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Getting into Tape (Read 6355 times)
Lonely Raven
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Getting into Tape
04/02/14 at 16:34:47
 
So I stopped by Decware last night to drop off an amp for Steve to service, and spent a great time chatting with both Steve and Dave, as well as listening to some music on Steve's commercial grade Reel to Reel.

One thing Steve brought up was the mini-Decfest we were talking about in the Mystery Amp thread.

Guys, you *need* to hear these master tapes on Reel to Reel through some Decware amps and speakers. *NEED TO*.

Steve said he's cool with this and wants us to come down; he thinks reel to reel is something we should really be considering, even in the face of high-def digital about to come crashing down on us this year like a tsunami. And from what I heard, I'm honestly thinking about picking up a deck myself sometime in the near future.

Either way, listening to what the Mystery Amp can do with a great source is the goal of the event, and I think we should really pull something like this together, even if it's just us (somewhat) local guys. Palomino, Brianne and I have already talked about going, so we might as well make an event out of it!

So those interested, lets look at the upcoming weekends - not this month (April) because Bri and I are booked up, but maybe May? Chime in with what's good for you, and lets see if we can pull this together; I'm tellin' ya, it will be worth the trip!

Right now I'm pretty open on the weekends for May - I don't think I have any set in stone plans. So consider me open all of May.


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« Last Edit: 06/21/14 at 22:42:12 by Steve Deckert »  
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Lon
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #1 - 04/02/14 at 16:56:08
 
Sounds like a fun event. Hope it happens.

Reel to reels are awesome. But what are you going to listen to on them?

My system has never sounded better than it has today. Just blowing me away. If I died right now (can't do that as my parents depend on me) I'd die HAPPY. I can imagine a new source, but not a new amp, with the PPP and all the power cords and this new Torii Mk III, I'm in playback heaven. The new HR-1s are really delivering!
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #2 - 04/02/14 at 16:58:45
 

A little more info on the visit last night; sorry for the crappy photos, but it's a 4 year old phone - I literally just got a new phone this morning that's supposed to do better low light photography. (we will see).


So Steve sat me down in the listening room; equipment was his Otari MTR-10 deck, to Decware Monoblocks, to MG-945 with the bass cabinets.
The source media was Reel to Reel "Master Tapes" he's picked up on eBay. I actually got to listen to *the* master tape for the movie Twins - it was novel, and epic at the same time.










The sound - so, the Twins soundtrack, having come out in the '80s was pretty typical of the time, and being a soundtrack probably had a half dozen to a dozen different producers/mixers etc. Every track sounded different, but two tracks stood out.

I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
Performed by Marilyn Scott
Written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBAVRFzndcY

TURTLE SHOES
Performed and Written by Bobby McFerrin & Herbie Hancock
Courtesy of Capitol Records Inc., Special Markets Inc. and CBS Records

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3wMTdJ8dDw

The soundtrack also have Jeff Beck all over it, and for those of you that play guitar and/or know his guitar work, it was obvious without looking up who the artist was...and it sounded *live*.

The sound of a master tape on Decware gear was difficult for me to describe - of course you heard the detail, the reverb added, even the room the voices and instruments were recording in, all the stuff you'd expect from a great system - but there was a textural liveness to the sound that I've only heard at small clubs where the artist is right there on stage and going through the PA. Steve described it as a tactile sound, with weight and *balls*. And add to this, Steve said that the ZMA brought all this up to another level over the monoblocks!

I went straight home and listened to some of my best recordings on my ZMA, driven from my Oppo BDP-105, to my MG-944. My best and most favored recordings - and they sounded hollow in comparison to the reel to reel tapes. No amount of detail and imaging could replace the reality those tapes brought into the room.

Yep, I'm going back for another listen as soon as I can. Thanks for another dose of audioruination (I think that's the word?)


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deucekazoo
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #3 - 04/02/14 at 17:41:22
 
And that is why I bought my R2R a while back. Its an Otari MKIII. But everytime I want to buy a master on Ebay it gets jacked up out of my price range.  >:(
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #4 - 04/03/14 at 14:06:12
 
What's the deal with the two machines? Please enlighten.... . I guess Steve purchased two of them?

Yeah, I would like to put my ears on that.

I am busy through the end of May. I should have my new Mazda 3 or Ford Focus by the first week of June. I will be able to road trip it at 38 to 41 MPG to Peoria. I will be parking my 13.8 MPG V8 Triton F-150 for awhile.

I am loving my Gallo 3.1's and look forward to my CSP3 coming in. I have to be a true audiophile now don't ya know...ah?....yes Lena I do....ya know...I gotta Active Preamp comin' don't you know' ...YAA!  ;D

However, I would like to put my ears on the ERRx & HR-1. You can never have enough pairs of Speakers for the Fidelity of Decware Amps!

For me: Anthony Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Reference 3.1, Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL, Vintage Polk SDA 1 & why not add a pair of ERRx!

LR, speaking of active preamps...was the CSP3 in the chain(?)...tell us the whole chain. Inquirying minds want to know...cables too.  Lars
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« Last Edit: 04/04/14 at 06:16:32 by stone_of_tone »  

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stone_of_tone
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #5 - 04/04/14 at 04:04:13
 
Well, I guess you mentioned it is from the reel to reel to Mono's (no pre needed...output volume left & right channel from the Otari)...via XLR Steve said in previous posts...cool.  The 945 & the augmenters cool too. I will read the Thread going on about these. I almost ordered them right after Decfest from Listening to the Video's posted. For now, I am going to settle in with my recent purchases and the CSP3 and maybe make it to the fest' this year. Do post more impressions when you make it back in there/ERRx too.

LR, find more Reel to Reels on Ebay for Steve too!  Buy some and show up...earn your keep man.....geez- Cool Grin  ....7.5 IPS man.... .

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Lionel-Hampton-Master-Tape-Reel-To-Reel-1-4-Hamp...
Their sure is a lot of Lionel Hampton on Ebay.

Aerosmith...one side for $175.....pricey. I want to hear the Robert Plant Steve has. Saw Plant in 1985 (great show...he did a complete separate set of Honey Dripper's), then Page & Plant in 1995 an 98. I have about 90% of my Ticket Stubs since 1977 when I saw Foghat.

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« Last Edit: 04/04/14 at 06:59:29 by stone_of_tone »  

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stone_of_tone
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #6 - 04/04/14 at 05:19:16
 
http://www.ebay.com/itm/TEAC-A-3440-REEL-TO-REEL-TAPE-RECORDER-THE-BIG-KAHUNA-/1...

Who am I kidding...settle in... .
....should I impulse buy this one?  Yeah, what the heck...jump in and hang on.

However, this machine does 7.5 to 15 IPS. Are a lot of what I want going to be 3 3/4 IPS?  I am definitely on the learning curve with this... .

Okay...I am seeing more/most are 7.5 IPS....cool. I don't want the 3.75 anyway...recorded like crap at high speed.

I bet it is safe to assume, Steve is playing 7.5 IPS or better.

http://www.tonepearls.com/tprtape1.html?gclid=CKfv07SXxr0CFYtDMgodmVoAQg
This would be nice at the 15 IPS that it is!

Anyway, all I need is a 1/4inch tape - 2 channel....and I should get one that does 3.75, 7.5 & 15 IPS.....with XLR output (I can use adaptors to RCA...leaving XLR to XLR open for other... ).
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« Last Edit: 04/04/14 at 16:05:03 by stone_of_tone »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #7 - 04/04/14 at 16:18:23
 
Sorry Stone, you'll have to bend Steve's ear on the Reel to Reel. It's been probably 25 years since I had one, and mine was a clunky old consumer version that had lots of warp and wobble to it.

Quote:


Steve played me something like this, I'm pretty sure he said it was 15ips. This is the kind of stuff he's looking for and what we'd be listneing to. I think he said the Twins soundtrack (which I can't imagine to be a *hot* item on eBay) was purchased for $300 - a bit of a splurge that he could only do once or twice a year.

I almost impulse purchased a reel to reel as well, but I really don't know anything about them. Steve had a 3rd deck there that he said was only $650, and perfectly acceptable for us home users. No need to get a commercial grade deck.

Also, from Steve's description, it sounds like it would be a good idea to get the balanced upgrade for the ZMA if you're going to go with a reel to reel - so factor that into the cost.

I'm seriously considering this myself, but the limited of media is what's holding me back. For the cost of a deck and balanced inputs on the ZMA, absolutely worth the cost for the  improvement...way more than buying $1000 of cables! Put the money where the biggest impact will be! But the lack of media is concerning.
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« Last Edit: 04/04/14 at 16:23:28 by Lonely Raven »  
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #8 - 04/04/14 at 16:47:13
 
No doubt LR...the lack of media is concerning. I could also invest in a better Vinyl Rig too. However, I am going to think about it and I might pick Steve's brain to cover all the bases in what I need/should have.

I would like to preserve something that is fading fast. Maybe, get a good Deck for a grand fully serviced and 30 days on it etc...and I could continue to have it serviced locally if need be. Then, splurge on some good 15 IPS like the Piano Works I posted and some good Beatles at 7.5 IPS. If I end up with only 10 or 15 decent Tapes....what the heck...hanging on to some History and some extraordinary Playback.

Well, off to snow blow 11.5 inches of snow I received here. Geez, but I don't complain when others got wacked with Tornado's and golf ball sized hail. You just go out each day and TRY to make the world a better place. 7 billion on the Planet now...and 11 billion by the end the century is not sustainable.......but as Sting said: "When the World is running down...you make the best of what's still around".
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« Last Edit: 04/04/14 at 17:00:49 by stone_of_tone »  

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Lon
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #9 - 04/04/14 at 17:35:14
 
I've loved reel-to-reel since my teens but moving to that now is out of the question for me. Just not enough material to make it worthwhile, and so much digital and vinyl to listen to. Spending big bucks for master tapes of stuff that is barely interesting because they will sound fantastic. . . that's the opposite of being a music lover and becoming a music geek. . . at least for me.

If you guys go to a mini-Decfest. . . find a way to listen to the HR-1s. My new pair has taken a long time to really open up, but DAMN. This is the best sound I've ever heard. All the things you guys talk about hearing from the ZMA I hear in my system, I think the Power Plant Premier and the Torii Mk III and CSP2+ have what you are hearing in the ZMA, my digital front end is outstanding, and the HR-1s are making it all sing out proud and loud. The HR-1s should sound amazing with the ZMA.
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« Last Edit: 04/04/14 at 17:36:09 by Lon »  

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stone_of_tone
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #10 - 04/04/14 at 17:56:48
 
I hear you Lon. I would be doing it for the Geek Aspect...just to preserve some History and hear that glorious Piano Work I posted and some other arm and a leg 15 IPS.  :)

Of course, the antithesis is as you stated...good digital and vinyl out there as a music lover. Of the most importance (to me) is the DIRECT STREAM DAC...and its ability to flesh out PCM via Transport or Files!  I look forward to how this unfolds and if any competitors enter the fray!

Yes, I got word my CSP3 is packed....I will Listen to the HR-1's too when I go.

Now I need to quit procrastinating an go snow blow.... .  :(
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« Last Edit: 04/04/14 at 17:59:16 by stone_of_tone »  

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Lon
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #11 - 04/04/14 at 18:10:42
 
Whew! I'm hoping my snow shoveling last week is the end of it here. We'll see!

Yeah, the DirectStream DAC will be one to hear. I think it will be something else, but right now it's in the "hyped up" stage, I'm eager to hear real users reports, won't be too long. . . .
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deucekazoo
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #12 - 04/04/14 at 20:14:11
 
I hope Steve does not mind me posting this link. But his is why I bought my R2R. I was going to start buying these and then the money went south.
http://www.tapeproject.com/

These guys are re-issuing these from master tapes.
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Lon
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #13 - 04/04/14 at 20:41:42
 
Cool site.

Cute engineer.

Probably sound awesiome.
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #14 - 04/06/14 at 00:07:13
 
One winter night a couple months back, I was working on my QC area and decided I needed an additional source that wasn't a smart phone, iPod, or computer because the damn things are always screwing up just when you actually NEED a clean source to listen to.  I decided to just put a CD player on the bench and I'd make some test CD's.  The one I had in stock was no where to be found and after looking for two hours I gave up on it.  Turns out it was shipped to a customer by mistake.  So I turned to a shelf with two used players from years past.  Don't remember how I got them, but having never tried either one, I decided now would be a good time.

I started up the first one and it had epilepsy.  That's a fancy word for logic problems.  I unhooked it and launched it across the room into the garbage.  2 points.

I started up the second one and it had it had behavioral issues.  The drawer just opened and closed repeatably and the display said... F U...  I'm not sure what that means, but I do recall what I thought it meant.  I unhooked it and launched it across the room into the garbage.  It landed on top of the other one without bouncing out.  3 points.

I was in the middle of a QC job and needed a good source on this particular bench. Short of taking the one from the listening room, or going into the house and digging around in the basement, I was out of options.  I grabbed a SVHS player from under the bench and hooked it up.  I then went to the attic and grabbed a master tape (from when we used to record onto SVHS in our Peoria studio) and stuck it in the machine.

I hooked it up to my test rig, and pressed play.  I believe the amplifier was an SE34I.3 or a TORII, I don't actually remember.  I use the LCD2's on my QC rig to listen for noise and hum, as well as music to determine in short order what the transparency and frequency balance are like.

Well, what follows has similarities to an abduction story complete with missing time.   It was suddenly 4 hour later, I was on my second tape, 5th beer and my hands were red from playing drums on the edge of the bench.  

The recording was so natural and real that I was able to close my eyes and spend an evening back in my studio over 10 years ago.  I had forgotten how good tape was. That night I experienced time travel.

Hard to forget.

Of course after the tape was done and I tried to rewind it, the SVHS also flashed the F U  message on the display.  What are the odds of that?  I unhooked it and pitched it across the room into the garbage.  It bounced off the CD player and landed on the floor.

I decided to ebay my way to a better SHVS player that would be worth my time to fix and keep fixed.  It was during this search that I stumbled across the OTARI tape machine and I just always assumed something like that must cost $30,000 or more.  When one was listed at $1500 I just had to stop and re-think things.  (Especially considering the fact that I could have spent that same amount for just the right SVHS deck.)

This lead to researching reel to reel machines and becoming educated on what you want and don't want. Myself I would like to have something built well enough so that it doesn't break or wear out or expire.

If found that was the definition of a commercial grade machine. Commercial grade machines have direct drive transports with logic controlled tape tension and crystal locked speed control.  They are kind to tape, make it nearly impossible to stretch or break a tape, and of course are built for almost continuous duty.

After researching source material, I knew a handful of real master tapes would happen, but the bulk of my listening would be from 15 IPS or 7.5 IPS radio station tapes from the 70's 80's 90's.   I was stunned with the recording quality from these tapes btw.  Owning every CD of these songs I can assure you that not even a single CD is a copy of the master tape.  These radio station tapes are largely compilations of studio safety masters and comparatively the CD versions have been ruined in almost every case due to human nature.  I mean put a human in front of PRO TOOLS and tell him not to use any of the 60,000 possible effects and "tools" and he obviously fails every time.  Like putting a monkey in a sea of bananas and telling him not to eat one.

So choosing the OTARI MTR10 makes for an interesting side irony...  Prior to any of this, founded on frustration with computers that update themselves into old age and pretend to quit working, I bought a really good tube tuner.  The McIntosh MR71.  Last time I listened to real radio was over 10 years ago and a college station in the area played jazz and blues with amazing sound quality.  I used to listen to it in the studio all the time.  Hoping to pull this wonderful station from the hypersphere and put good continuous music in the shop so I could stop streaming mp3's for good, I got it, installed a bad ass antenna on the roof and turned it on.  Turns out there are no good stations in the area, none.  And everything that is broadcasting is broadcasting satellite down feeds of firkin MP3's.  It actually sounds worse than just getting it off the internet.

The MTR10 was a favorite machine for radio station broadcasting as well as studio mastering.  So as you can imagine the tape machine is setting in my listening room giving my tuner the finger as you read this.

So that's the story of how I discovered what reel to reel tape can actually sound like...


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