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1/2 Track - Reel to Reel Tape Reviews (Read 824 times)
Steve Deckert
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1/2 Track - Reel to Reel Tape Reviews
05/15/14 at 23:19:37
 
Here is a thread to review 1/2 track reel to reel tapes...

Some things to include when you post are:

1) Format

2) Picture of Tape

3) Purchased from / Price

4) Comments

5) Machines used to listen to it on.





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« Last Edit: 06/21/14 at 23:07:35 by Steve Deckert »  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: How Good Is It? - Recording Thread
Reply #1 - 05/15/14 at 23:47:30
 
Format is 15ips, IEC equalization, on RMG 468 type tape



It is important to understand that this is solely a percussion tape so that you can wrap your head around what I'm about to say.

Based on the complexity and dynamics of the particular instruments used, my first thought was "Boy, it took some real balls to record this direct to tape like they did." But I have to say it was pulled off rather flawlessly.  The first track's peculiar harmonics may send a few audiophiles to the fridge for another beer while they try to figure out what's wrong with their stereo. By track two it becomes quite clear that track one was deliberate and the sound is simply flawless and huge for the rest of tape.

After listening to it several times on both machines last week, we were satisfied that the recording is excellent. All evaluation was done on my Acoustats. This week we wanted to hear it on the ZMA driving Decware speakers to see if it was as satisfying.  We put the tape on and listened to it for about 60 minutes... (that's weird since it's only a 35 minute tape)

The sound was somewhat dark and lacked top end, but in every other way so beautiful we didn't investigate, we just listened.

I started to become restless and puzzled by the good but nevertheless odd sound I was getting from the ZMA.

I approached the tape machine and realized I had accidentally set the speed to 7.5 IPS!!!  Yes, we actually listened to it that way. Frankly we couldn't believe it either, and swore never to tell anyone about it.  But I decided to tell you because when you can listen to something for 55 minutes at the wrong speed without realizing it... I think it speaks volumes for How Good it IS - not to mention the tape format in general.

After rebooting our heads with a 20 minute break, we changed the speed to 15 IPS and listened to it again... wow, the tweeters DO still work.  It was excellent.  A 10 out of 10.  Highly Recommended.


Played on Otari MTR10, Otari MTR12

Here is a link to Yarlung Records tape catalog:

http://www.yarlungrecords.com/analog.html



-Steve Smiley
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« Last Edit: 05/19/14 at 17:58:28 by Steve Deckert »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: How Good Is It? - Recording Thread
Reply #2 - 05/16/14 at 01:14:17
 
I was looking at that exact tape, Steve! LOL
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Steve Deckert
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Re: 1/2 Track - Reel to Reel Tape Reviews
Reply #3 - 08/11/14 at 05:10:10
 


This 15 IPS Tape from Ed  at Ultra Analog Recordings was the first hi-end tape I purchased after getting my Otari Reel to reels.  I enjoyed it with a good friend of mine who turned me on to hi-fi some 35 years ago.  This friend is someone who in the late 1970's had Acoustat Monitors that were directly driven off the plates of high voltage power tubes in a servo charge amplifier using a colony air bearing table with three tonearms, dozens of exotic and expensive mc cartridges all with a great room.  All my life since I've known him I've had to hear about how great it was.

The night I got this tape, we had the Zen Torii Mono's hooked up to the Monoliths and spent the first hour tweaking the tape machine while listening to the tape.  This was of course done blind folded by each of us until an agreement was made on the best setting of which there were many.  Without knowing the correct settings we were free to adjust it to whatever it took to make it sound as good as we could get it.  This took playing the tape one and a half times at modest levels until we achieved maximum presence, density and tone.  Then when we were satisfied it could get no better we took an hour break and drank a couple beers.

Finally the flashing light from the tape console called us in for the now REAL listen.  Output level was restored to what we pre-determined to be exactly the same as a live grand piano and cello at a distance of about 12 feet.  We listened and the tape machine lit up like a christmas tree almost as if becoming animated as we heard dynamics unlike anything we've had the pleasure of before.  Granted, in hind site, we had the tape machine miss adjusted to a pretty dramatic level, but the thing was... zero stress.... zero distortion.... and unnerving but totally natural transparency... black backgrounds, extreme presence. I think I became the piano towards the end when they were really banging on it. Dave and I were speechless for at least 5 minutes after the tape was over... and that has never happened. We both commented that we'd never heard anything that loud before without distortion...  live or on a PA or Stereo system... true story.  

Reason for the story is that he was honest enough to say that the Decware amps, the Zen Monolith Speakers with the tape machine completely outperformed his famous reference system.  I'd heard how great it was so many times I didn't think it was possible to beat let alone admit.  Suffice it to say, it got my attention.



The reason this was my first tape is because a little research goes a long way.  If you look at the effort this man put into the tape path and electronics it far exceeds what is practical but in fairness, if you fantasized about the ultimate all tube silver wired point to point circuits using only exotic transformers instead of capacitors you would have succeeded in achieving the holy grail in tape mastering machines... not to mention the tube microphone preamps, it's thrilling to hear this kind of insanity at the recording level because it makes your insanity all the more insane... an experience most audiophiles chase but never find.  You can spend a hundred grand trying to discover the holy grail of hi-end audio with the latest and greatest digital media and hardware and only get close - as in near miss - of the sound of a tape like this on even a $1500 tape machine.

For people who think they don't like classical music recordings, like me, here's an interesting observation... when it sounds this real and this intimate, you realize that even Led Zepplin couldn't come close to this level of dynamics and range... and it was such a nice balance of both...  Point is, digital classical music reproduced on the typical stereo or radio is so far from the actual experience that people who cherish sound don't particularly care for it. That does't mean you don't like classical music, you just don't like things that don't sound real. You'll like this.  Let it open a window of discovery for you but for God Sakes get a tape machine. As good as the CD's are, the tape is the REFERENCE for DENSITY.  

Also, I can't not mention that the talent of the two individuals on this tape goes way beyond the norm. They have an intoxicating energy and interplay that defines perfect time... or maybe I just perceive
it as perfect time after years of being tormented by the digital bass smear.  In any case you realize what a real piano and exotic cello can actually do when two gifted, driven, passionate
men give it everything they have.  It's a memorable first row experience.

Anyway, it's a safe investment and the highest quality.  Here's a link to the site:

http://ultraanaloguerecordings.com/wpsite/recording-chain/



-Steve
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« Last Edit: 08/11/14 at 05:27:21 by Steve Deckert »  
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Steve Deckert
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Re: 1/2 Track - Reel to Reel Tape Reviews
Reply #4 - 09/16/14 at 01:27:25
 
Format is 15ips, IEC equalization, on RMG 468 type tape



Being a sucker for samplers and having never tried any tapes from Opus3 as of yet, I choose one of their three samplers:


”One” Open Reel Selection of Opus 3 Analogue Recordings, Vol.II AMC-23120


1. Meetin´At The Building (Trad./adapted by Eric Bibb & Göran Wennerbrandt) 4´01
   From: Eric Bibb, ”Spirit & The Blues”, SACD 19421

2. My Heart Stood Still (R. Rogers) 2´35
   From: Johan Dielemans Trio, ”Round Midnight” CD 19302

3. Blues Opus 3 (Öhman-Gustavsson-Vinding-Dahlberg) 4´34
   From: Kjell Öhman, ”Hammond Connection”, CD 19402

4. Gammal Fäbopsalm (O. Lindberg, 1872-1950) 4´22
   From:”Horn and Organ Recital” CD 19501, Sören Hermansson: Horn & Per-Ove Larsson:Organ

5. Fantasie (S.L. Weiss, 1686-1750), 2´38
   From Peder Riis, ”Classical Guitar”, CD 8015

6. Fasten Seat Belts (Wager-Åstrand) 3´07
   From: ”Live at Vattnajökull”, CD 19802

7. Stealin´ Away (C. Greaves), 4´23
   From: Kenneth Arnström, ”Rhythm King”, CD 19502

8. Easter Parade (I. Berlin), 6´29
   From: ”The Lars Erstrand Sessions”, CD 19405

Total playing time: 32´30
One 10,5” metal reel

Catalogue no. from the original album

One, Open Reel.-Vol.II



My first thought after starting the tape was that this tape might be the new winner in my collection!  I didn't have to wait for it, there was an immediate quality about the recording that struck me. Of course it didn't hurt that it was music I was partial to and familiar with.

After the first track was over, I pressed pause to give my face time to quit hurting from smiling so big. If the rest of the tape is this good, it was money well spent and with no regrets! After talking to my listening partner Dave about how good it sounded we lit up a shot of 12 year old scotch and sat back down.  To make sure it was real, we restarted the tape and fastened our seat belts for the rest of the ride!

Understanding how difficult it can be to put together a sample of different recordings, I was blown away by the consistency from track to track. On every level they were spot on which told me these guys are no amateurs.  

Opus 3's Jan-Eric uses a tweaked Telefunken Magnetophone M-28 recorder and I have to say it's as transparent as anything else I've heard within the confines of my weakest link, whatever that is.  My tweaked playback machine with butterfly heads is pretty special, but like anything I will over time revisit all of the tapes in this thread as my playback equipment gets better.

Overall this is my favorite tape so far.  I believe it to have the best balance of sound quality and room ambience so far. Now, I wouldn't be able to say that if it were just one tape because that's really not enough to go on, but since it is a sampler of 9 tapes, it is the clear winner until I challenge it with samplers from other sources.

There's one track on here with a percussion piece so complex that my guess is very few formats would stand a chance of reproducing it. And most stereo's would also homogenize it to a point of changing it from something breathtaking to something leaving you with the thought "well they tried...". This track alone would be the most impressive demo track I own for impressing upon an unwitting guest how fast a Decware system actually is.

My favorite track was the last one with Lars Erstrand. The tone and timbre are to the ears what a 5 star chief is to the palette.  Best food you've ever eaten, so good you never forget it. To that effect I am ordering the entire tape of Lars Erstrand Sessions, because frankly, about the time this track #9 comes along on this sample tape, you are already in outer space. This song just takes it to warp 3 and then the tape ends.... you come out of warp and back to reality saying "NOOOOOOOO"   damn..... crap.....it can't be over.... damn.....

You get the idea.

Jan-Eric of Opus3 is wonderful to deal with and I look forward to doing more business with him as time goes on.

-Steve


 
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Lonely Raven
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Re: 1/2 Track - Reel to Reel Tape Reviews
Reply #5 - 09/17/14 at 15:08:24
 

Thanks Steve! After our discussion last night, I went and picked up the "”The Lars Erstrand Sessions” on DSD128. It's downloading now and I hope to give it a spin tonight!
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