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: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?  (Read 13338 times)

Offline maxrb

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« on: April 21, 2009, 11:57:54 PM »
Hello to everybody,

Hi,
Max from Spain here. This is my first post. I actually posted this in another forum but I didn't get any answer. I really hope you can help me. Those are very basic questions but I'm an amateur regarding analog recording.

I got this Studer a-810:


It doesn't have vu-meters and record/play level controllers, so my question is:
Is it possible to use it properly as a mastering deck? For my final mixes I suppose i can use it checking levels with the vu-meters of my studer 169, but I'm not sure is that the way to go.
On the other hand, if I really need those vu-meters for proper job of the deck, are they difficult to install, do you know where I can get it and how much usually are?


Thanks
« Last Edit: April 22, 2009, 12:09:08 AM by maxrb »

Offline ironbut

  • Global Moderator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2503
  • rs1500>repro amp#1
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2009, 11:56:15 PM »
Hi maxrb, welcome to the forum. There are a number of Studer users here (I'm not one of them) and one of them may be able to help you.
 From just looking at your machine, I can't really tell you what you need to know but to record, you will need some way to monitor the input relative to the design of the internals. Do you know anything about the facility or use that this machine was used in? Is the picture taken in the place you got it from? If so, it appears that there maybe more of them along the wall behind it. That could indicate a few things but the first that comes to mind is a duplicating line. These machines could come in many different configurations and some were purpose built for that use. It may not have even been built for use with music. Because of it's microprocessors, it could be adapted for some sort of data collection (analog or digital). The bottom panel which is devoid of the usual controls and the extra panel above the transport would lead me to believe it was built for a specific purpose. These controls might not have been needed and would have added a lot of cost and upkeep for something that wasn't needed. It may have had the meters and controls on a remote that could be built into one of their consoles but at the cost a custom job like that would've cost, the purchase of an 820 couldn't have been much more.
One thing that you should do is to download every 810 service manual you can find. There should be service bulletins too. You should look at all the connections that are located on the machine and try to match it to one in the manuals. Also, compare the controls you have to the ones on a standard 810 and come back and post the differences.
What you really need is the now defunct Studer list but unfortunately, it died from lack of interest not too long ago.
Here's a site with lots of Studer info that you should search over;
http://www.analogrules.com/
And here's a place you can download free service manuals;
ftp://ftp.studer.ch/Public/Products/
Check the different model info under technical info and maybe there's a clue for you there.
Hope that helps. Like I said, I'm not a Studer owner but the silence was killing me.
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 reelnut

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2009, 01:20:58 AM »
Hi maxrb-

I can see the machine has the channel control boards with the colored buttons for repro, sync, input, rec safe, and rec ready. So it looks to me like the machine was built to record. It also looks as though it was built to be used with an external meter bridge, as most of the stand-mounted machines were. So you need to get the meter bridge. These machines are quite flexible and completely modular. The internals should be ready to plug in whatever you need. But they're also quite complex. The complete manual is 864 pages. There are a number of switches that need to be set correctly inside the machine, depending on if you have panel-mounted meter or a meter bridge, and a number of other things. You may find it more convenient to remove the channel control boards and install VU meters on the face of the machine. Here is an ebay link to one http://cgi.ebay.com/Studer-A810-A820-A812-A-810-A-820-VU-Meter_W0QQitemZ230333717264QQihZ013QQcategoryZ67812QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1713.m153.l1262 . With this type of meter, the channel controls are built into the meter board itself. He's asking $350.  I'd offer him $4-500 for a pair and see if he takes it. I don't know if they are affiliated with Filmco (described below), or not.

You might call Filmco in Canada at 1-800-476-9775 and ask for Edouard. They bought Studer's complete stock and parts inventory a number of years ago when Studer pulled out of North America and will have what you need. Have your serial number ready when you call them. And I would try to bargain! Whatever they say, offer them a couple hundred less! I bought my machine from Filmco & can tell you from experience that they will stand behind something they sell you. They won't burn you.
John Hanek (dedicated amateur)- A810, X2000R, X1000R, A3440, GX636. Played thru Yamaha CX1, MX1, YST-SW150 (2), S55 (2).

Offline ironbut

  • Global Moderator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2503
  • rs1500>repro amp#1
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2009, 10:27:41 AM »
Whew! I'm glad you chimed in John. Particularly since you seem to have had good dealings with Filmco. I think it would be great if you could post this info over on the Service Resources board.
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 maxrb

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2009, 05:12:48 PM »
Hi,
  Thanks a lot for your help!
Silence was killing me as well (i wasn't sure if I was saying something stupid or it was my poor command of english).
  I got this "mistery" a810 via Ebay ( last minute purchase). i got it for about 1000 ?.  I thought it' was an Ok price even if I had to get the vu-meters later or send it to a tech. But maybe I'm wrong...
  The deck has arrived today at home and it's in very good cosmetic condition. It's not a playback machine, maybe a device for duplicating  but it records.
  The seller (an ebay german powerseller) told me he seldom used it, he was selling it as a "studer mastering deck" . that's all I know about him.
  Everything seems to be working but the button that connects channel 1 to the monitor speaker (it works intermittently, maybe it's just dust).
  There are two speeds available (7.5 and 15). I can't choose between CCIR/NAB or tape A/B. It's CCIR and tape A all the time.
  I've recorded some samples with some RMG 911 and apparently it's the same level between INP and REP (a bit more in REP). It's sounds good to me, although this is not a very scientific test.
It's doesn't have a external port for a external vumeter bridge (actually it has just two inputs, two outputs, remote control an "address board") so getting panel-mounted meter must be the way to go for me.

I've found  the address in the chassis an email of the german tech who made the last check to the deck (4 years ago).
I'm trying to contact him (and Edouard as well). i keep you informed. Thanks again!

« Last Edit: April 23, 2009, 11:51:38 PM by maxrb »

Offline Ki Choi

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 313
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2009, 11:24:08 PM »
It's difficult to say if your master control unit (the module located in bottom far right) is capable of switching IEC and NAB selection.  Judging from the photo, it probably is the 1.810.315-81 unit that has three push buttons (speed, tape a/b, IEC/NAB), headphone jack, channel select and monitor volume.  If it is, you should be able to hit Stop pushbutton and hold it down while you push other buttons to change your speed, Tape A/B, or IEC/NAB eq.,etc.  This function was added to firmware version 4085 (40th week 1985) and younger.

On the other hand, if you have 2 speed version master control unit (it might be since you mentioned you have 7.5 and 15 ips choices), your master control unit has a jumper JS2 that will allow you to skip having to push in Stop before making your selections to work.  The JS2 must be in position B to bypass Stop button...but I like having to hit Stop first to change anything to avoid mistakes.

If the deck's MPU board is younger than 1.820.780 then you can remove jumper JS 5 (second jumper from the center hole in card edge) to send input signal directly to output to calibrate your Line output cards.  If you do have the channel select function, you don't have to worry about the JS5 and just select the channel and feed 1.23V to input XLR connector. You should get 1.23V at the output. If not, adjust the 500 ohm pot in the Line Amp card. Do the same for both channels. This is assuming your deck is set for 4dB pro audio operating level. 

Without the VU meters, you should have no problem playing back tapes after knowing your Line Amp cards are calibrated but would need a decent AC Millivoltmeter (most Digital Voltmeter works for 1Khz signals) to set your record bias for two tape selections you initally make.  After that, you can feed known singal source and make recordings.

As John suggested, the best option for you is to get used VU meter panels and replace your existing channel control modules and one blank plate between two control modules.  Mount the VU meters, position JS 1 jumper on the Bus Connector PCB to Internal, connect two ribbon cables to CH1 and CH2, connect two analog connectors to J19 for CH1 and J20 for CH2 on Basis PCB.  This is the basic direction on how to convert the console A810 into a portable configuration.

You can check back when you get the VU meter panels.  They show up quite often on eBay when the "antique dealers" part out the A810s to bring in few more dollars...sad...
The link John sent you is the company that competes with Filmco.  I had no issues buying few parts from Irico but not cheap...  You might also want to replace your two speed selection master control unit with a 1.810.317-00 three speed master control unit with monitor volume control to get 3.75 ips speed - if you have the 2 pole capstan motor (most likely - if your top speed is 15 ips currently).

Ki
Ki Choi

Offline maxrb

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2009, 12:06:31 AM »
It's difficult to say if your master control unit (the module located in bottom far right) is capable of switching IEC and NAB selection.  Judging from the photo, it probably is the 1.810.315-81 unit that has three push buttons (speed, tape a/b, IEC/NAB), headphone jack, channel select and monitor volume.  If it is, you should be able to hit Stop pushbutton and hold it down while you push other buttons to change your speed, Tape A/B, or IEC/NAB eq.,etc.  This function was added to firmware version 4085 (40th week 1985) and younger.

Thanks Ki Choi!
Great info here. I'm trying to digest the manual  now. I'm not an engineer so I'm having a hard time (I'm used to Tascam home recordist orientated literature).
This is the link of the auction with more pictures:http://cgi.ebay.de/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190298724446&ssPageName=ADME:X:RTQ:DE:1123
I think it's the master module you are taking about. I'm trying the stop+button and it works!I'ts fine to have to press stop to avoid mistakes.
I've to go to work now, I hope today I got a couple of replies from Filmco, etc.Thanks again.
 
 

Offline ironbut

  • Global Moderator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2503
  • rs1500>repro amp#1
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2009, 12:40:33 AM »
For all you A810 owners (and fanciers alike), member Eric Jacobs has a scan of the original Studer brochure on his web site. There's a similar one for the 820 (drool!) there too. He's really done a wonderful job on his Audio Archive web site and is quite an authority on restoration and archiving.
Enjoy.

http://www.theaudioarchive.com/TAA_Tape_Studer_A810.htm
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 Ki Choi

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 313
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2009, 01:54:04 PM »
Although it has only been little more than a year since I first acquired an A810, I spent lots of time reading and communicating with the real pros who knew their A810s and I thought some of that had rubbed off on me... 

Thanks Steve for posting the link of the A810 brochure.  I didn't fully realize how popular the A810 was in its days and how rare the A820 is...
I also learned about the tape marker device that I have in one of my A810s but didn't know its purpose until I read the document.

BTW, what do you do for your day job?  Hope it's something related to R2R, judging from your numerous posts and depth of knowledge.

It is only a hobby for me - hobby that's gone wild...

Ki
Ki Choi

Offline ironbut

  • Global Moderator
  • leader in spreading disinformation
  • *****
  • Posts: 2503
  • rs1500>repro amp#1
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2009, 07:07:39 PM »

BTW, what do you do for your day job?  Hope it's something related to R2R, judging from your numerous posts and depth of knowledge.

It is only a hobby for me - hobby that's gone wild...

Ki

Same here Ki. There's so much to learn about that I don't think I've ever been so short of spare time!
Thanks for the compliment!
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 reelnut

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2009, 08:16:47 PM »
Steve,

I was glad to help out a little. I've been a stranger to TTP the last few weeks, but having sunk a very large chunk of cash into my vinyl rig, the tape machines have temporarily taken a back seat to the playing of LPs. So I guess it was just fate that I happened by when I did to inject my 2 cents worth!
John Hanek (dedicated amateur)- A810, X2000R, X1000R, A3440, GX636. Played thru Yamaha CX1, MX1, YST-SW150 (2), S55 (2).

Offline maxrb

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2009, 06:34:42 PM »
Hi,

I'm reading the manual and checking the configuration of the previous owner.
I'm not sure about the meaning of some parameters and what to change or not.
I'd like to send  the deck to a tech, but the only one I know in my country is abroad for a couple of months and I'd like to make some basic recordings in the meantime.

Command Unit:
Time Code ModeTV Euro Standard (that's a clue about previous owner? should I change it?)
Tape Type: mine is for JS6-8  0,0,0 (?,? no tape types here?)
programmable keys config: LOCSt, LIFTER, CODREA (what does it mean?). I changed to LOC2, LOC3,  LOCST.  Which configuration do you  find more useful?


Periphery controller:
Erase Head two track, 
Channel Control Parallel,
no automute, and
line level= 0dm (should I change it ?)

Regarding channel levels in repro and record mode, i find a bit weird the difference between channel 1 and 2. What do you think?:
              ch1     ch2
level repro    73       77
treble repro   27       38
bass repro     62       51

level rec       24        25
treble rec       56        61
bass rec       40        43

I'd like to check the different cards as well, how easy is to remove them? i can't find it in the manual...

thanks again
« Last Edit: April 25, 2009, 06:39:56 PM by maxrb »

Offline reelnut

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2009, 08:34:57 PM »
Max-

TimeCode:
How many heads does your deck have? If you have 4 heads, the machine has TimeCode. If you have only 3 heads you don't have TimeCode and JS 0,1,2 have no effect. Even if you do have a TimeCode head you won't be using it!

Tape Type:
JS 6,7,8 of the Command Unit determine which speed is affected when you change the Tape Type buttons. Refer to Sections 4/40 and 4/41 of the manual. If I'm reading that right JS 6-8 will have no effect because you have the 2-speed panel. You will use JS 9-11 for this.

Programmable Keys:
LOCST will search to the point where the Play or Rec button was last pushed.
LIFTER is your tape lifter which holds tape away from the heads during fast wind. The lifter itself can be programmed as momentary (only stays down while you have your finger on the button, or flip/flop one press lets it down, another raises it back up. By lowering the lifter you will hear sound during a winding operation, thereby aiding you when you are searching for a specific point.

CODREA is to do with Time Code. I would definitely change that to something else.

I have the 3 programmable keys to the right of LOC1 programmed for LOC2, LIFTER, and TAPE DUMP.
I never use TAPE DUMP. What it does is stop the takeup reel while allowing the supply reel to turn normally if you need to spool off bad sections of tape. I occasionally use the lifter down function, but not often. To me what's really handy is having LOC 1 & LOC2. If you press TRANS (on) and press a LOC point together, for instance, it will program the counter reading into the LOC point. You can use LOC points to automatically Rew or FF to the programmed point. You would press TRANS (on), then press the LOC point, and the machine goes to that point. Furthermore, pressing PLAY after pressing TRANS and a LOC point will cause the machine to enter playback mode after reaching the LOC point. I have LOC points programmed for 2500' and 3600' tapes, so that when I thread a tape into the machine just pressing a couple of buttons causes the machine to automatically to the beginning of the tape and begin playback.

The line level is up to you. IMO it pretty much depends on the kind of tape you use. The newer high-output tapes benefit from the +4db setting. Much older tapes would want a 0db line level. When you calibrate the machine you reset the VU meter amps so that when meters read 0db you are in fact recording at +4db. Since the meter scale only goes up to +3db if you hit that point you would actually be looking at a +7db signal. So you can see how the newer +6db and higher tapes benefit from this.

Your channel levels look very good to me. They are very similar to mine.

Cheers, and happy reeling!
John Hanek (dedicated amateur)- A810, X2000R, X1000R, A3440, GX636. Played thru Yamaha CX1, MX1, YST-SW150 (2), S55 (2).

Offline Ki Choi

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 313
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2009, 11:12:59 PM »
Looking at your headblock photo, you do not have TC.  You would also need the TC card and control module in order to use TC.
Also, the next time you have the machine power off, pull out the MPU card and check the battery for any leaks. Both ends of the battery should be clean and shiny.

Here's the auction for the missing VU meter bridge:

http://cgi.ebay.com/STUDER-A810-A-810-2-x-VU-METER-overbridge-meter-VU_W0QQitemZ230339479854QQcmdZViewItemQQptZVintage_Electronics_R2?hash=item230339479854&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1234%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A3%7C294%3A50


Ki
Ki Choi

Offline reelnut

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • View Profile
Re: Studer A810, do I really need Vu-Meters?
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2009, 12:53:02 AM »
maxrb-

That's a very nice meterbridge Ki posted the link for. I noticed it includes the Studer Vari-speed, which IMO is very cool, even if that auction is way overpriced. If your machine has 2 speeds 7.5ips and 15ips, the Vari-speed would let you record and playback at very nearly any speed from around 4ips to around 25ips. Quite incredibly, the Vari-speed is a rotary control which is marked from 0 to 999, with each number also sub-divided into 10ths. By noting the Vari-speed setting, accurate repeatability is possible. I use it, for instance, to record 90min of music on a 2500' tape if I so desire, etc.

Ki-
What I don't understand is why his machine has channel controls and no meters. I've never seen any pics of an A810 set up that way. All the pics I've ever seen of the meter bridge have the meters and channel controls mounted in the same board. Maybe the machine was never used to record, only play back? You could certainly play back without meters or gain controls, and I assume you must need the channel control boards to properly make all the internal connections so the machine works? Just guessing.
John Hanek (dedicated amateur)- A810, X2000R, X1000R, A3440, GX636. Played thru Yamaha CX1, MX1, YST-SW150 (2), S55 (2).