Chris Stone, founder of Record Plant Recording Studios, has contracted Bruce Maddocks of Cups 'N Strings Studios in Santa Monica, Calif. to restore and archive 50 live radio shows recorded at the Record Plant's Sausalito, Calif., studios in the 1970s. The live concerts include performances by artists such as Jimmy Buffett, Boz Scaggs, Santana, Fleetwood Mac and a Jim Keltner jam with John Lennon.
"We had such a scene at the studios on Sunday nights," recalls Stone, the owner at the time of Record Plant's studios in Sausalito, as well as facilities in Los Angeles and New York. "I was going through some memorabilia and found this collection, complete with contracts signed for broadcast rights. Since this has been in storage since way before the Internet, I think we have something that is unique and quite valuable."
Stone has contracted Maddocks, owner of Cup's 'N Strings and a specialist in the recovery of analog assets and high-resolution digital archival. During the '80s, Maddocks served as Stone's chief engineer at the L.A. studios and has since become one of the recording industry's experts on analog-to-digital conversion and archiving.
"It's common knowledge that analog tapes suffer from sticky-shed syndrome, and the backing on the tape begins to disintegrate," Maddocks explains. "But we are also seeing hydrolysis and sticky shed with the older digital tape formats—DATs, especially, and the half-inch 3324 and 3348 formats, too."
Many of the analog multitrack original tapes were transferred to the DAT format, which at the time was considered optimum. "Now we know that DAT tapes are a precarious storage medium, so we are moving those tapes to the front of the queue for archiving," Maddocks says. "Luckily, we have a variety of DAT decks, which gives us the ability to get reliable playback on machines compatible with virtually any tapes."
Maddocks explains the end product of the archiving process: "We go to Pro Tools, creating 88.2MHz sample rate 24-bit broadcast WAV files and then store them on MAM-A optical discs, a spin-off from Matsui, which have a projected shelf-life of 100 years, if stored correctly."