LONG PLAY HIGH OUTPUT STUDIO TAPE
• Same formula as the high output tape SM900
• Formats: 1/4’’
• Wider dynamic range
• Higher Output
• High level uniformity up to the highest frequencies
• Excellent winding properties
• Low noise, low distortion
• Sounds open and transparent with a solid bottom end
Here you have the new AGFA, BASF, EMTEC, RMGI, PYRAL, MULANN or simply RecordingtheMasters tape! Who cares about the name as long as the formulas are better? And in this case, that’s the case (ha!, excuse the redundancy).
A month ago, I received a call from the RTM (Recording the Masters) tape distributor in the US, the tape legend Mr. Don Morris, kindly offering me the opportunity to evaluate the new tape product, together with some plastic NAB reels. He was en route to the Paris show and to spend some days at the Mulann tape manufacturing plant where the new RTM brand is being made. When he came back, he paid a fortune in a Express Mail package with the samples inside and I received it just overnite!
The tapes and reels arrived in excellent condition. The plastic reels came inside a good quality cardboard box, NAB format and looking good. At least these are much better than the usual “trident” style that I hated so much. With these ones I don’t have the need to keep changing my Crown’s adapters as happened every time I come across a trident’s reel. I don’t know you guys but personally I don’t believe in paying more for an empty reel than for the tape itself. That’s how it is at the “pro” level. On domestic applications, some people love to see beautiful aluminum reels for aesthetic purposes, and that’s OK, but not me. For those occasions you can always buy a beautiful empty reel with the “logo” on it and show it off to your friends. I can understand that, but with the new tape revival some folks are charging ridiculous prices for silk screening empty reels with “brand” names on it and that’s ridiculous. Most of the time I buy the tapes on a hub or on plastic reels.
We put the new LPR90 on a set of flanges that I keep for that purpose and used the NAB plastic reel to permanently store the tape. I’m using my trusted and fully restored CROWN CX-822 that I use on my Mastering suite for recording my new tape. I choose a high energy material from my Spotify Premium subscription in order to record a full 90 minutes program.
The BIAS was the same as the last tape we recorded here, which incidentally was the new Capture tape formula. It was right on the money. We ran the tape completely from reel to reel and found a nice and uniform spooling. No sticky issues and no debris at all. The slitting was perfect! We did our domestic stretch test and it has a good consistency, similar to the other Pyral tapes. The back-coat cohesion is excellent as it should be. This is a good tape. Now, let’s get a recording here and see what happens…
Since this formula is suppose to be similar to the very HOT SM900, with wider dynamic range and higher output, well, that’s exactly what we were trying to test…and we certainly did it! We pushed it to continued over +3db material, with heavy bass and extended highs. We peg the needles to the extreme right, all the way down and this tape kept receiving all we threw at it! We even made a tone sweep with a Tone Generator at abusive levels and just when the level was ridiculous high, or when the Crown’s limitations were present, then and only then, we noticed tape saturation. When they say this new LPR90 is similar to the 900’s, I believe it!
Our weekend panel test was different this time. We had more people and mostly recording pro’s. Just one audiophile to keep the balance and 3 recording engineers. The night before, I spliced the tape in 4 sections and in this order: LPR90, LPR35, Capture, LPR90. All separated by white leader tape so the audience could notice when a new tape was coming.
Our system consisted of a fully restored CROWN SX-822, Tannoy System 15 DMT II monitors, 3 Crown amplifiers DC-300 and D 150, LAT International wires and AC cords, a custom made PC with high res card specifically made for Hi Res files playback, EAD converter and my old and trusted Pioneer Spec One preamp. Nothing fancy here. Just good vintage equipment in a 20′ wide by 28′ long and high ceilings room, in a professionally acoustical treated environment.
I recorded “I know, You Know” from Esperanza Spalding’s album “Esperanza”. Same level, very hot for all 4 tape segments, 1 minute and a half each section, non-stop. We did it twice. Sound was spectacular, as always, with no apparent differences among the tapes except for one observation that the legendary recording engineer Papo Sánchez did: “All tapes are OK, but at least the first one, at those hot levels, seems to be more effortless in its sound presentation”. The first one was the LPR90. The panel concluded that all tapes were good and only time will tell, referring of course to the aging factor and how well they aged. They did notice, though, that the new LPR90 formula evoke the SM900 properties very well indeed!
The physical properties of this new contender are very good. Nothing to complain about. It’s very clean on the tape path, take hot levels with ease and if the formula is good enough to hold the recorded program intact for a long time, we have a winner here. For those domestic amateurs looking for a high quality long play tape, with pro characteristics and good calibrated decks that could take really hot levels, the LPR90 could be an excellent choice. We are very happy to see how Mulann and its new Tape Division, “RecordingtheMasters”, is taking the tape fever very seriously. They have not forgotten the “Johnny Q Recordist” who still loves to run his Revox, Teac, Akai, Technics,etc with freshly new manufactured tape. No more paying stratospheric and ridiculous prices for a 25 years old domestic Maxell NOS when you can grab a new “pro” or “semi pro” tape like the LPR90.
This is a good time to refurbish your old decks from the attic and put it to work. There’re still a lot of decks that are worth to restore. Yeah, I know, the prices are getting ridiculous, but you can still find a good old domestic brand in good condition and at a fair price, if you have patience. There’re people who specialize in restoring these old behemoths to “better than new” conditions for a price, of course. Crown, MCI, Studer, TEAC, Technics, TASCAM,etc. All these brands has been restored by service engineers who are also passionate about the hobby as well. Chuck Ziska from Ocala, FL is my choice for everything concerning CROWN decks. He’s the Crown Doc. No doubt about it. Then you have Marc Bischof of California restoring Studer, Technics, Otari. Chris Mara and his MCI restorations are already famous among the pro’s. Well, you got the idea, but if you insist to spend a real fortune on a restored Technics or Tascam you can always order yours custom made to your needs from one of those “boutique restorers”, like J Corder for example, at a hefty price. The options are there. It’s up to you.
Finally, the people of Horch House are coming with a new “Revox”, brand new deck in domestic and pro versions, to be available early next year! The future is bright for the tape. Open reel or cassette tape as well.
Long Live Analog!
About the author:
Carlos J Guzman, El Magnifico, has been involved with the audio business for over 35 years. He has participated in many audio and music segments, including: recording, duplication, high end audio sales, musician and mastering engineer among many others. He’s the former president of CopyTech Coproration, what used to be the biggest media duplicator in the Caribbean. In his mastering suite, Carlos performed over 1,000+ projects earning several gold and platinum records including a Grammy in 2002. Audio has run in the family’s genes for ever and his father, Dr. Carlos Guzmán Sr, was among the most important popular music collector of his era. El Magnifico is a avid vintage gear collector and specializes in cassette and open reel decks. His tape decks collection is the biggest one in Puerto Rico. Carlos holds several degrees from the University of Puerto Rico and Fort Hays State University respectively.
You can also visit his audio-related websites at:
DISCLAIMER: As with all the reviews we voluntarily do without any remuneration whatsoever, we advise our readers that these writings are for amusement only and in no way our tests are scientifically controlled. This is just a way of saying “thank you” to a hobby and passion we all share. The final word must come from your own experience with the product itself. Please use your own criteria.