The committed engineer and entrepreneur founded today's Lawo AG in 1970
Prism Sound’s audio conversion equipment is part of a marathon restoration project that will convert 233 analog master tapes into digital WAV files. The tapes belong to Good Time Records, an international catalog owner and label with offices in the United Kingdom and United States.
The tapes include content from the Crash, Satril and Catawba labels, which were formerly administered by the Henry Hadaway Organisation, a company established in 1969 by Henry Hadaway MBE. HHO became an innovator in the independent record label sector and it achieved great success during the 1970s and 1980s. GTR, which regularly buys vintage catalogs, acquired the Crash, Satril and Catawba labels in 2020 as part of a multi-label catalog deal.
The digitization of GTR’s archive is being undertaken by sound engineer Graham Joiner, who runs a specialist audio restoration company in Brentwood, Essex.
The masters he is currently working on comprise the recording archive of the former Satril Studios in North London. Among them is The Birdie Song by The Tweets, which sold over 1.6 million copies in the U.K. alone.
“I got involved in this project at the end of 2020, just as we were about to go into another lockdown,” said Joiner. “I was contacted by Oliver Murgatroyd from GTR and a few weeks later he turned up with a van full of two-inch 24-track master tapes, many of which were in quite a poor state. Some of the original boxes were moldy and falling apart, and all the tapes had to be baked at 55 degrees C for up to 8 hours to prevent the oxide from shedding. It is painstaking work as I can only bake five tapes at a time, but this has to be done in order to stabilize them before attempting a transfer.”
Joiner, who spent most of his working life as a professional pharmaceutical chemist, set up Audio Restored in 2008 after taking early retirement. He has since handled projects for a variety of record labels and music publishers including the BBC.
His studio is equipped with various turntables (EMT and Linn), Studer cassette decks, Revox 1/4-inch tape decks and Wavelab digital audio workstation. He acquired three Prism Sound Titan audio interfaces to tackle the GTR project.
“GTR was adamant that they wanted their tapes transferred at a high resolution sample rate of 192 kHz, 24-bit so that they could be stored as Ultra HD WAV files,” he explained. “At the time my equipment wasn’t capable of that and after taking advice, it was recommended that I should consider Prism Sound AD/DA converters. That led to a conversation with Prism Sound’s Managing Director Jody Thorne who recommended Titan because the units could be linked and operated together over a Dante network.”
The multitrack interfaces have a maximum capability of 18 concurrent input and output channels, offering 8 analog recording channels, 8 monitoring outputs, stereo digital input and output on a phono connector and concurrent optical digital I/O ports. The unit incorporates an MDIO expansion slot that allows users to stack Titans together to achieve sample accurate, phased locked audio between multiple units.
Graham purchased three Titans with MDIO Dante cards and a Focusrite Rednet Dante PCIe card so he could transfer 24 track audio directly into his computer.
“I have been very impressed by the Titan units, which have done exactly what I needed them to do,” he said. “I’ve also been really impressed with the help I’ve received from Prism Sound.”
The digitization of the masters currently on Graham’s workbench will allow GTR to release authentic, vintage sample packs, as well as remixes by popular producers and remastered editions of popular albums and singles in Ultra HD format.
“We are excited about expanding our digital archive to include HD multitrack stems of this content,” commented Murgatroyd. “It opens up great opportunity for new frontline projects with our catalogue, including remixes and re-edits by popular current producers. Of course, we are very lucky to still have copies of this original analog media. I know of many labels that have disposed of their tape archives over the years as it is an extremely cumbersome media.
“We are already seeing demand in the Far East for hi-resolution audio,” he added. “Although the HD market is still fairly niche in Western territories, we expect this to become more popular as the likes of Amazon launch their Ultra HD stores. In getting our archive digitized in these extremely high sample rates and bit rates we are future-proofing ourselves for consumer demand.”