Back in the Analog Saddle

Who knew that I would be running around in early August of 2015 preparing to do a bunch of analog-to-analog transfers? Here I am the Lone Ranger for real high-resolution audio/music and I’m going to spend a long weekend copying the masters of the Christian Jacob and LA4 projects to a second reel-to-reel deck…a Studer A820. It’s not a business that makes a lot of sense to me, but I have all of the pieces in place and retrieved the master tapes from the artist a couple of hours ago.

I wrote about Christian’s “Beautiful Jazz” solo piano recording in a post that questioned Michael Fremer’s very positive review of another jazz recording by Jerome Sabbagh’s new project called “The Turn”. He gave both the sound and the music 10s. OK fine. I’ve heard several tracks and they do sound amazing. And Jerome read my post and was able to clarify a lot of the assumptions that I made. The bottom line is that Michael Fremer, the vinyl LP guru and the format’s strongest advocate, is OK with a recording that was produced using Pro Tools. You can read the article by clicking here.

The Christian Jacob “Beautiful Jazz” recording is special in a number of ways. Rather than compromising the fidelity by transferring to high-resolution PCM digital as an interim stage, the artist insisted that we do both high-res digital and analog. They wanted their vinyl LP to be the real thing…100% analog. BTW If anyone is interested in the LP, I have 25 copies to sell. I told Christian that I was going to be at the California Audio Show in a couple of weeks and would be happy to display the album. If you’re going to be in San Francisco on the 14,15, or 16th of August, please come by. Otherwise, you can write to me and I’ll make sure you get a copy. I’m amazed that I’m offering a vinyl LP…seems a little strange, right?

If you want the 96 kHz/24-bit digital version, I’ll be adding that to the iTrax website very soon. I might even get time to do a 5.1 mix, if I can locate the edited version. Stay tuned.

After writing about Christian’s wonderful recording, a gentleman from Australia wrote and asked if I would be willing to make a reel-to-reel copy of the master reels. It sounded like a reasonable thing to do and after spreading the word on the World’s Best Forum and the Yahoo Reel to Reel group, I’m going to be doing a bunch of transfers. I’ve order the blank tape and convinced Rodney, the proprietor of Tim Jordan rentals, to let go of his prized Studer A820 to let me transport the machine to my studio for a day or two. I was surprised that he was the only rental house in town that has one of these amazing machines.

So this opportunity is a one shot deal. If you’re interested in getting a reel-to-reel copy of Christian Jacob’s “Beautiful Jazz” made directly from the master tapes using a state-of-the-art Studer A820 deck, please let me know as soon as possible. I also have the masters of the LA4 project on Concord Records. These copies are not inexpensive but they will be special.

The gentleman in Australia also asked if I would transfer a track from the 96/24 PCM version to analog tape for comparison. It’s not really a fair test because the digital version was actually mixed in my studio from 6 source microphone feeds while the analog tape was mixed live during the session. Still it should be interesting to see which version he prefers. If he goes for the digital to analog tape, then any of my masters could be used as sources for reel-to-reel copies.


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

7 thoughts on “Back in the Analog Saddle

  • It’s amazing how low a person can sink for a little $. JK

  • Would I be correct in assuming that you primarily use the B&W speaker system when producing music and the JBL THX system when doing movie soundtracks?
    Man I’d love to hear that JBL system rock. For over 20 years my home system were Klispch La Scalas driven by VTL 80 watt mono block tube amps + A Pair of HSU HSRW 12 7″ tall sub woofers driven by a pair of NAD 2400 running in bridged monoblock mode.
    Talk about macro and micro detail an monster dynamics !!!
    My neighbors hated me, had the police at my crib more than once over the years. LOLOLOL

  • Joe Whip

    While some members may believe it is World’s Best Forum, it s actually What’s Best Forum.

  • CD’s very main problem is in the filter being used during the recording process. That is why it is so necessary for a record label to indicate, along with the DDD code, the digital filter type and, if best was chosen, the oversampler frequency, as follows:

    * minimum phase [worst case, typical for current recordings]

    * LINEAR 160 MHz [as for instance, best case]


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