MasterMix opened its doors just off Nashville's Music Row in 1983. Last year, after mastering hundreds of Gold and Platinum records for a wide range of artists and producers (including Alan Jackson, Sarah Evans, Lucinda Williams, The Mavericks, Allison Moorer and D.C. Talk), MasterMix unveiled a brand-new, $2 million-plus facility a few doors down from its original location. MasterMix's new incarnation, which is sure to keep the company at the forefront of the industry, encompasses traditional mastering and much more: A sister business, MasterVision, specializes in authoring, MPEG-2 compression and encoding, and other mastering and premastering services for the burgeoning DVD format.
The new MasterMix/MasterVision facility, which opened in September 1998, was designed by Russ Berger Design Group and houses two mastering suites, two production studios and the DVD mastering/authoring room. The two audio mastering suites are equipped with custom mastering consoles designed by MasterMix engineer Ken Love and Grant Carpenter of Gordon Instruments. Fourteen months in design and development, they incorporate a Class-A, high-current preamplifier. Monitoring is by huge PMC BB-5 speakers in MasterMix founder and owner Hank Williams' suite, with Ed Long CMF-100 speakers in Love's suite. Digital authoring and post-production specialists Tracy Martinson and Mike Poston are already servicing a wide range of DVD and other new audio formats in their suite, which is equipped with a Panasonic DA7 console and Sonic Solutions' DVD Creator.
MasterMix is now using Prism Sound AD-2 and DA-2 96kHz/24-bit converters, as well as Daniel Weiss digital EQ, level control and dynamics systems. Four of Williams' six Sonic Solutions workstations can also handle 96kHz digital audio and will be used for archiving incoming projects, including those that are still intended for the CD standard of 44.1kHz/16-bit for their initial release. "The record labels are becoming aware of what's going on with the technology," says Williams. "We want to have high-resolution master versions of proj-ects ready for them when they decide to release in other formats."
MasterMix and MasterVision are emblematic of the way in which the mastering market is changing and adapting to new formats, many of which cross multimedia lines. For that reason, the facility also includes a DVD-Video playback theater. "The line between audio and video is blurring with DVD," Williams observes. "DVD is going to be the likely platform for the immediate future, so we have to address the fact that mastering houses are going to be home to video and graphics people in the future, along with audio engineers. We started with music and we'll always be about music, but we're also staying on the edge of new technologies, too."