He worked on several albums for Kenny Loggins, including “Nightwatch” and “Keep the Fire.”

8. Michael Jackson: Schnee was involved in engineering Jackson’s album “Off the Wall,” which marked a significant milestone in Jackson’s career.

These are just a few highlights of Bill Schnee’s extensive and illustrious career in the music industry. His contributions as an engineer and mixer have helped shape the sound of countless albums and have earned him recognition as one of the most respected figures in the field.


Bernie Grundman is a highly respected mastering engineer known for his meticulous attention to detail and his ability to enhance the sound quality of recordings. He has worked with a wide range of artists across various genres and has contributed to the creation of numerous iconic albums throughout his career.

Some key points about Bernie Grundman:

1. Early Career: Grundman began his career in the music industry in the 1960s, working as a recording engineer at Contemporary Records in Los Angeles. He quickly gained a reputation for his technical expertise and his ability to achieve high-quality recordings.

2. Mastering Engineer: Grundman is best known for his work as a mastering engineer, a specialized role in the recording process that involves preparing the final mix of a recording for distribution. He has mastered thousands of albums over the years, working with artists from diverse genres including jazz, rock, pop, and classical.

3. Studio: In 1984, Grundman opened his own mastering studio, Bernie Grundman Mastering, in Hollywood, California. The studio quickly became one of the most sought-after mastering facilities in the industry, attracting top artists and producers.

4. Technological Innovations: Grundman has been at the forefront of technological advancements in the mastering field, constantly seeking new ways to improve the quality and fidelity of recordings. He has played a key role in the development of high-resolution audio formats and has championed the use of analog equipment in the digital age.

5. Iconic Albums: Grundman’s list of credits includes many iconic albums that have had a significant impact on the music industry. Some notable examples include Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Prince’s “Purple Rain,” Steely Dan’s “Aja,” and Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” among many others.

6. Awards and Recognition: Grundman’s contributions to the music industry have been widely recognized, and he has received numerous awards and accolades for his work. He has won multiple Grammy Awards for his mastering efforts and has been honored by organizations such as the Recording Academy and the Audio Engineering Society.

Overall, Bernie Grundman is considered one of the most influential mastering engineers in the history of recorded music. His dedication to sonic excellence and his passion for his craft have made him a legend in the industry, and his work continues to inspire and influence musicians and engineers around the world.


Donald Fagen is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer best known as one of the co-founders and lead vocalist of the band Steely Dan. Born on January 10, 1948, in Passaic, New Jersey, Fagen has had a significant impact on the world of rock and jazz-rock fusion music.

Here are some key points about Donald Fagen:

1. Steely Dan: Fagen co-founded Steely Dan in 1972 with guitarist Walter Becker. The band’s unique blend of jazz, rock, and pop influences, combined with Fagen’s distinctive vocals and Becker’s intricate guitar work, led to critical acclaim and commercial success.

2. Songwriting: Fagen is known for his sophisticated and witty songwriting, which often explores themes of urban life, relationships, and societal issues. His lyrics are characterized by their literary references, complex wordplay, and sardonic wit.

3. Vocal Style: Fagen’s vocals are instantly recognizable for their smooth tone, subtle phrasing, and understated delivery. His soulful voice adds depth and emotion to Steely Dan’s music, and he is widely regarded as one of the most distinctive vocalists in rock history.

4. Solo Career: In addition to his work with Steely Dan, Fagen has released several solo albums. His debut solo album, “The Nightfly” (1982), received widespread critical acclaim and is considered a classic of the jazz-pop genre. He has since released several more solo albums, including “Kamakiriad” (1993), “Morph the Cat” (2006), and “Sunken Condos” (2012).

5. Collaborations: Fagen has collaborated with numerous artists throughout his career, both as a solo artist and as a member of Steely Dan. He has worked with musicians such as Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs, and Walter Becker, among others.

6. Recognition: Fagen and Steely Dan have received numerous awards and accolades over the years, including multiple Grammy Awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and have been praised by critics and musicians alike for their innovative approach to songwriting and production.

7. Legacy: Fagen’s influence extends far beyond his own recordings, and his music continues to inspire and influence artists across a wide range of genres. Steely Dan’s albums are considered classics of the 1970s rock era, and Fagen’s solo work has earned him a dedicated following of fans.

Overall, Donald Fagen is a highly respected and influential figure in the world of rock music, known for his distinctive voice, sophisticated songwriting, and contributions to the genre as both a solo artist and a member of Steely Dan.


Chad Kassem is an American entrepreneur and music enthusiast known for his contributions to the vinyl record industry. He is the founder and CEO of Acoustic Sounds, Inc., which includes several divisions focused on various aspects of the music business, including record pressing, distribution, and retail.

Here are some key points about Chad Kassem:

1. Acoustic Sounds, Inc.: Kassem founded Acoustic Sounds in 1986 with the goal of providing audiophiles with high-quality recordings of their favorite music. The company started as a mail-order catalog specializing in rare and hard-to-find vinyl records, but it has since expanded to include a wide range of music-related services.

2. Vinyl Pressing: Acoustic Sounds operates its own vinyl pressing plant, Quality Record Pressings (QRP), which is located in Salina, Kansas. QRP specializes in producing audiophile-quality vinyl records using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques. The plant is known for its commitment to quality and its dedication to preserving the art and craftsmanship of vinyl record manufacturing.

3. Distribution: In addition to pressing vinyl records, Acoustic Sounds also serves as a distributor for a wide range of record labels and artists. The company distributes both new releases and reissues across various genres, catering to audiophiles and collectors around the world.

4. Retail: Acoustic Sounds operates an online retail store that sells a vast selection of vinyl records, CDs, SACDs, and other music-related products. The store specializes in audiophile recordings, rare releases, and high-quality reissues, catering to discerning music enthusiasts who value sound quality and craftsmanship.

5. Passion for Music: Kassem’s love for music and his passion for preserving the vinyl format have been driving forces behind his work with Acoustic Sounds. He is deeply committed to supporting artists, labels, and fans who share his appreciation for the artistry and authenticity of analog recordings.

6. Industry Influence: Kassem’s efforts have had a significant impact on the vinyl record industry, helping to fuel the resurgence of interest in vinyl and contributing to the growth of the audiophile market. His dedication to quality and his advocacy for the vinyl format have earned him respect and admiration within the music industry.

Overall, Chad Kassem is a prominent figure in the world of vinyl records, known for his entrepreneurial spirit, his commitment to quality, and his unwavering passion for music. Through Acoustic Sounds, he has played a pivotal role in preserving the legacy of vinyl and ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the unique experience of analog audio.

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