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2018 AXPONA Show Report: Music, Part 2

Since forming Acoustic Sounds in 1986, Chad Kassem has had a huge impact on the audiophile world. Continually upping the ante, Chad launched Quality Record Pressings in 2011, and it quickly became a go-to vinyl pressing plant serving a distinguished clientele, including Chad Kassem’s audiophile reissue label Analogue Productions. Chad usually has so many irons in so many fires that I hardly know where to start, so I let him take the lead.

How’s AXPONA going?
I think AXPONA’s an awesome show. We really enjoy it. We think it’s turning out to be one of the better shows in the U.S. We’re seeing a lot of our old customers, and we’ve made a lot of new customers.

What was new at AXPONA this year?
There are more vendors, more customers. We like the venue.

You always have so many different projects. What do you want to tell people about 2018?
We want to finish our mastering lab. You know, we bought Doug Sax’s mastering lab. It’s 99.9 percent done. And in addition to the ten [record] presses we have now, we’ve got six presses that we’ve totally redone; we’ve been working on those the last three years. They’re 99.9 percent ready and we’re thinking it’ll be about a month for those too. So those are two huge things.

We’re also working on a new UHQR project, the Jimi Hendrix Axis: Bold as Love. The mono version is already sold out, and the stereo version, we have about a thousand left of those, but they’re going fast. Those are the really big three things: the mastering lab, the pressing plant, the UHQR. Also, the [reel-to-reel] tape is still new and still hot and selling.

Do you have an estimate on how soon the mastering lab will be ready?
We’re hoping in about a month [from AXPONA time].

How extensive is your catalog of reel-to-reel tapes?
We’ve done ten; they’ve sold quite well, and we’re doing nine more. Muddy Waters Folk Singer, Sonny Boy Williamson Keeping it to Ourselves, Art Pepper…I think it’s The New York Album or So in Love, one of those, Johnny Hartman, and then five classical albums—the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony, Daphnis et Chloé, some of the top RCA classical titles.

What trends have you been noticing? In vinyl, for instance…
It’s continuing to grow. You know, we pressed thirty thousand Sergeant Pepper’s by The Beatles, and it hadn’t even been a month and they ordered another thirty thousand. Hendrix—we pressed all the Hendrix records, and they came out with a new album called Both Sides of the Sky. We pressed like twenty or thirty thousand of that; they sold, and a month later they’d already ordered another twenty or thirty thousand. But the great thing is, that new release of Hendrix made all the catalogs sell [more and faster]. They started ordering ten thousands and twenty thousands of the rest of the catalog just because of that new record coming out. It was interesting to see that that [release] could have such an effect.

Isn’t it the case that demand for vinyl is so high right now that you can’t press enough vinyl?

And the new presses will get worked to death right away?
Well, you just never know. It may take a lot of tweaking to get them [right]; you know what I mean? I’m hoping not, but my experience in everything in life has been that everything is way harder than it looks or seems and way more expensive, but we figure we’ve been tweaking on them along the way so we’re hoping that everything will go smoothly.

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