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October 7, 2002

Industry Vets Will Design, Build New Analog Studio Recorders

(November 22) A group of audio industry veterans is in the process of forming a company that will design and build the first new analog studio recorders to reach the market in more than a decade. The new enterprise, Analog Magnetics, is now in the early design phase for its first product, a two-track recorder with different versions targeted at the recording/mastering and archiving markets.

"It seems crazy on the surface," says Michael Spitz of ATR Service Company, who is spearheading the effort, "until you consider the basics of supply and demand. The demand for high quality analog machines remains surprisingly high, but the supply of new studio recorders is virtually zero."

Other principals involved in the formation of Analog Magnetics are Bruce Borgerson of Wavelength Combination and Dave Hill of Crane Song. Borgerson, who served as marketing communications director for Studer in the U.S. in the 1980s when the company rose to market dominance, will handle all marketing for Analog Magnetics. Hill, who designed a number of highly successful products for Summit Audio before forming Crane Song, is supervising design and manufacture of the recorder's electronics. Spitz assumes responsibility for transport design and overall manufacturing, which is planned for a site near ATR Service's location in York,PA.

Spitz says formation of Analog Magnetics was prompted by the strong demand for his rebuilt Ampex ATR recorders, which now command premium prices. "One of my fully decked out machines now goes for over $13,000, and I have no shortage of willing buyers. What I am having trouble finding is good used machines to rebuild." Spitz claims that an all-new machine could be built profitably at a comparable price point.

Borgerson, who also served as coordinator for the Analog Option Coalition, points out that analog recorder manufacturing simply needs to restructure and downsize to meet the needs of what is now a relatively stable niche market. "You won't see a factory on the scale of Ampex or Studer," he says. "Analog Magnetics will be a lean, workshop-centered enterprise--more or less an updated version of what Jeep Harned and John Stephens did back in the early Seventies. We don't anticipate more than fifteen employees even at peak production. Most key components will be outsourced to known, high quality suppliers."

The company's first product, the AM2001, is a mixdown mastering recorder for 1/4-, 1/2- and one-inch tape from mono to 8-track, thus accommodating all traditional formats plus the new one-inch stereo mastering format. The 8-track format is anticipated to experience a resurgence because of growing interest in using analog for mastering (or backing up digital masters) for 5.1 surround mixes.

Additionally, Analog Magnetics is engaged in preliminary planning for production of a two-inch transport design. "Again, the market will make the decision here," says Spitz. "If prices for used Studer A827s continue to go up past a certain threshold, the two-inch machine will become a profitable proposition as well."

The debut date of the first Analog Magnetics recorder is largely dependent on completion of a funding package for the new enterprise. The trio of founding partners has pledged a sufficient amount to continue preliminary R&D, but outside funding will be required to build the prototype and begin production.

Anybody interested in Analog Magnetics as an investment opportunity is urged to contact Michael Spitz at ATR Service. "We expect to get most of our funding from people in industry who want to see analog not only survive, but actually improve," says Spitz. He says the company business plan projects a substantial profit over a five-year span.

For more information on Analog Magnetics, contact Borgerson at 541-488-5542.