Mara Machines is the world's premiere analog tape machine restoration company. Since 2008, owner Chris Mara has carved out a unique niche of the recording industry by cultivating a community of analog tape lovers by restoring MCI Tape Machines. Mara is first and foremost a recording engineer, which is where his love and appreciation for tape developed. He owns Nashville studio Welcome to 1979, where the same restored MCI machines are utilized daily on recording sessions.
Mara Machines was built on the love and appreciation for classic recording techniques and the true art form that can only be offered by recording on tape. Mara believes utilizing a tape machine is one of the only ways to alter your recording workflow and techniques - it forces you to think about how you're utilizing your time, tracks, punch-ins, and overdubs. These techniques are invaluable to all recording engineers.
The goal at Mara Machines is to not only equip other engineers, producers, and artists with the tools they need, but provide the education, support, and community that allows them to grow for a lifetime.
MCI tape machines are very unassuming! They're simplistic in their design and sound fantastic. Haven't heard one? We'll bet that you have! MCI tape machines have been used to make thousands of great records. Pick up almost any record made in the 70s or 80s and it was likely made on an MCI console or with an MCI tape machine - Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Criteria Recording, The Bee Gees, Muscle Shoals Sound, The Rolling Stones are just a few of the many who have made great music on MCIs!
THE RESTORATION PROCESS
We achieve the same level of restoration for each machine by tearing them completely down to the frame and re-assembling as each Molex connector and other stress points are resoldered. This takes place in the power supply, transport and audio boards. Roughly 500 solder points and 80 IC chips are reworked, re-soldered or cleaned... and that’s just on the 2-Track machines! The total number of solder points and connectors multiplies quickly as tracks are added.
All of this happens before the machine is even turned on. Everything is resoldered to help ensure future problems are headed off at the pass.
After that, every transport adjustment is made - lifters, brakes, tensions, etc. Then on to the audio where all audio channels are aligned at each speed. Key capacitors get replaced - like the capacitor that controls the accuracy of the counter. We recap key capacitors on the audio cards as well. We strive to have a complete restoration, yet meet an affordable price point.
After all of that we burn them in and stress test each machine by running through multiple alignments so no other issues pop up before they go out the door. If there should be an issue, every machine comes with a six month warranty and our techs can help via Skype.
The beauty about the MCI decks is that they are very, very modular. Each channel is broken up into separate cards to handle the different tasks of the channel. If a problem is to occur, we can diagnose it together by swapping cards and the problematic card can be shipped to us for repair or replacement. The same goes for the transport and power supply. Many parts are compatible between the JH110 and JH24 series making learning and maintaining these machines very easy and user friendly, even for people new to tape machines