Interview Guillaume – Quality Control Manager at MULANN – 15/04/2019
The interview :
Who are you? What background do you have? What’s your job at RecordingTheMasters/MULANN Industries?
My name is Guillaume, and I have been the quality control lab manager at MULANN industries for fifteen years. I have a degree in electronic engineering technology with a specialization in industrial electricity. My main role is to control products being manufactured and then certify the tapes are ready to be used and sold. Myself and several colleagues are also involved in the customer service and claims department. Finally, I give answers to customers’ technical questions.
Would you say your role is important to the company? What do you do exactly?
We must be sure our products are consistent and that we provide the best quality to our customers. As we are not only working with audiophiles but also with the most famous studios. We need to certify our tapes to make sure they meet their expectations and comply with our technical datasheets.
In addition, our manufacturing tools are always moving, being upgraded, and we often use new raw materials. When that happens, we need to adapt our policies and quality tests to those changes. In the R&D department, I am often involved in new projects’ creation. The audio cassettes project, for example, requested everyone’s support to be lead until we got our FOX C60 in hand. Within the sales department, we have made a benchmark to define what a ferric (type I) cassette really is. Then we had to learn about coating such a thickness, as we were used to coating audio tapes. We also had to adapt several machines’ parameters (such as speed, temperature, and different components).
Finally it was necessary to evaluate the finished product, the brand new cassette. What I enjoy about working here is that we truly rely on everyone to lead a project. It’s real teamwork!
What’s the main differences between old school (or from other brands) products and your new tapes & cassettes?
We have worked a lot to improve the surface aspect (roughness, gloss,..) on the whole range of products. This aim was to provide the best frequency response, especially in high frequencies. Consistency is also one of our strengths.
Regarding cassettes, we tried to create a product as close as possible to the best type I from the glorious cassette period. As we did not pretend to be able to produce a better product, we took the old TDK-D and Maxell-UD cassettes as models. I think we have produced a very good ferric cassette, with a flat frequency response, a punchy low and precise high frequencies.
Are you personally involved in what you produce, do you have any interest in tapes?
A lot of people are passionate at the factory. Generally speaking, people here have been working for years and there is a huge amount of expertise. They are proud of contributing to the manufacturing of audio tapes which will be used worldwide, by many studios.
I personally love music and the challenge we have to face every day. We need to combine chemicals, mechanics, and industrial tools to get high electro-acoustic performances. I happen to have a REVOX B77 mkII high-end at home. I spend hours tinkering this audio jewel. This is also what I like in analog gear: touching something special, having tapes and an old machine in hands.
Another great thing in our job is to be linked to amazing sound engineers. We are in contact with them to provide advice, share feedback, and sometimes we have access to brand new songs on tapes. This is wonderful.
What do you think about the current trend and the revival of analog tapes & cassettes?
I always compare analog tapes to film photography. In this digital era, we have lost the “instant” side of things. With analog, we capture a moment. It’s a challenge to take the right picture, or record the perfect song in few tries. Once you know you have one chance to record on tape, you automatically elevate your level and your attention. Analog requires more skills but gives more value to the result!