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Getting into Tape (Read 4310 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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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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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #15 - 04/06/14 at 00:39:55
 
So that said, I would like to turn as many of you on to it as want to hear it.  Hence a mini fest in May sounds good to me.

The tape club made me want a tape machine before I ever got one.  The joining thing was a turn off to someone like myself who was just getting into it.  Instead I found a great place in Australia that makes reference grade tapes for sale and I also found a guy in Canada (Mr. Pong) who's presentation and equipment won me over so I purchased one of his tapes.  That was the $300 tape with shipping, but it's new, recorded on the best gear God has to offer and is done live straight to the machine via pure silver wire and interstage transformers all the way.  This tape is so good that you really have to listen to it several times to absorb all the data and emotion.  Then you just want to listen to it again.  It was worth the money.  I'll probably listen to it at least 50 times before I grow used to it.

Here is the link to his site: http://ultraanaloguerecordings.com/wpsite/home/

Additionally, I found but have not yet tried:

http://internationalphonographinc.com/master_tapes.html

http://www.mastertapesoundlab.com/MasterTapeSoundLab/Catalogue.html


After hearing Mr. Pong's tape I know I'll be buying more.  And I'll be listening to the tape so much I'll probably start to wear it out.  This is what the second machine is for.  It's an OTARI MTR-12 that I am working on with the goal of being able to exactly duplicate a master tape without embedding the signature of another type of machine onto it.  That way I can enjoy my tapes without fear of wearing them out, not to mention I would sell many of the master tapes I get from eBay.  

I've already discovered that it's possible to make a copy that sounds better than the original by increasing the dynamic range and so on.  Keeping the transparency from suffering is going to be the real challenge, but even at this early stage the copies are being enjoyed immensely.

Once I get all that to work, and have perfected the record and playback amplifiers I'm designing, I may just get back into recording at which point a second machine is required to create the safety masters.


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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #16 - 04/06/14 at 01:38:42
 
Nice chronicling Steve. I know full well how detail and pace can really take you by surprise using tapes you recorded. I use rehearsal, gig and demo tapes I recorded of two bands I was in in the 'eighties to evaluate components and system changes. Especially in the case of rehearsal tapes I know the players, the room, the mike placement and the tape deck's signatures. . . it can be fascinating to hear them played back.

I won't go this direction with tape even though I know how amazing they can sound. I just wouldn't easily and inexpensively find the material I want to listen to on tape, and I'm picky about what I listen to and there's lots I don't want to listen to. Yes, perhaps I'm a snob although my interests are broad. Luckily thanks to you and Bob I have the heartbeat of a system that allows me to really deeply enjoy cds and records, of which I have so so many, and more coming in it seems every day.
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« Last Edit: 04/06/14 at 01:39:45 by Lon »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #17 - 04/06/14 at 06:06:12
 

Steve, you mentioned that there were some consumer grade decks that you thought would suffice for those of us looking for playback. Any particular models we should be looking at? I'm seriously considering picking up a deck, if I can get a working one for $600 or less.

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Re: Mini-Decfest this Spring?
Reply #18 - 04/06/14 at 17:49:00
 
My second choices for tape decks were:

Studer A807
Teac A 7300
Ampex ATR-700
Teac X 2000M
Otari MX5050
ReVox A700
ReVox PR99
ReVox B77
Technics RS1506

Akai GX 650D

TEAC A 6600
TEAC A 6300

TEAC 35 2B
TEAC X10R

Probably the one I would have gotten was the MX5050 or the ATR-700 as they seem to be the biggest bang for the buck, ranging from 500.00 to 1500.00 on ebay.


Beyond this, you want to look for 1/2 track machines.  That means the machine only plays 2 channels on one side of the tape.   Some machines do both 1/2 track and 1/4 track.  1/4 track, means the machine plays 2 channels on each side of the tape for twice the music, but less resolution.  This btw is almost always mistakingly called 4 track.  4 track is quad, not 1/4 track.  

Also, the machine should play 7.5 IPS and if it plays 15 IPS you can listen to a lot more master tapes since the majority are mastered at 15 IPS.

Most of the machines listed above have switches for both TAPE BIAS and EQ.  Being able to switch between two or more bias settings or at least be able to adjust tape bias while you listen is THE KEY.  Record and Playback EQ are also nice to have, as the combination of these switch settings can MAKE or BREAK the sound of a tape.  Especially master tapes as the formulation of masters is all over the place.  Consumer grade reel to reel tapes with pre-recorded music most popularly configured for 1/4 track machines are likely all the same type of tape, negating the need for bias and eq adjustments.

So if you decide to go consumer grade with 1/4 track and 1/2 track heads try to make sure it has these settings.

Also insist on a close up picture of the heads before buying anything.  If you can't tell what condition the heads are in, e-mail me the picture.

Steve
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« Last Edit: 04/06/14 at 17:53:02 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #19 - 04/07/14 at 04:06:07
 
LOL - thanks Steve. Without even knowing anything about a good reel to reel, the Otari MX5050 is the one that caught my eye.

There is one within 3 hours drive of me I'm trying to work out a deal on. I'd like to hear some master tapes on my ZMA with the MG944 and see what's what!

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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #20 - 04/07/14 at 05:07:23
 
Here's another possibility if you want to just get potentially terrific sound at 7.5 IPS

http://www.ebay.com/itm/MINT-AKAI-M-8-Reel-to-Reel-StereoPhonic-Tape-Recorder-Tu...


My guess is it might actually sound better than the ATR700 I like so much, but the transport would be less friendly.

Gee for 250.00 I might buy it myself.  Crossfield heads are magic.

Steve
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #21 - 04/07/14 at 05:14:53
 
Lonely Raven,

I have to say,  since I respect your ears from knowing you since ~ what 1998 or so... to let you hear the  tapes ranging from best to mediocre.... for you to consider a tape machine after only two hours of listening to  ours, I fell a sense of conformation that I'm not just high on tape fumes...

God bless,

Steve
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« Last Edit: 04/07/14 at 05:19:25 by Steve Deckert »  
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #22 - 04/07/14 at 05:23:45
 
There's absolutely no doubt that any MX5050 will be almost indistinguishable from my OTR-10.  
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #23 - 04/07/14 at 15:39:09
 
I think Otari is the only company still making R2R machines. If you have a chance I would go for the MX-5050BIII. This is their latest and reasonably priced used. The BII is also good but older and might be worn out unless they were rebuilt.

On a side note, just watched the movie Frozen over the weekend. At the end after the movie credits they have the main song from the movie playing in different languages. It is recorded in a studio, look in the background. I believe that is an Otari in the background recording.
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #24 - 04/07/14 at 16:06:00
 

Steve, the one I'm looking at looks a bit rough, well used. But I might be able to get it for an even trade of some rare CD's that I really don't need...so it might actually work out very inexpensively for me.

Here's the deck and heads.







Another one just popped up that looks better, but I'd have to pay cash, and I'm not sure I'm ready to spend that much right now.

That Akai you posted looks good, but it looks like many of the tapes I'm interested are 15ips.
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #25 - 04/08/14 at 03:55:58
 
@ Lonely Raven ... looks you're going to need a Preamp for sure!
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« Last Edit: 04/08/14 at 03:56:28 by beowulf »  
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #26 - 04/08/14 at 04:37:29
 
Quote:
@ Lonely Raven ... looks you're going to need a Preamp for sure!


Nah, it's looking like I'm going to have Steve add the balanced inputs on my ZMA. I kinda regret not just having it done right of the bat. Steve says the balanced transformers do something similar to what having a preamp in front of the amp does. So maybe it's what I need to bring my Oppo up to another level, and get this R2R working for me.

If this deal does through on the R2R, then I'll be dropping my ZMA off with Steve the very next week.
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #27 - 04/08/14 at 05:40:28
 
Cool LR, I saw this one above...I remember that mark on it. I hope you get it or another one (has to do 7.5 & 15 IPS). Since I just bought the CSP3/April, ZMA/Jan & Kimber Select 3035/Nov (I already had the Kimber 1030 IC).....I need to wait until the Fall. I hope to learn from your experience and Steve's with this ongoing Thread! Thanks Steve for your insight chronicle in Reply #14 and your ongoing information.

LR, I also look forward to reading about Axpona. I hope you an Polamino still plan to go (PS Audio DSDAC).

Steve, cool new Logo!   Wednesday night I should have my Pre in the System if I'm not compelled to stay out on the back Patio at 70 degree's! Wahooooo warm weather!

Also, incredibly cool (Steve wrote in Reply #15): "This is what the second machine is for.  It's an OTARI MTR-12 that I am working on with the goal of being able to exactly duplicate a master tape without embedding the signature of another type of machine onto it.  That way I can enjoy my tapes without fear of wearing them out, not to mention I would sell many of the master tapes I get from eBay".  

I thought that is what the 2nd machine was for!
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« Last Edit: 04/08/14 at 06:12:56 by stone_of_tone »  

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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #28 - 04/08/14 at 22:48:41
 
The heads and tape lifters show a lot of wear.  The lifters can be removed and filed smooth then polished before you play any tapes else you'll have tape particles everywhere.  The record head is pretty bad, the playback head is fair.  Heads can be lapped, but on this model you could probably find an entire head stack and just replace the whole thing.
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Reply #29 - 04/09/14 at 01:14:31
 
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #30 - 04/09/14 at 12:53:01
 

Cool, thanks Steve - thanks for saving me from a crap player, and thanks for pointing out that other deck (though I see the Tascam doesn't have balanced out, which I wonder if that's part of what makes the decks sound good with the MA)

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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #31 - 04/10/14 at 15:46:07
 

I'm still on this tape theme, hoping I stumble into a great deal on an Otari, and I figure I'd better have the name of a repair shop in hand, just in case. Turns out, there is one that specializes on the Otari MX5050 and it's just down the street from me!

http://www.deltronicschicago.com/location.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfRUJ3grl98


Anywho, back on topic, do we have any proposed dates yet? As it is, I'm leaning towards later in May, because I might, maybe have a surprise for us. But I don't want to say more till it's actually confirmed. I can also wait till June if need be. But again, I really think you guys need to hear some music on tape - it's damn impressive.
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #32 - 04/10/14 at 16:33:19
 
I propose the weekend of May 9th.
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« Last Edit: 04/10/14 at 16:33:39 by Dave1210 »  
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #33 - 04/10/14 at 17:36:14
 
Dave,
That might be hard to do for some because of Mothers day being that weekend. I was thinking the weekend after that.
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #34 - 04/10/14 at 19:01:48
 
Nice set-up!
An Eros tape head preamp and you're all set.  :)
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #35 - 04/13/14 at 00:06:47
 
Ever post something and forget to hit "POST" ?  

Oh well,





Here's a very nice unit with great heads.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BEAUTIFUL-Otari-MX-5050-BII-2-10-5-REEL-to-REEL-Tape-dec...

Steve
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #36 - 04/13/14 at 15:37:09
 
Steve, I'm looking at that one as well, but something worries me about that auction - I've seen it sold at least once already. Something doesn't seem right about it.

Or maybe something was wrong with the bidder or auction and he relisted it. But this has been up once already since we started this discussion.
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« Last Edit: 04/13/14 at 15:39:38 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #37 - 04/14/14 at 05:38:42
 

Wow, shot up over $700 in the last 10 seconds.

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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #38 - 04/14/14 at 10:20:46
 
Steve,

Will a Reel to Reel forum be added to these discussion boards?
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #39 - 04/14/14 at 14:26:05
 
BTW Raven, Deltronics is a good shop.  I had some work done on my son's keyboard there and they were quick polite and reasonably priced.
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #40 - 04/14/14 at 18:34:10
 

Thanks for the heads up on Deltronics. If/when I get an R2R, I will take it to them for a look over then. I just need to find a good deal on the Otari MX5050 that I have my heart set on.
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #41 - 04/16/14 at 19:38:03
 
Looks like I have an Otari MX5050 BII 2  inbound. The seller happens to be traveling through Illinois and is going to drop it off with me at work in Peoria on Monday.

I honestly don't know much about the deck, but it looks like it's in good shape, and because he didn't have to ship it, I'm getting a great deal!

Now to talk to Steve about balanced inputs on the ZMA....
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« Last Edit: 04/16/14 at 19:40:53 by Lonely Raven »  
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #42 - 04/16/14 at 21:54:47
 
LR,
One thing to mention, Otari does not follow the standard for pinouts on their XLR connections. I will see if I can find the Otari manual I had and send it to you. This way you can create your cables with the correct pinouts from the Otari to your amp.
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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #43 - 04/18/14 at 19:12:59
 
Thanks for the manual DK! I have the XLR plugs on order, I'll start cobbling them together this weekend.

I was looking at this Hotel California master tape, but it just shot up over $900. Man, that would be a great album to have the master tape of...just too rich for my blood.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/EAGLES-HOTEL-CALIFORNIA-DOUBLE-REEL-TO-REEL-SAFETY-MASTE...

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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #44 - 04/23/14 at 22:38:52
 
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.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Re: Mini-Decfest (Tapefest) this Spring?
Reply #51 - 06/07/14 at 16:03:18
 
Have fun gents!
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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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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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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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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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Steve Deckert
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Re: Getting into Tape
Reply #60 - 06/21/14 at 22:54:51
 
Thanks to those of you who stopped by. It's always fun to get together with fellow enthusiasts! We do listening appointments throughout the year so anyone reading these posts is welcome to contact me via e-mail: zen@decware.com and set up a time to come over for a listen.  

Steve  :)
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