Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Brian Gupton, Oct 8, 2015.
Remember those Technics open-reel decks and Technics was part of Panasonic?
R2R is a lot of fun, it also can be very spendy. You really need to be a good DIY person to own one unless you live near a large city that might have a tech living near you. Someone who maybe worked for Teac or a hifi shop back in the day and knows how to work on them and has all the needed bench gear to do it right.
Shipping these behemoths all over the US is expensive and risky. Changing belts, capstan wheels, cleaning heads and path anyone can do. Then you get deeper like maybe a motor needs rebuilding or replacing, heads replaced or replacing diodes and fixing broken solder joints. Calibration of a R2R is not easy, nor is the gear required common toolbox stuff, you really need an O-scope, tentelometer and a test tape (like a test LP), especially if the heads need to be replaced, alignment is not DIY friendly, you cannot guess at this stuff.
So I say this because I often read how people claim analog playback is sooooo laborsome.......Cart setup, alignment, azimuth, VTF, VTA, anti skate, cleaning.....OMG what a PITA!! Well, cart setup should not be an issue unless you change carts often, once its set to where you feel the best sound is then you leave it alone!!! And just play records.....With tape if something is out of alignment, this is not an easy fix without the right gear, most probably if you try adjusting something you will only make it worse.
I forget how many times I read about guys fooling with tape tension, head alignment and then the deck becomes unplayable, eats tape like Jaws. If you are a serious tape head, or want to own one of these decks, then be prepared to send it off to a tech (not many left), I know one very good one in Chicago area and one in So Cal, I know there are a few more.
When the deck has been serviced and returned to factory specs and calibrated, these deck are amazing sounding....Not sure I posted a pic of mine, she is gorgeous and sounds just the same.
I'm very lucky.
Small town but, 2 Techs that have the skillz and the gear.
I'm shamelessly using my Revox G36 as amps(2) for stereo playback. 24 tubed( pair) with a CD player, pretty good with any music pre 1980 recorded in the analog process.
Here's something that's always perplexed me:
I know differences can vary greatly, but my belief is using good quality tape and equipment a Reel to Reel recording at 7 1/2 ips will always sound superior to a Cassette recording but a Cassette recording will always sound better than a Reel to Reel recording at 1 7 ⁄ 8 ips, which is the same speed as the Cassette. Given the tape head of the Reel to Reel covers more tape surface than the Cassette head why is this? Or am I wrong in this belief?
Maybe not in the way you'd imagine.....
Response Curves of Analog Recorders »
One of the graphs from the above link. While a few years old, the author measured a bunch
of machines (2 track and multi-track) for response at 15 and 30 ips. Interesting reading.
Here's a nice pdf from Nortronics concerning tape heads:
It may just come down to what each format is optimized for. Lots of work went into making the cassette sound good on music, since it was initially invented for voice recording. That speed was rarely a concern for reel to reel manufacturers.
That's believable but I'd also argue that Cassettes recording would even sound better than Reel to Reel recorded at 3 3/4, which was a common speed for music.
Could be. BIC made 3 3/4 ips cassette decks. Never heard one.
A good question!
The simplified "in English" version, Reel to Reel head gaps are optimized for 7.5 ips play. The slow speed was intended for voice recording only, surveillance (even slower at 15/16 ips) So in reel to reel we have high frequency loss at the slower speeds. If equipped with narrow gap heads, then reel to reel at 1 7/8 ips would sound better than cassette, (given the same tape formula) since on reel to reel we have a wider track. The reason they didn't... 7 1/2 ips sounds better than 1 7/8 ips when optimized by the ideal head gap. Plus, back in the 60's- 70's we didn't have the technology to produce fine particle tape, see reason 2 next...
The other reason cassette sounds better at 1 7/8 ips, the tape formulations improved.
In the early days of cassette, it was for voice recording only. Music sounded terrible!
So did Marantz. I wish mine hadn't died. It was sweet.
Good info. Thanks. I never knew surveillance recorded at 15/16 ips, but it makes sense after seeing the reels barley moving in films like The Conversation.
Who actually spends $450 for albums?
Not me. I stopped buying LP's in the late 80's and there is zero chance I will resume buying ...
I actually know one and he should know better.
More money than sense I guess?
I wish I had more sense and more money than that.
I like Janis Ian just fine, but for $450 it better include an in-person serenade.
I'm glad my record stores suck with crap stock. As I don't have money like in the old days to spend spend spend.
I'd never spend that much for a single album, although it is likely that I've spent more than $300 for the entire Carpenters catalog (every studio album plus a few remasters, every live album, most of the box sets, the three solo albums [one by Karen, and two by Richard]), plus two albums that Richard produced (one by Akiko and another by Scott Grimes).
I agree 5000%, my gosh, how could they even think that is going to fly?? First of all, who has a tape machine that is capable of reproducing those tapes for maximum results. Buyers "might" get close to what those tape could deliver, but they will never achieve 100%, and then there is the deterioration factor, tapes just wear out, they are certainly not like vinyl, CD or SACD and finally there is the damage factor, how easily can a magnetic tape be damaged. No, a $450.00 master tape, no matter how cool it may be is simply way overpriced, not affordable for "normal" or "above normal" people, however I could see a nice library of these tapes in Tom Cruise's home for sure. But for me, I have this kind of tape recorder, and the reels won't fit!
However, to extract 100% out of these $450.00 master tape copies, you would need this kind of tape deck and they cost thousands of dollars, in fact, you can now pick up the brand new UHA Ultima2 tape deck, new for 2017 for a mere $21,000.00 and with that purchase, $450.00 for a nice tape is nothing. I can't imagine this company is still in business, how many people can afford not only this level of tape machine, but then purchase a library of tapes to play on it, not to mention that there is NO darn selection to be had, how long can this last! With that said, I sure would love to have one sitting on top of my component stand, the Mayfair does not look very good, as I can't stand it up vertically, all the knobs, latches and record switch gets in the way, I do love that speaker though!
This is a niche market with serious players. Yes, they do spend tens of thousands of $ on tape decks and $100's of $ on tapes. This isn't new, most of these players have been doing this for years. It's not for me, but I do have to say that the most emotional, moving experiences I've ever had with music were done with tape. It's not going to grow to big numbers, but it's not going to die either.
Oh and yes, they still make those tape decks.
Sure, United Audio is still around. You seem to forget that there are $10,000 phono cartridges and $100,000 turntables in the world. Those people can spend whatever they like on whatever they like.
You are absolutely correct, a level of wealth that I will never experience, but they could knock on my door at the end of April on the Publishers Clearing House $7,000.00 a week deal, and I'm getting a United Audio deck for sure!
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