Masterdisk is one of the most enduring mastering facilities in the world. Founded in 1973 as a division of PolyGram, the company was soon acquired by current owner, president and CEO Doug Levine, who over three decades has built it into a mastering powerhouse. The formula is simple: a combination of classic and new technology, with a staff of veteran mastering engineers. The result is an enviable roster featuring a broad array of artists, including DMX, the Beastie Boys, Monica, Ben Folds Five, Whitney Houston, Garbage, Shawn Mullins, Luscious Jackson, Mariah Carey and Slayer, to name just a few.
"One way that you can service such a wide variety of artists and types of music is to have the kind of people whose experience covers an equally wide spectrum," Levine explains. He notes that several of Masterdisk's staff engineers have nearly as many years in the industry as the facility itself. For instance, Tony Dawsey has been with Masterdisk for 21 years, and engineer Howie Weinberg has been there for 22. Along with engineers Andy van Dette, Roger Lian and surround engineer Drew Anderson, Masterdisk has nearly a century's worth of experience to offer clients.
The six-room facility includes a recently completed dedicated 5.1 surround mastering suite and a DVD authoring suite. The overall effect points to efficiency, leading-edge technology and ergonomics, yet with a homey ambience, which Levine says is an important part of the entire experience at Masterdisk. "Compared to what it takes to record and mix a record, people aren't going to be spending the same amount of time at a mastering facility," he says. "But you want to be able to extend the same kind of familiar, at-home experience that they had when they were recording. You want people to be comfortable when they're here, because mastering is just as critical a stage of an entire project as are any of the others." In fact, one of Masterdisk's three lounge areas is probably as large and spacious as many recording studios, complete with its own pool table and Internet access.
Comfort and attention to amenities work hand in hand with the facility's technical capability. In addition to highly modified vintage Neumann mastering consoles, the seven networked Sonic Solutions workstations and a large array of analog and digital signal processing gear, there is the recently implemented Daikin Scenarist and Sonic Solutions DVD Creator authoring and graphics systems, positioning Masterdisk for work in new formats. "It's that combination of technology, our efforts to keep the studio at the edge of the industry, and our experienced staff that have contributed to our success for so many years," says Levine.