TP-027, Jerry Garcia / David Grisman wins a Writer's Choice Award from Myles Astor of Positive Feedback Online

Author Topic: HRx vs TP follow up  (Read 3643 times)

Offline xcortes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 383
    • View Profile
HRx vs TP follow up
« on: October 21, 2011, 12:37:16 PM »
In october 2008 Doc B. posted:

Quote
I would not be enthused about going head to head between, say an HRx thru one of Paul's Model 2s vs, say, a stock Technics 1520, or a 1" running master on the Big Inch vs. Hrx thru a Lynx card and an inexpensive 24/176 DAC. But if you are talking about HRx on a model 2 vs. one of the ATRs with tube repro electronics for the tape playback - bring it on!

Well, last night we did a nice shootout.

Me and seven friends (all of them with a long history in audio -as if that meant something!-) compared selected tracks of three TP tapes (Arnold, Symphonic Dances and Debby) vs the same tracks on HRx material for the first two and a digital 24/192 download for the Debby. In all cases digital and analog material mastered by Paul.

Digital from a dedicated computer server (all solid state drives and heat exchangers for cooling, no moving parts) with Mykerinos card and Pyramix audio software and through a PM2.

Analog from a Mike Spitz ATR through a tube repro with selected tubes (Tele EF806s for starters).

My system/room is pretty good at resolving, dynamics and resolution (front loaded horns, triamplified, hot rodded BH SET amps with Magnequest iron all around, RCA field coil drivers, etc). Everyone commented on just how good the system was sounding last night.

First we listened to music from the server for a while. We were all impressed and more than one commented on the digital saying it was the best they'd ever heard.

Then the shootout. We started with the Symphonic Dances track on the digital. Complete silence and all taking turns to seat at the sweet spot. It was good!

When the piece ended we started playing the same piece on the tape. After a few seconds everyone started to smile. No contest. The tape was clearly better.

No need to tell you about the other two tracks as the results were the same.

Tonality, air, space and detail are just better with the tape.

A curiosity is that with tape the sound is pretty good no matter where one is seated. With the digital the sweet spot is waaay sweeter than the any other spot in the room.



Xavier Cortes

Offline docb

  • Administrator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
    • View Profile
    • Bottlehead Corp.
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2011, 12:57:31 PM »
OK, so that's an original tape master transferred to tape vs. same master transferred to digital. Now you need to take something originally well recorded in high res digital and compare a digital transfer vs tape transfer. My guess is that the digital may sound better, or maybe not. Come to think of it I should try that myself...
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President for Life, Bottlehead Corp.
Managing Director - retired, The Tape Project

Offline xcortes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 383
    • View Profile
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2011, 01:20:08 PM »
Yep, I think that once the material is in the digital domain the only reason to transfer it to tape (or vinyl for that case) is to take advantage of better DA capabilities at the studio than at the end user's playback system. But with a digital like mine I don't want any digitalized music to be delivered to me in an analog media format.

And viceversa, if the material is an analog recording I'd rather keep it that way.

And finally, if the material is yet to be recorded the ideal would be to go both to tape and digital in parallel. At least that's what I'll do. But if I have to stick to one it's still tape to me.

Xavier Cortes

Offline steveidosound

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 484
    • View Profile
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2011, 05:09:04 PM »
Yep, I think that once the material is in the digital domain the only reason to transfer it to tape (or vinyl for that case) is to take advantage of better DA capabilities at the studio than at the end user's playback system. But with a digital like mine I don't want any digitalized music to be delivered to me in an analog media format.

And viceversa, if the material is an analog recording I'd rather keep it that way.

And finally, if the material is yet to be recorded the ideal would be to go both to tape and digital in parallel. At least that's what I'll do. But if I have to stick to one it's still tape to me.

You are playing @ a quality level far beyond what I have the ability to do, but I like your suggestion of keeping digital digital and analog analog as far as it depends on you and your system. Of course, it all has to become analog at some point - till we get the direct brain wireless neuron interface :-).
But seriously, transfer from one medium to another tends to show the weaknesses of both and not the strengths. Contrary to some older discussions on this forum I believe the results are seldom if ever synergistic. "Better than the original" always seemed oxymoronic or something like that to me with the change in format providing some sort of fancy (expensive) network to subtly alter the sound more to one's own ears or personal taste .
Steve Williams

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

Offline docb

  • Administrator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
    • View Profile
    • Bottlehead Corp.
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2011, 05:36:18 PM »
Well, there are cases where someone will transfer a digital file to 1" tape to sweeten it up. But this is in the mastering phase, that is to say it is being used as a tool like a limiter or an EQ, to create a specific correction. That's a bit different than just generally transferring a final product from one format to another.
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President for Life, Bottlehead Corp.
Managing Director - retired, The Tape Project

Offline Listens2tubes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 284
  • Reel Analog
    • View Profile
    • Listens2tubes
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2011, 08:08:03 PM »
Well, there are cases where someone will transfer a digital file to 1" tape to sweeten it up. But this is in the mastering phase, that is to say it is being used as a tool like a limiter or an EQ, to create a specific correction. That's a bit different than just generally transferring a final product from one format to another.
Not to hijack this thread, but... Would going from a 2 track 1/4" master to a 1/2" dupe to a 1" dupe lessen the degredation over the same steps all on 1/4" tape?
Neal - Ampex Fineline F-44, 3 - Otari MX5050BII-2, Revox A77 Mk II , Teac A 4010s, 4070, Sony TC102A, Magnecord 1020, Systemdek IIX/Dynavector Karat 17D2MKII, CEC CD3300 CDP, K Works NanoMax DAC, Van Alsine Transcendence Eight+ tube preamp, Dynaco MkIV amp pair, Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v1

Offline steveidosound

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 484
    • View Profile
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2011, 11:25:26 AM »
I probably will catch flack for this, but generally going through or to a "superior" specification media will not cause much if any degradation. Analog always has some degradation each generation whereas digital does not - supposedly. The catch is, there are differences in the characteristic types of degradation. For example, standard CD specs better than vinyl in every respect. If you have a mediocre piece of vinyl on an average turntable, you can probably dub it to CD with little or no apparent degradation.  If however, you do this with a reasonably good piece of vinyl on a reasonably good turntable, although any vinyl artifacts will remain, you will also hear subtle (some would say not so subtle) degradation of the airiness and sound staging on the CD copy. This is sort of what I was trying to get at in my previous post.  I understand the concept of using subtle analog "coloration" as a tool as in Doc's post, but this, to me, follows down the path of the people that like to run their music through to tape and listen to the copy because it sounds "better than the original'. I understand that it probably does, perhaps to everyone's ears, but it is in fact less faithful, and so, by definition, less Hi-Fi than the original. But to state the obvious, so do various tube amps, various loudspeakers and even the guy who listens to his car stereo with the "smiley face" EQ curve modify (improve ?!?) the sound to taste to varying degrees. It all comes back to what we measure is not always what we hear.  And what you hear vs. what I hear is not always the same... which leads us back to measurement.

In my years, I have at times, sat listening to awful, painful sound from something or other, resistant to break the "audiophile code"  and adjust the bass and treble controls because it was "flat". But of course it was not... :-)
« Last Edit: October 22, 2011, 11:31:07 AM by steveidosound »
Steve Williams

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

Offline docb

  • Administrator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
    • View Profile
    • Bottlehead Corp.
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2011, 01:03:04 PM »
Quote
I understand the concept of using subtle analog "coloration" as a tool as in Doc's post, but this, to me, follows down the path of the people that like to run their music through to tape and listen to the copy because it sounds "better than the original'.

I wonder if this leads to the notion that every bad recording should be released exactly as it came out of the session. One could really take this to extremes if not careful - What if the guitar doesn't have it's original pickups? Did someone change a 'lytic in the Leslie? A U47 is very colored. In some sense none of these will create music as it was intended to be in its most original state.

I feel that there is a clear distinction between when the recording is still in the hands of artists and being taken to its final level of polish and someone simply just making transfers of something that they want in a different format.
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President for Life, Bottlehead Corp.
Managing Director - retired, The Tape Project

Offline xcortes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 383
    • View Profile
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2011, 01:10:28 PM »
Agre? completely!

Xavier Cortes

Offline Listens2tubes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 284
  • Reel Analog
    • View Profile
    • Listens2tubes
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2011, 03:03:47 PM »
I will be recording 45rpm records at 15ips 1/2 track on 1 mil tape for two reasons. A: 45rpm is th best reproduction from vinyl I ever experienced. B: No more flipping sides every 2 cuts - saves the LPs. It's sort of what I used to do back in the 70's with albums I liked or borrowed. Except all my stuff is much better these days. :-)
Neal - Ampex Fineline F-44, 3 - Otari MX5050BII-2, Revox A77 Mk II , Teac A 4010s, 4070, Sony TC102A, Magnecord 1020, Systemdek IIX/Dynavector Karat 17D2MKII, CEC CD3300 CDP, K Works NanoMax DAC, Van Alsine Transcendence Eight+ tube preamp, Dynaco MkIV amp pair, Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v1

Offline astrotoy

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 377
    • View Profile
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2011, 12:02:38 AM »
As many of you know, I have embarked on a major project, digitizing most of my extensive vinyl and tape collection. Xavier has the identical digital set up as I do - PM2 and Pyramix 7 software with a Mykerinos card running on XP. All the digitizing is being done at 192/24.  BTW, the PM2 is what Keith Johnson uses for his analog to digital conversions and all his digital recording including all the HRx files (of course, he invented the PM2!).  When we did similar listening tests of the TP tapes to the the HRx versions, (Arnold Overtures and Exotic Dances) we found similar results to what Xavier's panel did, preferring the sound of the TP tapes. One difference is that there was more very deep bass in the HRx version of the Exotic Dances, only detectable with a big subwoofer. Not sure which is closer to the master tape, however.  Talking with Paul, my understanding is that both the TP and HRx versions of both the Arnold and Exotic Dances were dubbed or ripped from exactly the same master tapes.

There are several major advantages to having the analog sources on hirez digital. First, I can store about 300 albums (at 3 GB per 45 minutes of music) on 1TB. So I can store 10000 albums (I actually about 15,000) on 30 or so TB. Currently that would take about 20 inches of shelf space with external 3TB drives, at a cost of about $1500. With Raid 5 and additional backup, that might double the cost.  Those of you who have been to my place know how much room 10,000 records takes. Second, I can much more easily retrieve albums or even individual tracks of albums.  That is a major issue, especially for R2R tapes. Thirdly, with the current really excellent declickers (I am using the pro software Izotope RX2) I can just about eliminate all the clicks and pops of my records without any negative audible consequences to the music.  So my records sound better than the originals!

The main negative is that there is a very slight loss from going from analog to 192/24. For me the difference is only detectable by going back and forth, not listening in isolation.  Ripping from analog also is very time intensive, since it has to be done in real time (plus the time to declick - which I do by batch processing on another computer).  So doing 10 albums a day (I am retired!) will take about 1000 days to complete the project, I am guessing that this will take about 5-7 years all together.  So far I have about 4 TB (or about 1200 albums and tapes) completed. 

I have started with the Barclay-Crocker R2R tapes, and have ripped about 400 of them (I need about 45 more to have a complete collection). Using Steve Koto's dolby B decoder and a dbx II decoder for the few dbx II tapes, I think that the sound of many of these tapes is quite extraordinary.  I have also started ripping my collection of British Decca classical recordings; I have completed about 300 of them so far.  In the queue are the rest of my Decca collection, EMI, and records from the Absolute Sound Super Disc list.  I also had earlier dubbed my collection of about 60 of the 45rpm reissues (mostly the Classic Record series of RCA Living Stereo and a few Columbia and Mercury) onto 15 inch 1/4 track tape - to avoid the short side change issue. I ripped those tapes also and processed them through the declicking software and the results were very fine.

Thanks, Larry
Larry Toy CharterMember-BHReproTechnics1506/Akai747dbx/OtariMX5050B3-ClassicalVinylFreak-15Krecs-VPIHRXRimDrv-LyraSkala-HelikonMono-HerronVTSP3A/BHPhonoPre-PacificMicrosonics Model2 - Pyramix&MykerinosCard-OppoNE-Proceed AVP2+6/CVP2-CJ MET1-Cary 2A3SE-AvantgardeDuos-3Solos-VelodyneDD18Sub

Offline xcortes

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 383
    • View Profile
Re: HRx vs TP follow up
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2011, 09:01:58 AM »
Hi Larry,

I was hoping you would chime in here!

I hadn't thought about the declicking benefit! And of course, as you mention, for a massive library ("discotheque"?) the benefits of digitazing are huge. And there's no question that for 90% of the time (or more) I could live with what the digital set up is giving me. But for those very few moments when I have a chance to sit down and listen without outside noise, distractions, etc I'll stick to my tapes because of that small difference we both noticed.

BTW, some of my friends liked more the bass on the HRx as you did. But these are bass nuts so I was not sure about the validity of their opinion in that department and that's why I didn't comment about it in the first place.
Xavier Cortes