Here’s a list of the companies and labels we’ve found so far who are currently issuing music on open reel tape, whether authorized current copies of vintage master tapes or new contemporary recordings.
If you come across others, the rambler would love to hear about them. Drop us a line and we’ll check them out and add them here.
Note: If you’re in the UK check out Huddersfield-based Brook Audio who stock a number of tapes and may have lower shipping costs compared with buying direct from companies overseas.
ABC records’ catalogue of almost a hundred titles spans an eclectic mix of vocal, instrumental and Chinese music, as well as a few albums featuring high-profile, global artists.
However, we’re aware of two issues regarding breach of copyright. First, text has been copied from the websites of two European tape labels and used, verbatim, on ABC Records’ website. Second, material by an American recording artist has been included in one of ABC Records’ CDs without the artist or her label’s knowledge or consent. In view of these experiences, we can’t currently recommend ABC Records as such, but list them here to note their existence and advise customers to proceed with caution. If you’ve had any direct experience of dealing with them (good or bad), please drop us a line.
AMS Studio is the producer and exclusive reseller of master tape copies of albums from the Italian Record label Velut Luna (full licensed by the latter). Genres are typically classical and jazz. While Velut Luna generally records digitally, on selected titles they’ve brought in AMS Studio to also make analogue recordings. Tape copies are custom-made to order in either professional or consumer formats and fall into three categories: analogue recordings of live concerts, analogue studio recordings and analogue master cuts – the latter being converted from multitrack digital recordings which are then mixed and mastered in analogue.
Part of the Acoustic Sounds company, Analogue Productions’ tape catalogue currently features around 20 titles from artists including Hugh Masekela, Ricki Lee Jones and Janis Ian.
Owned and run by musician/producer/sound engineer Roberto Vigo, Analogy Records produces contemporary artists in its own recording studio and distributes original master tapes rather than copies: the first stereo mix-down from the multi-track recording, custom-made to order. How? Interestingly, Analogy uses a custom-developed hybrid ‘DAA’ recording process – digital recording / analogue mixing / analogue mastering. Genres include jazz, pop, classical, folk and world music. Since your master tape is being made to order, a range of tape formats, speeds and EQ options are available.
Specialising in audiophile analogue recordings, Chasing The Dragon’s small but perfectly-formed catalogue includes classical, jazz and big band albums. At the helm is sound engineer Mike Valentine (who also happens to be a world-renowned underwater film cameraman). In addition to open reel tape, Valentine also makes tandem recordings direct-cut to vinyl which makes an interesting basis for comparison.
ENTERTAPE (aka HORCH HOUSE)
(Note, May-19: the Entertape website seems to be currently unavailable; we’re looking into whether this is a temporary hiatus or if the company has ceased trading). Entertape, previously know as Horch House, is a German company now based in Slovakia. Its extensive tape catalogue is predominantly jazz and classical but also includes some big band, blues, pop and hip hop. Most titles are available in two alternative formats: 10.5-inch metal reels at 15 ips or 7-inch plastic reels at 7½ ips.
Founder Giulio Cesare Ricci began making high fidelity analogue recordings in 1983 and has continued to do so ever since. His long-standing Italian label offers a wide range of classical, jazz and pop albums in a variety of analogue and digital formats, including more than 50 titles on master tape.
A small Italian company dedicated to music on master tape. Its small but growing catalogue offers four series: studio reference (studio recordings with the utmost attention to technical detail), gold collection (excellent quality recordings made in selected venues), silver collection (focusing on high quality emerging artists) and R3 (dedicated to live music).
IPI produces both re-releases of vintage master tapes and new contemporary recordings. The company was set up in 1981 as a record label with the sole aim of producing great jazz at the highest sound quality. Founder Jonathan Horwich has been recording jazz musicians since the mid-1960s so his catalogue of 30+ master tape copies is taken from both newly-recorded performances and his collection of jazz analogue masters.
Master Tape Sound Lab came into being its founder, Todor Dimitrov, persuaded Kostas Metaxas of Metaxas & Sins to make the many and varied tapes he had recorded over the years available to a wider audience. As well as being a hi-fi designer par excellence and the creator of one of the world’s only contemporary open reel tape recorders, Metaxas is also a prolific analogue recording engineer. The catalogue of 50+ titles includes jazz, classical and other genres and each album is limited to 100 editions.
OPEN REEL RECORDS
Musician, sound engineer and audiophile Marco Taio is the man at the helm of this Italian label whose catalogue mainly focuses on original contemporary recordings but also features one or two vintage gems (think Thelonious Monk, Al Jarreau and Jimmy Gourley). The contemporary recordings are predominantly live classical performances featuring superb musicians playing in venues carefully selected for their acoustics.
The current Opus 3 catalogue contains around 50 titles that were recorded in analogue and are now available as master tape copies. Genres include classical, jazz (classic, modern and swing), blues and world music.
Founded in 2001 Quinton Records is a Vienna-based audiophile label with a focus on jazz, latin and classical albums which are produced and recorded to analogue tape and/or high-end digital. The master tape catalogue currently includes around 15 titles.
STS ANALOG (PART OF STS DIGITAL)
Founded by recording engineer Fritz de With, STS Digital is a recording label which, as well as making digital recordings, also creates high quality analogue recordings (STS Analog). The latter are issued on open reel tape and vinyl. The tape catalogue currently numbers 20+ titles with a focus on jazz and swing with a bit of latin and gypsy.
THE TAPE PROJECT
California-based Tape Project are probably the best-known producers of master tape copies. The catalogue spans classical, jazz and roots. All titles are limited editions (e.g. 200 copies per title) in keeping with the licensing agreements negotiated with copyright owners and so if you’ve got your heart set on something, be quick as titles will go out of stock. In fact many of those listed online are now sold out.
Tone-Pearls Records is a non-profit gathering of music researchers and music lovers devoted to recreating the original experience of live concerts using the Tone-Pearls analogue recording technique. They offer a number of recordings on master tape and also in digital formats at cost price, though at the time of writing only one album was available, a classical piano performance, in a selection of formats.
UltraAnalogue Recordings was formed by Ed Pong with the aim of capturing and reproducing the sound of chamber music performances as closely as possible using valve/tube electronics and analogue tape. You’ll find a wider range of classics from Bach to Wagner and an excellent selection of mainly Asian and European musicians including Vanessa Lee and Li Wang.
Grammy Award-winning Yarlung Records brings fresh musicians to the classical music world using minimalist audiophile recording techniques to capture live performances in concert halls famous for their acoustics. Yarlung records on both analogue tape and high resolution digital media. The currently catalogue features 25 albums on tape which are made to order.
Niche labels & artists
We’ve also come across the following niche labels and individual artists who have one or two titles on master tape.
Patricia Barber on Premonition Records – [Just two titles on master tape, both now sold out].
Base 2 Music – a small label dedicated to audiophile recordings of pipe organs.
Anne Bisson – French jazz pianist and singer. [Just one title on master tape, now sold out].