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General Discussion / RIP Dale Manquen
« on: January 17, 2017, 05:30:44 PM »
Even though I never met Dale, I learned much about tape and recorders from his generous postings on the tape related lists.
If you've never visited his site, do yourself a favor and check it out.
A sad day for all of Tape-dom.

Raw Tape / Capture Tape
« on: May 24, 2016, 12:38:15 PM »
There's going to be a new tape available in June 2016.
From what I can tell, it is being produced by Pyral in France (parent company to Mulaan Industries who are currently manufacturing RMGI which is now called "Recording the Masters").
So, here's the linky to everything I know:

note the "spec's" link

General Discussion / Software Dolby/DBX decoder
« on: August 07, 2015, 10:19:05 PM »
Just got word that someone has finally modeled some pristine encoder/decoders and released it as part of a tape emulation plug-in.
Sure, this may be something that analog mavens will put their nose up at, but if it's as good as some folks are saying, it could leave empty rack spaces in studios that do tape transfers for a living.

The plug-in is from u-he and it's called Satin. Here's the link;

There's a free demo (which I'll jump on as soon as I get time) and give you my thoughts on it.
There's beginning to be plenty of discussion on the archivist's forums and I first took notice when Richard Hess (who I greatly respect) posted about what a great job Satin did in his early tests.

"So, what have I tested?

My best test so far was done using my own recording of "A Concert in Memory of Benjamin Britten" recorded live at St. Thomas Church December 4, 1977. It is something I own the rights to, though a re-release would still require mechanicals to Boosey and Hawkes. I still have the original master tape, as well as an "up-in-the-air"--no Dolby decode/encode--safety copy which is fortunate for the first bar of the first cut on side 3 which had 3M leader pull out the mag coat on the first turn of the master.

For this recording, I have compared three different versions:

An August 2015 playback on an A80RC with both
(1) The U-He Satin decoder AND
(2) The Dolby M-frame with Cat-22 cards
(3) A 2005 playback on an APR-5000 with two 361 frames with two different Cat-22 cards.

There is Dolby tone on the tape and everything was carefully calibrated.

(2) and (3) sound similar with (3) sounding slightly more open

(1) sounds a lot better.

The private correspondent asks "is it accurate?"

Tom asks "properly working" regarding the Cat-22s.

These are hard to answer. My son (one year away from his BMus degree), my friend Don Ososke (who, among other things worked for Wally Heider and Ampex), and I all agree that the U-He is the most euphonic transfer of the Britten tape which Don has thought is one of the "crown jewels" of my recording career. Leaving St. Thomas and Dr. Gerre Hancock was the most difficult part of my 1981 departure from NYC.

The one thing that the U-He does properly is track level changes. With BOTH pairs of Cat-22 cards, certain sounds which are at different levels appear "darker" and "less open" at lower levels than with the U-He Satin. The U-He allows the tonality of the music to remain constant as it gets quieter, rather than turning muddier.

Lest you say that the recording Cat-22s were mis-adjusted, I did another test--that started this, actually, using a client tape that could have sounded better no matter how we decoded the noise reduction. In fact, it was Don's insistence that we use better source material to evaluate this which brought me to re-doing the three reels of St. Thomas masters that I own (the third being Organs of NY Vol I) which is coming through stunningly as I type.

Calibrating Dolby cards is not an easy matter. The tester only tests static levels. There are dynamics which are set by capacitors which might be aging. The fact that the 2005 transfer sounded a bit better than the 2015 one--with the Dolby decode--is a hint in that direction. The master tape does not appear to have lost much as the sounds of these three reels still impress (at least me) after 38 years. (OMG, it's been THAT long? I just turned 26 when I made this recording. Wow, how time flies!)

Just checking via a loud piece--there is no change in tonality between the U-He and the M-rack/Cat-22. All the difference occurs on the quiet parts, but I hear no pumping on either path.

This is all so very, very weird.

The first choir recording that started this digging-into-it quest, I just found out, was recorded in two different sessions: orchestra and choir with only the conductor wearing headphones listening to the orchestra. Joy! We listened to an LP and it was darker sounding than the M-Rack decode. The conductor liked the U-He version.

I'm open to thoughts/discussion.

Once I finish the choir tapes (I've got six and have done three) I'll move on to the dbx err uhx I decoder!



So, if you have the need of a decoder for digital transfer, give it a try.

General Discussion / End of Otari 5050
« on: June 07, 2015, 05:24:40 PM »
Here's a copy of an email from AheadTek who is the US distributor for Otari.
So, if you want a brand spankin new 5050, this is probably your last chance.

"Production of the MX5050 has stopped with the last units received at AheadTeK earlier this year.   AheadTeK has stock of 6 pcs here in San Jose.   At this point, the availability of future units will require at a minimum the re-layout of boards to changeover from thru-hole components to surface mount.  Unfortunately, it appears that Otari will NOT undertake this task.  The units in our stock are configured as 2-Channel, 2-Track record and play capable along with the "-P" option, a 2-Channel, 4-Track play head.  We took this approach as most of our customers have large libraries containing both 2-Track & 4-Track recordings and they are most interested in play back only for the purpose of transferring content from analog to digital.  The unit price is USD $8300.00 each and includes freight within North America.  The product warranty is for a period of one-year. Spares will be available for some time to come."

Afro/American Sketches / First Impressions
« on: May 08, 2015, 01:08:17 PM »
I got the time to give the Oliver Nelson tape a listen last night and absolutely love it.

I've really come to appreciate the jazz orchestra and the compositions written for in the last few years. I guess hearing a lot of this kind of music live at the jazz festivals I attend is responsible for that.
Another thing that I've really come to appreciate is the way that great analog helps make listening into a more engaging experience. I just can't help but get lost in what the musicians and composer are communicating to me.
This tape really exemplifies that.
It's so easy to get inside of Oliver Nelson's head and share his feelings and thoughts that it just seems like it should be the natural thing to do when listening to music (if only that was true!).
After listening I thought about how different the overall sound of great recordings from the 60's are from more recent ones. There's a real "vibe" happening throughout this recording that makes others seem sterile and "produced" in comparison.
Fantastic choice guys!

General Discussion / Talk About Rare!
« on: March 31, 2015, 03:28:26 AM »
Here's a tape media I'd never even heard of.
And that's before we even discuss what's contained on them!

Here's a site about these;

And the machine built to play them;

General Discussion / Info Regarding RMGI/Pyral
« on: March 14, 2015, 01:19:42 PM »
In case any of you guys were wondering what was up with RMGI lately, here's a email that Jay McKnight posted to the Ampex list this week.
It comes from the US distributor of RMGI/Pyral.

Hello Analog Magnetic Tape Recordists,

As you may or may not have heard, there are some changes at the analog
tape maker RMG. Since there are only two analog tape makers, and our
businesses depend on their continued existence, I had asked "Can you
give us some accurate information to distribute", and here it is:

"March 11, 2015

"Dear RMGI Customer,

"I want to bring you up to date on the new situation regarding our
production in France of analog recording

"As you know, in 2011 the RMGI factory in the Netherlands was purchased by
Pyral and move to their
new facility in France. Pyral had invested over $2,000,000 in a new building
to house the coating and
production lines. There was also over a one year supply of tape moved to
Pyral to meet the market
demands while the coating and production were being re-assembled in France.

"After numerous cost overruns that had not been anticipated such as the
installation of a new solvent
recovery system with a cost of over $250,000, Pyral has operated under
Chapter 11 protection in 2013-

"In January of this year the court ordered that Pyral assets to be sold to
Mulann Industries. Mulann
Industries is a manufacturer of production and testing equipment for the
credit card, ticketing and smart
card industries.

"On March 4th I meet with the new owner of Pyral and his Sales
Director in Chicago. He has assured me the continued production of
Analog Recording tape. Mulann Industries, with a new management team
is committed to improved delivery time and size carefully the
inventory at the factory. Effective immediately, Mulann Industries
will deliver only tape with the Pyral Brand.

"RMGI Americas will continue to be the distributor for the Pyral Analog
Recording Studio Recording

"Thank you for your continued support of RMGI\Pyral Studio Tape. If you have
any questions, don't
hesitate to contact me.

"Don Morris
"RMGI Americas

"Phone 847-812-5727
"[email protected]"

General Discussion / New Posts Not Indicated
« on: January 30, 2015, 01:02:54 PM »
I'm not sure if it's just me, but there used to be an indication that an unread/new post exists.
It was IIRC, shown with the category when viewing the Index.

Also, when I click on the "Show Unread Posts" I get nothing.
So, the only way for me to find new posts is to open every categories page where I can see the New indicator.

General Discussion / Wow!
« on: January 09, 2015, 01:30:25 PM »
Doing my daily fly-by and it was like I stepped into the 21st Century!
Very sharp looking and modern.
Thanks to the folks who made it happen.

General Discussion / Paul Stubblebine Interview
« on: January 03, 2015, 02:42:12 PM »
If you haven't been keeping an eye on the progress of the Museum of Magnetic Recording, be sure and check out that exciting thread;

In the latest update from Martin (thanks) there's a fantastic interview with Paul where he discusses his career in the recording arts.
Not to be missed!

General Discussion / MOVED: Dead Capstan on A810
« on: December 27, 2014, 01:52:41 PM »
This topic has been moved to reel to reel tape machines.

Hooker 'n' Heat / Hooker 'n' Heat First Impressions
« on: December 05, 2014, 04:43:15 PM »
Back in the 70's my friends always had a stack of "in heavy rotation" records propped up against a speaker/stereo cabinet etc..
There was always a copy of Electric Ladyland, the Beatles White Album, Volunteers (jefferon airplane), Hot Tuna and Hooker 'n' Heat in that pile.
I'll admit that those first 5 still grace my turntable once every couple of years but until I put this tape on my Technics, it had been freakin forever since I'd even heard so much as a single cut!

Wow! It was like I'd never heard it before.
This is one of those "you are there" recordings and I seriously doubt that I'd ever heard it on a decent system till now or I woulda remembered.
If you're looking for one of those sterile audiophile recordings where everything is "just so", look elsewhere.
But if you revel in the sounds and feel of some folks who've got talent oozing out of every pore doing the highest level of artistic communication before your very ears, you can't do much better than this.
I can't speak for listeners who've never been personally involved with musical creation, but for those who have, this is very exciting stuff!
Thanks guys, this ones killer!

General Discussion / 16 Ton Studio & Ampex 401
« on: November 03, 2014, 03:29:50 AM »
Here's a great article of the open house at the restored 16 Ton Studio in Nashville.
Aside from the Ampex and Scully recorders, there seems to be plenty of other drool worthy gear.

General Discussion / Birth of the 3M M56
« on: August 05, 2014, 11:47:59 PM »
I worry sometimes that there's some bit of info that would prove critical to answering the "Meaning of Life" and the last guy that knows it is 95 and about to visit Kaiser for his yearly check up (maybe it would be more PC to say the VA hospital now days).
Luckily, there still are enough of the guys who developed the legendary tape machines walking around to tell the tale of what really happened.
Here's a great article from Wally Heider's web site, written by Dale Manquen about the M56.

And if you've never been to the site, it's just plain awesome!

Events / California Audio Show tape demos
« on: August 02, 2014, 03:26:25 PM »

Just like last year, I've been hired by a high end headphone amp company to demo his amps using my tape rig and Tape Project tapes.
The company is Headamp located in Va and their electrostatic headphone amp is considered by many to be at the top of the heap for amps of that type.

I'll be exhibiting in a dedicated headphone/vinyl sales room called "HeadMasters" which is conveniently located directly behind the show attendees registration desk. HeadMasters is a large room with multiple vendors, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that I'll be the only one with a Technics RS1500/Bottlehead Repro being used as a source.

I'll be there Friday-Sunday and hope to see some of your smiling faces!
I haven't heard, but I would imagine there will be other rooms rolling tape.

BTW, if there is a particular tape from the Tape Project catalog that you're dying to hear, shoot me a PM letting me know which tape and what day you're going to attend. I'll do my best to remember to bring it (by Sunday my brain will be squishier than usual!).

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