To attain the ultimate in analog sound, noted record mixer Michael Brauer selected 2-inch, 8-track tape with Aria Reference Series electronics as the mixing/mastering format for recent 5.1 surround releases by Bob Dylan and Five for Fighting.
“The result is just a better sound than what you get by going to hard disk systems,” explains Brauer, whose diverse list of credits ranges from '60s legends to today's cutting-edge artists. "Certainly the two-inch tape format is part of the difference. But there’s more to it than that, which I attribute to the Aria electronics.”
All of the projects were done at Quad Studios in New York, with mixes printed to tape on a Studer A827 transport equipped with a custom headblock and Flux Magnetics 2-inch 8-track heads. The stock electronics were completely bypassed, with audio signals going directly from the heads into a separate module containing nine channels of the all-discrete, class-A Aria electronics.
Surround sound projects mixed by Brauer using this "ultimate analog” combination include Five for Fighting’s The Battle for Everything and Dylan albums including Blonde on Blonde, Bringing It All Back Home, Another Side and MTV Unplugged.
Describing the sound of the 8-track/Aria combination, Brauer comments, “It has a real presence to it, with no harshness, a lot of air on top and a smooth bottom end: all of the things that make for a great mix.”
To ensure that the distinctive quality of the mix was carried through the mastering process, both the 8-track headblock and the Aria electronics package were sent to the mastering facilities, where they were set up for playback on another A827 transport.
“Whenever I’m doing a surround mix and the budget allows it, this package is my request,” summarizes Brauer. "I really have no interest in doing anything other than 2-inch analog with the Aria electronics.”
Aria Reference Series recording electronics are designed by David Hill and distributed exclusively by ATR Services of York, Penn. For more information, go to ATR's Website at www.atrservice.com.