Masterfonics, a well-known recording studio, started as one of the most well-known and well-regarded mastering facilities in the world over the past two-and-a-half decades. Founded in 1973, Masterfonics introduced to the Nashville market the first Neumann SAL-74 cutter control rack, the first Ampex ADD-1 digital cutting delay and the first Zummaudio cutting control computer, as well as Nashville’s first Ampex ATR-102 11/42-inch analog deck. In 1981, Masterfonics brought in the first JVC DAS, with the first JVC digital mastering console following two years later. Staying on top of technology has remained a constant at Masterfonics, right through the introduction of the CEDAR system for restoration of archived recordings.
The first two mastering suites at the facility were designed by Tom Hidley and are mirror images of each other acoustically; the third mastering studio, added in 1996, was designed by Michael Cronin. Under the guidance of engineer Glenn Meadows (a two-time Grammy winner and multi TEC Award nominee who owned the facility from the 1970s through its acquisition in 1999 by Emerald Entertainment), Masterfonics gained a global reputation, working on scores of Gold and Platinum records for a diverse array of artists, including Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes, Randy Travis, Delbert McClinton, Widespread Panic and Bananarama, as well as for producers and engineers such as Tony Brown, Jimmy Bowen, Roger Nichols and Tim DuBois.
“Technologically, this has always been an evolving facility, and it continues to be,” observes Meadows. “We’ve been doing a lot of high-end restoration work on archived masters and some pretty leading-edge rock and techno records, as well as country and jazz, all of which are pushing the edges of digital audio. But we’re also still one of the only houses in Nashville that regularly cuts vinyl recordings, for dance mixes, radio and for jukeboxes. You can really see the scope of our capabilities in both our technologies and our client base.”
Meadows is particularly vocal about the benefits of large monitoring environments, as reflected in two of the suites’ monitoring systems: Hidley-Kinoshita speakers powered by Cello and FM Acoustics amplifiers; the rooms are virtually flat with no tuning. Still, Meadows attributes Masterfonics’ continued success to an emphasis on talent and a staff who have over 50 years of combined experience in both the field and at Masterfonics.
“What we’ve learned during that time is how to walk the increasingly fine tightrope-line between providing the artist with all the room possible for artistic integrity on the one hand, and providing those artists with the kind of guidance that will give them a competitive record,” Meadows states. “And that’s really the thing that makes a mastering facility great.”