Back in mid 2020 when much of the world was lockdown, each of us responded to having the brakes slammed on our lives in different ways. Some of us took a break. Some of us broke. Some got busy with everything from Zoom yoga to learning Norwegian. And some carried on doing what they do, while also finding the time to do it even better. An example of the latter that slipped past my radar was Analogy Records’ launch of its ‘Basic 15’ line of reel-to-reel tapes, which strikes me as a very neat idea indeed. (Sorry I’m so late to the party on this one, I’d like to say it’s because I was deep in Zoom yoga but we all know that’d be a long shot!).
Anyway, as we know all too well, the love of reel-to-reel is never likely to be a cheap endeavour, so any efforts to make the format more accessible to more people, without diluting the essence of what makes it such a superb sonic experience, has got to be something to celebrate, right?
The Basic 7.5
From the beginning, Analogy Records offered a ‘Basic’ line of tapes, the Basic 7.5, which was great news for people with a vintage deck that doesn’t take 10.5”/15ips reels. It makes a lot of sense to buy such a deck if your main interest is in buying old commercially-produced recordings. These decks were typically the ones designed for domestic use, and you can usually pick up a decent vintage domestic model for quite a lot less cash than one originally made for professional use (which is where 15ips speeds came in). The downside, however, is that you can’t play most of the excellent new master tape copies now being issued by various contemporary labels – until, that is, the likes of Analogy Records (and several others, e.g. Chasing the Dragon, Delmark, Reel To Reel Tapes Russia and Smart Audio Recording Lab) began to add 7.5ips tapes to their catalogues. While you may not quite be getting the full sonic nirvana of 15ips, you’re still very much in the ballpark, and of course a 7.5ips tape has the added bonus of coming with a lower purchase price. So, even if your deck does extend to 15ips, you might still choose to pepper your tape collection with the odd 7.5ips recording, to help make your budget go that bit further. Analogy’s Basic 7.5 tapes are priced at €110 which is quite a big saving over their Premium format, which starts at €345. The tape used for the Basic 7.5 range is Recording The Masters LPR90, and equalisation is NAB only. You can opt for two-track or four-track format (but will need to add an extra €50 for the latter).
So now we have another option between the two: the Basic 15 line, launched in June 2020, priced at €175. The full sonic beauty of 15ips, but at a more accessible cost. Brilliant! Again, these tapes are Recording The Masters LPR90 and are available in a choice of two-track or four-track format (plus €50 for the latter). You can also choose between CCIR or NAB equalization (at no additional cost). Like the Basic 7.5, the reel is a cine plastic one compared with the Premium’s custom-designed aluminium reel. Finally, while the Premium range comes in a handmade collector box with an album booklet and various inserts, the two Basic ranges simply come in a standard Recording The Masters box with a tracklist card.
Premium & Exclusive
Analogy Records’ full catalogue is available in each of three formats: Premium, Basic 15 and Basic 7.5. The Premium range comes with SM900 Recording The Masters tape. The starting price of €345 is for a 15ips tape, two-track, ¼-inch tape with either CCIR or NAB equalization; optional extras (at additional cost) include four-track and two-track ½-inch tape, as well as 30ips (on ¼-inch or ½-inch).
There’s also a fourth option, the Exclusive range which includes special projects such as made-to-order, limited edition, rarities and hard to find master tapes (currently sold out).
Find out more and browse the catalogue at www.analogyrecords.org
Read an earlier review at: Talking tape: Where digital (successfully) meets analogue… meet Analogy Records