I guess Reference Recordings stopped recording sessions to magnetic
tape when the discontinued their releases on vinyl. The number of
new releases after that were very low compared to their heyday during
the late 80's to 90's . There was a time gap sometime after that when
most folks thought they were gone for good. Then they reappeared a
few years ago and now are exclusively digital.
That focused head deck is amazing. I don't know that much about it
but I believe the one that Keith has is the last of just a few that
were built. The pictures I've seen appear to be a closed loop design
with three channels. The copy that accompanies the photos state that
the "machine features a 3.5 megahertz beamed RF bias record head
capable of recording intense high frequency levels.., and it's own
non-standard record curve to take best advantage of the focus-gap
I'd love to get a look at that deck. Johnson built it entirely
himself while attending Stanford University. Apparently he feels that
the design never took off since it was introduced in a time when the
rest of the recording chain was such a limiting factor that having
such a machine didn't make very much difference in the resulting
On May 28, 2009, at 3:46 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
> Hey Steve/Ken:
> TOUCHE! I got this info straight from the Reference Recording
> folks. The two titles I cited were indeed recorded both to tape and
> digitally. All the high-rez stuff (ie non-CD versions) are
> transfers from the tapes. So your investment is safe, your tape is
> indeed all-analog. The Reference folks said those two titles are
> the only titles at HDTracks that are sourced from analog. They also
> said the recordings in recent years have been all-digital, 176.4kHz
> sampling rate, 24-bit resolution.
> Keith Johnson's tape deck is nearly hiss-free. I have the 96/24
> download from HDTracks of the Exotic Overtures album and I'd have
> sworn it was all-digital. Like I said, it's what you learn AFTER
> you know it all that counts! Color me schooled.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "carlstephen koto"
> <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 11:33 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] One Inch, two track master tapes- 15 or 30 IPS
> Hi Tom,
>> I assume you and Steve know that TP-007, Eiji Oue/Minnesota
>> Orchestra: Exotic Dances from the Opera, is a digital recording
>> originally. It's available as a 24/96 download at Chesky's
>> HDTracks, and was originally issued as a HDCD Compact Disc. I
>> think Johnson's original recording was 192/24 PCM, but this might
>> date from before he used the super-high sampling rate.
> Actually when Keith does most of his Reference Recordings he records
> to digital and his focus gap tape machine. When the Tape Projects
> running masters are made the original recording is played back on
> that very machine (Keith and Paul Stubblebine are old friends and
> have worked on a number of project together). The running master is
> made on the 1" ATR and then played back with the 1200 which is linked
> to 4 ATR 1/4" machines which make the Tape Project tapes that we
> receive. I can understand the confusion and we've told folks that try
> to compare the two recordings that it really isn't a fair comparison
> since they weren't made from the same original recording.
>> I think TP-003, Arnold/London Philharmonic Orchestra: Arnold
>> Overtures, is also an originally-digital recording. Arnold is
>> also available as a 96/24 download from HDTracks.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Ken Fritz"
>> <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 9:05 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] One Inch, two track master tapes- 15 or 30
>> Hi Steve, "Ironbut,"
>> I'm working my way down on the replies to the 1 inch 2 track ATR
>> posting I sent a day or two ago.
>> I met Mike , Bette and Bill two years ago when I signed up for a
>> class on ATR 101. It was a 5 hour trip from Richmond ,Va. so I drove
>> up the night before. Everything went wrong. My F350 had a low tire
>> when I left the hotel to drive to ATR Services. I went the wrong way
>> on the interstate and drove to ATR on an almost flat tire. I was over
>> dressed and ,due to the excitement, my Mitchum broke down. ---:-)
>> I picked up my ATR 102 about a year ago and soon after one came up
>> on ebay. Legacy Studios in Manhattan. Pick up only , no shipping. I
>> was the only bidder at $2400. An ATR 104 with multiple head blocks,
>> power supplies and audio cards. It was purchased from Mike Spitz a
>> few years earlier and never used as the Legacy tech knew Studer
>> machines and not ATR's .
>> The last ATR machine came available a month ago. An ATR 1-2 with
>> Aria electronics and an extra 1/4 inch head block with 20 hours of
>> use. The devil made me buy it--
>> The Precision Motor Works machine that mates the MR 70 electronics
>> to an ATR is a beauty, I hope to hear one some day.
>> I spoke with Momma Doc today about the possibility of asking
>> Paul Stubblebine if he'd be willing to supply a transfer of a tape
>> project issue on 1 inch tape. I hope to hear from him soon .
>> If I had a choice of a 1 inch transfer it would be TP 05, 07 or
>> any of the full scale classical titles they offer. Personally, I
>> don't see the value of spending $$ on a transfer with a limited
>> number of instruments. Spend the $$ and listen to a musical works
>> that tax a playback system with dynamics that can only be replicated
>> with a full symphony orchestra, my thoughts- I may be wrong.
>> Steve, thanks for the reply from a TTP member, you put your money
>> where your mouth is.
>> Ken Fritz
>> On May 27, 2009, at 7:55 PM, carlstephen koto wrote:
>>> Hey Ken,
>>> I recall that you live near and have visited Mike Spitz at ATR
>>> Services (I remember you took his alignment class a few years
>>> back). I would assume that you either purchased your 1" ATR
>>> from him or have had him service it. As a couple of folks have
>>> said, it could very well be the ultimate solid state mastering
>>> machine. I know that some studios such as Fantasy did do 1/2" 2
>>> tracks (I have a Dexter Gordon from them) but I don't know of
>>> any golden age studios that used them. Aside from Mike, MTR
>>> Precision Motor Works also used to set up 1" 2 track mastering
>>> machines. You may want to contact them both and contact the
>>> studios that purchased these machines and perhaps you can strike
>>> a deal to at least hear these masters.
>>> Regarding the Tape Project, I'm sure you know that Paul
>>> (Stubblebine) has two 1" 2 track machines that are used in the
>>> production of our tapes. One is an ATR with Tim de Paravicini's
>>> custom electronics while the other is an MM1200 with MR70
>>> electronics ( I believe that Mike Spitz set this machine up when
>>> he was still located in San Mateo). I'm sure you could
>>> commission a couple of custom tapes to be produced for you . I
>>> would hurry though. They have purchased the rights to produce a
>>> limited number of releases and I would certainly try and get a
>>> 1" copy of "Waltz for Debby" and "Saxophone Colossus" if I
>>> were you (they'd be as close to exact duplicates of the master
>>> as you'd ever get).
>>> Steve Koto
>>> On May 26, 2009, at 7:58 PM, Ken Fritz wrote:
>>>> Hi Lou,
>>>> I'm a subscriber to TTP and appreciate the quality that tape
>>>> I'm hoping to find a few listers that have studio tapes from
>>>> groups that never made the big time but cut great sounding
>>>> tapes. I've managed to purchase tapes from now defunct studios
>>>> in Memphis and LA but all are 1/4 or 1/2 inch two track at i5
>>>> or 30 ips. I'm hoping to find a few 1 inch two track tapes if
>>>> they're out there.
>>>> thanks for the reply, Ken Fritz
>>>> On May 26, 2009, at 9:04 PM, Lou Judson wrote:
>>>>> No Beatles on on inch 2 track as far as I know.
>>>>> But you can probably pay these guys to make you some tapes to
>>>>> play on your new toy:
>>>>> Worth asking anyway!
>>>>> Lou Judson • Intuitive Audio
>>>>> On May 26, 2009, at 5:43 PM, Ken Fritz wrote:
>>>>>> Hi Listers,
>>>>>> I'm probably one of the few on the list that is an "
>>>>>> Audiophile." That translates to "Music is fun and not a
>>>>>> business." "Thank God" might be the next phrase but since my
>>>>>> business supplies tooling to those that manufacture solid
>>>>>> surface and cast marble to the construction industry I think
>>>>>> we're both in the same boat. To the point!
>>>>>> Analog tape is where the great recordings started and I'm
>>>>>> keeping it going by filling my home with around 20 or so
>>>>>> analog RTR machines. I belong to an audio group in Richmond
>>>>>> Va. and they all marvel at the sound of tape. I just bought a
>>>>>> one inch two track ATR and have nothing to play on it. I
>>>>>> feel like I just bought a tuxedo and only have a pair of
>>>>>> brown shoes--- no place to go!
>>>>>> If anyone out there has a one inch two track tape that
>>>>>> would show off what my machine can do and would CONSIDER
>>>>>> sending it to me I'd appreciate it. The Genre isn't as
>>>>>> important as the musical content. If a lister has a safety
>>>>>> copy of the Beatles, any recording, I can send an armed
>>>>>> carrier along with my first born for insurance-:), Any and
>>>>>> all costs and insurance would be covered, of course.
>>>>>> any reply will be appreciated, Ken Fritz