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Last month, on my annual sojourn to the UK, I was given several tapes which belonged to long time Decca producer, Christopher Raeburn. I would like to get some advice about checking them out before playing them (worried about sticky shed).

One is in a box labelled Agfa Magnetonband with a label on the box saying 2400 ft PE22 1003 1 (small print says Made in Germany in German, English and French).  There is a Decca Record sticker on the box saying it is recorded at 7.5" p.s. and titled "Rehearsal of Vienna Phil. Orch. Pierre Monteux, with the further notation "Oiseau de Feu (P.M. conducted Premiere) and signed Raeburn. The tape appears to be acetate (that is I can see through the tape held on its side.) Looking up in my Decca data base, there appear to be no recordings that Monteux did of the Firebird with the VPO, although he did one with the Paris Conservatory Orch which was engineered by Decca for RCA. Raeburn did several recordings with Monteux and the VPO in the late '50's, but no Firebird. So this could be a rehearsal that didn't lead to a recording.

There are two other tapes done on Scotch 202, 2400 ft, these were both from a set of 6 rehearsal tapes done of an operatic recital with baritone Tom Krause and conducted by Quadri, with the Vienna Phil. The date is 15 Mai 1967.

I was given these tapes by a dealer in the north of England, whom I am a regular customer. She happens to live near one of the retired Decca engineers who I interviewed for my book, Mike Mailes. I was visiting Mike and his wife, and he drove me to the dealer's home. Mike had worked with Christopher Raeburn and said that he often would have the tapes running to capture rehearsals. Some would be at 7.5 ips to conserve tape. Mike also said they had some issues with Scotch 202 and soon switched to 203.

Any suggestions on how to approach playing the tapes would be much appreciated.

Thanks, Larry

General Discussion / My System
« on: March 15, 2014, 11:11:05 AM »
I found this picture yesterday on the Merging Technologies Website. They are a company that builds pro digital software and equipment, most famous for their Pyramix software, which I am using to digitize my vinyl and R2R collection for posterity. More recently they have Horus which is some well regarded digital hardware. 

The picture shows my system in 2010 (not much changed since then) including both my Bottlehead modified Technics 1506 (playback only) with the Bottlehead prepro mounted below in the same case, and my Otari MX5050 BIII below left. My Pacific Microsonics Model Two (which Paul and Romo both have more than one!) is to the left the Turntable. Steve Koto's Dolby B decoder sits below my TT and the CJ MET-1 multichannel preamp. Since the photo I have added a custom Bottlehead phono pre with variable EQ that Dan built for me that I use for the vinyl ripping.

The only things not visible are my rear channel Avantgarde Solo speakers.  The fronts are a Solo for the center channel and Duos for the stereo pair.

Claude and Dominic of Merging visited me in 2010 to talk about a new consumer oriented software which sadly has only partly been developed (Emotion). They took some pictures of my system, but I didn't know they used one in their promo material on their website. I haven't done any SACD creation (haven't a clue how to do it), but I guess the multichannel aspect of my system gives the viewer a sense of the SACD multichannel.


General Discussion / Ray Dolby RIP
« on: September 14, 2013, 12:06:43 PM »

For tape buffs, I believe that the invention of dolby B may have been the most revolutionary, since it transformed the lowly dictating machine cassette to a reasonable player of music.  In the late '70's Barclay-Crocker's use of dolby B applied to some of the best commercial recordings made 7.5ips 4 track R2R a really fine hi fidelity source. I discovered this particularly with Steve Koto's custom modified original Dolby Labs dolby B encoder/decoder which has made my B-C tapes really come alive.

The Decca people told me that they used dolby A in some of their mastering in the '70's.

Of course, Ray Dolby made his big money in films.



Prerecorded Tapes / Marian McPartland Dies at 95 - 8 albums on B-C Tapes
« on: August 22, 2013, 05:06:01 PM »
Jazz great Marian McPartland died this week. After recording on several labels, she started her own, Halcyon Records. Barclay-Crocker chose her label as one of those to reissue on their dolby B 4 track reel to reel tapes back in the laete '70's to early '80's. I have 4 of the 8 albums that they released. B-C's output was all classical except for a handful of film music and the 8 Halcyon albums which are all jazz. I think they were all live.

Someone with more knowledge of McPartland and Halcyon may want to comment more.


Prerecorded Tapes / New Classical Titles at UltraAnalogue
« on: July 17, 2013, 07:53:10 PM »
I just picked up the latest 4 titles from Ed Pong at UltraAnalogue. All chamber music as before. Xiang Yu, violin and Sieste-Jan Wiejenberg, cello are featured in Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel-Halverson, and Vitali. I think the performers are getting even better and the sonics are very fine that Ed records in his home studio. So for those who want to supplement their TP collection with some more classical, these are excellent choices.


Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Studer B62 in Decca Recordings
« on: July 14, 2013, 11:22:30 PM »
As some of you know I am working with Winston Ma (of First Impression Music in Seattle) on a book on Decca's golden age between 1958 and the early 1980's.  In my recent month long sojourn to London, I was able to have extensive interviews with six of the Decca old timers, including John Dunkerley, who was Kenneth Wilkinson's main protege. We had two long interview, totalling about 11 hours. In the first one, I told John that he had engineered one of my very favorite albums, the Arnold English and Scottish Dances on Lyrita. (Decca did the producing and engineering of all the Lyrita stereo albums.) For our second meeting, John located and gave me a copy of the session sheets he did for the recording. The two sheets show the exact placement of the orchestra members and the mikes, including the classic Decca tree with outriggers, all with M50 mikes plus other spot mikes. It also shows that the session was captured using two 1/4" 2 track Studer B62's (one as a safety) at 15ips, using Scotch 206 tape and NAB EQ. Other machines were used for other sessions over time.

John told me that one of the secrets of the Decca sound is that they set up everything and mixed to two channels in real time, making few adjustments on the mixing board. There was no post production mixing and the balance engineer would do the actual splicing and editing. In contrast, most other companies had lower level people do the actual editing after the engineer would indicate which take to use and where the edit would go.


General Discussion / Joni Mitchell Hejira and 'Reel to Reel'
« on: February 24, 2013, 08:31:06 PM »
I was listening to my old Joni Mitchell albums and all of a sudden I heard her say 'reel to reel.' It is in the first cut of her 1975 album 'Hejira'.
"No regrets Coyote
We just come from such different circumstance
I'm up all night in the studios
And you're up early on your ranch
You'll be brushing a brood mare's tail
While the sun is ascending
And I'll just be getting home with my reel to reel...


Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Tape recorder Museum in Hungary
« on: January 30, 2013, 01:41:17 PM »
Not sure whether this has been posted before.

If you are visiting Hungary - a place to visit.  Larry

Tape Project Albums - general / Tape 22 Creedence Arrived Today
« on: January 22, 2013, 10:36:47 PM »
Hi folks (Doc B mostly),

Got my Tape Project 22 today. Looks like it is the Creedence Clearwater album. However, no insert was included.  The little picture on the album spine looks like the CC album. I'll be listening to it tonight.   Larry

Prerecorded Tapes / Quick Review of Opus3 Tapes that I just received
« on: November 04, 2012, 02:09:54 PM »
Hi folks, here are my first impressions of the Opus3 tapes that I received this past week. To remind everyone, Opus3 is now offering master dubs (copies of the original 1/4" two track 15ips CCIR master tapes) of about 50 of its releases. They are all analogue recordings, mostly done with a Telefunken Magnetophon M-28C tape recorder. Many were originally released on vinyl starting in the late 1970's and the rest were issued on SACD through the late 1990's.  They are about 50% more expensive than the Tape Project releases ($450 for each 2 tape album). Since these are dubs directly from the master tapes, Kevin told me that they plan to do no more than 50 copies each. I think I am fairly early in the process. They are copied on SM468 tape - now manufactured in France by Pyral.  The packaging is barebones - nothing like quality package of the TP issues.  Each title has two tapes, in the original SM468 box, with a small sticker on the front with the title and catalogue number. The inside of the first tape of each title has a copy of the SACD printed materials and the reel is the original 468 metal reel with an additional sticker for Opus3.  Most of the releases are jazz or folk or pop. I ordered 11 titles, 10 of them classical, which is almost all of the classical offerings.

I originally ordered the Sample tape which I was quite impressed with and then ordered the others. It took about 6 weeks for my order to be filled, from emailing the order (to Kevin Berg in Georgia) to receiving the duplicated tapes (which I think are done to order in Sweden).

Steve Koto was over to the house on Friday and we listened to one of the tapes. What was very clear is that there is realism - including a real sense of the hall in which the recording was done, that is much greater than the vinyl. We were both very impressed (Steve may want to have a comment). The recording was of Bach transcribed for a guitar quartet. Steve mentioned he could clearly hear the differences in tonality of the four different instruments. I could hear the sense of the recording venue and the guitars in the space. The programs are very fine, most of them are close to 60 minutes (a few longer than that), since they were recorded for SACD release. The early issues done for vinyl are shorter. 

All of the tapes that I heard are worth getting if you have the money. What you will not get in the classical or other releases are the star performers that are featured in the TP releases.  They gave me a small discount for ordering 11 titles at the same time.


Hi folks,

I have recently purchased several tapes from UltraAnalogue (, based near Toronto. Ed Pong records young talented artists in his home studio with all tube equipment and sells copies of the master tapes. Ed shared with me pictures of his home and the area where he hosts concerts. Very nice. The releases are all classical chamber music all recorded within the past couple of years and so far, I have been very pleased with both the sonic and artistic quality. He prefers NAB EQ (but will do CCIR if you want)  and uses Studer recorders with tube electronics built by Tony Ma. Prices per reel ($200 or so) are somewhat more expensive than TP tapes and you get artists that Ed has found - mostly prize winners at international competitions. Ed copies the tapes to order, and was very fast with my initial order, less than a week. So far he has a set of the Bach Cello Suites by Winona Zelenka,  two violin recitals by Xiang Yu and three cello sonatas (Beethoven, Brahms and Rachmaninoff) and one cello recital by Seiste-Jan Weijenberg. So far I have 1 of the Bach Suites and all of the other albums except the Brahms which has just been released. I think the violin sound is the very best I have heard on a recording. The Meditation from Thais by Massenet is one of my favorite pieces and it is on both violin recital albums in different performances. The sound is as close to that which I heard when we had a professional violinist play it in our home for my 60th birthday. The violin sound is quite a bit better than the violin recital on Yarlung Recordings tape that I wrote about in another thread.  To be sure you are not getting the Decca and Reference Recordings superstars that are on the TP tapes.

The second source is from Opus3, a small Swedish company that has been releasing vinyl since the late seventies. I have more than 30 of their albums. A mix of classical, folk and jazz, the sonics are very fine and they have been an audiophile favorite for many years. One of their albums is on the Absolute Sound Super Disk List - "Maytan and Friends." It looks like Opus3 has always recorded in analogue, even though they have released CD and SACD in the past 15 or more years.  They have just begun to release 15ips 2Tr of about 50 of their albums, about 30% classical and 70% jazz and folk.  They have a sampler album available which I got a couple of weeks ago. I have gone ahead and ordered 11 of their titles, almost all classical. Mostly chamber, but one choral and a couple orchestral.  They are about 50% more expensive ($450 for 2 reel sets) than the TP tapes and are made to order in Sweden. They are also dubbed directly from the master tapes, so are limited to no more than 50 copies each. Recording is done with CCIR EQ like the TP using RGMI SM468 tape. A US agent, Kevin Berg ([email protected]), handles the orders. Kevin keeps an inventory of the sampler tape, so you can order it (at half price of the normal tapes) and he ships it to you within a few days. I'll post how long it takes to get the custom tapes from Sweden. The artists are not well known, except perhaps singer Eric Bibb.

As I mentioned before, I don't see either of these or Yarlung as competition with TP. In fact, by providing additional software, it should encourage some to take the plunge into high end R2R and increase the base of potential TP subscribers.

The price of the 15ips 2Tr prerecorded tapes will never be less than quite expensive compared to other media. But it is the best and a series subscription of TP is less than one highest end power cord or set of interconnects.




Prerecorded Tapes / B-C Tapes at Irvington Music
« on: June 19, 2012, 11:54:21 AM »
Hi folks, I just got my latest list 221 from Susan Gunderson of Irvington Music ( She has 23 B-C tapes for sale on the list. I already nabbed two of them.  They go from $18 to $50 each, with most of them in the $20-25 range.  I just checked her website and it hasn't been updated yet, so only 2 B-C tapes are listed. She normally releases her printed list before she updates the website.


Events / Bay Area Get Together Sunday March 18
« on: March 05, 2012, 05:12:05 PM »
Hi Folks, It has been a while since we got together. Looks like a week from Sunday (March 18) works well. At Chez Toy we have a couple of new things, including a great software package, Isotope RX2 which does a fabulous job in removing clicks from vinyl without removing the music. My digitalization project continues, including moving into my collection of the Absolute Sound Super Discs. I also have all of Series Two of the TP - we can compare the Liszt Piano Sonata by Nojima to the original vinyl.  Also the new Yarlung tapes. Let me know if you can make it. I will PM you with the specific directions and other info.  Plan to start sometime in the mid day and have a pot luck lunch.  Hope to see you there.   Larry
My direct email is [email protected]

Just got my Absolute Sound Jan 2012 issue today.  If you look at Jonathan Valin's review of the Magico Q1 speakers, he mentions that the vinyl setup included three phono preamps -"the Aesthetix, Soulution, and (the surprise of the bunch) The Tube (Phono) Preamp from Dan Schmalle of the Tape Project and Bottlehead Electronics." Later in the review, when Valin had some issues with a couple of the phonostages, he settled on the third and "the Q1s sprang into even more convincing life - transparancy, resolution, delicacy of tone and texture, see-through clarity, and above all liveliness markedly increased and the vague sense of mechanization vanished. Clearly, it was not the amps or cables that were causing the problem... it was the other two phonostages."  It looks like Mr. Valin had a good time with the Bottlehead.  Larry

Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Athan Roller for Otari 5050
« on: October 27, 2011, 07:45:28 PM »
I just bought a replacement pinch roller from Athan in SF for my 5050 B3 1/4" machine.  It came today and it is much larger than the original roller, with just enough gap between the capstan and roller to fit the tape. Also, when I replace the cap on the roller with the original one and tighten down, it prevents the roller from turning. Seems to work fine without the cap. Is this right?  Thanks, Larry

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