Please drop by if attending RMAF! Should be an outstanding forum!
Analog Tape: The Ultimate Format @ Seminar Room, Pod Pavilion
Oct 8 @ 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Moderator: Myles Astor, Positive-Feedback
Panelists: Chad Kassem, Acoustic Sounds, Inc., Chris Mara, Welcome to 1979 Studios, Mara Machines; Dan Labrie, ATR Services, Inc.; Michael Romanowski, Coast Mastering, The Tape Project
Reel-to-reel analog tape is the hot new audiophile playback format. You’ve likely noticed more tape machines than at any hi-fi show prior, and next year you’re likely to see even more. Just like with vinyl, rumors of this format’s death were greatly exaggerated. Audiophiles are quickly confirming that tape gives them the best chance at achieving the ultimate in detail, transparency, dynamics and lifelike recreation. Hear from our panel of experts about what titles are coming soon and about your options for getting a tape machine into your listening room.
Myles Astor – Positive-Feedback
Myles Astor is a long time high-end audio enthusiast, journalist and publisher. His reviews have appeared over the years in many magazines including The Absolute Sound and his own publication Ultimate Audio. Myles currently writes for and is a Senior Assistant Editor at Positive-Feedback magazine as well as recently launching his own highly successful online high-end audio bulletin board www.audionirvana.org [nofollow]
. It is now ten years since Myles, with the encouragement of the late Winston Ma, took the plunge and bought his first reel-to-reel machine. And as they say, the rest is history. That lead to being the first to cover the then fledgling renaissance in reel-to-reel tape beginning with his piece on The Tape Project. Since that initial piece, Myles, writing for Positive-Feedback, has focused on reviewing tape playback equipment as well as covering the increasing number of new music releases on tape.
Chad Kassem – Acoustic Sounds, Inc.
Chad Kassem is an audiophile pioneer and foremost champion of the vinyl LP. Chad’s the founder and owner of Acoustic Sounds, Inc., the world’s largest source for audiophile recordings, as well as Quality Record Pressings, manufacturer of the world’s finest LPs. There’s also Analogue Productions, a leading audiophile reissue label, and Super HiRez, Chad’s hi-res download service.
Up next for Analogue Productions is the addition of reel-to-reel tape to their reissue catalog, utilizing a fleet of six Ampex 102 machines. Tape is not an unfamiliar topic for Analogue Productions, as more than 95 percent of its reissues are sourced from the original analog masters. What’s more, Chad’s recording studio/concert hall, Blue Heaven Studios, records almost exclusively to half-inch tape. Last year Chad purchased the legendary Doug Sax’s The Mastering Lab, the first independent mastering facility and long regarded as the world’s best. Construction is underway to get The Mastering Lab back in operation at Acoustic Sounds’ home base of Salina, Kansas.
Chris Mara – Welcome to 1979 Studios, Mara Machines
Chris Mara is a recording engineer with more than 20 years of analog expertise. In 2008, Mara opened a 7,500-square-foot analog-centric recording studio in Nashville aptly named Welcome To 1979. This quickly attracted industry attention (including the cover of Mix Magazine) since recording digitally was the norm. Welcome to 1979 has clients such as Pete Townshend, Eric Burdon, Third Man Records, etc. Last year marked a “full circle moment” for Mara when Pam Tillis recorded her new album at Welcome to 1979. Mara was a fresh new assistant engineer on her 1998 record Everytime.
Also in 2008, Mara launched Mara Machines, a tape machine restoration company that focuses on MCI tape machines, the same machines used at Welcome to 1979 and on countless hit records throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Mara has grown Mara Machines into the largest tape machine restoration company in the world, restoring and selling about 50 machines per year to people all over the world. Mara plans to introduce a machine geared towards the audiophile market in late 2016.
Dan Labrie – ATR Services, Inc.
Dan Labrie – Toronto-born and Detroit-raised – is an analog recording expert who is fascinated with the intersection of music and science. A graduate of Michigan Tech University, Dan worked for a brief stint at an all-analog studio in Detroit before accepting a position with ATR Services and ATR Magnetics. There he had the privilege of learning from and working under industry veteran Mike Spitz.
Dan now leads both technical branches of the ATR Group – ATR Magnetics and ATR Services. ATR Services, founded in 1991, provides parts, repair service and restorations for the Ampex ATR-100 series recorder. ATR Magnetics is the only producer of professional analog magnetic media in the U.S.
Michael Romanowski – Coast Mastering, The Tape Project
Michael Romanowski is the owner and Grammy-nominated chief mastering engineer of Coast Mastering and co-founder of the analog tape label The Tape Project.
Michael started his audio career as a musician and live sound engineer in Nashville before relocating in 1994 to the Bay Area to apprentice as a mastering engineer at Rocket Lab with Paul Stubblebine and Ken Lee. In 1999, he became the chief mastering engineer for Sausalito’s Plant Mastering and in 2001 he reunited with Stubblebine and built two new mastering rooms at the former location of Coast Records. In 2007, Michael acquired the business and in 2015 re-branded the mastering service as Coast Mastering in the historic Studio C in the Fantasy Studio complex in Berkeley, California.
In 2006, Michael, with partners Stubblebine and Dan Schmalle, started a tape-only label called The Tape Project. They release 1/4” 15ips two-track tapes duplicated real time from the original analog masters.