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Star Wars Comes to DSD and Analog Tape

03-11-2016 | By Brian Moura | Issue 84

Star Wars

Star Wars Original Soundtracks in Stereo DSD and Analog Tape

Horch House has released the first three original soundtracks from the Star Wars Series: Episode 4: Star Wars – A New Hope, Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode 6: Return of the Jedi in Stereo DSD, analog tape, and WAV formats. The albums feature the original performances of music from this iconic film series composed and conducted by John Williams with the London Symphony Orchestra.

While the Star Wars Soundtrack albums have previously been available on Stereo CD and FLAC (PCM) downloads, Horch House notes that this marks the first time that the Star Wars Soundtrack albums have been available in both DSD and analog tape. This is yet another step in Horch House’s work to bring classic albums to analog tape and DSD through the release of one-to-one analog tape copies and transfers of the analog tapes to DSD and WAV format USB Wafer Cards.

Transferring and Refurbishing the Tapes

The Horch House process starts with an Analog Tape copy of the album. In this case, they received the three Star Wars albums from Skywalker Studios in California last September and began work on the refurbishing and transfer process. Volker Lange at Horch House tells me that was a very exciting moment at their company.

Christoph Stickel

Christoph Stickel

Horch House works with Christoph Stickel of CS Mastering to refurbish the analog tapes in preparation for their transfer to their Analog Tape, DSD, and WAV format releases. The company makes a distinction between their refurbishing process and the more common remastering process used in album reissues.

Refurbishing involves making a copy of the analog tape and then using this copy to develop the optimum settings on the analog tape machine for the transfer of the music on the album for release. Once the settings are finalized they are then applied to the analog tape that Horch House uses to create the actual transfers.

Horch House has a separate transfer chain for their analog, DSD, and WAV releases. In the case of the DSD transfers, a Grimm AD1 Analog to Digital Converter is used, while the analog tape transfer is done with a Studer A80 tape machine modified by Studer expert Andreas Kuhn.

Horch House says “By refurbishing – in other words, sound renovation – we understand the complex reworking of the original master tape and the production of a new master. Thus, we come very close to the original tonal state during the recording period. You, the esteemed music lover, enjoy the sounds at the same quality as if you were sitting in the sound engineer’s chair at the time of recording, including some noises, which had been removed for the digital releases.”

Adding Metadata

The DSD editions of the three Star Wars albums come to you in untagged DFF format on USB Wafer Cards with a separate DFF file for each track on the album. The wafer cards also include an Adobe Acrobat PDF file that has the original album booklet, artwork and photos for your collection.Adding Metadata to Star Wars - Episode 4

Adding Metadata and Artwork to Star Wars: Episode 4

In most cases, you will want to convert these files to DSF files which can then be enhanced with album art and track information. The freeware DFF2DSF Converter program from Signalyst, the makers of HQ Player, and a tagging program like Tag and Rename or MP3 Tag are ideal for this process.

Listening Time

After the copying and tagging process is complete, it’s time for some musical enjoyment. In my listening, I used the excellent new MC-8 Multichannel NADAC Digital to Analog Converter from Merging Technologies to play the three Star Wars albums in DSD Stereo.

NADAC MC-8 Multichannel DAC

NADAC MC-8 Multichannel DAC from Merging Technologies

The albums brought back great memories of the Star Wars movies. All of the classic music is here – from the “Star Wars Main Title”, “The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)”, “Cantina Band”, “Yoda’s Theme”, “The Asteroid Field”, “Yoda and the Force”, “Parade of the Ewoks”, “Jabba’s Palace Band”, “The Return of the Jedi”, “Ewok Celebration”, “Finale” and many more.

The DSD editions of the albums deliver the full power and majesty of the music from the movies. And it’s even better when the volume gets cranked up a bit, if you know what I mean. Star Wars, DSD and the NADAC are definitely a winning combination.

Availability, Pricing, and Shipping

The Star Wars albums are now available from Horch House in your choice of analog tape, DSD, or WAV formats.

Episodes 4 and 6 sell for 32.92 Euros ($36.99 US Dollars) in DSD, 24.58 Euros for 24/96 ($27.99 US Dollars) to 28.75 Euros ($36.99 US Dollars) WAV format and 331.67 Euros ($370.99 US Dollars) in Analog Tape (2 RMG SM 468 Tapes on Metal Reels). Pricing for Episode 5 is somewhat higher in all formats.

Allow 2 to 4 weeks shipping time for the tapes and wafer cards to ship from Horch House in Austria via Postal Mail to the United States. And above all, enjoy some classic film music in very high quality audio.

Links:

Horch House

http://www.analogarts.net/

Horch House Launches DSD Wafer Cards

http://positive-feedback.com/audio-discourse/horch-house-dsd-wafer-cards/

The Reel Deal: Dealing With Tape Overload

http://positive-feedback.com/reviews/music-reviews/the-reel-deal-dealing-with-tape-overload-2/

NADAC MC-8 Multichannel DAC from Merging Technologies

http://nadac.merging.com

DFF2DSF Converter

http://www.signalyst.com/professional.html

Tag and Rename

http://www.softpointer.com/tr.htm

MP3 Tag

http://www.mp3tag.de/en/

 

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