ARIA Awards 2020 Nominations


This year, Don has mastered three albums that are up for nomination between five categories for the 2020 ARIA awards. The artists include Archie Roach, Busby Marou, and The Wiggles.

To see further information, categories, and nominations, head over to the ARIAS website.

Good luck to all nominated!



Benchmark Mastering Loses Founding Member


It is our sad duty to have to announce that Helen Bartley, one of the founders of Benchmark Mastering, has passed away after a long illness.


Partner in life and business of legendary mastering engineer Don Bartley, Helen was a director of International Mastering Services since the early 1990s, and was actively involved in setting up Benchmark in 2006 at the site of the original EMI Studios in Castlereagh Street, Sydney. Her husband Don never doubted that Benchmark, an icon of the Australian music scene, would not have existed and flourished without Helen’s encouragement and personal support. She will always be remembered for her bright and cheerful character, and for looking after everyone who came through the door, whether independent or major Australian artists or international artists, with the same attention, care and consideration. The artists Helen worked closely with through the years amount to an illustrious roll-call, from INXS and Cold Chisel to Savage Garden, Leo Sayer, Harry Connick Jr, Jessica Mauboy, and many more.


Originally from Melbourne, Helen met Don in Sydney in the mid-1980s and they became partners. After EMI closed down their custom records pressing service, Helen launched Customline Records, running it out of the old post office at East Balmain. It was a much-needed service and a great boon for independent artists requiring high quality vinyl pressings of their recordings. Over 100,000 pressings were supplied during this time, before Helen eventually changed the East Balmain outlet into a popular video store.


Nina Bartley was born in 1988, joining Adam and Jasmine, Helen’s two children from her previous marriage. In 1992, the family moved from Balmain to the Blue Mountains, into a new house they had project-managed from the ground up. This was the starting-point of Don and Helen going independent, and is the current location of Benchmark Mastering.


When Benchmark was established in 2006, the original founders were Helen, Don and Nina Bartley, and Reece Tunbridge, and from that time on, Helen was actively involved in the day to day management of the studios at Castlereagh Street. When the level 7 facility at Castlereagh changed direction, Helen and Don moved Benchmark up to their home/studio in the Blue Mountains.


Helen was laid to rest in Wentworth Falls on September 21, 2020, and will be sadly missed. Her legacy, however, will be carried on, just as she would have wished, with Benchmark continuing to operate and offer its world-renowned services.





Mark of the Finest Pressings

by Demetrius Romeo


"They range from probably the most famous mastering engineers – well, one of the most famous in the world, really, but the only one people probably know – Don Bartley…” He doesn’t get to the other end of the continuum, the “to…” that must follow the “from probably the most famous…” because we end up talking about Don Bartley, whom I ‘know’, but only as the name often seen on the back of records"... Read More









The Origin of the Rarest and Most Sought After Pressing of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

by Bill Wright


AnalogPlanet reader Bill Wright interviews Australian mastering engineer Don Bartley, who cut lacquers back in 1983 for what many consider to be the best sounding and certainly the rarest pressing of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, produced by EMI Australia for the 1983 Sydney Audio Show. Fewer than five hundred copies were pressed.

Mr. Wright tells the story, followed by his interview with mastering engineer Bartley.....Read more

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