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Author Topic: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question  (Read 4044 times)

Offline Max

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Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« on: March 22, 2010, 09:07:12 PM »
I've got a beginner question about proper recording level.

My Technics 1500 has been recently calibrated and biased for 456 tape and I want to record from vinyl to RMGI 911 tape at the correct VU meter level.

I understand that the 911 tape (and 456) is +6 tape. Does this mean that with my machine biased as it is for 456 tape that my VU meters should be peaking at +6 on my VU meters or should I be sticking at 0?

If I want to record using Ampex 499 tape (+9) and the machine stays biased for 456, where is the best level? At 0, +6 or at +9?  Also, any thoughts about how this combo will turn out?

Thank you for the newbie help.
scott figge

Offline Tim

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Re: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2010, 10:03:27 PM »
Assuming your deck has been set-up properly, you will be recording at a "+6 operating level" when musical peaks register at "zero VU" and your meter switch is set to "+6".  BTW, when in tape monitor mode, the meters only read correctly when the output volume control is at the cal mark (3 o'clock). If you play back a 250 nWb/m test tape, it should read -3VU with meter switch at +6 and 0VU with the meter switch at "+3".
« Last Edit: March 22, 2010, 10:54:58 PM by Tim »
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Offline ironbut

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Re: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2010, 11:36:13 PM »
Hey Scott,

Welcome to the forum.

Regarding your question about using Ampex 499, I always advise members not to use old stock Ampex/Quantegy tapes. 456 and most of their tapes made during or after that period are subject to a terrible problem called sticky shed syndrome. Sticky shed renders the tapes essentially unplayable and even if the tapes don't exhibit that problem now, they almost all will eventually. It would be one thing if new tape wasn't available but it is.

I used to use 911 but Paul Stubblebine (one of the principles here and all around tape smartguy) prefers 468. I've chosen to take his advice and I've been happy with it. If you want to save some serious cash and don't mind a few splices, contact Doc/Eileen to see if they have any deals on 10.5" pancakes that are composed of unused tape from making the Tape Project tapes. It's a killer deal IMHO.
http://www.tapeproject.com/smf/index.php/topic,824.0.html

The added headroom that the +9 tapes probably won't make as much difference in recording unless you're recording something like live music. Lp's have already been through enough processing so the dynamic range should "fit" onto a +6 tape just fine. Remember that most of these recordings were done on +6 or less tapes in the first place and then processed for pressing.
You'd probably reap more audible improvements by increasing the tape speed (since you stated that you're using an RS1500 you must already be recording in 1/2 track). If you do choose to use a higher output tape, I'd suggest using ATR Magnetics new tape and have your machine biased for that tape. Outside of modifying your record amp, you'll get the best results with your Technics using that tape at 15 ips.

If you really want to get the best results, don't neglect the lp side of the equation. That's half the battle after all (maybe even more). Getting your lps as clean as possible, isolating your turntable from any floor borne rumble, and having your table/arm/cartridge optimized makes a lot more difference when you expect to be listening to the recording of it over and over. Somehow, those ticks and rumbles are twice as distracting when they're always in the exact same spot.

steve koto
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Offline Max

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Re: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2010, 10:30:04 AM »
Assuming your deck has been set-up properly, you will be recording at a "+6 operating level" when musical peaks register at "zero VU" and your meter switch is set to "+6".  BTW, when in tape monitor mode, the meters only read correctly when the output volume control is at the cal mark (3 o'clock). If you play back a 250 nWb/m test tape, it should read -3VU with meter switch at +6 and 0VU with the meter switch at "+3".

Thank you for your help.  I think I've got it now.
scott figge

Offline Max

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Re: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2010, 11:06:21 AM »
Hey Scott,

Welcome to the forum.

Regarding your question about using Ampex 499, I always advise members not to use old stock Ampex/Quantegy tapes. 456 and most of their tapes made during or after that period are subject to a terrible problem called sticky shed syndrome. Sticky shed renders the tapes essentially unplayable and even if the tapes don't exhibit that problem now, they almost all will eventually. It would be one thing if new tape wasn't available but it is.

I used to use 911 but Paul Stubblebine (one of the principles here and all around tape smartguy) prefers 468. I've chosen to take his advice and I've been happy with it. If you want to save some serious cash and don't mind a few splices, contact Doc/Eileen to see if they have any deals on 10.5" pancakes that are composed of unused tape from making the Tape Project tapes. It's a killer deal IMHO.
http://www.tapeproject.com/smf/index.php/topic,824.0.html

The added headroom that the +9 tapes probably won't make as much difference in recording unless you're recording something like live music. Lp's have already been through enough processing so the dynamic range should "fit" onto a +6 tape just fine. Remember that most of these recordings were done on +6 or less tapes in the first place and then processed for pressing.
You'd probably reap more audible improvements by increasing the tape speed (since you stated that you're using an RS1500 you must already be recording in 1/2 track). If you do choose to use a higher output tape, I'd suggest using ATR Magnetics new tape and have your machine biased for that tape. Outside of modifying your record amp, you'll get the best results with your Technics using that tape at 15 ips.

If you really want to get the best results, don't neglect the lp side of the equation. That's half the battle after all (maybe even more). Getting your lps as clean as possible, isolating your turntable from any floor borne rumble, and having your table/arm/cartridge optimized makes a lot more difference when you expect to be listening to the recording of it over and over. Somehow, those ticks and rumbles are twice as distracting when they're always in the exact same spot.



Thanks for pointing out the shedding issue.  I've been there and it's a mess!

I bought some RMGI 911 and 900 pancakes about 18 months ago and am just now going to work recording on them.  The reels I'm using came with old 456 and other tape which I threw out after a shedding experience or two replacing it with the pancakes.  I'm going to experiment recording with the 900 and based on the Tim's reply will have the meter range selected at +6 and will record up to +3 peak.  If I understood correctly, that should be the best given the situation.  I'll also record some at 15ips.  I'm just surprised at how fast that reel of tape goes away at that speed but would like to experience the improvement. I'm pretty good about lp cleaning  with my trusty vpi and have put some time into the setup of my turntable...though it can always be tweaked again!

I also bought some new Quantegy 456 and 499 tape on reels at the same time as the RMGI.  This was not the old stuff but the newer tape that was closed out at that time by Musicians Friend for $30 a reel and came on Quantegy logo reels and in the newer Quantegy logo boxes.  I had read that the Quantegy 499 was not a shedder and that the newer formula 456 should not be a shedder either.  Further reading indicates even the new formula 456 could be a problem in the future.  My situation is since I bought the newer Quantegy tape i'd like to use it.  If the newer 456 sheds, I'll trash it too I guess.  It seems like the best thing to do is standardize on one tape formula but I am where I am for now.

Thanks again for your advice.
scott figge

Offline Max

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Re: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2010, 11:12:41 AM »
By the way, how would the 468 tape perform on my 1500 given that it is set up for recording with 456 bias? 
Thank you.
scott figge

Offline ironbut

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Re: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2010, 11:33:40 AM »
Scott,

If the bias/eq is set up for 456 with bias-2 and eq-2 it should be pretty close for 468. You should try toggling the eq between the 2 and 3 settings to see which you prefer. Of course, the best thing is (as you'd mentioned) to standardize the tape you use and get your machine biased for that.
It's always a good idea to take your machine to someone who has all the test gear to check out your machine, clean and lube and have them do adjustments like bias. Ask for a printout of frequency response and you'll always have a baseline for future comparisons
BTW Always make a plain paper copy of these print outs, some of them fade with age.
steve koto
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Offline Tim

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Re: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2010, 11:49:45 AM »
I didn't realize you were recording a 7.5 ips.   At that speed, you should record at +3 operating level (0VU with your meter switch at +3). Recording at higher levels could result in excess tape distortion or saturation/compression of the high frequencies.

At 15 ips, I would record at +6 operating level (0VU with meter switch at +6) and no higher.  +9 operating levels should only be used with pro-level decks (1/2", 30 ips, high-dynamic range heads and electronics, etc.).
Tim Leinbaugh
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Offline Max

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Re: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2010, 09:08:14 PM »
Thank you.  I'll probably try it at both speeds so that information is great.
scott figge

Offline Max

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Re: Technics 1500 Recording Level Beginner Question
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2010, 09:10:37 PM »
Scott,

If the bias/eq is set up for 456 with bias-2 and eq-2 it should be pretty close for 468. You should try toggling the eq between the 2 and 3 settings to see which you prefer. Of course, the best thing is (as you'd mentioned) to standardize the tape you use and get your machine biased for that.
It's always a good idea to take your machine to someone who has all the test gear to check out your machine, clean and lube and have them do adjustments like bias. Ask for a printout of frequency response and you'll always have a baseline for future comparisons
BTW Always make a plain paper copy of these print outs, some of them fade with age.

Thanks very much for the advise on the bias and eq.  That will help.  I'm lucky there is a very good tech locally that can help me with changes and maintenance.
scott figge