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Fonè Records Master Tapes – A Personal Experience

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  • Fonè Records Master Tapes – A Personal Experience

    Since I joined the R2R bandwagon, I have been on the hunt for quality master tapes of classical music recordings. I have a keen interest in chamber music, concertos and ancient music with a lesser focus on symphonic and opera works.

    Living on the other side of the pound is also driving my purchases as importing tapes from non-EU countries means paying prohibitive shipping costs, VAT, customs levy and a steep handling fee. My imports outside the EU are therefore limited to my absolute most wanted list.

    I have focused the bulk of my purchases on the European markets from record labels like Opus 3, Open Reel Records, STS, The Horch House and more recently, Chasing The Dragon.

    One particular Italian record label caught my attention. Fonè Records offers a wide variety of jazz and classical music recordings. Mr. Ricci, the owner and founder of Fonè has recorded more than 600 works since the early 80ies. All recordings are directly performed in both analog and digital domains (tapes and DSD). A large portion of the catalogue is available on Qobuz, the French streaming platform. It allows me to listen to the recordings and choose the tapes I want to acquire. I have about 50 individual tapes from Fonè.

    Fonè’s catalogue comprises CDs, SACDs, high resolution files (DSD and PCM), LPs and tapes. All LPs are limited to 496 copies as just one stamper is produced.

    The quality of the recordings is quite striking. Mr. Ricci has explained me that he is using a limited number of vintage Neumann microphones (no more than six microphones) and he does not add any processing gimmick leading to a very natural and rich sound.

    For the recording sessions, Mr. Ricci mainly uses several Ampex ATR 102 tape recorders. He usually records on half-inch tapes at a speed of 30 IPS. The transfer from the original master is done through a Nagra IV S. Mr. Ricci also owns several Studer C37 including one deck which has been impressively modified to accommodate one inch tapes.

    All tapes are made to order by Mr. Ricci himself as he refuses to delegate this work to his associates.

    I had the privilege to visit Mr. Ricci’s private audio room in Tuscany where I listened to the original master tapes and DSD files on a top-notch setup including, among others, ATR 102 tape decks, dCS DACs, humongous Audio Note power amps, a Be Yamamura dual mono preamp, a Cello Palette and double stacked Tannoy Westminster loudspeakers.

    The soundstage was just fabulous. The dynamics associated to the wealth of musical information immersed me in a musical experience that was rather unique. Mr. Ricci also told me a lot of anecdotes associated to each recording that he was playing.

    For those of you who do not know Fonè Records and the associated master tapes offering, I would encourage you to discover this beautiful audiophile record label.





    Last edited by dcc; 07-07-2017, 02:39 PM.

  • #2
    Great report Denis, thanks!

    Having heard myself now your Studer and what a tape can do to the sound, I started looking for a tape recorder myself ! Didn't have vinyl as I thought my digital solutions came as or very close, but the tape is several levels above
    Distributor for Aries Cerat, Primary Control, Signal Projects Stacore, 432EVO for Belgium and The Netherlands.
    www.ultisone.be or facebook/ultisone

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    • #3
      Originally posted by dcc View Post
      One particular Italian record label caught my attention. Fonè Records offers a wide variety of jazz and classical music recordings. Mr. Ricci, the owner and founder of Fonè has recorded more than 600 works since the early 80ies. All recordings are directly performed in both analog and digital domains (tapes and DSD).

      For those of you who do not know Fonè Records and the associated master tapes offering, I would encourage you to discover this beautiful audiophile record label.
      Yes, Fone has some excellent recordings.
      I own several of them on SACD and DSD Download.

      https://fonerecords.nativedsd.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by flyer View Post
        Great report Denis, thanks!

        Having heard myself now your Studer and what a tape can do to the sound, I started looking for a tape recorder myself ! Didn't have vinyl as I thought my digital solutions came as or very close, but the tape is several levels above

        Many thanks Michel. I wish you good luck in finding a tape deck. I am pleased that I have been able to convert you to the dark side of analog.

        Originally posted by bmoura View Post

        Yes, Fone has some excellent recordings.
        I own several of them on SACD and DSD Download.

        https://fonerecords.nativedsd.com/
        Mr. Ricci was very enthusiastic about NativeDSD Music.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have one of their LPs - I Musici/Pergolesi - and the sound quality is extra-ordinary, tape-like. Priceless quality, frankly, and I don't think I have a more quieter pressing, I really feel I am listening to 30ips tapes
          Analog: VPI Aries 3, custom suspension/Magnetically stabilized JMW 10.5i/Ortofon A90/Modded & shielded Pass XP-25 Digital: Spectral 3000SL/Heavily modded Alpha DAC Amplification: Spectral DMC-30SV/DMA-500AR Speakers: Heavily modded MartinLogan (custom Mundorf xover, cabling, woofers; structural mods)/Modded REL Cabling: Shielded MIT Oracle 50ic,MA-X/Oracle 90.1 Power: MIT Z-Strips, Magnum Z-Traps; Shunyata Black Mamba CX HC cords, Typhon

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          • #6
            I have one of the FONE titles on tape. It is the Beethoven Violin Concerto with Accardo. Quite fine recording and performance. I think it is the only version of the Beethoven VC that is commercially available on 15ips 2 track tape. It is a two reeler for all three movements. Currently Elusive Disc has it for sale for $499.99. However, when I checked the details it looks like this is for the first movement only. I bought both reels (the second has movements 2 and 3). I paid more than $500 but a lot less than $1000, ordering direct from Italy.

            There is also a vinyl version of the album also from Elusive Disc.

            Larry

            Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0 BottleheadPhonoPre,Herron VTPH-2A
            Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
            Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
            Electronics-Herron 360Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
            Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
            Other-512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, ArtKelmGround1, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
            Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

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            • #7
              Originally posted by flyer View Post
              Great report Denis, thanks!

              Having heard myself now your Studer and what a tape can do to the sound, I started looking for a tape recorder myself ! Didn't have vinyl as I thought my digital solutions came as or very close, but the tape is several levels above
              Good luck Michel! Lots of options to explore.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
              -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
              -Merrill Audio Elemente 116 monoblock amplifiers
              -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
              -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
              -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
              -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
              -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
              -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
              -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
              -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                Good luck Michel! Lots of options to explore.
                Well, I made the jump Myles!! I ordered a refurbished Studer A80R at The Recorderman. It is due to be delivered end of this month. I wonder how it will sound with my SET and horn combination from Aries Cerat...

                I will be reporting on it as soon as I get it. Meanwhile, I am preparing an introductory text on my audiophile past and present, both acoustically as system-wise. I will post in 'Take a bow'.
                Distributor for Aries Cerat, Primary Control, Signal Projects Stacore, 432EVO for Belgium and The Netherlands.
                www.ultisone.be or facebook/ultisone

                Comment


                • #9
                  There was a recent email flyer from ElusiveDisc citing their reel to reel tape collection so I checked them out. They want $500 for ONE REEL of a Fone tape. I'm not sure how to say anything nice about how I feel about this.
                  Magico M-Project, CAT JL7s, CJ GAT/darTZeel 18NS, Kronos Pro Limited Edition/Black Beauty/Atlas SL/Opus-1,CH Precision P1, Schiit Yggdrasil, KS Elation ICs & SCs

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                  • timztunz
                    timztunz commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I'm in agreement here. At one time it seemed like the $450 per title (2 reel) were crazy expensive. But now it seems too often that $350-$500 per reel are more and more common place. Kinda makes ya pucker up a little.

                  • Madfloyd
                    Madfloyd commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I'm guessing this is due to the asian market willing to pay this much... exploitative.

                  • Letsmakeadeal
                    Letsmakeadeal commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I am going to look at the Yarlung tape offerings right now. Thanks for the tip!

                    Quick update - Great suggestion. 4 Tapes for 700.00 if purchased in their quads otherwise 200.00 each....I am trying to find sound sample for these tapes. Anyone know if they have any? Don't see any on their website.
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