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Topics - kipdent

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General Discussion / Translucent leader tape
« on: August 13, 2011, 06:07:24 PM »
I have a Studer A80RC MK II whose light gate is set to stop the tape transport whenever it encounters clear, translucent or no tape. I really enjoy this feature as it prevents tape "slapping" on FF and RW and allows for accurate time indexing for songs on tape as the counter also does not count when such tape is sensed by the optical light sensor.

I used to source translucent white mylar leader tape from US Recording Media, but my last order contained an "updated" formulation that is completely opaque and, of course, prevents the A80 from operating as described above. Does anyone know another source I could try to get this type of leader tape?

Thanks in advance--


Service Resources / Praise for Athan
« on: June 26, 2010, 02:32:30 PM »

A few weeks ago one of the four tension rollers on my Studer A80 RC MK II started making a little noise during FF and rewind. I knew Athan Corp. offered replacement bearings and I thought of doing just the offending one myself, but I decided to use this event as an excuse to send in my capstan motor, too, for a complete rebuild. My machine's serial number apparently dates the unit to about 1982 and I thought it doubtful such a complete service had ever been done on it. With only about 2800 hours on the clock, age alone made me think it would be wise to get the bearings and seals replaced--plus, George sandblasts the capstan's shaft to look like new as part of the rebuild. So, about two weeks ago I packaged up both sets of tension rollers and the capstan motor and off they went to Athan.

Yesterday everything came back and boy am I one happy customer. The rollers and motor were just pristine, and the transport now seems silkier than ever. I am ecstatic with George's professional, quality work, and grateful such a resource exists. To me, this last little bit of tweaking has allowed me to feel I have traveled back to 1982 and picked up a brand new machine. To celebrate the completion of the project, I spooled up TP-016 and sat back for an evening of sonic bliss. What a fun hobby this is!

Here are some pictures of the work done by Athan. Check it out!

General Discussion / Fabric cover for Studer A80
« on: June 19, 2010, 12:39:53 PM »
Hello everyone--

I just finished a fun project to make a fabric cover for my Studer A80 RC MK II. Not being able to sew, I carefully measured the unit on its stand, bought some fabric, and asked a friend who is a capable sewing machine operator to make it for me. I was very happy with the result, but felt it needed one more thing to make it complete--a logo. So, I took a digital photograph of the silkscreened logo on the deck's faceplate, enlarged it, and then mirror-imaged it in Photoshop. I then printed it on a sheet of iron-on transfer paper for inkjet printers. Ironing it onto the cover was easy. You can see the final result on my Studer A80 web gallery. Scroll all the way to the last two images to view it:

I've also made the mirror image photograph available for anyone who would like to download it for themselves:

Have fun--


General Discussion / Interesting audio video
« on: February 03, 2010, 09:10:29 PM »
Many of you may have seen this, but I found the first 16 minutes particularly interesting. I still think the Tape Project tapes sound wonderful, though...



General Discussion / The Tape Project at CES
« on: January 10, 2010, 05:17:40 PM »
Hello everyone--

I've just returned from the 2010 CES in Las Vegas. It was a very fun show with a plethora of high-end audio delights on tap. However, as objectively as I can say this, the BEST sound at the show was ALWAYS coming from Tape Project tapes! Even better, several suites were demonstrating them to great effect. I love the trend!

Sadly I didn't run into any other Forum members, though I know some were there, like MikeL. I did run into both DocB and Paul Stubblebine, though, and was able to thank them again personally for enabling us all to enjoy such wonderful sounding music. One of the most amazing experiences was listening to a 1/2-inch TP tape in the Magico loudspeaker suite. I'm sore afraid of this as a potential "upgrade" to our beloved format--I can't go there! Make it stop!  :-)  Nonetheless, the continued bliss of this format has made me decide to even buy a single tape from Series One (Waltz for Debbie).

I wrote a little review of my experiences over on the Apogee Speaker Forum where I'm a member. In that post there is a link to some pictures I took, too. Enjoy!


Prerecorded Tapes / Belafonte at Carnegie Hall
« on: January 05, 2010, 04:21:02 PM »
My newly acquired Studer A80 RC MK II is bringing more smiles today--I'm playing the RCA Victor Belafonte At Carnegie Hall I scored in anticipation of getting my machine. Of course, my copy, FTO-6000, is a quarter-track version, so I had to transfer it to my 2-track A80 via a ReVox deck a friend owns. As a result, I was not expecting much.

Holy cow! Even this transfer has the sonic hallmarks of tape that I'm already addicted to: frightening dynamics, beautiful timbre, amazing resolution and most of all, SPACE! I have never attended a concert in Carnegie Hall so I can't place what row it feels I'm sitting in (as many reviewers do), but it is astonishingly real. The clapping from the audience is also staggeringly realistic. Finally, the amount of tape hiss I thought might be present by transferring the tape is quite unobjectionable and barely noticeable. I'm starting to wonder why I continue to invest in expensive 45 RPM vinyl releases!

This tape is far from the sonics of my Thelonius Monk Tape Project tape, but boy is this fun!


General Discussion / The Joy of the Tape Project
« on: January 01, 2010, 07:11:41 PM »
A very Happy New Year to everyone! 2010 stands to be a wonderful year for tape enthusiasts.

As a relatively new Forum member and recent selective subscriber to series 2, my level of excitement is almost unrestrained. The Thelonius Monk "Brilliant Corners" tape, the first one I've received, is by far the best sounding music I have ever heard on my system, and I can't thank Dan, Paul and Romo enough for enabling people to experience near-Master tape sound in their own homes. It is transformative! As a result, I wanted to share a little more about my journey into the Tape Project and the tape machine I acquired and had refurbished.

First I want to say that Steve Koto (ironbut) and Ki Choi have been amazingly patient and helpful throughout this journey--thank you both very much. There have been several other Forum members who have helped me, too, making this one of the most entertaining, educational, and helpful audio resources on the Internet. Dan--kudos to you for helping it stay civil and instructive. And thanks to all the people I met at Dan and Eileen's home this past September. It is the event that "made" the decision for me to pursue tape, and everyone there was very helpful. Now on to the story...

I know this is preaching to the choir (and I've posted this on another audio forum, too), but I have always been an unabashed fan of analog music reproduction, and have been known to get a little irascible towards those who either find digital good enough or even preferable to analog. Like many here, I suspect, the "best" analog reproduction meant vinyl phonographs. In my case, vinyl is played from a Micro Seiki RX-5000 turntable (coupled, of course, to other equipment I enjoy), and enters my listening space through a pair of personally-restored Apogee Acoustics Scintilla all-ribbon speakers. But then the event at Dan Schmalle's home happened, and my notions of what really good analog sounded like changed forever. As I said, when I left that day, I was certain I would become a subscriber to the Tape Project, and almost immediately I began my search for an appropriate tape machine.

After many weeks of detailed research, I finally chose a Studer A80 RC Mk II tape machine (though I can hear BrianC moan!). The man I purchased it from had recently acquired an Ampex ATR-102 and decided to part with the Studer, but before shipping it to me, he brought it to John French of JRF Magnetics in New Jersey. I'm sure many of you know John, and he was a joy to work with to refurbish the machine. He performed a number of restorative procedures for it, including relapping the heads, as well as replacing every capacitor in the audio chain, power supply and transport electronics with modern equivalents. Additionally, I had some esthetic items replaced with brand-new parts from Audiohouse in Switzerland. These included new transport control buttons and a cover for the LED tape counter. The results are a machine that looks quite new, as you'll see in my link below. Though the restoration process and anticipation of its arrival was fun, its playback performance is at the core of my excitement and, therefore, I can heartily endorse the A80 RC Mk II as a TP playback machine as well as John French's outstanding handiwork.

In December it all came together. "Brilliant Corners" arrived just two days before the machine did. After checking everything out, I set up the machine in my listening environment and loaded the album. I also spontaneously invited a few friends over to share in this first listening experience with the A80.

O M G?

I believe there are few things in life that truly stagger one's perceptions, especially ones closely tied to preconceptions like reproduced music. The music that flowed into the room from this tape had a "liveness" to it that was unprecedented in my experience, or to any of my friends who had joined me. As MikeL has said here and in other forums, really good 45 RPM vinyl pressings seem often hard to beat. But with TP 013 on the A80, never have I felt such a reaction to reproduced music--it was completely akin to a live concert, or sitting in a control room in a studio (which I have been able to do twice in my life). Rather than quickly exchanging adjectives about the sound with my friends (a pastime we're all familiar with), we all sat motionless and speechless. Finally, one of my friends extended his hand out to me to shake--implicitly signaling a hearty "congratulations" on what we were all hearing, without having to say a word. As the evening progressed, some attempts were made to describe this aural elation, including "amazing timbre," "transparency" and most frequently, references to a "spatial AMBIENCE" that was many times greater than anything we'd ever heard before, but words still fall short.

This complete transformation in what can be expected from a sound reproduction system is almost overwhelming to me. I had no idea that changing only the SOURCE could make such a difference--an order of magnitude difference. No amplifier, no preamplifier, no cable, not even a speaker change has EVER hit me like this change. And contrary to another intuition (or edict, depending on who you are), that a simplified signal chain must be the path to the holy grail, tape machines are not very simple devices--and few are tube-based. So something else is clearly happening. When I play a tape on the A80, I am fully transported into the musical experience before me. It's almost a foreign feeling since it is happening in a living room, but it's not entirely foreign since many of us experientially know what live, unamplified music can sound like.

I'm really quite surprised that this discovery--shared by many others around the world and especially on this Forum--has not not been yelled about from the mountaintops more frequently! It's not just an incremental improvement in sound, it is a monumental, awe-inspiring improvement!

Here is a link to a website that shows several pictures of the Studer A80 C Mk II machine I acquired. During my research, I was frustrated with the lack of images that showed how the machine was laid out, or how the tape shield worked, or how tape was loaded into the path, so I made an effort to be as revealing as possible with these images. I hope you enjoy perusing them. And I now get to include a tape machine as part of my signature line!

Happy New Year to all--

Kip Peterson

Images (clicking on thumbnails will enlarge the images):

Studer A80 RC Mk II

Apogee Acoustics Scintilla restoration

Micro Seiki RX-5000

General Discussion / 10 plastic reels on eBay
« on: October 25, 2009, 05:07:34 PM »
For those interested, I stumbled on this today:


Reel to Reel Tape Machines / NAB hub adapter question
« on: October 20, 2009, 09:34:33 PM »
As Ki knows from private conversations, I've wrestled with whether I should invest in sexy-looking metal aluminum NAB hubs when I finally get my R2R machine. Well, after flipping back and forth, I've decided to go for them, as silly and useless as they are. However, I have a question for the group:

There seem to be a vast spread in the cost of these things, with Darklab hubs costing up to $250 EACH all the way down to the "ebay" variety of about $125 a PAIR. Does anyone have experience with these different types of adapters or can anyone comment on whether the lower-priced variety are too good to be true, or do they work fine? Also, I've read here that some people have had issues with tape scraping their reels with some adapters, and "wobbly" reels with some adapters. Any recommendations on what to buy?



Tape Tech / On the fly EQ change questions
« on: September 07, 2009, 02:22:14 PM »
This is my first post, and I'm excited to be here! I'm getting very close to taking the plunge back into R2R. I can't remember when I've ciphered as much as I have recently, especially looking at all the subscription permutations to the Tape Project. Of course, the other huge variable in this equation is choosing a R2R machine that floats my boat and is TPP compatible, though I think I'm close (thanks to all the members who have been patient with me in private e-mails!).

There are some questions about machines, though, that I've been trying to figure out:  If aligning the audio section to a particular EQ curve is so important (and complicated, it appears, on some machines), why is a simple switch between CCIR and NAB even provided on some models? Does one really have to sit down with an alignment tape, do the test tones and maybe fiddle with azimuth of the heads after simply flipping a switch from NAB to CCIR? I'm really wondering if it is more likely people with machines that have this facility just flip this switch and listen to their respective tapes recorded in either NAB or CCIR and don't worry about realigning the audio section each time--in fact, I wonder if the manufacturers of machines with this feature assumed that's what their customers would do? I'm guessing recording studios, when faced with doing this, methodically went through an audio realignment each time (and probably did so each session whether EQ was ever changed or not!). I just wonder how important this work is to hobbyists and what members with machines that have this feature actually do when they use this switch.


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