First Reel-to-Reel title from MA Recordings

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
5,431
23
38
Seattle, WA
www.genesisloudspeakers.com
#1
When Todd Garfinkle made the recording of Ito Ema playing Bach's Goldberg Variations, he had two complete recording chains in place - one pair of handmade, titanium capsule battery powered, line-level output mics for the digital chain and a pair of Bruel and Kjær 4006 mikes for the 1/2 inch analog tape version into a Studer A820 Master Recorder with 1/2-inch head assembly. The tape used was 3M 996 at 30ips.

I had the CD for years and it was one of my favourite solo piano recordings. A couple of years ago, Todd was doing this title as an LP and when he sent me the test pressing to evaluate, I remarked to him that it sounded more lush and had far better ambience than the CD. I thought it was the medium. However, he told me about the two different recording chains, and how he decided to use the analog one for the LP.

Ito Ema.jpg

I asked for (and received) a CD-ROM with a copy of the analog version, and loved it. It's interesting comparing the same performance based on two different recording chains. Later, he also gave me a copy of the high-rez 24-bit/176.4kHz files which were taken direct from the analog tapes.

For MA Recordings first Reel-to-Reel title, Todd is going to release the analog recording. I persuaded him to let me help him with reproduction, and persuaded Tape Maven Ki Choi to help. Little did I know that this was going to turn into a project that spanned almost a year.

Ki decided that just getting any recording machine to make copies wasn't good enough for this first effort. Todd's albums are unique in that almost no processing is done (except for a couple of edits) after the recording. This, and his recording technique, contribute to the excellent 'you are there' feel of his albums. And we wanted the copy to be as close to the master as was humanly possible.

When I last met with Todd during the Newport Show, he handed me the master tapes to hand-carry back to Seattle. Two reels of 1/2-inch 30ips tapes.

Light.jpg

As the Studer A820 was used to make the master tape, the best possible reproduction of the master would be another A820. Ki Choi was determined to make the best possible playback A820, and stripped down one of his machines for this purpose.

Stripped A820.jpg

The record and erase heads were removed and recording electronics were discarded, even the playback electronics were removed and the head direct-wired to external head amplifiers.

All bearings were replaced with brand-new top quality ones, a brand new playback head installed, and everything was complete refurbished. This resulted in the best build of a playback-only Studer A820 possible - with tape heads direct-wired to a tape-head preamp: the ultra-ultra-rare Cello. A Manley was also available for service, just in case additional eq was needed.

Playback-only A820.jpg
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
5,431
23
38
Seattle, WA
www.genesisloudspeakers.com
#2
The recording machines had to also be in tip-top shape, so Ki ended up having to refurbish a total of four Studer A820's - two configured as 1/4-inch machines and another 1/2-inch machine to make recordings on. All perfectly calibrated, or as perfectly as the best tape-machine tech in the USA (possibly the World) is able to do.

Here's the production line of FOUR Studer A820s - two with 1/4-inch head assembly, and one with 1/2-inch head assembly. All tuned to tip-top condition for this project.

Production line.jpg


"Just-in-case" three Studer A80 machines were also tuned-up as back-ups.

Chorus line.jpg
 

Yarlung Records

Industry Expert
Dec 21, 2014
28
0
0
#12
Congratulations!

Gary's report does indeed whet the appetite. But "part time audiophile" as you say in our byline? Gary, you are being too modest. You are an audiophile even in your sleep.

It will be wonderful indeed to hear Todd's tapes when they become available. Analog tape has been the most beloved format available from Yarlung Records, and certainly remains at the top of my format preferences.

Gary has also been very generous with us, sponsoring the transfer of our analog tape recordings to DSD. He has underwritten two quartets of tapes so far; the second is scheduled to be released on NativeDSD on September 4th. We can't wait!

Many thanks Gary, and many thanks Todd.

Bob Attiyeh, producer
http://www.yarlungrecords.com/analog.html
https://yarlungrecords.nativedsd.com/
 

Yarlung Records

Industry Expert
Dec 21, 2014
28
0
0
#14
Indeed! Although I'd settle for DSD 64 or DSD 128. All three would sound very nice on the 8-Channel NADAC that just arrived here. :)
Brian, you have a Nadac? This is great. How does it sound? Is the sound significantly different in 256 from other superb DACs like the exaSound? I know it is considerably more expensive. Gary Koh himself makes a beautiful DAC, based on a different engineering philosophy, called the Genesis Muse. We used it to demonstrate Yarlung's 256fs files for invited guests when we launched the first Genesis Quartet.

Yes, I'm hoping Todd et al decide to make DSD releases of this music as well.
 
Sep 6, 2013
416
0
16
#15
Brian, you have a Nadac? This is great. How does it sound? Is the sound significantly different in 256 from other superb DACs like the exaSound? I know it is considerably more expensive. Gary Koh himself makes a beautiful DAC, based on a different engineering philosophy, called the Genesis Muse. We used it to demonstrate Yarlung's 256fs files for invited guests when we launched the first Genesis Quartet.

Yes, I'm hoping Todd et al decide to make DSD releases of this music as well.
The 8 Channel NADAC just arrived earlier this week here. It's sounding very good already, even during burn-in.
Which includes, of course, some of the Yarlung DSD 256 releases - including Vanish ! :)
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
5,431
23
38
Seattle, WA
www.genesisloudspeakers.com
#16
Indeed.

How would these tapes be sold and what would the estimated cost?
Todd sold two pre-release copies in plain white boxes for $500 at the Capitol Audiofest. He did say that he was working on getting nicer boxes made. Retail will be $550 - 2 reels 1/4-inch at 15ips. I told him that he should have 1/2-inch copies available too: at a premium price.
 

Joe Whip

Active Member
Feb 8, 2014
1,126
14
38
Wayne, PA
#20
I hope to be able to listen to the tape in a week at the home of someone who purchased the tape at CAP. I will bring the 24/176.4 wav file from Todd too to compare them. Should be interesting.
 

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