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Author Topic: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?  (Read 5183 times)

Offline michael22

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Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« on: March 16, 2013, 10:10:53 PM »
In response to a question posed by one of the members of the Yahoo reeltoreel group, I've posted this poll. I thought the 3000 members of the group could provide useful information.

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/reeltoreel/surveys?id=3136060

Input from members of this group would be appreciated as well.
Ampex A-121 + Ampex 621 Amplifier/Speakers

Offline ironbut

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Re: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2013, 01:32:05 PM »
Hey Michael,

I super happy with the Tape Project's 15 ips 1/4 inch IEC format.
Of course, if I had the money, I'd be all over the 1/2 inch tapes!
Considering the cost of the raw materials and the overhead of producing a great music tape today, it doesn't make sense to do things "half way".
I honestly believe that the guys here have found the sweet spot in their basic offerings.
steve koto
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Offline michael22

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Re: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2013, 03:44:12 PM »
It would be interesting to do a cost analysis on a tape that (like Tape Project titles) would have a licensing component. I'd compare 7-1/2 ips to 15 ips and see exactly what the difference would be. I still find it thrilling to thread an RCA, Mercury, Capitol or Westminster tape from the 1950s and hear how good they sound, so I believe, with current tape technology, one could produce a fine 7-1/2 ips prerecorded reel. Maybe TTP could take one title (like the Arnold Overtures) and run a few copies to see what it would sound like, and what it could be sold for.

Early poll results show that 7-1/2 ips two-track NAB could be a popular format ...
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Offline steveidosound

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Re: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 04:51:53 PM »
My question would be, is there any merit in going to a lower quality option than the Tape Project standard?

 The biggest base of existing recorders out there take 7" reels and are 1/4 track stereo @ 7 1/2 ips.
While there is no doubt you could produce very good quality product with that standard, is it better than modern, carefully made vinyl? In the days when both were on the market they cheapened tape by going to higher duplication rates and then to the 3 3/4 speed. At the same time vinyl disc mastering was getting better and better. At some point, generally speaking, records became better than the average  pre-recorded R2R. But how would that 1/4" 1/4 track standard be (if done well) compared to modern vinyl or for that matter, CD?

Part 2, is on what playback equipment? If we are not talking high end audiophile here, which would sound better? An 80s Pioneer R2R deck or an 80s Pioneer turntable with a Shure cartridge or an average modern CD player, playing through an 80s stereo receiver or a modern home theater receiver? Would there be that much difference given the best mastered source material in each of those 3 formats? How much worse (if any) would an iPod sound through the same amplification and speakers?
I guess the above is a round-about way of asking why there needs to be a less expensive analog format than the admittedly high end audiophile format of the Tape Project. Obviously some would go even higher/better with 1/2" tape, but it depends again on what level of associated equipment and budget you have to justify better software.

I love tape and recorders as much as anyone here, but do not have the budget or equipment to even justify the Tape Project tapes I already own. I just think they are cool. And I do admit that some of those early stereo 2 track tapes provide an amazing sound experience that even I can hear on my gear with it's limitations, but is there enough interest there to go back to 1975 with any percentage of the public buying the 1/4 track format to play on, say,  some small Sony deck with it's electronics, perhaps even into their computer (!) for any reason of quality, or would it just be for novelties sake. (trying to draw some parallel between the current vinyl fad and something similar for reel to reel tape) There are those, of course, like me who are format agnostic and still love collecting in every / any format ever offered. But we are not even a small minority. The vast majority are more than happy with their standard resolution sound files.

Then who would these 7 1/2 ips  2 track tapes be for? People who are into tape, have a 2 track capable machine, but one that does not take 10.5 " reels  (very small  # of machines) and/or can't afford double the raw tape cost plus metal reels?

If not that, then back to my other question, could the good old 1/4 track, 7 1/2 ips. tape be good enough to justify it's production for any reason or buying group with any level of equipment?
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 05:14:24 PM by steveidosound »
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Offline docb

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Re: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2013, 06:53:47 PM »
"Maybe TTP could"...

It's always so easy to spend OPM.
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President for Life, Bottlehead Corp.
Managing Director - retired, The Tape Project

Offline michael22

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Re: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2013, 09:19:33 PM »
Quote
But how would that 1/4" 1/4 track standard be (if done well) compared to modern vinyl or for that matter, CD?

A TP subscriber and I A-B'd London LCL 80119 Bruch/Hindemith (4-track 7-1/2 ips) against the TP version, and the listening comparison was interesting. While the TP version had more stable speed and a 'smoother' sound (likely less distortion), the 50-year-old 4-track was a more musical rendering, warmer and more realistic. The TP version was played on a restored ATR100 and the London on a Technics 1500, both through an exceptional sound system.

The point is: the 7-1/2 ips speed might be capable today of higher performance than recognized. My question, simply put, is: has the TP produced trials at the slower speed, and if so, what do they sound like compared to their high-speed sisters?

Of course, if there wouldn't be much of a price saving (7-1/2 ips at $300 vs 15 at $400, for example) it wouldn't be worth it. That's why I asked the question about a cost analysis ...
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Offline ironbut

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Re: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2013, 01:13:47 AM »
Hey Michael,

The question of formats comes up from time to time. I've even gotten emails and PM's asking me to urge Doc and the gang to release 7.5 ips tapes (as if I have any say in the matter!).
"Well,.. what about 15ips 1/2 track tapes for $120 for the 2 tapes of an album you love?"  I always ask.
I've never gotten anyone who hasn't thrown any thoughts of 7.5 ips or 1/4 track out the window. They just want to know where they can get them.

So, as you've noted, it's usually not about format at all but price (although some folks even balk at $120).
I'll be the first one to admit that Tape Project tapes are a premium product and are priced as one.
But, if someone out there produces 7.5ips tapes, I'll at least give them a try. Heck, I paid over $100 for the Shins tape.

As a subscriber to the Tape Project,  I trust that the principles are dedicated to producing the best sounding media product that has ever been offered to the general public (in the service to the music).

BTW, the answer to the $120 tape set (which nobody likes to hear) is US Recording Media. That's the price for two 10.5" reels of RMGI tape. Once you have them, you can record your favorite album any way you like!


steve koto
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Offline docb

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Re: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2013, 10:00:15 AM »
Yes we have done the research. It's just not something we are interested in doing. Nothing wrong with making a product to a price point. I do it in my other business frequently. But not this one.
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President for Life, Bottlehead Corp.
Managing Director - retired, The Tape Project

Offline TomR

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Re: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2013, 09:52:03 AM »
I find this to be kind of a strange thread. Tape is no longer going to be a mass medium...heck, LPs aren't either, although more of one than tape. The TP team made a quality decision - e.g., the only reason to do this is to ensure that the tapes are of the highest quality possible given a reasonable base of machines. Therefore,15 ips 2 track with the IEC equalization curve. I am certain there was never an expectation to move an enormous number of units, just enough to make the venture profitable. What's interesting is that new producers of tapes have popped up, and have adopted the same standards, and that the producers of new machines are now focused on the standards that Doc, Paul and Michael chose. RTR is now going to be an "elite" medium, not a mass one, and it makes sense to ensure that there is the best sound possible.

To my knowledge, the last prior commercial releases (well, except for the Shins) was in early 80s, from Barclay-Crocker. These were either Dolby-B or dbx encoded, which means they are likely incompatible (somewhat in the case of Dolby-B, completely in the case of dbx) with the new machines and even the bulk of older ones. I have tried several times, completely without success, to add a outboard Dolby unit to my ReVox A77....but I have also found that many of my 70s tapes are affected by sticky shed, and are useless. At this stage I believe that we should be focused on building the best future and not supporting the past.
Thomas Ream

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Offline c1ferrari

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Re: Poll: what format would you prefer for new tapes?
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2013, 11:03:11 AM »
Hi Michael,

I'm interested in half-track, 1/4" and 1/2" width, IEC/CCIR reels.
Analog tape is a great medium :-)
Sam Lucero
SPQCV
:-)