Paul Stubblebine Mastering (PSM) and valve electronics experts Bottlehead Corp. have introduced “The Tape Project,” a new music-delivery format and ‘record label.’ The Tape Project is presenting a series of analog releases on reel-to-reel tape that offer the discerning audiophile an analog listening experience that comes as close as possible to that of hearing the original master tape. Slated for ten releases per year and sold primarily on a subscription basis, the 15ips (inches per second) half-track stereo, reel-to-reel recordings encompass a wide range of musical styles, the first of which include Classical, Jazz, Blues, Americana and Roots music. The company is recommending tape machines and specifications for playback, as well as offering its own specially modified tape decks with custom valve components from Bottlehead Corp.
“The only two requirements for the music that we release are that the master must exist on analog tape and that the music be great. That it be music that moves the listener. That it be music that can stand the test of time, and continue to bring satisfaction for years,” stated Paul Stubblebine, one of the founders of the company along with mastering engineer Michael Romanowski, and Bottlehead Corp owner, Dan Schmalle.
The company has already secured the rights to release a variety of extraordinary recordings. The first ten titles are:
1) ‘The Number White’ by jazz singer Jacqui Naylor
2) Dave Alvin’s ‘Blackjack David’
3) ‘Arnold Overtures’ original music by Malcolm Arnold with the London Philharmonic Orchestra recorded by Grammy-Winning engineer and audiophile equipment designer Keith Johnson
4) The album that established Robert Cray as a strong new voice in the blues ‘False Accusations’
5) Raphael Fruhbeck de Burgos with the New Philharmonia Orchestra performing Albeniz – Suite Espanola
6) David Oistrakh and the London Symphony Orchestra with music by Bruch and Hindemith
7) Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra performing Exotic Dances from the Opera (Saint-Saëns, Strauss, Rabaud)
8) Bill Evans ‘Waltz for Debby’ live at the Village Vanguard in 1961
9) Mose Allison in 1959’s ‘Creek Bank’ engineered by Rudy Van Gelder
10) The incomparable Sonny Rollins in ‘Saxophone Colossus.’
Full descriptions of each music selection is available at The Tape Project website:
There are two tiers of subscription costs for The Tape Project: $1200 US for a selection of six of the ten releases a year, or charter subscriptions of $2000 US a year to get all ten releases. Each album will be also sold individually for $329 US to non-subscribers. Each tape release comes in a custom designed box with full-size color artwork and custom tape flanges inscribed with serial numbers for charter subscribers.
Michael Romanowski, revealing the tech behind the analog said, “We have assembled the highest quality duplicating system that has ever been attempted. The result, for those with ears to hear, is the most involving and satisfying experience that has ever come from reproduced music. I work with master tapes everyday, and these releases are sonically everything that a master tape has to offer. And now listeners get to have this experience in their own home.”
Noting specifics about the playback systems, Dan Schmalle added, “In order to play these tapes correctly, a machine must meet the following requirements: It must play15 IPS half track stereo, and must be set to the IEC curve -formerly known as the CCIR curve. There are many machines that meet these specs, but many that don’t. We have looked at the various machines made for home use and decided to adapt the Technics RS1500 family.” The company offers an on-line database of tape machines that meet the requirements.
The tape machines offered by The Tape Project, approximately $7500 US each, are supplied with a custom playback head designed for us by Flux Magnetics, acknowledged as the highest quality tape head manufacturer in the world. Generally, reproduce heads are designed as some sort of compromise according to the speeds at which they will be expected to operate. Schmalle asked Flux Magnetics to design a head for The Tape Project strictly optimized for 15 IPS, with no compromise for other speeds. The resulting head has response extended well beyond that of the stock heads on both ends of the audio spectrum.
The playback head is mated with the latest generation playback electronics, developed by Paul Joppa and Dan Schmalle of Bottlehead Corp. exclusively for The Tape Project. The combination of superior transport, optimal head and advanced electronics yield a truly gourmet level of performance. There is even an optional wireless remote control for the Technics RS1500 offered by The Tape Project.
The company has started an online forum for customers to request albums that they would love to have releases of in the future
About Paul Stubblebine Mastering
PSM mastering engineers include owner Paul Stubblebine and Michael Romanowski. As a 30-year veteran sound engineer , Paul has mastered a wide variety of music including classic sounds of San Francisco: The Grateful Dead, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, Sly Stone, Santana, Joan Baez, Bill Evans and practically every release for David Grisman’s Acoustic Disc label to name just a select few of his projects.
Michael Romanowski has been mastering music in the Bay Area since his move here from Nashville in 1994. Michael has mastered releases ranging from rock and jazz to punk and folk. Some of the artists he has worked with include Badfinger, Pete Ham, Norton Buffalo, Joe Craven, Too Short, E-40, Jacqui Naylor, Mimi Fox, The Samples, Jim Campilongo, Dallas Wayne, Houston Jones, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Trichromes, Lydia Lunch, The Radiators, Runaways UK, The Wilted, and Free Peoples.
To ensure the highest quality and to produce the best sounding masters, PSM offers carefully selected audio technology such as the Pacific Microsonics analog and digital converters, Esoteric Audio Research, Z-Systems, Weiss and TC Electronic signal processors, and mastering workstations from Sonic Studio, along with Alon Wolf designed “Magico” speakers. For more information visit the PSM website at www.paulstubblebine.com or call (415) 522-0108 or email [email protected]
About Bottlehead Corp
Bottlehead Corp. has been on the high-end tube audio scene for 12 years, designing and selling a line of single ended vacuum tube audio amplifier and preamplifier kits and now manufacturing custom tube based equipment for both audiophiles and the recording industry. Innovations that Bottlehead has brought attention to in the tube audio scene include parallel feed, active loaded shunt regulation and extensive use of exotic materials in transformers. President Dan Schmalle combines his physics degree with 25 years of manufacturing production experience. Head of R&D Paul Joppa is an acoustical engineer and AES member with over 30 years of experience. Ed Fallon, who manages the assembled components division, is a senior engineer with 20 years of experience in the medical electronic field. www.bottlehead.com/