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Transfer 1610/1630 umatic tape?
Old 4 weeks ago
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Transfer 1610/1630 umatic tape?

Hi All, I hope this is the right place to post this. I had a few records mastered by Bernie Grundman for Windham Hill back in the 80's, one of which was never released. WH returned the masters to me years ago, and we'd like to transfer the one master that was not released. It's a UMatic tape ( 3M AUD 60+) and the notes show it used the 1610 processor. Any suggestions for who might be able to transfer this to digital files (on a flashdrive, etc) for a fair price? Assuming the tape is still viable (at least it's not Ampex?) It's about 46:00 total length.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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https://www.thetransferlab.com/produ...-tape-transfer

UMatic 1610/30, $250, up to 80 min. Services resuming on May-Day...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by storypod View Post
Hi All, I hope this is the right place to post this. I had a few records mastered by Bernie Grundman for Windham Hill back in the 80's, one of which was never released. WH returned the masters to me years ago, and we'd like to transfer the one master that was not released. It's a UMatic tape ( 3M AUD 60+) and the notes show it used the 1610 processor. Any suggestions for who might be able to transfer this to digital files (on a flashdrive, etc) for a fair price? Assuming the tape is still viable (at least it's not Ampex?) It's about 46:00 total length.
Where are you located?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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I'm in Ohio, but I don't mind shipping this tape...
Old 4 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by storypod View Post
I'm in Ohio, but I don't mind shipping this tape...
Lots of folks have 1610 and 1630 machines, most notably Steve Puntolillo at Sonicraft. It should not be difficult to get your duplicating master transferred.

But.... are you sure this is actually the master tape and not a duplicating master? It was very common for 1610 to be used for shipping mastered audio out to the pressing plant and not very common at all for it to be used as an initial recording format.

Because the converters on the 1610 were... not actually good-sounding... every time I see a 1610 tape my first thought is that this is a later generation and that somewhere in some closet the real master tape is hiding and likely that tape sounds a lot better.
--scott
Old 4 weeks ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio View Post
every time I see a 1610 tape my first thought is that this is a later generation and that somewhere in some closet the real master tape is hiding and likely that tape sounds a lot better.
--scott
Thanks much for this, Scott. Food for serious thought here - the tape label lists this as "CD Format". Do you think this suggests that it is indeed a duplicating master? If I could just ask you one more question (I never knew what really went on at the 'high end' mastering studios) - what would have been the likely sequence of 'work' on a master like this? The Scandinavian record company that originally released this would have sent Windham Hill a digital master (I think our original one was an F1). What would Grundman have done at this point, and what format would have been the original/best quality master before these 'inferior' 1610's got inserted in the food chain? I wonder if I should reach out to Grundman to see if this project is in the archives, and if there's a better master somewhere. If the 1610 wasn't great and that's all we have, I wonder if we should skip the Grundman version altogether and do a new master from the original Scandinavian mixes....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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Sony PCM 1610

pretty much all the major mastering rooms modified their 1610's with active filters replacing the passive units.
with "modern" gic filters, a 1610 will compare favorable with an analog master.
the converters, per se, are quite excellent.
Carl and Beno at Grundman's knew what they were doing.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by storypod View Post
Thanks much for this, Scott. Food for serious thought here - the tape label lists this as "CD Format". Do you think this suggests that it is indeed a duplicating master?
Bingo. That's a duplicating master with PQ subcode data for CD manufacture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by storypod View Post
If I could just ask you one more question (I never knew what really went on at the 'high end' mastering studios) - what would have been the likely sequence of 'work' on a master like this? The Scandinavian record company that originally released this would have sent Windham Hill a digital master (I think our original one was an F1). What would Grundman have done at this point, and what format would have been the original/best quality master before these 'inferior' 1610's got inserted in the food chain?
Okay, so you have a PCM-F1 tape which contains two-track audio, so presumably the original session was live to two-track and there is no multitrack master anywhere.. or else the PCM-F1 tape was a mix down from an original multitrack master somewhere.

The fellow in the mastering room would likely have had a mastering console with two different signal paths... the F-1 tape plays in realtime into the mastering console, the 1610 machine records the output of the mastering console. The mastering engineer is setting up the equalization and compression for the next track as the first one plays. So the 1610 tape has been through two layers of dreadful conversion and some analogue processing.

He -might- have transferred it into a Sonic workstation and then spit out a 1610 tape from the workstation, but by the time people were doing that actively they had dumped both F-1 and 1610 formats pretty much.

Grundman being someone who knows and cares about sound quality and has a budget for it, he likely had the Apogee retrofit converters in both the F-1 and the 1610 machine... but even the best converters back then aren't so hot by any modern standard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by storypod View Post
I wonder if I should reach out to Grundman to see if this project is in the archives, and if there's a better master somewhere. If the 1610 wasn't great and that's all we have, I wonder if we should skip the Grundman version altogether and do a new master from the original Scandinavian mixes....
Get the PCM F-1 tape. Send it to Grundman or whoever you like and have him master it to PMCD, and you're good to go. If he doesn't have an F-1 machine, there are plenty of transfer houses that can take the F-1 tape and convert it to a digital file without going through any conversion. (There are some people who will claim inter-channel timing issues on digital transfers of F-1 tapes... if your mastering guy thinks that's an issue he'll have a way to deal with it. I could never hear any image shift because of it but I'm no Grundman either.)

But now you're saying "original Scandinavian mixes." Is the F-1 tape a mix of a multitrack master, or was it the original 2-track master? If there is an original multitrack master you might consider doing a complete remix and avoiding the PCM F-1 generation as well. But just getting the 1610 generation out of there would be a big step up.
--scott
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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Thanks, Scott, much appreciated. The picture's becoming a lot clearer - I reached out to Grundman, and they have no archives or backup of any projects from the late 80's. The general consensus (suggested by you) seems to be that I probably do have a CD duplicating master, which means it's been in and out of the 1610 format enough times to erase any 'goodness' that Bernie might have added. There's also a very good chance that the tape in unplayable (even with baking). So, yes, might be best to go back to the earliest generation I have (F1 or the cd made from that F1), and simply use the best modern techniques and equipment to remaster. Insights much appreciated, thanks.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by storypod View Post
Thanks, Scott, much appreciated. The picture's becoming a lot clearer - I reached out to Grundman, and they have no archives or backup of any projects from the late 80's. The general consensus (suggested by you) seems to be that I probably do have a CD duplicating master, which means it's been in and out of the 1610 format enough times to erase any 'goodness' that Bernie might have added. There's also a very good chance that the tape in unplayable (even with baking). So, yes, might be best to go back to the earliest generation I have (F1 or the cd made from that F1), and simply use the best modern techniques and equipment to remaster. Insights much appreciated, thanks.
Yes. Likely you have that 1610 tape with the intention that when you want to issue the CD, you just send the 1610 tape to the guys at Nimbus and they ship you boxes of CDs. The problem comes in that the duplication houses don't have hardware to take 1610 tapes directly anymore. The secondary problem is that the early Sony digital formats really didn't sound good, but this is an opportunity to help fix that too.

I'd take that F-1 tape to a transfer house that knows how to deal with that stuff and get a digital file for Grundman. Won't cost you any more and it'll sound better.
--scott
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio View Post
I'd take that F-1 tape to a transfer house that knows how to deal with that stuff and get a digital file for Grundman. Won't cost you any more and it'll sound better.
--scott
^ this, definitely.

Although just as an additional mention, if a 1610 or 1630 tape is the CD Master it ought to be really obvious via being labelled as such (box and tape), stored tail out (not rewound) and include the Sony DTA error report for glass mastering.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terrible.dee View Post
Oh Gawd....Early gen, Digital tape masters.......EWWWWWWWW!!!!!!

RE-RECORD THE RECORD!
I was doing live recordings for a radio station when I first was introduced to the PCM F-1. It totally blew me away. It was so quiet, and the low end was amazing. It was the first time I had ever heard solid, extended low end in a recording. There was no head bump.

The low end was so staggeringly pristine that it took me a while to realize that it was making violins sound like they were being played with chainsaws and that the top end was so screechy it would peel paint.
--scott
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