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Messages - steveidosound

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My question would be, is there any merit in going to a lower quality option than the Tape Project standard?

 The biggest base of existing recorders out there take 7" reels and are 1/4 track stereo @ 7 1/2 ips.
While there is no doubt you could produce very good quality product with that standard, is it better than modern, carefully made vinyl? In the days when both were on the market they cheapened tape by going to higher duplication rates and then to the 3 3/4 speed. At the same time vinyl disc mastering was getting better and better. At some point, generally speaking, records became better than the average  pre-recorded R2R. But how would that 1/4" 1/4 track standard be (if done well) compared to modern vinyl or for that matter, CD?

Part 2, is on what playback equipment? If we are not talking high end audiophile here, which would sound better? An 80s Pioneer R2R deck or an 80s Pioneer turntable with a Shure cartridge or an average modern CD player, playing through an 80s stereo receiver or a modern home theater receiver? Would there be that much difference given the best mastered source material in each of those 3 formats? How much worse (if any) would an iPod sound through the same amplification and speakers?
I guess the above is a round-about way of asking why there needs to be a less expensive analog format than the admittedly high end audiophile format of the Tape Project. Obviously some would go even higher/better with 1/2" tape, but it depends again on what level of associated equipment and budget you have to justify better software.

I love tape and recorders as much as anyone here, but do not have the budget or equipment to even justify the Tape Project tapes I already own. I just think they are cool. And I do admit that some of those early stereo 2 track tapes provide an amazing sound experience that even I can hear on my gear with it's limitations, but is there enough interest there to go back to 1975 with any percentage of the public buying the 1/4 track format to play on, say,  some small Sony deck with it's electronics, perhaps even into their computer (!) for any reason of quality, or would it just be for novelties sake. (trying to draw some parallel between the current vinyl fad and something similar for reel to reel tape) There are those, of course, like me who are format agnostic and still love collecting in every / any format ever offered. But we are not even a small minority. The vast majority are more than happy with their standard resolution sound files.

Then who would these 7 1/2 ips  2 track tapes be for? People who are into tape, have a 2 track capable machine, but one that does not take 10.5 " reels  (very small  # of machines) and/or can't afford double the raw tape cost plus metal reels?

If not that, then back to my other question, could the good old 1/4 track, 7 1/2 ips. tape be good enough to justify it's production for any reason or buying group with any level of equipment?

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



Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Re: Tape recorder Museum in Hungary
« on: February 03, 2013, 01:23:15 PM »
In looking for lists of manufacturers of reel to reel tape recorders, I ran across this link.
This seems to be the same person or persons that have the Phantom Productions site in Texas

Then there is Philip Van Praag and his book "Evolution of the Audio Recorder" (which I have)
He had a big collection, but has sold most of it, I think. I communicated with him on eBay once or twice when I recognized him as a seller.
 Perhaps other "historians" here know of more large collections/collectors. I am actually rather clueless and "un-networked" in this area.
 I would venture to guess most the people on here have more than a couple of machines.
I will report back to this post later with a full count at least, if not a list of mine.

Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Re: Tape recorder Museum in Hungary
« on: January 30, 2013, 09:29:08 PM »
Thanks ! That looks like a really cool place.
I am flattered that you would think my collection to be anything like it, but no, mine are far less organized and far more dysfunctional ! :-(
Theirs are also  far more euro-centric and "higher end" than most of the things I
That having been said, I have about 11 machines more or less in common with them from their photo gallery at least.
Did have a 12th one, but I got rid of it.
So does anyone want to guess which ones we have in common? (hint - not the expensive ones)
The really scary part is I have lost track of how many machines I have...
If the photo gallery is all-inclusive (63 machines)  I might have them beat !

Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Re: Studer 4 tracks...?
« on: January 23, 2013, 08:13:12 PM »
The Technics RS-1520, AFAIK, is one of the only machines that actually meets the speed, track configuration and EQ specifications for both TP tapes and commercial 2 and 4  track pre-recorded tapes (even the ones @ 3 3/4ips. !) from the factory with no modifications. That having been said, the stock Technics electronics are by all accounts here, not what you want for optimal results with any tapes and certainly won't  deliver the full sonic potential of the Tape Project tapes.
There are possibly a couple of configurations of Otari machines that would have both the switchable EQ and both 2 track and 4 track heads also switchable. Beyond that,  most of the others would require outboard preamps, additional heads, switching head blocks, or making the eq switchable in some way for the built-in electronics as has all been discussed above.

You might want to check this section of the website if you have not already done so for a bit more info on all of the above.,20.0.html

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 / Re: modern recording humor
« on: January 11, 2013, 02:12:17 PM »
A related topic.
I know it is not true for those on this forum, but I have pondering the question, is stereo is dead as a concept for the general public?
That is, as stereo was classically defined in the late 50s.
Even then certain marketing people did their best to muddy the waters and mix the definition with that of just High Fidelity sound. I would guess that the average person today still does not think of stereo as a means of conveying 2 channels of audio information to the two ears to replicate some spatial dimension of sound quality and moreover does not care.
I will qualify that, in that there is wider than ever use of headphones/earbuds, but until you get to the audiophile world, there are so many devices with speakers closely spaced or even only one speaker that the whole concept seems more and more irrelevant.

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. -

Just to echo what astrotoy said, there is no trick to it.
If you have a 2 track stereo machine, any tape recorded in the normal way can be played backwards by just flipping both reels over and left to right, as you would to play the 2nd side of a 4 track commercial tape (oxide still facing in, reels on the machine in the same orientation with the tape spooling off the bottom). The left channel will switch with the right BTW as the head is now reading the opposite half of the tape. Just hit play. This does NOT work with a 1/4 track stereo tape, but would work with 4 tracks in one direction like a Teac 3340 or equivalent, as long as there is material on the track that would be read by the head with the tape running the opposite way. I think there is something in what I wrote in the beginners guide that explains what happens in some other combinations of tape tracks and head gaps.

General Discussion / Re: Musician's Strike!
« on: December 29, 2012, 09:38:58 PM »
Thanks Steve. Interesting stuff !
Just picked up 2 books about the intro of the 45 from that era.
"The Fabulous Victrola "45" " - Vourtsis
which is more in-depth about the players from an RCA-centric perspective, but has a lot about the politics of the so called "speed wars".
And also
"45 RPM"  - Dawson & Propes
subtitled "The History, Heroes & Villains of a Pop Music Revolution"

Massive, massive changes in that decade of late 40s to late 50s in music and how it was recorded and then marketed to the public.
We started the era with fairly LoFi 78s made essentially the way they had been since before WWII.
Beside the actual birth of FM as a consumer format (it hadn't caught on earlier) we had the whole tape revolution with Ampex etc., the HiFi mono feedback, then later, stereo disc cutting era began,improving fidelity greatly, and of course, the Lp and 45 introduced. By the mid 50s you had consumer stereo tape launching, then the stereo record in the late 50s, all of which conspired to give us sound by the end of that era that still holds up in its best case  to today's standards. Some, in fact, like it better than a lot of today's sound !
We had the pop music shift from big labels / big artists / big orchestras and bands with vocalists and tin pan alley song writers to Jazz and Rock and Roll and the beginnings of small indie labels along the way as well.

I just uncovered this little gem in an attempt to find out exactly when the Westrex 2B mono HiFi feedback cutter came into use.

Prerecorded Tapes / Re: Christmas tape play
« on: December 25, 2012, 09:38:27 PM »
I have that Ampex tape as well. Unfortunately, mine has a piece missing...
I also have a 2 track Christmas music tape by Carmen Dragon with the "Hollywood Bowl Symphony" on Capitol, of course.
Merry Christmas and Happy Listening

Events / Re: Tape stuff at AES
« on: November 11, 2012, 10:19:37 AM »
Doc might want to look closely at the tan colored speakers above the API console in the pictures of Control rm B. They might look a little familiar (I was shocked!).
I woulda said something but after identifying a mint Nagra large reel adapter, I'd had my moment in the sun.

Yeah all us golden ears use 'em. Steve is referring to the optional speakers in our 1956 Telefunken Salzburg console home stereo system, which I restored after we moved the Bottlehead reference system to Bottleheadquarters a couple years ago.

1956 - Stereo, from... tape?
AFAIK that pre-dates stereo records  by a year and stereo FM by 7 years. At least in the US. Did Europe have either earlier?
Very cool Doc,  give us the lowdown, what's she got?

Prerecorded Tapes / Re: Swiss Army Knife R2R
« on: October 01, 2012, 08:58:57 PM »
Very cool Steve.
Glad you got it working. Is it possible to find a spec used for both the Magnecord PT-6BN "binaurl"  and for the Voice of Music 701, which, as far as I know were the only two machines set up for staggered 2 track stereo.  The designation "for staggered heads" on the box you would think would be made for some standard spacing which would be common to both. But this was the early 50s, so perhaps not.
BTW, if you are looking for more material to listen to, I think I do have one pre-recorded tape in that format as well as a few half track mono ones.

Raw Tape / Re: RMGI Tape orientation
« on: September 10, 2012, 07:24:36 AM »
Which brings up an interesting point. I have forgotten the reasons behind back coating tape.
I remember when I saw my first modern back coated tape it confused me for a bit as well. No longer shiny side out / dull side toward heads.
 When did it start and what are the benefits? Are they mechanical or for better sound characteristics or both?
Certainly the instability of it on older tapes has lead to a lot of headaches.

Raw Tape / Re: RMGI Tape orientation
« on: September 08, 2012, 08:30:00 PM »
I believe it is wound correctly on the reel but it is a back coated tape.

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