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Getting into Tape (Read 5720 times)
Lonely Raven
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #45 - 04/24/14 at 16:10:02
 
Quote:
We need to get this going. When I was at Steve's picking up the Taboo, he let me borrow some tapes. I played them over the weekend. I never heard a master on my R2R. Holy sh*t. The dynamics are unreal. That is all I have to say about that.


Steve sent me home with a copy of his Twins soundtrack. I got my deck setup last night (MX-5050B BII2) and ran "side A". It sounded great! It didn't have the heft that the master has, but damn it's good!

I also picked up (from craigs list) a collection of tapes from the '50s and '60s that included an Akai consumer R2R - the deck needs cleaning badly, and the volume pot is all scrachy and intermitten, but it too sounded good! I actually listened to a James Bond album on Reel to Reel via the Mystery amp, and it was quite engaging! To the point of distracting me from writing E-mails and keeping me up till 1am last night playing with tapes.

I have my work cut out for me bringing both these decks into 100% full function (the Otari needs a 1/4 track head), but I think I'm on a good path to some great sounding music. Steve said he thought my MX5050 was the best $400 source he's ever listened to.   Cheesy

Here are some links to modern studio recordings.

You already know about tape project

http://www.tapeproject.com/

Then there is also Yarlung

http://www.yarlungrecords.com/

And Ultra Analogue

http://ultraanaloguerecordings.com/wpsite/home/

Also, Bottlehead seems to have a tape path and brake improvement kit for the MX5050, but it seems really pricey for what it is.

http://bottlehead.com/reel-to-reel/


I'm enjoying this, but Reel to Reel is such a paint in the ass without easy to acquire media. Part of me hopes the PS Audio DirectStream keeps up with tape for ease of use, even though it's a $6000 DAC!

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« Last Edit: 04/24/14 at 22:26:12 by Lonely Raven »  
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deucekazoo
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #46 - 04/24/14 at 16:53:56
 
Also check out this one if you need tape or accessories.

http://usrecordingmedia.com/
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« Last Edit: 04/24/14 at 16:54:19 by deucekazoo »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #47 - 04/24/14 at 18:20:30
 
Still doing research on tapes - found this interesting information on pre-recorded (consumer) tapes.

Quote:
On Feb 23, 2008, at 3:43 AM, Tom Fine wrote:

The craziest thing in all of this is, mass-duped tapes generally are TERRIBLE, I mean awful. If you understand anything about how they were made, you'd understand why they generally sound terrible. A few specifics:

1. 4x to 8x and later 16x duplication speeds. Generally on Ampex 3200-type transports, which were hardly stable at 60IPS or later 120IPS.

2. duper masters generally made by low-skill personnel from many- generations-removed copies sent to the duper plants. The duper plants would get a 15IPS safety (second generation from master, which could be a generation or more from the session tapes, particularly in the multi-track era), it would be a safety that close to the master if they were lucky because one common practice was the keep the safety at a studio and run series of duper masters from it for popular titles. Then this 15IPS tape would be reduced and combined to make a 4-track usually 7.5IPS dupe master. If someone decided to make a 15IPS dupe master that meant the duper's playback transport would be running twice as fast as the record transports, adding still more variables to the system. This all got even worse with 8-track carts and 3.75IPS duped reels. Those formats are such dog-doo, I won't even discuss them.

3. the tape stock used by dupers varied and was usually lousy. By the mid to late 60's, Ampex in Illinois was the biggest duper. I think even then RCA and CBS did their own duping (generally with better results). Ampex used their own tape, which is notoriously bad. They never perfected slitting so the tape "country lanes" and at high speed duping that leads to severe azimuth instability. Plus, the Ampex tape is notorious for warping, so most of those 40+ year-old tapes on eBay are badly curled or warped and full of left-channel dropouts. Any acetate tape will warp with the way most of these were stored by consumers, so I probably shouldn't single out Ampex.

4. Azimuth varies widely from tape to tape and even on parts of the same reel (and sometimes different sides of the same reel since some dupers used different record heads for each side of a quarter-track reel -- the heads were offset and would run at the same time but early 3200 systems didn't accomodate 4 tracks on one record head). Unless you check azimuth with a scope for each side of each tape (sometimes difficult since of course there are no alignment tones on these tapes), you're only somewhere in the neighborhood (and often outside the ballpark).

5. maintenance of the duper equipment varied from day to day, line to line and worker to worker. Sometimes there's hum in a channel. Sometimes level is all wrong. Sometimes channels are reversed. And remember that this junk sold at a premium to LPs.

6. finally, the hiss and wow/flutter level on most duped tapes I've heard is unacceptable. Unless you like digital artifacts better than hiss, there is no digifilter that satisfactorally cleans this up. I don't even think something like Plangent that locks to bias would help since the wow and flutter could date back any generation between the studio tapes and the duped tape and the bias recovered would only be the duper bias on the final duped tape.

Meanwhile, in contrast, a properly done LP was mastered right from the master tape and if it was mastered and pressed properly, it is much closer to the source than a duped reel. Also, I should mention that some dupers were better than others. Ampex was particularly bad in my experience. So was Bel-Canto. And early 2-track duped tapes are a whole other matter and often sound better than the early stereo LPs, if you can find one that's not completely worn out from age nowadays.


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Nick Danger
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #48 - 05/20/14 at 00:38:55
 
Quote:
I have my work cut out for me bringing both these decks into 100% full function (the Otari needs a 1/4 track head),


Good place for head relapping/ replacement.
http://www.jrfmagnetics.com/
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #49 - 05/20/14 at 04:15:25
 

Thanks Nick! I had just found out about them recently. I wound up getting a whole headstack for my Otari deck. Super simple to swap out, just a few screws and an edge card!
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #50 - 06/07/14 at 14:03:27
 

Maybe I should bring some of my "found" tapes for you. The dates on them start in the late '50s and work through to early '70s. Though very few are original, and some originals have even been recorded over!

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Lon
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #51 - 06/07/14 at 16:03:18
 
Have fun gents!
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Donnie
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #52 - 06/08/14 at 01:10:58
 
I just got back from the "Tape fest". My first impression of the tapes that I listened to was that the music had a rounded off sound. It is hard for me to explain, maybe it doesn't sound as harsh as digital, softer around the edges?? I did notice that there was a small loss of the very high end of treble, maybe just the source material?  
I don't know if reel to reel is for me, mostly for the fact of the unavailability of music that I like to listen to. It sure is dynamic though.
The ride home was interesting also, 80 miles in a downpour will keep you on your toes! As with everything, good gear will always pull you through.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #53 - 06/08/14 at 17:05:50
 

I'm glad you had a safe ride home, Donnie. I was worried about you since even my drive home (about twice the distance) had a couple "pucker" moments when I did standing water on the highway, in high winds.


I heard some good tapes at Steve's. We shared a couple of our finds. I thought it interesting that you said the highs sounded rolled off, because when I first listened to Steve's tapes (different tapes from last night) I thought they sounded a bit boosted and edgy on the high end, and just figured that was the tapes.

I think Steve is still on the learning curve with setup and adjustment. I thought it was neat that he was using the Otari 12 input as a preamp - I think that may have added some weight and density to the music, but rolled off those highs as you were saying.

I think still, what really wins me over is the lack of smearing and jitter of analog. There is just something about tapes that transcends what digital can do. Granted, I've still not put the DirectStream up against my tape player with good master tapes; I think that will be the final showdown for me.

Also, knowing Steve, I'm betting that as he works out what he likes and doesn't like with tape, he'll start building tape preamps to get the decks where he wants them to be - to have that detail and density that makes tape so magical.

Lastly, one thing that Steve mentioned that I'm finally getting through my head - Tapes aren't every day listening, they are "special occasion" listening. Steve said like having a 20 year Scotch rather than your usual. This, and the fact that I swear that the copy of a tape Steve set me up with sounded *better* than the original(!) - I still think tape has it's place, I just need to let myself accept how and what that is. I'm even tempted to dump a DSD to tape and see if that helps bring the density to life that DSD is missing compared to tape.

Sorry, rambling again. Steve and I talked into the night, theorized, and bounced ideas off each other. I have so much I'm still digesting and incorporating into my "audio world view" after last night. I need to find some blank tapes and run some experiments of my own!
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Donnie
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #54 - 06/08/14 at 18:41:26
 
LR,
Yep, the wind was, shall we say, challenging! The run from Morton and Lincoln was hairy. My refusal to slow down to under 80 was part of the problem. I passed everyone and hit every raindrop.
While the tape sounds wonderful, until I can buy something that I would normally listen to, I'm out.
While I appreciate great sound, my main focus is listening to music, songs that I love.
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Lon
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #55 - 06/08/14 at 20:15:02
 
Donnie wrote on 06/08/14 at 18:41:26:
LR,
Yep, the wind was, shall we say, challenging! The run from Morton and Lincoln was hairy. My refusal to slow down to under 80 was part of the problem. I passed everyone and hit every raindrop.
While the tape sounds wonderful, until I can buy something that I would normally listen to, I'm out.
While I appreciate great sound, my main focus is listening to music, songs that I love.


Donnie, I'm glad you made it safe and sound. My last trip to and from Texas in August '13 I spent a few hours in fierce thunderstorms with high wind and though I wasn't going as fast as you most of the time, it was a bit hairy. But danger is exciting, something motorcyclists know.

I'm with you: there's little on tape I want to listen to at any reasonable price. And I don't want to have 'special listening' sessions, I want to listen to music I love and I want it all to sound good when I do. I've got that with my lps and cds and my system and I do thank the universe for it every day.
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Brian
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #56 - 06/09/14 at 00:13:23
 
How was the Tapefest?
Fun & Educational?
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #57 - 06/10/14 at 04:59:19
 

I ran out of time in my previous post, I also wanted to say a big Thanks! to Steve and Devon for being excellent hosts as usual. We were comfortable and well fed.  :)

I have to say, after Donnie and Deuce split, Steve and I just started throwing out theories and thoughts about sound, rooms, speakers, tape, digital - basically everything that what we do revolves around. It was a really great chat, and I wish I had more time and wasn't so tired...I could have talked all night, it was such a great vibe and transfer of thoughts.

Thanks again, Steve. I look forward to the next mini-event should you decide to go down that path.

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deucekazoo
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #58 - 06/10/14 at 13:42:31
 
Yes it was fun and educational.
Everything sounded great. I have had my R2R for a while but don't really have any master tapes. I have a few I have created from records and CDs but this was a first time really listening to master tapes. It is just cool looking when you sit in the sweet spot, see the two Otari R2R sitting on each side next to the speakers with the rack of toys in the middle, and the Mystery amp glowing at you. Steve had the DM947 hooked up for speakers. They sounded really good. At one point I actually got up to see if they were playing. They had such a huge sound stage I though Steve hooked up the electrostats when I was not looking. The soundstage and dynamics of tape is something you just need to hear for yourself. You could pin point each instrument and player. The one that stood out for me was a musician playing the xylophone. I could physicaly see him moving his hands side to side in front of me hitting each bar with his mallets. Just something you need to hear.
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Brian
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #59 - 06/13/14 at 03:26:55
 
deucekazoo quote:
"The soundstage and dynamics of tape is something you just need to hear for yourself."

Wonderful!  
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