TP-028, Nat Adderley's Work Song is now available

Author Topic: New Deck or Upgrade  (Read 31046 times)

Offline Dave Cawley

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2009, 01:01:48 PM »
741's if used, will mask any changes, but you can buy op-amps that will plug straight in without resorting to really expensive stuff!

Regards

Dave

Offline Brian C.

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2009, 01:05:32 PM »
Just so we're clear here; with both decks, the heads are "wired out" and I'm using the same playback Cello electronics, so I'm trying to limit the differences to the heads.

Ah, didn't pick up on that so went marching blindly on. Not untypical of me I'm afraid.
Sorry Charles.

Brian.
Brian Clark, One Inch Studio, London, UK.

Offline Ki Choi

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #32 on: November 03, 2009, 02:47:26 PM »
Hi Brian:

I am a bit late to the party but Kip had sent me this thread so I am compelled to comment.

The 741 opamp is the very first operational amplifier to my knowledge - manufactured by Texas Instrument in the 70's and I have not seen one in any of the Studer A series tape machines, A807, A810, A80RC, A80VU, or the A820 that I own and have personally explored.

If your friend had experienced "foggy" sound from a Studer, I have to say that the machine might not have been in proper operating condition.  Then, the term "foggy" is too subjective.

The most used signal opamp in Studers is the NE5532.  Other than A80s, it is widely used in pre-preamps and preamp circuits both Record and Repro use.  I have tried to source a more modern opamp as a replacement but wasn't successful (may be happy with its performance and didn't try hard enough ;-)). 

The A80VU machines used now obsolete TDA941 amps.  The replacement module Studer had created is NE5532 on a small circuit board in modified 8 pin configuration.  The A80RC has no opamps in the audio circuit.  The A101 opamp is made of all discrete transistors and passive component in a module form.  Thus, it is not an IC.

On the other hand, there are general dislike for opamps in audiophile community.  If one looks at the inner workings of an opamp like the NE5532, you will see it is made up of many transistors and other passive components in a small package.  So in reallity, one can create the NE5532 with same number of acitive and passive componets and have it working the same way.
Ki Choi

Offline Brian C.

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #33 on: November 04, 2009, 01:40:34 AM »
Thanks Ki. I subsequently got hold of the A80RC repro schematic and indeed there is just discrete devices on that board.
My friend is not alone in being critical of the A80RC sound and apparently it was not unknown for broadcasters & larger studios to make modifications to those cards. I have encouraged my friend not to be hasty in getting rid of the machine but discuss the matter with the technician, who is ex-Decca.

Currently the 2-track 1/4" A80RC sonics are noticeably inferior to that of the 8-track 1" 3M M79 that is its companion.
Both machines set up for 900.

BTW, I am only reporting on this. I have not heard the comparison for myself yet.
However, over time I have learned that my aural acuity is far inferior to that of my friend.

Brian.
Brian Clark, One Inch Studio, London, UK.

Offline microstrip

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #34 on: November 04, 2009, 05:46:05 PM »
The 741 opamp is the very first operational amplifier to my knowledge - manufactured by Texas Instrument in the 70's and I have not seen one in any of the Studer A series tape machines, A807, A810, A80RC, A80VU, or the A820 that I own and have personally explored.
Hi Ki,
The first monolithic opamp was the uA702 - several years before the 741. I have never seen one, but I have used the uA709, that also preceded the 741. The 741 was the first compensated opamp - it was easier to use, but perhaps sounds bad because of it!
Francisco 
Francisco

Offline Ki Choi

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #35 on: November 04, 2009, 05:58:30 PM »
Hi Francisco:

Thanks for the info.  I learn something everyday.  I remember 741 vividly because it was used in one of my EE classes lecture and do remember professor raving about how many trasnsistors they stuffed in the tiny chip - back in 1975.

Hi Brian:

Your friend's 3M M79 must be one special machine.  As for pure sonic comparison A80RC in properly working condition has to be one of the top choices but I would love to hear the 3M M79 someday - perhaps before I die...

BTW, as I read on the latest issue of Stereophile magzine that the Abbey Road studio engineers compared all available master recorders for their remastering of the Beatles work and had selected a Studer - my guess (and hope) is that it was a A80RC Mk II.
Ki Choi

Offline mikel

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #36 on: November 04, 2009, 07:35:23 PM »

BTW, as I read on the latest issue of Stereophile magzine that the Abbey Road studio engineers compared all available master recorders for their remastering of the Beatles work and had selected a Studer - my guess (and hope) is that it was a A80RC Mk II.

here is a list of Studer RTR decks Abby Road Studios would choose from;

http://www.abbeyroad.co.uk/_static_files/pdf/Abbey_Road_Mastering_Room_Tech_Specs.pdf

Mike Lavigne

Offline Studer Fool

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #37 on: November 04, 2009, 10:12:26 PM »
Brian states, that his colleague states:
"I think the so-so Studer electronics mask any differences.
My colleague can't wait to replace the A80 in the studio, calls it a "fog machine" and claims all the A series have sonically mediocre electronics in his experience"

Humm, sounds like his A80 (is it an RC or VU??) was "rode hard and put-away wet" to use US cowboy parlance!  Has the A80 been re-capped?  These machines are notorious for needing all of their electrolytics replaced by this time.  Also the transport condition matters!  How's the capstan?  Is in need of a rebuild?  Is the capstan shaft all worn and shiny where the tape passes by?  How are the transport bearings?  Is it time for a major bearing replacement & overhaul?  All these things will contribute to foggy sound.  This is often the case with the A series Studers as the parts (& work) are very expensive, so very typically they do not get done, and the machine is just passed along, as such Studers will just keep on playing and playing in spite of the neglect.  They are made to do that, but should not be judged sonically on that basis.

Imagine someone tells you that their Maserati is sluggish, with slow handling, compared to their DeLorean?  Makes you wonder right?

Yes, the A80VU is ripe for audiophile electronics, 'cause the transport is that good.  At least Mark Levinson thought so.  (and I plot such schemes myself) 

BUT, ah, that mine ear should be offended by nothing less than any model Studer in tip-top shape, ....then life would truly be very, very good indeed!

-cdw
Christopher D. Wait
Charter Subscriber SN# 026
Studer A80-VU & Studer A80-RC (and Doc's lovingly modified Ampex 934 with Seduction Tape Head Preamp Combo!)

Offline Ki Choi

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #38 on: November 05, 2009, 12:06:02 AM »
Hi Mike:

After seeing the list of analog machines, I change my mind...  Abbey Road must have used the 1/2" Studer A820 to remaster the Beatles CD set!

Hi Christopher:

Well said.  I have learned that the Studer bearings will dry out even without use over long time.  Sub-par bearings in the tape path would certainly smear the music.

The Mark Levinson ML5 is based on Studer A80RC.
Ki Choi

Offline Brian C.

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #39 on: November 05, 2009, 03:50:12 AM »
Well folks, I have had an opportunity to "interrogate" my friend and think I can now discern why there is a disparity of opinion.
It is down to the philosophy of usage. The A80RC is indeed a faithful reproducer. HOWEVER from an artistic point of view its presentation is considered (we're into subjective semantics here) "bland" and "Germanic". My friend compares it to the EMT 930s turntable he used to use which he sold since he preferred the emotional involvement of a Garrard. He is not originally an engineer but a musician and producer.

It is from that 'community' that the criticism emerges. A community which seeks to maximize the emotional involvement of the listener.
Somehow the 3M is superior to the Studer in this respect. A clue lies in the fact that Bruce Swedein chose 3M machines to record Michael Jackson.

As in all human affairs there will always be at least two camps.

I'm sure I would be quite happy with an A80RC as a Tape Project playback machine purely on a sounding basis - but I have just bought a less visually assertive Stellavox for home replay ;o)



Brian.

« Last Edit: November 05, 2009, 03:54:58 AM by Brian C. »
Brian Clark, One Inch Studio, London, UK.

Offline ironbut

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #40 on: November 05, 2009, 11:00:25 AM »
Before anyone gets too excited about finding an M79 or one of the other 3M machines, I was considering that a few years back.
Unfortunately, from what I've been able to gather, it's a pretty high maintenance machine (at least in the condition that most will be found in today). Parts are non-existent and they're huge.
That's not to say that all the trouble of finding one and getting it up to good working condition wouldn't be worth it. One of these days, I might go for it.
I do know a lot more now than I did back then about what it would take to restore one of these puppies, but it would still be a daunting project.
I did have a chance to buy a working 4 track, 1/2 inch M79 for $400 but passed on it. If I'd had room, I might have bought it just for the hell of it. But, I have little doubt that anything would have been done to it by now.

For the time and money involved, I think I'd prefer to start out with something like an ATR102 and add my Repro,.. or something like this;


By ironbut at 2009-11-05
steve koto
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Offline steveidosound

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #41 on: November 05, 2009, 11:16:41 AM »
You wouldn't have to twist my arm too hard for an MR70 anyway and with an ATR transport ...  :-)  :-)
Too bad it is out of reach of we poor mortal humans.
Steve Williams

you don't want to know what equipment I listen to...

Offline ironbut

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #42 on: November 05, 2009, 11:23:41 AM »
Yep,
In true audiophile fashion, I don't know what that baby would sound like, but I sure would like to find out!
steve koto
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 HE Audio Jades

Offline Brian C.

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #43 on: November 05, 2009, 11:57:27 AM »
For a 3M guaranteed experienced tech support is mandatory, definitely not something for the home folks. Not to forget that we are only concerned with replay, not record, here.

However, re "guaranteed experienced tech support". It was with great shock and much sadness that I received an email this morning with the news that the UK's most experienced Nagra technician, David Lane, had died. The email was in reply to one I had sent Mr Lane yesterday as part of an ongoing dialogue.

A sobering reminder that there are no guarantees when it come to vintage machines.

Brian.
Brian Clark, One Inch Studio, London, UK.

Offline jcmusic

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Re: New Deck or Upgrade
« Reply #44 on: November 05, 2009, 08:41:14 PM »
Ok guys I stared this thread in the hope that I would get some answers, well I did and the result is that I bought a Studer A810. Because of work I have had very limited time with it, but the early results are very positive!!! There will be more later with pic's.

Jay
Redpoint Model D TT/Soundsmith Sotto Voce Cartridge Otari MX 5050 BII/BH Tube Repro deHavilland Model 222
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