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Second “Wide-Track” ATR Flies to Blackbird Studios

Rolff Zwiep of Blackbird Audio Rentals with the studio’s new 1-inch 2-track from ATR Services

Blackbird Studio, John McBride’s abundantly equipped Nashville recording facility, has taken delivery of another 1-inch 2-track ATR-102 analog recorder from ATR Service of York, Pa. Blackbird added the second machine to the inventory of his in-house rental arm, but it is also expected to find use in the studio’s new recording room, which is now under construction.

Blackbird’s first 1-inch 2-track, purchased in the summer of 2003, includes both the stock Ampex electronics and the Aria Class-A discrete electronics designed by David Hill. “That’s a special machine that was hand-built for John,” says Rolff Zwiep, manager of Blackbird Audio Rentals. “He really wants to keep that ATR here all the time, so we needed a second machine to take care of rental demand, and to have available for our new room here.”

Blackbird purchased all necessary transport options and headblocks needed to allow operation with ¼-inch and ½-inch tapes, as well as the new 1-inch “wide-track” format. “We wanted the ¼-inch for some customers who regularly do transfers and remastering of archival tapes,” notes Zwiep.

Demand for analog recorder rentals has held steady in Nashville in recent years, according to Zwiep. “A lot of people here still love the sound of tape,” he says.

Located in the Berry Hill neighborhood of Nashville (about two miles from Music Row), Blackbird Studio is a refurbished and re-equipped transformation of the old Creative Recording, originally designed by George Augspurger and built by noted producer Brent Maher in 1977. Augspurger was brought back to update his original design in what is now Studio A, home to the Neve 8078 formerly owned by Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen. An API Legacy-Plus console anchors the Michael Cronin–designed Studio B. Blackbird Audio Rentals boasts an extensive stock of rare and vintage gear, including hard-to-find microphones (693 in all), compressor/limiters, preamps and effects units.

For more information on ATR Services Inc., visit