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Messages - High and Outside

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There are two outfits currently making the type of heads we need for audio.

AM Belgium is a pretty large company, with most of their business in data, credit card scanners and other fields. But they do make--and have made for years--audio heads.

Flux Magnetics in California make very high quality audio heads, and audio heads are their only business.

Good luck with your new machine.

General Discussion / Re: Cello Palette
« on: April 13, 2018, 10:31:57 AM »
This is a forum dedicated to reel to reel tape. It might not be the best place to look for help on two pieces of gear that aren't involved in tape playback.

In case you haven't contacted them already, you might get some help from Mark Levinson's current company: Daniel Hertz S.A. in Switzerland.

General Discussion / Re: Full track playback with two track heads
« on: April 13, 2018, 10:26:53 AM »

One other thing happens, which is generally considered a downside but someone might prefer it in some circumstances.

Whenever you play back a wide track recording on a narrower band playback head it is subject to a phenomenon called "fringing." The effect is to raise the low frequency content several dB above the balance that was recorded.

What happens is that the recorded portion that lies outside the track width of the playback head adds its low frequency content to the part that is picked up normally. It's like pushing the Loudness button, except that you can't turn it off if you don't like the effect.

Doc & Merle Watson / Re: Listening Impressions-Doc & Merle Watson
« on: April 13, 2018, 10:16:03 AM »
Here you go:

Reel One

1.  Wabash Cannonball             
2.  Leather Britches               
3.  A Rovin' On A Winter's Night     
4.  Tennessee Stud               
5.  Black Mountain Rag       
6.  St. James Infirmary             
7.  Love Me                       
8.  Blue Suede Shoes             
9.  Sweet Georgia Brown       
10.  Lonesome Moan                 
11.  Clouds Gwine Roll Away   

Reel Two
1.  Three Times Seven             
2.  Peach Pickin' Time In Georgia     
3.  Poor Boy Blues               
4.  Nancy Rowland/Salt Creek       
5.  Alberta                       
6.  Movin' On                     
7.  Smoke Smoke Smoke             
8.  Walk On Boy                   
9.  Nothin' To It                 
10.  Blue Railroad Train           
11.  Brown's Ferry Blues           
12.  Beaumont Rag     

« on: March 07, 2018, 01:19:11 PM »
And here's part two:

These are the instructions for using the test tape published by The Tape Project. The process is similar to what you would do with an alignment tape from a standards lab, but with one or two differences.
We have included two signals on the test tape which allow you to confirm the correct polarity of your system.

All musical sounds (except some synthesized sounds) are asymmetrical to some degree. Assuming that the recording has been made in a way that preserves all sounds in the same polarity, and assuming that the release format presents them in the correct polarity, you will be able to be sure that they are being reproduced in your listening room at the same polarity with which the sounds were originally produced. (Both of the above assumptions are correctly realized sometimes, and sometimes not.)

The first polarity signal is a tone of approximately 1Khz which has had the bottom of the waveform clipped, while the top of the waveform is intact. Displayed on an oscilloscope the difference is obvious. Check the signal at different points as the signal flows through your chain and you will easily see each reversal of polarity. (If you listen to this tone you may think it sounds distorted. It IS distorted: half of the waveform has been severely clipped.)

If you want to be sure of getting correct polarity all the way through to your speaker output, you are better off getting a popper and using the second signal on the tape. But in the absence of a popper, here is the best you can do with this tone and a 'scope: If you get to the point where your amp connects to the speaker and the tone is IN polarity, then the speaker output should be IN polarity if it is wired correctly. If you see the tone at this point OUT of polarity, reverse the connections to both speakers.

For some years polarity test sets have been made which consist of two parts: a "pop" generator, and a receiver. These are commonly called "Polarity poppers" (or by people who don't value precision in their technical communications, "Phase poppers"). Our second polarity signal on the tape is merely the recorded output of one of these pop generators. Assuming you have one of these polarity test sets (highly recommended, very very useful and only about a hundred bucks) you can just play this portion of the tape and measure the output of the speakers. The number of polarity reversals through the chain is immaterial. When it comes out of the speakers, either it's IN polarity or you reverse the connections at both speaker terminals.

It's really just as straightforward as it seems, except for one thing: measuring the polarity of loudspeakers is fraught with hidden traps. It is beyond the scope of this paper to do an exhaustive review of the technique of using this instrument, but we'll give you two valuable pointers. First hint: hold the receiver in front of one driver, say the midrange driver. Your reading may be unequivocal, or it may bounce back and forth between positive and negative. If it doesn't give you a steady reading, try different positions until you find one that does. Then check the woofer and the tweeter. Again you may have to look for a position that gives you a steady reading. You might expect that all the drivers will give you the same reading, either positive or negative. Your expectations might be confirmed, or you may be in for a rude shock. Some speaker/crossover designs reverse polarity at each crossover point. If you find this to be the case with your speakers, you're on your own as far as deciding which polarity to settle on for the system.

Following these procedures will assure that you are getting the correct polarity when listening to tapes from The Tape Project. But what about your other sources? The first thing to do would be to check the polarity from your other line inputs using both halves of your test set: plug the pop generator into each line input in turn and check it downstream with the receiver. If they are all the same as the reading you got from the tape, that's a good first step. It doesn't guarantee that the components you plug into those inputs follow the polarity conventions, but you can hope.

Wind the tape back to the beginning and hit play. ALWAYS store your test tape (in fact any important tape) flatwound at play speed. This assures that the tension is even within the pack, and that edges are smooth, which will prevent edge damage.

« on: March 07, 2018, 01:15:27 PM »
The first newsletter linked above is no longer available online (so if you have one, put it up on eBay for big bucks! Vintage! Extremely Rare!!)

So I am posting the text of it here, slightly edited:

These are the instructions for using the test tape published by The Tape Project. The process is similar to what you would do with an alignment tape from a standards lab, but with one or two differences.

Before you begin, the tape machine must be in good mechanical condition. You can never achieve proper playback unless the tape path is working as it was designed, without excessive wear of any parts, including the heads. Additionally everything must be scrupulously clean.

The tape contains tones for setting levels, the EQ curve and azimuth. The levels and EQ are electrical adjustments. Azimuth is a physical adjustment of the relationship between the playback head and the tape. The test tape also has two sections for checking polarity.

You will need meters for doing the basic setup of level and EQ. An oscilloscope is highly recommended for adjusting azimuth, and necessary for using the polarity tone. A popper is necessary to take advantage of the polarity pops. This will be explained in Part 2, the polarity section of these instructions. If your tape machine has VU meters these may be accurate enough for the level and EQ adjustments. If not, you will have to use an external meter.

In most parts of the procedure, it is important that the steps be done in a certain order, as each adjustment builds on one which came before it. So please pay close attention to the sequence of the steps and perform them in the order described. A few of the adjustments interact with others, so occasionally you will be directed to back up and repeat a few steps.

Consult the manual for your machine, and make sure you know where the adjustment points are for level, high frequency EQ, low frequency EQ, and azimuth.

Now, with the preliminaries out of the way, let's begin.

Your test tape is supplied tails out, so please place it on the takeup side of the machine, which is generally on the right. Thread it as required for your machine and rewind it to the beginning. Play the first tone, which is 1Khz. Adjust the output level control to "0" VU or any other convenient reading on your meter.

The second tone is 10Khz. Play it and adjust the high frequency equalizer to the same level you previously set at 1Khz. (This is an example of the order of adjustments being significant. You are setting the HF EQ in relation to the level you set at 1Khz, so obviously the 1Khz must be set first. The same is true when you set the Low Frequency EQ.)

Now it's time to check azimuth. Ideally you will have the two channels feeding an oscilloscope in X-Y mode. Play the 15Khz tone and adjust the azimuth for the highest and steadiest reading on the two VU meters. Be careful—you should not have to move the adjustment very far. If it seems that you have to move it quite a ways, or if the optimum is hard to find, stop and figure out why. Enlist the aid of a technician if necessary. You don't want to get so far out of adjustment that you wind up on one of the false peaks. Then looking at the Lissajous pattern on the oscilloscope, fine adjust the azimuth until the pattern resembles a straight line.

Azimuth can affect the previous adjustments, so wind back to the beginning and repeat the 1KHZ and 10Khz tones, tweaking if necessary. While playing the 10Khz tone, check the Lissajous pattern on your scope. If all is well, it will look as good as the trace at 15Khz did. If it's way off, it is an indication that you got the azimuth onto a false peak (since the two tones are not harmonically related their false peaks won't be at the same place.)

We have provided three frequencies for adjusting the Low Frequency EQ. This is because there are always inconsistencies in the LF range, commonly known as head bumps. Having these three frequencies will allow you to find the best compromise for your machine. As a starting point play the second LF tone, 60 Hz, and set the LF adjustment for the same level you previously set at 1Khz. Then play all three LF tones, noting their readings. If it suggests you may be able to get it flatter overall, try trimming it again, and check the readings of all three tones. Continue until you are satisfied that you have the flattest LF response that you can achieve with this machine.

This completes the alignment for frequency response and azimuth. If you are not going to be checking polarity at this time, wind the tape back to the beginning and hit play. ALWAYS store your test tape (in fact any important tape) flatwound at play speed. This assures that the tension is even within the pack, and that edges are smooth, which will prevent edge damage.

Part 2 will appear in the next issue, and cover the use of the polarity pops included on the Tape Project Alignment Tape.

Tape Project Albums - general / Re: TP-029 Istomin/Mozart back in stock
« on: February 11, 2018, 05:16:26 PM »
Aaaand they're back!

Tape Project Albums - general / TP-030 now in stock
« on: February 05, 2018, 07:27:57 PM »
Doc & Merle Watson--Never The Same Way Once

You'll find it on the website in the Roots category.

Doc & Merle Watson / Re: Listening Impressions-Doc & Merle Watson
« on: February 05, 2018, 07:26:31 PM »
The album has been shipped to all charter subscribers, and is now in stock. You way order it from the website.

Now that we have shipped TP-030, Doc Watson, to all charter subscribers, the Series model and the Subscription model are no more.

What does this mean going forward? For most of us, it means absolutely nothing. For the last several years most customers have been purchasing without any reference to the Series, and that will continue to be the case. We'll try to have everything in stock, and you buy what you want. Simple, really.

We feel a special gratitude to our Charter Subscribers, and we have a couple of things in mind for them. We'll be reaching out to this select group directly to explain, rather than discuss it here. But one thing I will state here: Charter Subscribers will be able to get future purchases with the serial number to match their existing albums.

Tape Project Albums - general / Re: TP-030 Doc Watson now being duped
« on: November 10, 2017, 07:09:33 PM »
TP-030 has now been shipped to all Charter Subscribers.

TP-030 will have an order page up on the website shortly, but it will show "Out Of Stock" for a couple of weeks. Please use the Notification feature on the order page so you will be the first to hear when we have them available.

We have plenty more duplicated, but we are now waiting for more flanges. The outfit making our flanges is slow right now. Because of Hurricane Irma. Yeah...that's the ticket. It's because of the hurricane.

This affects all those other titles that currently show "Out Of Stock" too. We have them all duped, just waiting on flanges, and the time to engrave the flanges and assemble the albums. Those will start to show up back in inventory right after TP-030 does.

Tape Project Albums - general / Re: Series Three Updates?
« on: November 10, 2017, 07:01:54 PM »
Series Three is now complete, in the sense that TP-030 has been shipped to all Charter Subscribers.

The ramifications of this deserve a new thread, so I'm starting one.

Tape Project Albums - general / Re: TP-030 Doc Watson now being shipped
« on: November 01, 2017, 08:32:55 PM »
OK, they are being packed up and shipped. They will be on the way to all charter subscribers over the next few days, then a page will appear on the website so others may purchase.

Doc & Merle Watson / Listening Impressions-Doc & Merle Watson
« on: November 01, 2017, 08:30:08 PM »
Doc & Merle Watson, live at The Boarding House, San Francisco, May 2, 1974.

Share your impressions. And your recollections, if you happened to be at the show.

Tape Project Albums - general / Re: TP-030 Doc Watson now being duped
« on: October 04, 2017, 10:26:32 PM »
Sure. It's Thursday May 2, 1974.

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