ATR/Aria Transfers Beget '50s-Era Reissued Classical Recordings

Apr 30, 2004 12:00 PM, Editors


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Silverline Records, a division of the Los Angeles-based 5.1 Entertainment Group, has released the first in a series of more than 40 DVD-A reissues of treasured classical recordings from the 1950s through the early 1970s. The first step in the reissue process was transfer of the original analog masters to high-resolution digital using an ATR-104 equipped with Aria Reference Series electronics.

The original masters, licensed from the Vanguard and Omega labels, were transferred in the studios of 5.1 Production Services under the supervision of chief engineer Chris Haynes. The priceless tapes were played on the ATR/Aria and then converted to 24-bit digital at 172 kHz (later down-sampled to 96 kHz) using Pacific Microsonics converters.

Haynes says he decided to substitute the Aria electronics because he expected to benefit from some subtle sonic improvements in the transfers. However, after initial A-B comparisons with standard electronics, he was surprised at the magnitude of difference.

“In our experience, it was night and day,” he asserts. “Once you switched back and forth two or three times, you never wanted to go back to the stock electronics. Every person who heard the comparisons picked the Aria as better within about fifteen seconds.”

Illustrating the experience, Haynes says, “It was like that old cliché where somebody takes a blanket off your speakers or wipes the grime off your windshield. The amount of extra detail was stunning.”

A few of the original masters were mono, but most were in stereo or the 3- or 4-track formats of the era. The recordings are now in the process of being remixed in surround and authored to DVD-A for release this year and through early 2005. Eight titles had been released as of April of 2004, featuring performances of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Festival Orchestra and the Academy of St. James, with conductors including Sergiu Commissiona and Pierre Monteux.

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