Recording and Production in the News
ADA-8XR: The audio specialist's choiceCambridge, UK, January 2008: When it comes to making and archiving recordings, Philadelphia-based mastering, audio restoration and location recording outfit George Blood Audio don't skimp on quality. Their current project, due for release on the Plectra label later this year, involves recording baroque music virtuosi playing all of Bach's keyboard concerti on original, period instruments (the youngest harpsichord was built in 1707). Classical music aficionados might wrinkle their noses at the presence of such high-tech kit as a hard disk recorder and a Prism Sound ADA-8XR interface amongst the vintage violins, harpsichords, and cellos, but in fact the use of the Prism Sound interface is perfectly in keeping with the project's high standards, as founder George Blood explains. And George is equally serious about quality; the ten thousand dollar ADA-8XR interface is the fourth such unit George Blood Audio has purchased in two years.
George Blood with one of his four ADA-8XRs
GBA was set up by former Philadelphia Orchestra recording engineer George Blood in 1984, and he soon founded the Safe Sound Archive, a climate-controlled media storage facility, so that he could safely archive the numerous orchestral recordings he had made with the Philadelphia Orchestra and other ensembles, as well as the recordings owned by the local Curtis Institute of Music. "They had the same problem I did: too many tapes and nowhere to safely archive them," explains Blood. But as soon as tapes were stored securely in the vaults, the owners began to request digital copies of them so that they could easily access the contents, and eventually the transfer side of things became a business in its own right. George Blood Audio's Safe Sound Archive now offers a digital audio transfer and restoration service for clients all the way from one-off work from families who want digital copies of old recordings made by deceased relatives (which are often stored on obsolete tape formats) to large-scale digitisation projects for record labels, orchestras, libraries or universities that need digital copies of performances, oral histories or lecture series recorded on analogue tape. In addition to these activities, George continues to make around 250 live orchestral and ensemble recordings a year to keep up his live recording skills.
Of course, a high-quality A-D converter is central to all of these activities, and George was interested in Prism Sound from the very beginning of his business. "We always liked Prism's products," he explains, "they did very well in a converter shootout that our main dealer, Studio Consultants of New York, organised when we were first specifying our previous facility. But we were just starting out, so we picked a more affordable converter." Within a few years, however, the business was taking off, and George wanted to take a step up. "We started expanding our live recording work, and our existing converter was very heavy. We really needed something more portable with multi-channel input capabilities. The Prism was expensive, but it was far more practical - it was far more portable for our location work, had many extra useful functions, and was always reliable. That's your main concern when you're recording live concerts! And their support has been great; I know I can pick up a phone and instantly get help, and if I ever need to send a unit away to be repaired, they give me a loaner unit while that's being done. That's rare these days."
In 2006, with GBA still expanding and adding new production rooms, the decision was taken to buy two ADA-8XR interfaces, fitted with the AES and Firewire output option cards. Early last year, George authorised the purchase of a third unit, and in November, they bought their fourth. "We keep adding rooms; we now have five rooms, with an ADA-8XR in four of those and the two-channel AD-2 in the other room. Prism's interfaces are really well thought-out. For example, we love the fact that the AD-2 can spit out 96kHz/24-bit and 44.1kHz/16-bit audio simultaneously... instantly, we have a CD-ready audio stream and an archival stream at the same time. And the ADA-8XRs can be ganged for multi-channel input for input to a hard drive via Firewire when we're doing classical recording work. The key words are versatility and utility; there are lots of features in the ADA 8XR, and they're all useful. You get a real sense that the guys at Prism Sound either need to use these boxes themselves, or they listen very hard to their users."
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