We have created a certification of which we are very proud, numbered and signed copy for copy, that accompanies  all our products confirming their total coherent analog origin in all phases of production.


On this page we explain which are the reasons  that have led us to make this choice, but above all we want you to understand the importance of buying a certified analog product.


First of all we try do a bit of clarity in a matter  now more than ever  inflated by utterances often imprecise and sometimes unfounded because they are based on “hearsay” or on glib and self-referential  judgments.


We too often hear, audiophiles and employees in the sector,  of  “first generation master tapes”,   “direct copies of the original masters” or similar  expressions, but in most cases the interlocutors doesn’t understand the deep technical, commercial and legal sense that these statements involve and they run the risk of accepting a reality sometimes mystified or becoming a victim of a scam at worst.


Therefore we try to clear the field away from false and instrumental interpretations of reality analyzing in an analytical and scientific way the panorama of production and marketing of a “master tape” and referring to the global market.


On this page we don’t go into technical details deliberately but we simply analyze the main blocks to understand the standard production steps for a generic Master Tape, so if you want to investigate the issue and learn about the production process of a Hemiolia Master Tape please read the “History of a Hemiolia Master Tape”  page within the “Academy” section.


We start from the analysis of the production chain of an “analog master tape” and we divide it into two broad categories, namely  “live stereo mix” and “multi-track” recordings.



LIVE STEREO MIX


It’s the mixing of the signal coming from the various microphones or line inputs;  it happens in real time during the audio recording and the sum of these signals flows in two Left and Right channel  connected to a stereo analog recorder through the mixer.


Step 1: Recording of the musical event

During this phase the so-called “session tapes” or tapes used for the live recording of the event , the true “first generation masters” are produced


Step 2: Editing of the session tapes

During this phase that in the analog domain certainly is one of the most delicate, long and difficult to perform, there is the mechanical  cut of tapes and its cut through a specific adhesive tape called “splicing tape” to arrive to the creation of the edited master.

For security reasons, except for few exceptions,  a lot of technicians work NOT directly with the original session tapes but with a copy of the same previously made and called “job copy”.

It is easy to deduce that the edited master tape obtained after this operation already represents the third generation compared to the session tape.


Step 3: Mastering the edited master tape

In this phase two stereo recorders are obligatorily used, one as a player for the master tape produced during phase 2 and one as the recorder of the final master that undergoes the intervention of different outboards (equalizers, compressors, expanders, etc..).

In some cases this phase, numbered 3, could take precedence over the phase 2 or editing, but for our analysis this wouldn’t change the final result as it still adds another generation copy.

At the end of this operation you will get the real final master tape that represents the fourth generation copy compared to the session tapes but the process is not finished yet.

As the tape produced at this phase is clearly unique, it is duplicated for security or logistic reasons just think the press of the same vinyl in the past decades that was carried out simultaneously in different states of the world and it generated the so called “production masters” which already represents the fifth copies generation compared to the session tapes.


Step 4: Final Duplication

In this phase  finally get to the master tape production that will be sold to the customer and we are at the sixth copies generation compared to the original session tape.


MULTI-TRACK

In this case the signal that comes from the various microphones or line inputs converges, directly or via the mixer used during the audio recording, channel by channel, in a multi-track recorder made off 8,16 or 24 tracks.

Ones the session tapes are recorded they are used to make the mixing operation: they are loaded in the multi-track record that in this case acts as a player and we come to the production of a master, which is the equivalent of the session tape describe in step one.

Hereafter the work process is substantially identical to the one describe above with the different that we have added another copy that will lead us to the end of the proses or the final duplication, to obtain a master to sell.

That represents the seventh generation copy.


In some rare cases this chain may be modified; for example you can’t make the mastering phase shortening degeneration copies of a unit but the result doesn’t change; the aim of this analyses is to clarify the concept of “generation copy” and the production process of a master tape.


But now let’s move to the most important issue, the most important for us that should represent a key element for all before deciding the purchase of any master tape.


We talk about possible digital contamination in an analog product and more specifically in the magnetic tape, the analog support for excellence.


We have describe for distinct faces to arrive a the creation of  a master tape for the final sale: recording, editing, mastering and final duplication.


In the professional field and in the analog domain, this chain Is a great sacrifice in terms of processing times, technical resources, consumer product, technical maintenance and obviously the necessary technical expertise of the employees involved in the process, increasingly rare today.


In every face that we have described more or less severe “digital contaminations” can occur for the most different reasons.

For example it would be possible:

- Contaminate recording phase with digital equipments  interposed in the recording chain or, at worst, you could record at digital high resolution for convenience and then pour it into a false analog tape session;

- Make an editing phase of the tapes acquiring in digital domain all the content of an analog original session tape because you can’t operate in analog mode or save work time and then  pour the entire content edited into a tape; just consider that for the editing operations the relationship between analog and digital is about 10/15 to 1;

  1. -Work  in the mastering phase using a computer and some plugs-in instead of expensive and rare original analog equipments or directly make the worst of the scams that is to create copies of master tapes to be distributed using digital equipments with high resolution software such as 24bit file sampled at 96kHz.


There are some examples of how a master tape can be contaminated, a real jungle where is very difficult to extricate or move.


We have said “difficult” and not “impossible” because it’s professionally and scientifically possible to discover if an analog tape has been digitally contaminated, an operation carried out several times in our study in Savio, but unfortunately this operation is not available to everyone and it is very expensive.


We have told you all this for one simple reason, we want to share with you the reasons that have led us to the choice to create our A4P certification (Analog Four Phases) with an original signature on each copy as guarantee of our declarations.


We believe there is no need to say more, you can easily draw your own conclusions.


We are proud to declare and certify that during the four phases of process of our Hemiolia Master Tapes ,  recording, editing, mastering and final duplication, we only use analog equipments, no computer, no plugs in, no digital equipments.


No possibility of “digital contamination”, only total analog coherence.


We believe our A4P certification is the best tool that we can offer you to ensure your investment in Hemiolia products and the most concrete expression of our ethic policy.


For any question or curiosity about the A4P certification or any inherent theme don’t hesitate to use our forum, you will find a section called “Audio Technology Hemiolia” where we will be happy to answer you.

A4P certificate