Pro-Ject Audio Systems was founded in 1991, during the heyday of the compact disc and CD players, with the mission to offer the best analog experience for reasonable prices. In a time where the digital audio media had been on the rise and vinyl was declared as outdated and dead, founder Heinz Lichtenegger kept his belief in the simple but best way to enjoy music — turntables.
Today, Pro-Ject Audio Systems is a leader in the manufacture of quality hi-fi turntables. They produce all their turntables from scratch, by hand and in house, in the Czech Republic, and their products are exported to 80 countries worldwide.
For years, Pro-Ject has partnered on the content side with Universal Music Group (The Beatles), Third Man Records (Jack White), The Rolling Stones, Parov Stelar, and the Hard Rock Café, to name a few. But now they have decided to take that love of analog right to the source, and have produced their first audiophile record under the Pro-Ject Records label. Available as an audiophile 180g double LP and a direct master tape copy, this production, Jazzy Zoetrope by Austria’s 7RAY, a singer, musician and audiophile, is a landmark release for Pro-Ject Audio Systems.
HOW IT BEGAN
From time-to-time, Pro-Ject will invite great musicians to perform in the company’s headquarters in Mistelbach, Austria. They had been toying with the idea to record these sessions, but only by using real analog tape. The goal was to capture the performance live in true stereo with reduced microphoning, with no compression or extensive editing.
Pro-Ject worked with 7RAY (known for theme songs to movies such as The Informers and Unthinkable) to develop a concept to make both a special studio album and a live recording; providing listeners with the ability to hear a direct comparison of recording styles. The production used only analog recording equipment with carefully thought-out miking techniques to capture the essence of what Pro-Ject stands for.
PRODUCTION AND RECORDING
Studio Baumgarten, an analog hotspot in Vienna, has produced multiple historical recordings since the 1960s. Due to the discrete analog technology and the large recording concert hall, equipped with a Boesendorfer Imperial grand piano (a Grand 305 cm—the largest model), the premises provided an exceptional recording situation for the studio portion.
The entire recording chain was kept entirely in analog from beginning to end. No additional compressors or limiters were used in the entire production process, which puts all the more weight on the finely tuned microphone placement and choice, where some of the finest vintage tube microphones were used—including classic Neumann U47 and m49a microphones.
The original dynamics of the recording were kept intact, only gently smoothed by the tape it was recorded on and the microphone and preamp characteristics themselves. This created a beautiful and pure atmosphere, taking you directly to the heart of the music.
The performance was directly recorded to an Otari 8-track tape machine via a refurbished Acousta mixing desk without any editing. This requires artists who are absolute virtuosos at their respective instruments, and are comfortable in this type of recording situation.
In the studio, the 8-track recording was carefully mixed down to 2-track on Studer tape machines and a CADAC studio console from 1974. Again, the mixing and mastering was kept 100 percent analog.
At the Pro-Ject headquarters, for the live recording, no monitor speakers were used in order to guarantee an absolutely sound-neutral, dynamic live stereo image during live recording, as, with speakers in the recording room, there would be uncontrollable crosstalk and undesired interference, which would have severely affected the quality of the recording.
The 180g vinyl LPs are handmade in Austria by austro vinyl, ensuring that nothing of the recording is lost during the transfer from tape to vinyl.
Direct Master Tape copies are also available, and are being made in a strictly controlled 1:1 copy process on carefully maintained Studer tape machines using archive-quality studio tape.
For more information, visit www.project-audio.com/en/product/7ray-feat-triple-ace-jazzy-zoetrope/.