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Messages - High and Outside

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Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Re: Technics RS-1520 on e-bay...
« on: February 14, 2007, 10:11:27 PM »
The seller actually had two of them on eBay. They looked well-worn from the pictures, but as Doc has said, we just assume they're thoroughly used, and that we'll bring them up to spec in our refurb process.

Our friend Motorbruce nabbed the first one, and I got the second. As always, we'll see just what condition it's in when it arrives.

General Discussion / Re: Colour-coding leaders...
« on: February 12, 2007, 04:07:08 AM »
I guess I didn't express myself well. My comment had nothing to do with either leader tape or splicing tape.

When putting a tape away for storage, it is customary to tape down the free end so it doesn't unravel in storage and create a big mess the next time you pull the tape out. It doesn't matter whether there is leader on the end, or it's just the end of the tape. It's just good practice to tape it down so it doesn't unravel. It can be taped down with just about anything: masking tape, scotch tape, gaffer's tape. But in every commercial studio I've ever been in, there has been a supply of tape, usually artist's paper tape, in a quarter inch width, just for this purpose. And generally in two colors: red and blue. As I said earlier, the blue is used to signify that the tape is tails out, and the red is used to signify that it's heads out.

One studio I worked at, The Automatt, even had short lengths of tape ready-made for this purpose, with their logo pre-printed on them. Since it was assumed that all the tapes would be stored tails-out, they only made these in blue.

General Discussion / Re: Colour-coding leaders...
« on: February 10, 2007, 03:24:20 PM »
Yes, there is an industry standard for indicating head or tail of a reel...but it doesn't have to do with the leader itself. The indicator is the little piece of adhesive tape that is used to hold down the free end of the tape. If it's blue, the tape is tails out. If it's red, the tape is heads out. I have no idea where this originated, but it has been widely observed for a long time.

Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Re: Technics RS1500 head rewiring
« on: February 06, 2007, 12:42:34 AM »
Hello Ketchup,

Welcome to the forum. Before answering, I'd like to call your attention to our groundrules. We ask that all participants in the forum use their real names. Please either add your real name to your profile or sign your posts.

Now, regarding your heads: These machines were made in two versions: one with half-track record and play plus an additional quarter-track repro, the other with quarter-track record and play plus an additional half-track repro.

Your visual description of your heads seems accurate. If the half-track head comes first and your quarter track head comes last, that indicates that you have a quarter-track recorder-reproducer with the additional half-track repro head. Does the record head (that's the one that's third in line, the one right after the reversing idler) look like a quarter-track head? And look at the head switch...does the label "2-tr" appear on the left or the right side of the switch? If it's on the left, that further confirms that you have a quarter-track headstack. Let's determine that first, then we can figure out the wiring.

BTW the color code that Doc posted corresponds to what my manual shows for a half-track machine. It doesn't show the wiring of a quarter-track headstack.

General Discussion / Re: Non-vinyl audio sources for RTR
« on: January 27, 2007, 12:19:03 AM »
There is a long tradition of home r2r enthusiasts recording live broadcasts from FM radio. Some cities had high quality FM broadcasts live from the concert hall or ballroom, or occasionally from a recording studio. Sorry, I don't know of any currently being broadcast in the SF Bay Area. KCSM does have a show on Suday evenings called Sunday Night Suites that broadcasts location recordings of jazz made specifically for that show. They're good, but they are still recordings, not direct live feeds.

Service Resources / Re: JRF Magnetic Sciences!
« on: January 23, 2007, 11:26:10 PM »
JRF is absolutely one of the blue chip companies in this field.

Tape Tech / Re: Hey Paul, any plans on another bias clinic
« on: January 21, 2007, 10:25:50 PM »
Hi Steve,

ATR Service did indeed host a day-long seminar at our place the day after the AES convention closed last October. They covered machine alignment in depth. The target audience was studio engineers who use analog tape machines, not necessarily maintenance techs.

They do these clinics from time to time in various parts of the country. There is not any plan currently to do another one in San Francisco, but if the AES brings the convention back to SF in 2008 it's a very good bet that it'll happen again.

Suggestion Box / Re: Test tones on ALL tape releases??
« on: January 20, 2007, 09:13:54 PM »
Here's a question - do your masters you plan on using have these test tones?  A number of the masters I have do.  If your's don't, how do you know if the machine they were recorded on was in fact in calibration that day?  Once the tones are on the tape with the original material they are ALWAYS there "thru thick and thin" - even if the subsequent playback/recording (dubbing) chain is in fact slightly?? out of EQ.   


The tapes that we use as a starting point are the original session tapes. Generally they have tones included. I believe that it's a good policy to record project tones at the start of any recording or mix project...that's the way I was trained and that's the way I've been doing it for over thirty years. And yes, I agree with you that these tones should always stay with the tapes. This may not be obvious to some readers, but for me it's second nature now. When I start a recording project on tape, I align the machine using a standard test tape (I have many from MRL, STL and even Ampex). Then once the record side is aligned, I print a set of tones that stay with the tapes. I started doing this way back in my first studio, but I really had it drilled into me during the years I worked for Columbia Records. Some years back SPARS, the Society of Professional Audio Recording Services, standardised the tones to be used: 1K, 10K, 15K, 100, and 50 Hz. This is fine with me, and that's what I generally use. The two HF tones give you both a reference for frequency response and a pair of tones for azimuth that are not harmonically related (long story for another day). The two low frequency tones give you a fighting chance of understanding what's going on with  the head bumps.

Anyway, this is about the original tapes. I'm feeling  the pull to start telling some of the many tales about what we have actually found on tapes coming in...but that's a whole 'nuther thread. When I get a chance I'll start a "War Stories" thread in the Tape Tech part of this forum.

Suggestion Box / Re: Test tones on ALL tape releases??
« on: January 17, 2007, 11:59:09 PM »
This is a good point. Maybe even more than you, we are very interested in seeing all our customers get the most out of these tapes. And we agree that the machine must be set up properly if that's going to happen.

We have been discussing various ways to ensure that. It may or may not involve a set of tones on each album. After I have just had those waves of glorious sound washing over me, about the last wakeup call I want is a 1K tone at zero level coming out of my speakers.

But it will happen in some form. Right now we are leaning toward supplying each charter subscriber with an MRL test tape, and hooking him/her up with a qualified studio tech in his/her area to confirm the machine's performance in situ. Once that's done, I don't think the machines should drift. Regular cleaning and maybe a annual checkup should take care of it.

Paul Stubblebine

Suggestion Box / Thanks for the suggestions-keep 'em coming
« on: January 16, 2007, 07:13:40 PM »
I love getting turned on to new music, and I look forward to getting some good leads from y'all.

You may not see much action on them right can be a long term process. But rest assured, we take them all seriously.

Paul Stubblebine

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