Terra Nova MasteringFIRST IN AUSTIN 12/01/2009 7:00 AM Eastern
For the past five years, Terra Nova Mastering (www.terranovamastering.com) has handled all of New West Records' Austin City Limits releases — a series of 5.1 surround DVDs and full-length CDs that showcase not only the best of ACL, but many of the best roots and rock 'n' roll performers anywhere. Chief engineer Jerry Tubb's first ACL project was a Lucinda Williams performance; other highlights have included Norah Jones, David Byrne, Neko Case and the Platinum-selling DVD of Johnny Cash's 1987 appearance on the program. And New West is just one of the thousands of clients that Tubb and his wife and partner, interior designer/artist Diane Tubb, have hosted during the 19 years since they opened Austin's first dedicated mastering facility.
“Jerry and I met in Mid- land,Texas,” Diane Tubb says. “He was head of the commercial music department at Midland Junior College. We had been married about a year when he came back from one of the earliest South by Southwests, and said, ‘You know, there's no mastering studio in Austin.’”
“So I had the bright idea to quit my job,” Jerry Tubb says with a laugh. “And we picked up and moved to Austin.”
The Tubbs' first studio was in a spare bedroom in their new home, but after a talented young singer/songwriter named Bob Schneider tracked mud through the house, “Diane said, ‘Go find yourself a studio,’” Jerry Tubb says.
The Tubbs then rented an 800-square-foot space where Jerry Tubb could set up a Digidesign Sound Tools system, and Diane Tubb ran the business side. They launched a direct-mail campaign to Texas musicians, studios and engineers, and word spread that Austin had its own digital mastering studio. “I started working with Willie Nelson and Ray Benson and Jerry Jeff Walker,” Jerry Tubb says. “We were off and running.”
Terra Nova has moved/expanded twice more since then; it's now situated in a 3,000-square-foot industrial space that includes two 400-square-foot mastering rooms — one occupied by Jerry Tubb and the other by engineer Nick Landis, who works mainly in Pro Tools.
Jerry Tubb's studio centers around Sonic Studio's SoundBlade. His main monitors are Dunlavy SC-IVAs; in '04, when New West called, he added Paradigm center and surround speakers. And though he's used a digital platform since 1990, he relies on some key analog pieces: Sontec 432 mastering EQ, Millennia Media NSEQ2 with Fred Forssell mods and Manley VariMu compressor.
The studios were designed by Jerry Tubb and Austin's Gilbert Designs. “I'd been working in small, dead rooms for too long,” Jerry Tubb says, “so I wanted a big room with a tall ceiling and we left it pretty live. When we were finishing the acoustics of the room, we needed more treatment, so I asked Diane to do some paintings on big canvases. My walls here are covered with these far-out paintings of abstract guitars and violins. And I have to say, Diane is responsible for the success of our business. She is so good with people and always has a big smile and lots of charm; people just want to come see us and hang out.”