Check out the new Tape Project website at tapeproject.com, now with online ordering. Inventory is updated every week, so stop by often to see what we have in stock.

Author Topic: Studer 4 tracks...?  (Read 4696 times)

Offline Guglielmo

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 22
    • View Profile
Studer 4 tracks...?
« on: January 21, 2013, 04:19:20 AM »
Hello to everybody and Happy New Year!

If I remember right there was a Studer machine with "classic" studio features like 15 ips and 2 tracks on 1/4" tape but in addition the capability in playback only to read 4 tracks tapes at 7-1/2 ips. It did exist such a model or there was a custom built recorder? Actually I am looking for an high level RtR able to play both Studio Tapes (i.e. The Tape Project reels) and commercial 4 tracks classic and pop reels (Ampex, RCA, CBS,...).

Thanks for help!

Guglielmo

Offline ironbut

  • Global Moderator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2503
  • rs1500>repro amp#1
    • View Profile
Re: Studer 4 tracks...?
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2013, 04:27:40 PM »
Hi Guglielmo,

What you'd need to play the Tape Project tapes and 1/4 track tapes like you find on auction sites would be a 1/2 track and 1/4 track (or 4 track) heads and the ability to switch between 7.5 ips/NAB eq for the 1/4 track tapes and IEC/1/2 track/15 ips for the Tape Project tapes. The ability to switch between NAB and IEC would be nice since some 15 ips tapes you might want will be printed with NAB eq.

I believe that most all Studer machines will allow you to switch between NAB and IEC and most should have both 7.5ips and 15 ips. You should double check this with any machine you're considering since some speed conversions aren't trivial.

Regarding a Studer with two playback heads, while I'm sure that most machines would have had many options regarding the head configurations those would be considered a "custom" order.
On the other hand, you could have JFR modify or custom make just about any head configuration you could dream of as long as it will fit. In other words, you may have to get one where the extra head would take the place of the record head so it would no longer be able to record. You could also get another headblock for 1/4 track playback. If you had both playback heads in the same headblock, you'd also need to have JFR install a switch for 1/2 or 1/4 track playback.
Much of this would depend on the model of Studer you're interested in. You should consult JFR to find out.

IMHO, most 1/4 track tapes don't deserve such a royal treatment. Sure, there are some (like the Barclay-crockers) that might, but overall, the quality of the duplication and the wear and tear of the decades outweigh any benefits of such and expense.
You'd probably be better off buying a second machine (or saving one that you already have) and using it for 1/4 track tapes and dedicating something like a Studer for 15 ips/1/2 track tapes.
It certainly couldn't hurt to inquire about the cost of having JFR do the custom headblock work. And, if you're planning on getting a really nice machine, I would include the cost of sending the headblock to JFR for a check if there's any perceivable wear on the heads anyway.

http://jrfmagnetics.com/
steve koto
 Sony scd 777es(R. Kern mods)> Vpi Aires>Dynavector XX-2mkll>Bent mu>CAT ultimate>CJ premeir 140>Magnepan 1.6qr(Jensen xover)Headphone Eddie Current Zana Deux>AT ad2000,HD800 ,Metric Halo ULN-2 (battery powered),
 HE Audio Jades

Offline jdza

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: Studer 4 tracks...?
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2013, 12:05:46 AM »
AFAIK Studer never made a standard machine with both 1/4 and 1/2 track heads. The usual way to achieve this is to sacrifice the record function and replace the record head with a second replay head.

The Studer A80R/RC is very popular. I have one modified to carry both heads. The problem with the R/RC is that changing equalization is done by swapping a card on the repro amp. If you wish to replay say Tape Project tapes you need an IEC card. If you witch to the other head to replay 7.5 ips 1/4 track tapes you would have to change these(delicate ) cards to do so. I personally overcame this by allocating each card its own set of replay electronics. This avoids a switch at low levels.I have not explored this but it is probably possible to build an eq card that does 15ips IEC and 7.5 ips NAB.The A 80 VU has a switch on the front panel that allows switching between NAB/IEC.

Twin sets of electronics behind the Eros repro amp





The other option I have is to do the same with the heads but use an external repro amp. I have an A67 with both heads wired out to a Bottlehead Eros that switches between NAB /IEC.

Twin outputs avoiding low level switching



For heads: Greg Orton builds a simply stunning Flux Magnetics Extended Response 1/4 track head that is a drop in for the A80R/RC.My A67 is fitted with Nortronics Pro heads from John French. These are very,very good sounding and affordable.

It has been written that in the case of the A810 TC machines, the time code head can be replaced with a1/4 track head . The TC head comes after the capstan in the tape path but apparently it is OK in that machine. Other concerns would be the mounting arrangement as the TC head sits on its own pillar not adjustable for Azimuth and space there is at a premium.Personally I would be scared of adding a switch in the head output path of the A810 but it has been done for outboard repro amps so it must be doable.

Listening to some commercial 1/4 track releases on an A80 can be an eye opener. On many tapes the quality that appears poor on say my Revox machines can change to phenomenal on the Studer. Hiss does remain a problem though(more so in the more precise Studers) so I now tend to steer away from classical music tapes.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 12:16:27 AM by jdza »
Johan Dreyer

Offline Guglielmo

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 22
    • View Profile
Re: Studer 4 tracks...?
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2013, 07:45:16 AM »
Thanks jdza and ironbut for very interesting contribution!

As far as I can understand from your points it seems not so straightforward the usage of a Studer machine both with commercial 7-1/2 ips 4 tracks tapes and premium Tape Project or safety master tapes in 2 track and running @ 15 ips.
Presently I utilize a consumer (even very well made) Revox A77 4 track for 4 tracks tapes while for listening to higher quality 2 track masters I run a Nagra IV-S with QGB. The compact Nagra is a well sounding machine with great dynamics and musicality but it is quite poor on the operational side namely the QGB is always an adaptation of a field RtR as studio player so the NAB reels "maneuvering" is not so comfortable... For that I am looking for an high level RtR deck able to play these two kind of tapes which actually represent my wide tape collection.

Very interesting the topics about Studer customization for what concerns the 2-4 track heads fitting even if the technical side seems quite complex and to be designed very carefully to avoid bad operations and misalignment. Moreover the equalization issue is also to be considered so the RtR survey seems pretty complex!

Looking at the TP site I found a lot of interest in Technics machines which are very well designed and some types seems to have these 2-4 tracks features... There are a lot of version so I would ask you which Technics RtR are suggested and which version seems more suitable for "our" purposes.
Are there other vintage open reels recorders which combine semi-pro features with 2-4 tracks compatibility and IEC/NAB as well?

TEAC seems out of interest while the Sony TC 850 sports the switch on the head cover with a 2T-4T lever... Another candidate for this dual playing capability? May be but the Sony quality is not the same like Technics RS 1500 and others... Correct?

Thanks a lot for friendly help!

Cheers,

Guglielmo



 

Offline ironbut

  • Global Moderator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2503
  • rs1500>repro amp#1
    • View Profile
Re: Studer 4 tracks...?
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2013, 02:19:12 PM »
There are a great many of the members here who have either the Technics RS1500, or RS1506 and the Otari 5050 tape machines.
The reasons these machines are so popular is that both are excellent transports, are capable of playing both 1/2 and 1/4 track tapes and are widely available.
In stock form, the Technics machines only have NAB equalization so an outboard tape preamp with is switchable (NAB and IEC) is necessary to play the Tape Project tapes properly.
The Otari's do have a built in eq switching. There are many different models of these machines so it's best to ask about both the head configuration and the eq switch before buying.
Both of these machines (Otari and Technics) are so popular in fact that Bottlehead (sister company of the Tape Project) have tape path modifications available in a DIY kit form.
If you haven't already checked out the 'home page', take a look;

http://www.tapeproject.com/

steve koto
 Sony scd 777es(R. Kern mods)> Vpi Aires>Dynavector XX-2mkll>Bent mu>CAT ultimate>CJ premeir 140>Magnepan 1.6qr(Jensen xover)Headphone Eddie Current Zana Deux>AT ad2000,HD800 ,Metric Halo ULN-2 (battery powered),
 HE Audio Jades

Offline steveidosound

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 484
    • View Profile
Re: Studer 4 tracks...?
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2013, 08:13:12 PM »
The Technics RS-1520, AFAIK, is one of the only machines that actually meets the speed, track configuration and EQ specifications for both TP tapes and commercial 2 and 4  track pre-recorded tapes (even the ones @ 3 3/4ips. !) from the factory with no modifications. That having been said, the stock Technics electronics are by all accounts here, not what you want for optimal results with any tapes and certainly won't  deliver the full sonic potential of the Tape Project tapes.
There are possibly a couple of configurations of Otari machines that would have both the switchable EQ and both 2 track and 4 track heads also switchable. Beyond that,  most of the others would require outboard preamps, additional heads, switching head blocks, or making the eq switchable in some way for the built-in electronics as has all been discussed above.

You might want to check this section of the website if you have not already done so for a bit more info on all of the above.
http://www.tapeproject.com/smf/index.php/topic,20.0.html
Steve Williams

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