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Topics - steveidosound

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Suggestion Box / Tape Project Christmas Album ?
« on: January 09, 2015, 06:58:18 PM »
I hope everyone had a good holiday season and thanks for the New Years surprise beautiful new website look!

Was listening to a variety of music again throughout the season on (mostly) vinyl and pondered whether Tape Project had ever considered releasing either a Christmas album or a licensed Christmas / holiday compilation of various classic tracks.
In fact so little new music has come along of any note in the past couple of decades, that I doubt if there would be any trouble finding analog masters, unless they have all been trashed.

For a complete album, a couple of thoughts come to mind, one being either of the first two Fresh Aire / Mannheim Steamroller albums which are creatively produced and well recorded, if a bit kitsch, Christmas confections. Don't know how "open" their catalog is to you. Back in earlier audiophile days their Fresh Aire III was all the rage. Their "magic" is using pretty much every style of instrumental combo available in nice sounding ways, from whatever synth technology was current at the time to Baroque style instrumentation, to full symphonic presence, back to solo guitar or toy piano.

Another candidate from a closely associated label might be "Star of Wonder" from Reference Recordings.
Goes without saying that that option is a wonderful recording technically and musically.
...Argh! Alas, I just looked at my CD copy and it is not quite old enough to be from Keith's magical analog source recorder.
Says Nakamichi DMP-100 Digital Encoder whatever that was. Now I will have to look it up. Perhaps a back-up analog master exists? :-)

Prerecorded Tapes / Beatles pre-records
« on: February 09, 2014, 05:24:16 PM »
Kind of surprised this didn't come up.
Since it's Beatlemainia anniversary weekend I thought I would bring it up.
Any people have liked or thought were worth seeking?
Can't claim to own any now. Had the Capitol Magical Mystery Tour from
High School days till the early 90s. I think it was 3 3/4.
Do not recall the sound as being particularly bad
nor good with respect to its equivalent vinyl copy.
At least it was better than the very early cassette of Abbey Road
I also had from when the album was new.
I do wish I still had both today.

General Discussion / More History
« on: January 05, 2014, 03:03:25 PM »
Nowhere near as old as the previous post, but I found this cool little old Audio Devices (Audiotape) branded head demagnetizer in a junk box @ WeirdStuff electronics surplus yesterday.
Shown with it's listing in my 1963 Allied Radio catalog, at that point it was $5.88. Can't say how long it had been in production by that point, but it looks old.
In the same listing a 2,500', 10.5" reel of their normal tape was $7.12
A bit more research found it as far back as '59, but not in my 1951 Radio Master catalog. At that point they were mostly selling cutting styli and lacquer discs, though there were listings for acetate and paper base tape.

If you are brave enough to wade through this 10 minutes of philosophical claptrap and at least skim through the 133 comments, you will better understand what is up with the music industry today. Not that they actually have a good explanation, but it will become evident. :-)

My bottom line 2 cents -
Humans love free music and distortion. :-)
...and drugs, (see YouTube comments)

General Discussion / Silly Friday Format Trivia
« on: April 12, 2013, 12:43:01 PM »
I don't have a definitive answer to this, but I started wondering if there was ever a song or album in simultaneous release, somewhere in the late 50s on pre-recorded R2R tape and in all 3 speeds of records. Most likely something from the RCA catalog.
78s didn't stop being released till about the same year as stereo Lps began to be released, and of course 2 track pre-recorded tapes had been out for a few years prior to that. Not sure if there was any overlap between the very last 78 releases and RCA's failed early "sound cartridge" giant cassettes.

Another, easier semi-related question might be what albums have been released in the most formats, from an actual album of 78 records, 45s, Lps, through all the analog tape formats, Minidisc and on and on?

Reel to Reel Tape Machines / list of recorder brands past and present
« on: February 03, 2013, 05:21:25 PM »
In an effort to count and categorization my own collection, I have compiled a list of  brands of reel to reel tape machines. I took a couple of existing lists and combined them with what I found on eBay and know I have myself.
It is by no means exhaustive, but I would like to know if there are any glaring omissions or if any of the brands listed never put out a reel to reel under that brand. Many of the European names are not familiar to me, so I just left them in. And I am quite sure I do not have all of the obscure little Japanese brands that were offered in  the 60s.

The List -






    Allied Radio



    Amplifier Corp
    Amalgamated Wireless Australasia / AWA





    Scophony Baird

    Bang & Olufsen

    Bell (sound) / TRW

    Bell & Howell
    Bell Labs
    Boosey & Hawkes


    Brenell Engineering

    British Tape Recorder

    BRG (Budapesti R?di?technikai Gy?r)

    Brush Development


    Channel Master


    Clarke & Smith




    Concertone / Berlant


    Crown / (International)








    Elizabethan Electronics

    Emerson  / Telectro


    Ferguson Electronics



    Fidelity Radio







    General Electric






    International Tapetronics


    JC Penny (Penncrest)

    JVC / Japan Victor Corp / Nivico




    Lafayette Radio

    Leevers Rich








    Martel (Telmar)


    Mechanikai Laborat?rium



    Modernage (Bookcorder)












    Philips (Norelco)







    RadioShack / Realistic




    Revere Camera


    Roberts (Rheem / Califone) (Akai)






    Scotch / 3M


    Sears / Silvertone



















    Unitra ZRK

    Unitra Magmor


    UST (Ampex)


    Viking of Minneapolis (Division of Telex)
    VM / Voice of Music



    Wards / Airline

    Webster Chicago (Webcor)


    Wilcox Gay


    Wollensak / 3M



General Discussion / IS <-S T E R E O-> DEAD ?
« on: January 11, 2013, 04:55:08 PM »
I decided that this is important enough I would post it as a separate discussion topic.

I recently spent time in the electronics areas of some major retailers. In the old analog days as a kid, this was my favorite place to hang out ; either at dedicated consumer electronics stores or in that department at other stores
including Sears, J.C. Penny etc. etc.
Now I don't really even like going there that much any more.

But what I observed recently leads me to "ask the musical question" -

Is Stereo Dead?

I know, it sounds sort of odd asking that considering how many people you see walking around with earbuds, but other than that, I really wonder if stereophonic reproduction means much in todays music.
I see all sorts of bluetooth one piece wireless speakers and boomboxes and laptops and phones  with either only one speaker, or two located so close together that any possibility of channel separation and imaging seems pretty unlikely, let alone anyone leaving their head positioned in the one small area where you might get some stereo for a  long enough sustained period to hear something approaching stereo.
I think we are back to the days (or perhaps the average non-audiophile consumer never left them) where we equate stereo with just some sort of "better" (whatever _that_ means now days) sound.
Most, I think, would be hard pressed to give some sort of a reasonably cogent explanation of what stereophonic sound is technically or what it is supposed to do aesthetically.
Even in the area of home theater and "X.1 surround sound", we see people wanting the big movie sound experience to go with the flat panel TV  from some sort of "sound bar" box that sits beneath it, which may or may not make claims for any sound directionality, real or "simulated".
Even all those people walking around with earbuds or headphones on, do they know or care about any sound stage or image.
In the dark ages when I was young and slipped on my first pair of headphones, I hated mono sound seeming to come from the middle of my brain and was a little freaked out when I heard that panned gunshot in the Doors song "Unknown Soldier" blast through my head for the first time from left to right on one of my first stereo Lps.
Yes I knew about stereo, what it was, how it worked, and thought it was cool back then, but then I always was a geek.

 Heck, I also have always loved surround sound, from the old quadraphonic and time delay and "ambiance recovery" systems right on through all the digital surround formats we have today.

Does anyone (outside the audiophile community and those actually making music and recording) care today?

General Discussion / modern recording humor
« on: January 11, 2013, 01:02:21 PM »
A couple of humorous links to a drawing and a video regarding the state of modern recording. -

General Discussion / Google's Moog tribute
« on: May 23, 2012, 09:06:34 PM »
Quick before it goes away.
The Google logo for Robert Moog's birthday  works !
It is an adjustable monophonic synthesizer, coupled with a "4 track reel to reel" that will record you keyboard doodles !

Suggestion Box / Some "later" rock - The Cars 1st ?
« on: May 06, 2012, 11:05:45 PM »
What about The Cars self titled debut album?
Just listened to this through again. Great recording and songs IMHO.
The album is solid end to end. Almost all songs got some airplay back in the day (some still do) and it is almost certainly old enough to be an analog master. A classic of the "new wave" era. 
Police or Talking Heads could also be in the hunt for something from this era.
Short of getting Dark Side of the Moon or some other absolutely monster, post 60s rock album, any of this would be good and not represented in the Tape Project catalog as of yet.
What other ideas do people have that fit this mold?

Prerecorded Tapes / guidelines for purchase of used classical tapes
« on: April 06, 2012, 12:43:39 PM »
This is directed a bit more @ Larry and Steve, but others chime in as well.  Are there any resources other than looking on line for references to  reviews of the same recording on vinyl,  for information about both the performance and sound quality of older,  primarily classical,  pre-recorded tapes? I especially would be interested in finding out about some of the more obscure orchestras from the smaller  or early labels. The tapes of well known early stereo performances that also were on vinyl from major labels and orchestras are not so hard to find reviews of. If not the tape, then of the vinyl.
The only thing I remember seeing here before was a link to a list of early tapes with a letter grade of the sound quality.
There might be some real "gems" from obscure orchestras and labels. On the other hand, the major stuff is far more of a known quantity. Would like to avoid paying too much for a really poor recording / performance.

Tape Tech / miniature reels smaller than 3"
« on: April 01, 2012, 08:05:51 PM »
Does anybody have any idea where I can find reels with or without tape smaller than 3"?
I have a collection of small "pocket" recorders and a couple will not  take even the more or less standard 3" or 3 1/4" or 3 1/2" size.
IIRC there were 2 3/8", 2 1/2", 2 3/4", and possibly some other sizes that were pretty small as well. I'm not even sure if any of the sizes I mentioned were ever really "standard". I think the one recorder uses 2 1/2". They mate with standard turntable spindles but the hubs are small enough I don't think I could "turn down" the outer flange on a 3" and make it work. Perhaps, if it did not have holes very near the edge and a really small inner hub...

Tape Tech / 2 track stereo with 1/4 track heads
« on: March 23, 2012, 09:26:25 PM »
I have been wondering what is the nature of the loss of playing a 2 track stereo tape with a 1/4 track stereo head.
Some of my classic (ahem...relic) tape machines have a mechanical lever or switch that actually shifts the 1/4 track head downward to center it on  the tape rather than covering positions "1 & 3" as it normally would. This as opposed to an electrical switch for another head as some newer decks have. Aside from the wisdom of designing a mechanism that physically moves the head, pretending it all works correctly, how much is lost by playing 2 track tapes with the narrower gap head properly centered? I understand there must be some loss, but is it signal to noise? Frequency response should be OK IF the head is in alignment. I know it does not work so well to play one with  a 1/4 track head in it's normal position. I think that would lead to high frequency loss from not being centered on the track, even if azimuth is spot-on, but I am not sure of that.
Anybody ever do any critical evaluation of this?  I would think that those lucky enough to have 2 PB  heads with a switch could simply change it and hear what changes in the middle of playback.
When I change my 1/4 track head to the 2 track position, I hear a slight balance change and it gets a bit louder, but frequency response seems to be unaffected. 

Suggestion Box / Crazy end of year suggestion
« on: January 01, 2012, 01:36:56 AM »
OK, who else would be at home on this forum at 11PM New Years Eve?  I swear this is a perfectly sober suggestion - don't drink and never have.
I really have no right to even make suggestions being only a limited series one subscriber due to finances, but here goes anyway.
Between Paul and Prof. Keith J. I would like to suggest a new joint recording project between Reference Recordings and The Tape Project.
Record, in state of the art analog, direct to 2 track stereo tape via either Keith's and/or Paul's state of the art reel to reel,  _and_ direct to disc on the newly tweaked lathe, (and to high resolution digital as well), in a  good venue, with a good symphony,  the sonic spectacular of... wait for it... a compilation of Leroy Anderson's wonderful songs!
There have been a few of these compilations of his music done in the past, but not since the days of Living Presence and Living Stereo. Good as those are, time and even analog technology have marched on. 
I could scarcely think of a better "sonic shootout" than a prof. Johnson engineered recording of this very dynamic, but light and fun material, recorded in the ultimate analog disc vs tape vs state of the art digital formats and released in those formats as well through RR and the Tape Project.
I can only imagine how hard the logistics would be to pull this off, but I could  _not_  imagine anybody more qualified and with more combined experience at all of this to do it than a team headed by Keith and Paul !
OK, I promise, no more wacky ideas until 2012 :-)
Happy New Year Tape Project people!

Reel to Reel Tape Machines / early portable tape machines
« on: December 30, 2011, 03:28:10 PM »
Well, I know it's not HiFi, but I just broke down and bought one of the early portable machines that use a spring wound motor and a battery tube amp. I have wanted one of those for quite a while !

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