Breaking the Mold

Jun 1, 2005 12:00 PM, Compiled by Sarah Benzuly


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Pictured in Waikiki, from left: Bruce Maddocks, Robert Cazimero of the Brothers Cazimero (one of the groups on the older tapes) and Dean Hoofnagle and Milan Bertossa, Mountain Apple Company engineers
photo: Mr. Bonzai

Bruce Maddocks, chief engineer/owner of Cups ‘N Strings (Santa Monica, Calif.), met with The Mountain Apple Company (Waikiki), which contracted Maddocks to restore and transfer analog multitrack and stereo master recordings (dating back to 1963) to digital for future replication. In addition to the usual sticky-shed and other complications of older tapes, the masters had suffered from mold deterioration due to the high humidity of the Hawaiian islands.

To remove the mold, Maddocks used an archival-level HEPA vacuum system. Due to the toxic nature of the mold spores, the cleaning process was done outdoors, with Maddocks wearing protective clothing, gloves and a filtration respirator. The tapes then went through a chemical wipe stage and ran on a custom-fabricated tape machine transport fitted with cleaning and drying wipers.

“The resulting audio from Bruce's 96k, 24-bit sound files is spectacular,” said Mountain Apple engineer Dean Hoofnagle. “The producer of those ‘63 reels, Jack de Mello, was moved to tears when he heard the restored sound.”

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