Can you believe it? Tape Project is ten years old! Thanks to everyone who has supported us in introducing studio quality tape reproduction to the audiophile community!

Author Topic: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project  (Read 15510 times)

Offline joeljoel1947

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« on: October 13, 2008, 04:54:46 PM »
Hi all,
I just wanted to pass along some juicy info.  If you have not checked out the new HRx format by RR, then I implore you to do so.  Here is some info here:
http://www.referencerecordings.com/HRx2.asp

Anyhow these are master digital 24/176 files and you need a computer and sound card that are compatible to take the data discs they send you (at like $45 a pop) and either play them on a music server or (better yet) put them on 15 IPS open reel tape.  The disc they send you is not playable in any other format (although I think if you had a record cutting lathe you could probably go down that path too.  ;)

A friend of mine and I bought one of these things to try out ("Crown Imperial") as I also have the HDCD commercial release of it as well to compare the HRx to.  We took it from 24/176 on his PC and dumped it onto 15 IPS open reel tape.  The results?  AMAZING!!!!

Yesterday we spent some time together comparing the 24/176 "tape" we had made to the HDCD version of the same work I had bought (level matched in real-time).  Well the difference my friends was NOT subtle.  Kind of like the difference between comparing a TP tape to a cd of the same work.  The tape sounded MUCH more open, expansive, natural, dynamic and all-around smoother and silkier.  The HDCD sounded (by comparison) compressed, "glarey" and hard overall.

Bottom line is I don't think I've ever heard digital sound like this!  It sounded totally analog!!  I mean it was RIGHT up there with TP-003 that I have, "Arnold's Overtures".  The sonics were THAT good.

I also noticed that RR has now released an HRx version of "Exotic Dances Of the Opera", which is also a TP tape!  I was thinking about that and was Exotic Dances ever released on LP?  I thought RR only ran analog tapes when they were going to release an LP of a work.  Does anyone know if the TP "Exotic" is 100% analog all the way through??? It was made later in the game---1996, so I don't know if they were still running tapes in that era.

If so though, we may have the ULTIMATE digital vs. analog shootout on our hands----Exotic on 1.5 gen all-analog "master tape" from the TP and also on 24/176 all "master digital" on the HRx format.  Does anyone know if the TP release was sourced from the same 24/176 digital file though??

Anyhow, I EMPLORE you to check out the HRx format.  For $45 plus some tape you really have something to "fill in the time" when you are waiting for your next TP release to be delivered.  Unbelievable stuff and right up there with the TP releases!!!!!!!!

Take care,
Joel K.
Regards,
Joel Kozlowski

ceved

  • Guest
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2008, 06:01:35 PM »
Interesting to say the least as I have been pondering this format, but was strictly in the digital realm and considering the cost of a music server vis-a-vis the suggestions on the RR website found the investment to be prohibitive, for early generation hardware.
Care to share your computer gear/soundcard info?
Thanks
CV

Offline joeljoel1947

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2008, 05:17:05 AM »
Hi,
I asked my friend your question and here was his response.  I hope this helps:

Joel,
In response to your post on the TP forum.  In order to be successful at rendering playback of high res digital sources to any playback system, if it be in it's native format i.e. 24/176, 24/192 or anything greater than 24/88.1 or transferred to 15ips tape playback, great care must be paid to the digital to analog conversion path.  It is not only crucial to have very high level conversion but cabling and power supply need to be given great attention.  Specifically for a tape transfer the recording machine needs precisely setup and again cabling and power conditioning can make an incredible difference.  It is my opinion that even with the digital to analog conversion system that I am using, while it cannot be technically better than the source files, a digital high res. source when transferred to 15ips tape medium not only retains nearly every ounce of resolution but gains a "pleasability" (my new word!) factor that results in the perception, from most listeners, of being better than the source.  To produce good results with a digital playback system using a computer you can choose a number of different setups but I have two that I can recommend.  The first would be a very good budget system that sounds exceptional without spending a lot of money.  It would consist of a fire wire audio interface from TC Electronic called a Konnekt 8 and power conditioning from Isotek systems.  The next option would be a much more expensive (but not outrages) setup that would use converters from Apogee in the forum of the Rosetta 200 along with their Big Ben master clock.  This last system while not esoterically priced compared to some other options provides an exceptional level of playback fidelity.  This setup again combined with the best cabling and a power conditioner called the Titan is stunning.  The interconnecting cable that I use in these high level situations is the CCS wire from Vampirewire.  Everything that I have mentioned has met my personal auditioning for my own work. Best regards,Joseph L
Regards,
Joel Kozlowski

ceved

  • Guest
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2008, 06:07:17 PM »
Most helpful indeed.
Thanks for the quick straightforward information.

Offline joeljoel1947

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2008, 06:37:49 PM »
You're welcome.  And if anyone reading this (DocB?) can get us some info on the source of the "Exotic Dances" TP release it would be MOST helpful.
Regards,
Joel Kozlowski

Offline mstcraig

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 64
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2008, 07:18:07 PM »
According to the Tape Project's own masthead, "for any recording to be used, it MUST be in an analog format". Therefore, Exotic Dances would be sourced from Keith Johnson's master tape, which is played back on the same Focused-Gap machine that made it.
Craig Sypnier
(Magnepan, VPI, Sumiko, Shure,
Belles Research, ReVox (A-77 and B-77), Scully 280-B, Teac A-2300SD, Nordost)

Offline joeljoel1947

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2008, 07:29:55 PM »
I thought to "think" as much as you state (which is why I ordered "Exotic Dances" on TP) but now thinking more deeply I'm not sure that in 1996 with LP's tossed by the wayside and HDCD and digital in the fore-front that they would have still had those analog tapes a runnin'.  I just want to be sure the thing I spent $200-$329 on, is the same thing I can now get for $40 off of the RR site as a master copy if you know what I mean!  ;)
Regards,
Joel Kozlowski

Offline ironbut

  • Global Moderator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2503
  • rs1500>repro amp#1
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2008, 07:39:34 PM »
Never fear Joel. When these recordings were made, they ran both digital and tape. I believe this was covered on another thread but I'm being lazy today.
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 Ben

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 304
  • Bring on the music
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2008, 09:57:16 PM »
This reminds me, what about 2009's titles for the TTP? I am seeing more digital
stuff, but where is the source coming from? That is what I question I have for RR.
R2R is the thrifty way me to get good music. I suspect I would have to pay
about $5,000 for a half decent digital setup. I shutter to think what price
of real setup is.
Has selections even been considered yet, as the last few selections
are slowly being duplicated here? I am budgeting in the next batch of tapes
about March or so of next year. 

« Last Edit: October 14, 2008, 10:06:47 PM by Ben »
Set 45,Open baffle speakers,Otari 5050,,Pioneer DV-79AVi DVD/CD/SCAD player

Offline High and Outside

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 363
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2008, 12:10:31 AM »
Reference Recordings were still running both tape and digital at the time they recorded the sessions for Exotic Dances. However, they were in the process of deciding whether to keep releasing LP's. They did decide to suspend their LP releases, and the master tapes sat on the shelf, unedited, for years. We edited the digital recording and RR released it on CD.

Then last year, while they were considering resuming LP production, they went ahead and edited the analog tapes. We jumped on the chance and licensed the title for the Tape Project. Our release is sourced directly from the tapes that Keith recorded on his custom focus-gap analog recorder on the sessions in Minneapolis.

I completely agree that the HRx files, played from a good server, sound great. If I'm gonna listen to digitally recorded music, this is the way I want to hear it.

And Joel, when we say we are only working from the original analog master tapes, here's what we REALLY mean: we are only working from the original analog master tapes. Would you like me to repeat that?
Paul Stubblebine
Managing Director, The TapeProject

Offline joeljoel1947

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2008, 07:25:52 AM »
Thanks guys for putting my fears to rest!  Paul, thanks for the scoop on what happened to Exotic Dances.  And no Paul, I think twice repeating you are working from analog masters was enough.  ;) 

So now that will setup a showdown with Exotic Dances----HRx digital master vs. Tape Project 1.5 gen analog master.  Place your bets everyone!!!

Joel
Regards,
Joel Kozlowski

Offline docb

  • Administrator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
    • View Profile
    • Bottlehead Corp.
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2008, 12:40:53 PM »
I want to caution everyone about this showdown idea. You'd better make sure you have the best possible equipment for both media before you draw any conclusions. We've seen what Mikel has gone through with different transports, comparing them to his high buck turntable - and in my opinion even though he now hears advantages from the tape he still needs to experiment with improved repro electronics, at which point the tape will probably be the consistent winner.

I have a pretty decent rig here at Bottlehead, but when I need to make a definitive judgment about something like this I prefer to listen on the system at the mastering studio, because the equipment is pretty unimpeachable there and the room is superior. 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!
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President for Life, Bottlehead Corp.
Managing Director - retired, The Tape Project

Offline joeljoel1947

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 88
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2008, 01:25:55 PM »
Good points Doc.  Sometimes my enthusiasm gets the best of me (there's a newsflash, eh?) so calling this a "showdown" was probably not the best terminology to use.

1 test like this on 1 release does NOT settle any sort of debate of digital versus analog.  But I do think it will be interesting to compare them anyway----It's all just for fun.  I don't think a consumer has actually ever gotten THIS close to the pure digital/analog masters to even attempt such a thing before!

 I have a feeling the TP tape will "win" purely based off my experience with "Arnold's Overtures" which is the same deal---pure digital for the cd release and pure analog for the TP release.  The TP tape DESTROYS the cd, but the cd is basic 16/44.1.  24/176 should level the playing field some with the HRx release "Exotic".

We'll try to make the comparison as fair as possible between the formats with regards to the equipment we use.  It will be monitored over 185k Genesis 1.1's for starters, so some decent stuff.

Now I just need my Exotic tape.  ;)

Joel
Regards,
Joel Kozlowski

Offline Ben

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 304
  • Bring on the music
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2008, 02:43:48 PM »
But no matter how you look at it, you still have the ORIGINAL ANALOG master recording on tape. A digital copy of it is still a DUB and you have losses/distortion going from Analog to Digital.  I think this does settle the analog vs digital debate ... Analog
is better on the grounds you build better amps than DAC's at the needed frequency
and number of bits for a good digital output.
Set 45,Open baffle speakers,Otari 5050,,Pioneer DV-79AVi DVD/CD/SCAD player

Offline niklasthedolphin

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 22
    • View Profile
Re: Reference Recordings HRx format and the Tape Project
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2008, 05:36:13 AM »
Good points Doc.  Sometimes my enthusiasm gets the best of me (there's a newsflash, eh?) so calling this a "showdown" was probably not the best terminology to use.

1 test like this on 1 release does NOT settle any sort of debate of digital versus analog.  But I do think it will be interesting to compare them anyway----It's all just for fun.  I don't think a consumer has actually ever gotten THIS close to the pure digital/analog masters to even attempt such a thing before!

 I have a feeling the TP tape will "win" purely based off my experience with "Arnold's Overtures" which is the same deal---pure digital for the cd release and pure analog for the TP release.  The TP tape DESTROYS the cd, but the cd is basic 16/44.1.  24/176 should level the playing field some with the HRx release "Exotic".

We'll try to make the comparison as fair as possible between the formats with regards to the equipment we use.  It will be monitored over 185k Genesis 1.1's for starters, so some decent stuff.

Now I just need my Exotic tape.  ;)

Joel

Maybe it's for the few.

But I have been doing some master recordings myself since late 70's starting out as a "tape operator" or "recording engineer" at live and studio events for broadcasting stations here i DK.
I never planned to make a living on it and maybe that's why I always just spent the time needed for set-up as I was always alone on this.
Later on I made recordings completely for my own enjoyments in agreements with musicians and arrangers not to distribute or share my recordings in any way.

I have been experimenting with what to use as main recording equipment and what to use as back up.
The choise was between 1/4'' R2R ? track 15 ips up against 32/192 digital encoding.
I was never in any doubt.
I choose the R2R as main recorder and the digital encoding as back-up.
I now downsized the digital side to 24/96 as I find that the "damage" or drawback of the encoding is not as much the difference between 24/96 and 32/192 as it is the digital encoding itself.

These differences are very hard to explain but one thing as an example of understanding what makes me choose the way I do is that of the level of background noise or the noise floor. This is, in most peoples ears, to the advantage of the digital encoded music. But not to me. The background noise/noise floor is basicaly not existing in the digital encoding. I find that we in all situations experience a natural noise around us in the enviroment. It's there in the concert hall, in the outdoor live event, it's there in your living room and even in the studio there's a little. This is kind of eliminated in the encoding. And eliminating that is also eliminating those small changes in the lowest level of the music. I call it microdynamics. Microdynamics are, not gone, but depressed in the digital encoding.

This was an example showing to me that favouring one parameter compromises another or more other parameters on behalf of the one.
This is the compromise all music reproduction is subject to and what always is the PITA of the recording engineer/tape operator.

I find those parameters supported by the best analog recording gear carrying more of the quality I want than the parameters in weight on the best digital encoding equipment.

Within the micodynamics, within the information hidden in the noise floor/background noise is naturality, sound stage and room perspective in the holographic form, the hollism is there and without these "dimensions, so difficult to define and impossible to meassure, is the nerve of the music.

So much for shortly describing my motives for choosing the analog device for my master recordings.

"dolph"