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Author Topic: update on Studer A-820  (Read 16797 times)

Offline mikel

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Re: update on Studer A-820
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2008, 08:49:11 AM »
update; 

Fred has suggested 2 changes/updates to my A-820;

one is a Single-Head Reproducer.....Fred explains.

"The stock machine (like yours) had, in order, an erase head, a record head, and a reproduce head.

Any tape put on the machine is then dragged across the faces of all three of these heads.

We think this is really dumb, really bad, especially if all we actually need to do is PLAY a tape.

So we remove the erase and the record heads, move the repro head to a new position, add scrape flutter reduction rollers, re-adjust the running tape tensions and then discover that it all sounds so much better because we have just eliminated the scrape flutter excitation caused by the unneeded erase and record heads. (And we also reduce the wear on our valuable tapes!)

So, that's the concept behind the ATAE SHR (single-head-reproducer), in a nutshell."

in addition to this recommendation, Fred also recommeded something called an 'external calibrated azimuth control'.....which is like VTA for a tonearm. it will allow quick and easy adjustment to the head azimuth.

i'm planning on having Fred modify the head stack to SHR, and add the azimuth control. then he will load the beast into his truck and deliver it to me here in the Seattle area. i will get to watch as he sets it up.

i can't wait.

mikel

« Last Edit: October 08, 2008, 02:49:27 PM by mikel »
Mike Lavigne

Offline mikel

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Re: update on Studer A-820
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2008, 04:05:05 PM »
OK, it has arrived.

i drove down to Ukiah, California to pick up the A-820 from Fred Thal. i just returned this morning at 6am. i left the Seattle area at 2pm Monday, arrived at Fred's shop at 7:30am Tuesday morning.....Fred spent from then until 3:30pm 'just scratching the surface' on the A-820. what an amazing machine. really a work of art.

i am basically a clueless non-technical person who can set-up a turntable and do a reasonable room and system set-up; but up till now i have struggled understand RTR nuances. Fred was very patient with me and did a primer on the A-820. he went over the basics of use and changing the programing.....showed me how to trouble shoot things.....and raised my RTR confidence level a ton.

i had never seen my A-820 before and it is literally a work of audio art. i guess i was very lucky to have found one that was little used but still cared for. it had not been used since the late 90's. it is flawless cosmetically; the wood grain has no chips, even the leather bumper is perfect. Fred said that while working on it he noticed it had been particularly well assembled. my unit, serial number 1129, was built after the first 100 or so when they were working out the bugs, but still when Dr. Studer still owned the company and the best techs were doing the assembly.

how does it sound?

i've listened to 3 Tape Project tapes on it so far.....and let's say i don't expect my Rockport on Lps to be able to compete.....and possibly it won't be close. WOW and double WOW!! this is the level of performance which caused me to pursue RTR and my hat is off to 'The Tape Project' for these great sounding tapes.

the level of nuance and information is staggering. it combines delicacy and dynamic impact perfectly like real life. on musical peaks the stability of the musical flow is astonishng.

i'm running a set of XLR's directly into my XLR input on my darTZeel preamp.....and it's perfect.

i'm no RTR expert; but i've spent some time around them and own the fully reconditioned Ampex which is certainly considered a pretty damn nice machine. there is nothing i've ever seen like an A-820 in the way it works.....

i am very happy.

i'll post more later....time to listen now.







the Tim Paravincini EAR modified RS-1700 on the left, the A-820 in the middle and the ATR-102 on the right.
Mike Lavigne

Offline ironbut

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Re: update on Studer A-820
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2008, 06:52:33 PM »
Wow Mike! My drool bucket runeth over.
I'd love to hear a little about Fred's shop and some of the things he told you about maintaining your 820.
steve koto
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Offline mikel

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Re: update on Studer A-820
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2008, 09:50:43 PM »
Wow Mike! My drool bucket runeth over.
I'd love to hear a little about Fred's shop and some of the things he told you about maintaining your 820.

Steve,

i will do my best to list some random thoughts.....i'm still a bit rummy from 1600 miles of driving and 8 hours of training in 38 hours....not to mention the euphoria of the musical performances i am hearing.

as i'm not even a little bit of a technical person my viewpoint on Fred's shop would have limited value....but i'll do my best. the shop is a large space and there are a number of Studer products in various states of repair. Fred seems to have all the neat tools (electronic and other) to do whatever and measure whatever on a Studer. one impression i got was after seeing all the specialized Studer tools he has is that anyone DIYing an A-820 will struggle to get it to work optimally. it would be like diagnosing a modern automoble without the proper interface to the CPU. you would not know where to go next.

i was very impressed that he has documented all the things he did on my A-820.....he showed me every part he replaced (dozens and dozens) and had notes on every step he took. even bits of wire and such he had taped to log sheets.

it is not a retail space or display space and has no pretenses as such. it is a work area.

Fred was very kind to me and spent lots of his time making sure i was capable of enjoying my A-820.  he started me out by explaining the basic landscape of the A-820 and some of the design features which make the A-820 such a dream to use.

-the A-820 stand does not look like anything special; but on closer inspection the mounting mechanism is over-built and has very solid 'indents' that work with swiss precision and allow you to rotate the A-820 to a number of angles....and then holds it there a solid as a rock. you can stand it almost on it's head and access the rear fuses comfortably while sitting down without kneeling and bending over. rotate it all the way over the other way and the card panel which is below the front is easy to see and read. then there is level, +7.5 degrees, +15 degrees, -7.5 degrees, -15 degrees (if you want to inspect the heads or do fine cleaning around them this is great....again, no bending over).
this sounds like a small thing but it sure made my A-820 education much easier.

-he explained the fuses and  power supply failure circuts. i actaully measured each failure circut so if i ever had a problem and he got on the phone with me i would already be familiar with it.

-we spent a couple of hours on the programing tree and methodology of changing the programing. it actually is very simple and logical but i would have never been able to figure it out myself in a million years. i did set-up on 'A' and 'B' set-ups with alignment tapes. switching between equalization and set-up presets is simple.

-he showed me all the very neat tricks (well...maybe not all of them) that the transport does.....and how to adjust it with the programing. it has the shuttle and cueing wheels and they work with great precision.....it is so easy to find the beginning of the music. there is a sensor which slows the tape down as the tape is rewound and makes it simple to then use the shuttle to find the beginning.

-the pack is so smooth and flat....better even than when you first recieve new 'Tape Project' tapes....even at rewind speeds it is almost perfect. there is a library rewind and it is easy to program the speed of the rewind.

-there is a 'secret' switch which keeps others from changing the programing....when engaged any programing reverts to prior settings when restarted.

-we spent a good amount of time on the card slots and how to reboot, the correct way to pull a card out and the wrong way.

-my A-820 came with a new looking complete service manual....400 to 500 pages in a large binder. we used it for a reference so i would be familiar with it. one of Fred's pet peaves on 'The Studer List' is when posters don't even check the manual prior to asking questions.

-he explained what he replaced and what was not 100% and why it was OK. a complete rebuild on an A-820 could be over $100k and even a semi-complete reconditioning would be around $35k. basically the parts costs are astronomical.

-we spent some time on cleaning and what is important. he also said that i would never need to demag......Studer had gone to great lengths to construct the A-820 with non-magnetic materials and demaging would likely only cause harm. he also thought the ATR-102 likely did not need much demag either. i have no opinion on this other than i don't mess much with my cartridges (i own a cartridge demager as well as an Annis Hand-i-mag).

i'm just touching the surface here.....but you get the idea.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2008, 10:06:26 PM by mikel »
Mike Lavigne