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

Author Topic: Subscribers, speak your peace  (Read 11612 times)

Offline classicrecordings

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2008, 04:38:12 PM »

We get more excited talking about doing special 1/2" 15 ips copies for folks who might be willing to truly go for it.

Have you ever done a direct comparison of a 1/4" dub to a 1/2" dub?  Results?

David
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Offline Ben

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2008, 10:32:29 PM »
*Dam* , I just ordered my 6 TTP's and forgot to ask about the color of
my micro fiber towel.  Perhaps on the next run, for my 2 cents is rather
than a serial number,the subscriber's name be engraved on the reel.

Insert title here Insert name here
   

 

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Offline stellavox

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace - OK, how Playback Equipment "quality"
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2008, 06:06:50 PM »
Since this is appears to be a kind of "gloves off" topic let me start by telling the following story:

A friend of mine was invited and flew down to a subscribers Tape Project (TP) get-together in California a few months back.  I gather that the purpose was to listen to the hosts system and audition some TP tapes.  Apparently, the host had a modified 1500 recorder and some version of a Seduction preamp.  Now my friend went for the purpose of perhaps selling some master dubs, of which he has many fine examples.  He was disappointed to hear that to him, and apparently a few other guests, the record (LP) playback system bested the tapes.

I was kind of expecting something like this to happen eventually.  An example of a multiple source with the capability to play reel tapes system of which the owner considers "audiophile" quality and is justly proud.  Am I wrong in assuming that if playing early generation dubs doesn't blow all the other sources "out of the water", then something is wrong with system, and dare I add, the owners "ears".  What if this had been an audition for a known reviewer from a respected audio magazine (my oxymoron is in full bloom).  A TP black eye!

If I can state my problem simply,  I've been fortunate to listen to a LOT of playback machines and there certainly is a "sonic hierarchy".  However I have seen few (maybe no) critical reviews comparing sonics between playback machines.  And Doc B has muddied the water by creating playback electronics which allows one to bypass "potentially offending" (quotes are mine) stock playback electronics. How many of you "tapies" have spent any time comparing playback machines on your own or others systems?  What have you found?

The differences I hear are mostly in dynamics, imaging and transparency.  Tonal balance hasn't been an issue.  So far the "best" playback I've heard has come courtesy if transistors in simple circuits, BUT then I haven't had the honor of hearing Doc's latest. Heads also sound different; unfortunately some of the best ones have been out of production for 20 years.   

Charles

Offline Ben

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2008, 09:50:29 PM »
But are we comparing apples and oranges here?
What if this had been an audition for a known reviewer from a respected audio magazine I never heard any reviews of CD quality, but on the other hand
I never heard anything BAD about them until I started reading how bad they are
in Dynamic range and sampling rate and DIGITAL PROCESSING used on the web
recently. The only true test would be all the source material processed
for 7 1/2 tape, LP and CD as typical hi-fi use. Also the material recorded makes
a big difference too and time period of the recording. 50's was just get it recorded.
60's go stereo. 70's add effects.  Once you have the baseline for typical
home hi-fi then you have something to compare broadcast quality equipment
with and different generations and formats of the same media. Nobody to my
knowledge has done that. That would be fairest test. Oh wait, today
they are reviewing the latest BLUE RAY VIDEO
with $ 10K interconnects
. Somehow I lost faith in reviewers.


 To me 'a early generation
dub' sounds like it could sound better, but what is the history of said dub and that
is the big unknown?
« Last Edit: September 22, 2008, 10:03:45 PM by Ben »
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Offline ironbut

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2008, 11:40:44 PM »
Hi Charlie, glad to hear from you. I wasn't at the get together either but I wouldn't be surprised if some TP tapes could be bettered by their original lp versions on a mature vinyl system. With my humble vinyl playback system I've spent countless hours (and still do) trying to improve it. Inch by inch it's improved over the years. The last year or so, I've tried to apply the same work ethic to my tape gear. I still have a lot to learn as evidenced by being totally surprised when a tweak that I was hoping to decrease tape wear turned out to have an easily audible sonic improvement. So, even though I consider my rig to be a work in progress, I haven't heard any pro/sumer machines that can I enjoy as much. I can tell you that of the machines that I have , a Teac, Sony, Ampex F44 or the stock Technics none are even in the same ball park in conveying a realistic musical representation of the original event. I wish I had the space and money to own some better machines and someday I might. But for now, I'm still very pleased with what I have.
That said, I don't doubt that a solid state upgrade has the potential to sound very impressive. I realize that the use of tube gear is a trade off. I used solid state gear for years and the items you mentioned are some of the things that were partially lost when I switched over to tube gear. I still give the better solid state gear a listen from time to time but even the most impressive gear (which have unbelievable transparency, speed, dynamics and extension to burn) just doesn't have lasting value to me.  It's a personal preference of course and since most of the other audiophiles that have heard my system have similar preferences, their opinions are equally biased. I am anxiously awaiting the impressions of TP members who will have the Aria electronics packages from Mike Spitz at ATR to see what they think. There really have been less experiments regarding repro amps than I was hoping for.
I think the bottom line is that it should be all about the tapes. I think that Doc has done a great job at providing a small range of options so that the members can listen to them. For many of them, this is their first reel to reel machine. Having it properly adjusted should bring it those last percentage points past an lp made from the same master tape. I'm listening to a 1/4 track 7.5ips tape of" Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book" and it is equal and in some ways better than the Speakers Corner vinyl reissue that I have. The Speakers Corner lp is one fantastic pressing too.
Speaking of 1/4 track heads, I'd love to get your opinion of the sound of the ones you've listened to. You must have one heck of a tape collection so what's your top 3 playback heads for playing 7.5ips tapes (currently available or not).
« Last Edit: September 22, 2008, 11:46:27 PM by ironbut »
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Offline steveidosound

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace - OK, how Playback Equipment "quality"
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2008, 01:01:00 AM »
  Apparently, the host had a modified 1500 recorder and some version of a Seduction preamp.

I was there. The owner of that system posts actively on this forum. He was a wonderful host and can speak for himself here. For the record, (sorry) it is a Technics with the full tube Bottlehead Repro Amp - not the smaller Seduction unit. I don't think it was unanimous by any means that the vinyl bested the tape. To be sure there were some differences noted between the 2 with various records vs. their Tape Project counterparts. In all fairness, the level of quality was so high it was more like slightly stronger attributes in one area vs another sometimes for the tape and sometimes for the vinyl. I would say subjectively that the dynamics, especially on high frequencies were a little more open with the tape. There were a few glitches with both the turntable and system grounding which did produce some unwanted side effects such as some low level noise and hum on the tape side. I would not call it the "ultimate shootout" between vinyl and tape sources.
In general I was astounded at the sound quality in all respects from either source such as imaging, transient response, transparency etc.
Steve Williams

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

Offline Ben

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2008, 04:45:03 AM »
Do you remember what the amp for the turntable and R2R where?
I am thinking of the Tube vs Transistor debate here.
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Offline astrotoy

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2008, 03:10:33 PM »
The demo was at my home. I have an entirely tube system for my R2R and TT.  You can see the equipment in my signature. There was a low level hum in one channel of the amp, which I have since solved by a cheater plug. BTW, my phono system (TT/cartridge/Phono Preamp) costs almost three times the cost of the Bottlehead Technics/Repro. During the session, I didn't listen much - I was being the host - and the guests took up the best listening seats. I did check everything afterwards and the tape heads were not immaculately clean. A few weeks earlier I had gotten a tape which was on Ampex 456 and it shed alot. I thought I had cleaned up everything, but there may have been a little left. THe heads and guides, etc. are now immaculate. In my direct comparisons, the TP material has always won. It sometimes takes a few listens and I only have three of the seven issues for comparison with vinyl. We did have someone bring the MoFi David Alvin album, which I had not heard before. I would say that my vinyl system is very mature, like me :-). Larry
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Offline astrotoy

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2008, 03:12:23 PM »
Sorry, I forgot that I was using my Herron phono preamp that is not listed below for the session.  Larry
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Offline JoeG

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2008, 07:55:05 PM »
I consider my vinyl setup to be "mature". I have only been able to do head to head comparisons LP to tape with TP-003 and TP-006. To my ears and the ears of another listener I trust could not really say what bested what in a comparison.

I think that this early in the game of this project most of us (and those we are exposing to TTP) are still trying to get our heads around what we are hearing on these tapes. I know in my case there is still some gear break-in issues happening: from the reworked electronics in the deck, to the Seduction, to the cables connecting the rig together. The tapes don't sound like the LPs, They don't sound like digital. They sound like really quiet analog tape. Too many folks are used to listening to tape through the noise and hiss.

I know what my vinyl rig is capable of. I consider it to be a pretty accurate reproducer of what is in the grooves (it's listed in my signature). Listening to the "Arnold Overtures" on RR LP is a dynamic tour-de-force. The same can be said for listening to the tape, same can be said for the Oistrahk recording of Bruch and Hindemith.

The differences in what people are hearing are subtle, just as organic as the LP, dynamics not as compressed. While I myself was a little concerned by what I was hearing on TP-001, by the time TP-003 arrived, and every tape since, what was promised is being delivered in spades. If you expect a guest in your listening room to be bowled over in a brief listening session the first time they hear a TTP tape, it's not going to happen. It's not LP and it's not digital. It's tape and after years of only listening to one or the other, our ears need to re-calibrate. Try going to a live large orchestra concert, then coming home and listening to the same piece on your system. It's not the same and your system is not to blame. Just my view though. YMMV
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Offline ironbut

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2008, 08:02:45 PM »
Thanks for the input Larry. I'm still bummed I didn't make it up to your place for the get together.
I thought I'd clarify what I mean by a mature set up just in case some of the members don't understand. I think that phono systems bring out and feed the tweaker in audio guys. Aside from wholesale component changes (turntables, tonearms, cartridges and phono stages), cables, tube rolling (if applicable), loading the cartridge, isolation and the many adjustments that can be made to a tonearm send ripples right out to the speakers that require more cable experiments and tube rolling to optimize the gains made back at the phono. After a while, you realize that all improvements aren't created equal and your listening preferences and system begin to become "one".
So, when I say a "mature system" Grasshopper, it's at the point where you're pretty happy with the way it sounds and most tweaks will come and go unless the improvements take it in the direction that it's already on.
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Offline astrotoy

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2008, 09:21:33 PM »
Steve, thanks for your explanation on a mature system. Joe, I also appreciate your comments. One thing about being a vinyl fanatic is that there are a lot of things that you can adjust that you don't have to do (or can't do) in a R2R system. For example, having the cartridge alligned exactly so - (I use the Feickert protractor), having the weight of the cartridge just right, adjusting the vertical tracking angle (varies with each record - though I don't fiddle with that too much). I normally flip the polarity of the signal (which I can do with a custom switch built into the TT) to see which sounds better. For example, just about all classical Decca's (the source for the 005 and 006) are inverted in polarity, so are classical EMI's. I do wish I had a polarity switch built into my preamp, so I could change the polarity of the R2R output. There is cartridge loading - my moving coil Helikon SL likes about 1000 ohms Finally there is equalization - where I use my Graham Slee Revelation which can reproduce the non RIAA curves from the 50's and 60's. You can really tune in your system and find out what sounds best to you. Since I retired, I have more time to mess around with this stuff. I don't modify race cars or raise prize winning orchids or have grandchildren (yet), so this is my substitute for all of that.  Larry
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Offline steveidosound

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2008, 12:40:11 AM »
Back to Charles (Stellavox) comments which I was responding to, it is a bit of a slippery slope when you subjectively tune by ear a system to optimize vinyl playback, then introduce another source (R2R) that theoretically can be better, but in actuality might just be better in some ways. There are certainly many variations that can be introduced from tape head design and it's interaction with playback electronics.
The tape might come off as inferior if the system has been subtly tweaked for vinyl with a specific turntable setup. In the realm of what Larry listens to these are subtleties, but might influence the most critical listeners one way or the other.
 As I said, and I think many are saying similar things, we should not consider that one demo session a default judgement forever on the quality of TP tapes vs. vinyl. What if you tweaked a system for ultimate Tape Project playback and then hooked up a generally good cartridge/arm/turntable and phono stage. Would the advantage then go to the tape because the system was not optimized for use with that turntable system ? There always have been complimentary components (bright cartridge/dull speakers etc.) and components considered "better" for one kind of music or another. Mechanical transducers typically are the hardest to make right and not add their own coloration.
And phono cartridges are mechanical transducers. Nobody would say they sound identical any more than 2 types of speakers.
Hopefully, we try for flat and low distortion with our specifications but we know our ears tell us things the specs don't measure very well or we would all be listening to those Japanese receivers from the 80s with tons of negative feedback and ".0000000001 % distortion".
Probably Larry will now need to consider what happens with his speakers and other components when trying to now optimize his wonderful system for best sound with both vinyl and tape.
Steve Williams

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Offline U47

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2008, 11:11:23 AM »
I respectfully disagree with you about a system being 'voiced' for either vinyl or tape. I've heard many systems that can play CD, Tape and Vinyl sound very musical and satisfying. I've heard two Cello systems that used Studer and Stellavox decks with Cello play electronics playing 1/2 inch 2 track 30 ips masters that were the most astounding orchestral sound I've ever heard. One was in Chicago and the other in Connecticut at Levinson's home in the mid 90's. They also played DAT, vinyl and CD to great effect,very musical, just nowhere near the tape sound.If I had not heard the tape, I could have lived happily ever after with the sound of the other sources.  Another friend in Vermont has an astounding system and we play tape that knocks us out(otari 5050 with Progressive preamp). Then we start sampling some of his  Blue Note 10 inch LPs on his VPI TNT with mono Dynavector. I saw 'screw stereo and tape' when I hear these old 50 and 60 year old LPs. There should be no need to make any excuses for vinyl or tape. That said, at least half of the demos I've set up with known good tapes and decks have been screw ups. System compatibility while introducing new gear is a great unknown.

Rich Brown
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Offline steveidosound

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Re: Subscribers, speak your peace
« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2008, 12:36:01 PM »
Actually, I completely agree with everything you said.
 If everything is absolutely "right" with a tape system by spec and by ear, it should theoretically be the most neutral and the best sound. At least with Tape Project tapes it is a bit closer to the source. But see the threads on the ambiguities of alignment tapes and response curves with IEC  with various heads  elsewhere on this forum. These things apply in any analog tape duplication process and I am sure it is one of the major things (getting and keeping it right) that keeps the Tape Project from being a massive product-out-the-door-as-quickly-as-possible affair.
However, this pales by comparison with the idiosyncrasies of  vinyl disc mastering and playback. Being an electromechanical process, it is far more subjective in it's trade offs and spec wise (again in general) can't touch even 15 ips. 1/4"  stereo tape. Yet it can sound wonderful as you stated. In the 60s with the home playback technology then available, R2R was considered even in its 7.5 ips. 1/4 track prerecorded form to be superior to vinyl.
The point being that even now in the 21st century, a system optimized or "voiced" to use your term, for vinyl playback with a specific cartridge and its related arm, table, cables and phono stage and all other factors in a "mature system " as outlined above and carefully auditioned, may not be so neutral with regard to both R2R tape or for that matter high bit rate digital - let alone normal CD.
If the opposite is done, making the system sound best by ear with the most potentially neutral source(s), then optimizing the vinyl playback equipment to that, a more balanced system that sounds the most musical for all sources may result.

I do not list what I am listening to on my profile because I am far more of a tinkerer/collector than an audiophile in the sense of having big $$ to spend on cables and equipment. I am listening to some of that 70s-80s mid fi equipment with inexpensive speakers I have modified, and tri-amplified, all with solid state amplification which do not show that flat of response with an RTA in my listening space. I have compromised between tuning via RTA and by ear and on good sources of all varieties its sounds remarkably good to me. But, because it isn't really that accurate, it is subject to sounding variously better or worse depending on the particular program material in whatever format. Then I am tempted to re-tweak it for that particular source, typically with either the crossover settings or even the evil tone controls. But I have to go back to a more "reference setting" for the best program sources.
If this is true in my budget system, it is true but in a more nuanced subtle way even in a great system like Larry's.
Steve Williams

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