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A  “master” is the last-stage medium before producing records, tapes or CDs— it contains the songs in polished, tweak, equalized form, sounding as best as possible, and ready to be duplicated.

Masters are usually being issued in one copy only and thus join the ranks of the most sought after rarities—along with acetate vinyls, demo tapes and et caetera. Depending mainly on the year of issue, a master can be a reel of analogue tape, DAT or other form of digital tape, or recordable compact disc.

The following is the master tape from Abbey Road Studios for the single release of Being boring:

Being Boring master tape.

It is a 3/4” U-matic cassette (3/4” refers to tape width), full size (6”×10”), compatible with Sony PCM-1630, the most popular format at that time. (Interestingly, this format was developed to host video content, and later adapted for audio.)

The tape contains both seven-inch and album mixes, recorded twice each. Contrary to the regular home compact audio cassettes and similarly to DATs (Digital Audio Tapes), the music is recorded in digital format. As indicated on the sleeve, alongside music the tape contains a “guide audio track,” and “30 frames per second, non-dropped SMPTE” (time code for synchronization and delimiting tracks). The tape is dated 16th October, 1990.

T here is cosiderably less information known about the second studio tape, which is dated 24th October, 1990, and contains the Marshall Jefferson mix (labeled “12-inch A remix”). The comment on the tape says “copied in real time by Gordon Graham.”


Abbey Road Studios.

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