Tape Project Albums > Tape Project Albums - general

Mastering of Classical titles


I own the three classical recordings that are planned for release this year. All of them are superb in sound. They have wide open soundstages, a great dynamic range, and natural sound. e.g., wood sounds woody, and brass sounds brassy.

I am no engineer, and I have a limited understanding of the mastering process, though I do understand that multi track recordings can be mastered to end up with various mixes.

Can you tell me how the mastering of these three classical titles will change the sound of these recordings that I hear on playback through my turntable.

Will they sound basically the same, but better, or will there be noticable differences?

TIA, David

Danny Kaey:
I guess if I understand you correctly you are inquiring as to how these 3 TP releases will compare to your vinyl issues?


if you have a decent tape deck, it will slaughter the vinyl issues - think Gladiator style slugg fest.

mass duped commercial reels absolutley kill vinyl versions of the same title on Tim's machine... take it up a notch or two with Barclay-Crocker reissues and you start to get the idea...

I know that Dan and the crew will do an outstanding job mastering/duplicating those tapes so you ought to be in for a real sonic treat!

The demo tape that I hmm,.. demoed, had an Arnold cut on it. To me, it was the most impressive of the 5 cuts on the tape (2 Jacqui Naylor, 2 Dave Alvin,1 Arnold). Pretty much everything, dynamics, instrumental timbre, separation of instruments,detailing, and the absence of normal blunting of leading edges are at least a couple of levels above any recorded media I've heard. I have to admit that I've only heard this Ref. Recording at audio showrooms on cd before. And even on my least fav. media, it sounds pretty good. It pretty much meets my personal acid test:1) there is no need to A/B to know there is a huge difference 2) a week after hearing it, I keep saying to myself "I've gotta have that!" That tape made me so happy to have pursued this crazy hobby for the last 35 years.  I really have no doubt that these tapes will be the reference to which all other bleeding edge source material will be measured for the foreseeable future. They will be referred to over and over again in reviews of the latest and greatest.
Personally, I feel very lucky to be a member here. We have a world famous mastering engineer at the helm of what could well be as good a monitoring system in existence. An audio designer whose vision is of this project is clear and true. And when those 6 ears get together, they are hearing so much, and so deeply into the sound-scape it will leave you flabbergasted!

And my head continues to swell...

Thanks Steve. I don't know that I'm really qualified to discuss this aspect much more than what you have already offered in observation. The timing of the question is a bit unfortunate because Paul is on a two week vacation and Michael is up to his a** in a renovation of the 1340 Mission control room with his new partner Matt Boudreau.

I can offer that in general I find 7-1/2" ips 1/4 track to be roughly equivalent sonically to the best LPs. 15 ips half track just gets up and walks away from these two sources. So the resolution and other "technical aspects" of these tapes will be better than the original LPs by virtue of the better medium alone. In terms of the influence of the mastering itself  - EQ, etc. - what Paul does to an already great recording is pretty darned minimal. I have sat behind him at the console a few times now and watched him reach for a knob, tweak it, and I had to look hard at the knob to see if it even really moved. I think in a lot of cases we're talking like 1/2 dB increments of EQ or whatever. In fact Paul often installs 10 turn precision pots in his gear so he has finer control of the tiny changes he makes. With regards to the Arnold Overtures, the mastering is a straight dub of the session tape, that has only been edited. The Decca's are close to that too.

Of course we can't really know how much the original mastering engineer tweaked the controls when he cut the lacquer for the original LP version, so it's hard to say for certain how close the dubs will sound to the LP. We don't sit and listen to an LP of an original recording and try to match it when mastering, because mastering is an artform, not a replication method. Some of the recordings we will release were mastered to digital by Paul. One example would be the digital masters of the Decca releases made for FIM. Paul has also digitally mastered the Dave Alvin album and I believe the Arnold in the past. In those cases there's a good chance the sound will be nearly identical to our tapes in terms of the qualities affected by the mastering engineer's manipulations - balance and tone.


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