The man with the steady hand – In memory of Willem Makkee (1947 – 2017)

Willem Makkee

When the talk is of fathers, sons and mothers and cutting, then it isn’t the Mafia who is seeking to cryptically communicate some devilish plan. However, every vinyl pressing needs a godfather who watches over the “family” with an eagle eye and keen ear. It is he who guarantees with careful groundwork that the “offspring” will be of excellent quality. The Dutchman Willem Makkee was one of the very few of his profession whose skill at the cutting machine, his vast technological knowledge, a keen ear and a wealth of experience, was advanced to a fine art. Whoever had an appointment with the Tape Mastering Engineer at the legendary Emil-Berliner Studios in Hanover found himself faced with a cheerful, unpretentious, good-natured man who worked passionately with the various technical paraphernalia that he had set up to suit himself best. When Wim – with all possible creative freedom – controlled the transfer of the signals from the tape to the blank lacquer disc with amazing strictness, emphasized by the cutter; when he adjusted the cutting; when he stood poised in front of all the switches and knobs on his mixing console, this was precisely what distinguished the analogue charm of handmade stereophony.

Makkee’s love of analogue equipment, scorned at by digital fanatics with a yearning for progress in the Nineties, was extended to his hobby as a photographer. If you try to understand his work as a cutter but don’t much idea about technology, you should listen to the credo of the American landscape photographer Ansel Adams: the former concert pianist Adams regarded a perfect negative as a musical score, out of which the artist could create a valuable print. No less, and no more. Similarly, the precious master tape serves simply as a basis from which only a master craftsman can create an artistic product.

In the course of the years, Willem Makkee newly interpreted more than 400 such “prints” or rather lacquer discs, for Speakers Corner, creating them anew with the purest reproduction and finest sound. Our productions, heard all over the world, are an everlasting memorial to this genial master of the disc.

Subscribe to newsletter ×