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Messages - dwilawyer

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Prerecorded Tapes / Re: Kind of Blue 4 track on Ebay
« on: August 28, 2007, 05:15:39 PM »
I think it is important to be patient on this stuff from Ebay.  Heidianna on this forum and I have been working on an informal "blue book" of sorts for tapes to try and keep up with these higher doller items.   I bought, this year, on ebay a still sealed KOB for $150.00.  I think there was another still sealed KOB last year that went for $200.00.  KOB comes up often enough that if you can wait, you are going to find it, in very good conditoin, for about $150.00.  $200.00 was way too much for this tape, in my opinion. unless you want it now.  Then you are going to pay what the market will bear.

Things can get real insane in a hurry on ebay, and that can either be a real good thing or a bad thing.  Good if you have all of the tapes that are now going for triple what they were going for 5 years ago, bad if you are trying to build a collection now.


Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Re: Maintenance Questions?
« on: February 17, 2007, 02:14:32 PM »
Next would be how and when to know if the heads need to be demagnetized?
  Terry Cummings

P.S. Thank to all in the Tape Head Project for this new forum!

There is no universal rule on demagnatizing.  The general rule of thumb preached by Ampex, according to my Dad, was every 8 hours, but he said this was conserative and the much better method is to use a magnatometer.  As you know, the reason you demagnatize is to avoid losing, damaging the hf portions of the tape.  Playing magnegtic tape over metal parts, in theory, will cause them to become magnatized over time which is something you want to avoid around your tape.  I don't own a magnatometer, I could never justify the 300 to 400 for this item just to check if I should demag my machine.  My Dad told me the a lot of studios would have a magnatometer on hand to check for any magnegtic build up since you want to have that demagnatizer around your equipment only when necessary.  He said that feedback he received was that in some cases it took hundreds of hours for tape playing/recording for any change in measurement by the magnatometer.  In the case of a playback only situation, even more hours.  So every time you clean your heads, which I do every other tape, would probably be too often.  Once a year could be just fine, there is no way to tell.

You got good advice about how to do it.  Clear all of your tapes away.  Make sure the power to your deck is off.  In fact, it is better to unplug it all together.  You can destroy the heads if the deck is on.  Plug it in a good 10' away move it in, go through the tape path, then the heads, be careful of the head surfaces, and (the big key) move the unit very slowly away from the unit.  If you pull it away quickly it will have no effect whatsoever.


Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Re: RS1500 hub adapter spacers
« on: February 17, 2007, 01:59:00 PM »
I think we are actually on the same wavelength. The issue is that some adapters for consumer machines have the spacer built in to the adapter in the form of bumps on the backside, ala Studer, while others don't and require a separate spacer like the Technics.

So the deal, I suspect, is that you need to match the adapter to the spacer. Of course the situation is really more complex than just 10" metal and 7" plastic reels. What if you use a 10" plastic reel or a 7" metal reel? In theory the Technics setup is more flexible than a hub adapter with fixed bumps. A flaw in the concept is that the Technics spacer doesn't make the distinction between plastic and metal reels in it's instructions.

Very good point.  The Tandberg's came with those same bumps, and until I read your post, always thought that it was for grip.  However, you are correct, it does bump it up off the the turntable.


General Discussion / Re: "Audiophile" tape decks - Mark Levinson ML-5
« on: February 17, 2007, 01:55:15 PM »
I used an ML-5 from about 1981 until 1988 for location recordings, when I replaced it with StellaVox TD-9s.

The ML-5 made fabulous recordings, the best I had heard when I bought it.

But as good as it was, the sound from the modified TD-9s was even better.

Overall, the Stellas were the best analog machines I ever heard. Gloriously transparent.

I primarily used them at 30 IPS, same as I did with the ML-5.  I could never get the eq as flat with the ML-5, nor was it as extended up top.  The inevitable 30 IPS head bump was also worse with the ML-5.

Very interesting stuff Jim, you were right there in the thick of things.  Did you ever have a chance to compare the Stella with an MR-70?


General Discussion / Re: Colour-coding leaders...
« on: February 17, 2007, 01:51:18 PM »
I think I got all of that...I used the blue stick-down tape as splicing tape to splice leader onto the audio reel...maybe I'm not making myself pun intended...

Nothing is ever clear and looking at my post it was not very clear at all.  So I will just make it real (pun) simple.  Splicing tapes, as you know, is used to affix the leader the the tape itself.  It is just under 1/4" wide, and is usually white or off white in color. 

Hold down tape is used to affix the end of the tape, whether it be leader or whatever, to the side of the reel.  This keeps tension on the tape so it does not become unraveled during storage, shipment, etc.  What was referred to earlier is that red hold down tape was used for heads out and blue was used for tails out.  Hold down tape comes in varous widths, I have seen mostly 1/8" hold down tape used with 1/4" tape.  This hold down tape has an adhesive that does not gum up the reel or the tape, and is left of the side of the reel during play as it can be reused multiple times. 

I hope that explains it.  You do not want to be using hold down tape for splicing.


Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Re: RS1500 hub adapter spacers
« on: February 15, 2007, 10:09:23 PM »
OK, we need to clarify here. The Technics RS1500 series machines came with a very specific, unique Technics hub adapter that inserts into a 10-1/2" reel from the front. This is to be used in tandem with the .67mm thick rubber spacer between the turntable and the reel, in order to center the reel hub with respect to the tape guides. That adapter is a bad design, IMO, because you have to shove the thing into the reel before you mount the reel on the cinema style 7" reel spindles. PITA.

However, a lot of folks are using different brands of hub adapters. Some of these mount over the spindle first, then the 10-1/2" reel mounts on the adapter. One example is the Revox adapter we used at CES. In this case I don't know that you need the rubber spacer. I think it would be a good idea if we sorted out just how all the different adapters that folks are using locate the reel with repect to the tape guides. Then maybe we can offer a more definitive description of how each adapter should be implemented with the RS1500.

I think what they are talking about in terms of spacers is quite different then the spacer for the RS 1500 series.  That spacer is a whole different story.  On consumer decks that can handle 10.5 inch reels, as opposed to 7" only, they usually came with reel spacers.  These were needed because metal reels are thiner the plastic reels.  Since most consumer stuff was 7" the tape path was alligned for plastic reels.  The side of a plastic reel, is most cases, is .9 mm thicker then the side of a metal flange.  Thus, the rubber spacer should be .9 mm in thickness.  This will cause the tape to track better in the tape path and to also wind on the reel without rubbing on the side.  A professional deck should not have these issues, it should be alligned for metal to begin with, and they are also tables are also height adjustable so that you could set it up for plastic or metal. 


General Discussion / Re: "Audiophile" tape decks - Mark Levinson ML-5
« on: February 15, 2007, 09:59:57 PM »
But those nuvistors are hair trigger oscillators. I used the AKG C-12A condenser mic for opera which used nuvistors and was constantly changing tubes after no time at all. Howling oscillation! You have to have a stash of those tubes to service it. And the price of nuvistors is steadily climbing like everything else that can't be had with ease and is made from unobtainium.  It's only for the rich crowd that doesn't have to worry about "if you have to ask then you can't afford."

You would not believe what my dad and I had to go through to get a reliable set of nuvistors (we ended up with milspec, very reliable but quite pricey).  Well I am not rich, the only way I have one is because of my father and his resources at Ampex.  I would not even begin to guess what it is worth today, more then 35,000 for sure, more then 50,000.  I will never know because my deal is I get to use it for as long as I want, after that it gets donated.


General Discussion / Re: "Audiophile" tape decks - Mark Levinson ML-5
« on: February 15, 2007, 01:54:47 AM »
The Ampex MR-70 while a truly fine machine used the similar tape path as the old 300 deck with the addition of a viscous damped supply reel inertia idler  (flywheel ran in a sump of oil)but it's supported path from idler to capstan across the head is long. I also don't like those all Nuvistor tubes in the electronics of the MR70. They'll oscillate if you look at them crooked or not holding your tongue right!. Much prefer the Studer arrangement and the Studer choice of tubes. Cheers! James


I own an MR-70, one of the perks of having a father who worked at Ampex, he has given it to me to use and enjoy.  As you know, very few were made.  I have heard as few as 35 (which I believe is too low a number) but certainly less then 100.  It is by far the best tube deck Ampex made, that much everyone at Ampex agreed on.  There is some debate whether it even exceed the best of the ATR machines.  I would have no idea. 

The story I like the most, and I wish someone could confirm, is that after Willie Studer saw and heard the MR he made it his life's ambition to make a better deck; he said he managed to equal it, but he could never surpass it.


General Discussion / Re: "Audiophile" tape decks - Mark Levinson ML-5
« on: February 15, 2007, 01:44:49 AM »
Thanks for the link Charles. I have most of the records that were made in the Mark Levinson Acoustic Recording Series. I still listen to them, particularly the piano recording. Here's some of the blurb on the inner cover;
This record was produced without compromise.
Mark Levinson Audio Systems built special equipment for use with calibration microphones and high speed wide track tape format to create virtually noiseless, ultra low distortion master tapes, without noise reduction systems.
Robert Ludwig mastered the records by feeding the original tape through a custom mixer directly to the cutting amplifier rack with no filtering, limiting, or other added effects.
CIDS in France, developed special pressing techniques to produce the most quiet record surfaces posible with today's material and technology, and the skill of their chiefs of staff.
For the Acoustic Recording Series, musicians were asked to prepare programs which could be released without splicing passages. In this way, the coherency and immediacy of the musical event, rather than the note by note perfection of the spliced tape, are preserved.

Funny, they aren't very thick or heavy like the "audiophile" pressings today. But man, they sure sound great!

I would love to hear one of those records.  I am not sure what they meant by no limiting, I guess that is technically possible, but it would still have to be equalized for the RIAA curve prior to reaching the lathe.  This was either done through the mixer or the cutting amplifier rack.

What I would really like to hear is the two track tapes that Mark Levinson offered with his modified Studer deck as I mentioned in the post above.  I have heard there was as many as 20 to 100 tape he had licensed to sell with his decks.  I don't know anyone who actually bought one, but I do know someone who auditioned one.  So you essentiallyh got the deck along with "direct" copies of the studio masters (sound familar?)  That is what interested me most in The Tape Project, I missed out on the Mark Levinson opportunity back in the 80's because I was in my 20's and was in college, and did not have anywhere that kind of money. 

Now there is another chance to start a collection of "audiophile" reel to reel tapes.  I think the problem with the ML tapes was that you had to buy his deck which very few consumers could afford.


General Discussion / Re: "Audiophile" tape decks - Mark Levinson ML-5
« on: February 15, 2007, 01:29:41 AM »
Very interesting topic, I have always wanted to see an ML-5, but what I would really like to see is the one that was marketed as a "consumer" deck.  In the 80's ML marketed the deck along with several, I don't know the number, two track copies of masters he had licensed.  They, I guess, were similar to the records that were produced, but were instead direct copies from the masters.  The cost was 20 to 25K, and I don't know how many 2 track tapes came with that.  Those tapes are what I would really like to see.

In terms of audiophile, I guess it is how you define it.  To me "audiophile" denotes consumer use, albeit, high-end and even behind on the reach of most.  Pro grear to me is not audiophile.  The pro great should have the best specs, but it was not designed for consumer use.  In my mind you have to distinguish between the two.  If you mean audiophile in the sense of top of the line consumer decks then it would be the Revox consumer decks from Studer/Revox, Tandberg and Technics RS series.  These decks were what Nakimichi was to the cassette deck (Tandberg also made audiophile cassette decks).  I think those would be considered by most to be the high end of consumer decks.  The Revox's were mostly low speed decks 3.75 and 7.5 although you could get high speed 7.5/15 ips.  The Technics and Tandberg (depending on model) had all three speeds.  Tandberg had special equalization with a seperate bias head that made it quite good in terms of home recording. 

The problem with "audiophile" in reel to reel was the quality of prerecorded material.  In the 50's you had 2 track but that switched to 4 track by the very early 60's.  This was possible because of significant improvment in head design (head gap) and the audiotape itself.  Prerecorded tapes were initially very high quality, 7.5 ips, and made at 4x speed.  Meaning the submaster tape would be spun (on Ampex reproduction equipment) at 30ips and the consumer reels were spun at the same speed.  Over time this eventually went to 8x, submaster spining at 60 ips, and 16x when the tapes were made in the 3.75 format.  By the end only record club outlets (Columbia, the notorious 1R1 cat. no.'s, were making tapes).  So while you had audiophile quality playback equipment you had very little in the way of audiophile source material.

If you are talking about state of the art in recording, pro gear, there has been some answers already which is what one would expect, Ampex vs. Studer.  It is going to come down to one of those two.


General Discussion / Re: Colour-coding leaders...
« on: February 15, 2007, 12:43:42 AM »
With master tapes I have always seen red or blue hold down tape as prevously mentioned.  With broadcasting red is very commong for tails out, but I cannot say an industry standard.  The "red" can very, it can be timing tape with red indicators instead of black or simply red solid leader. 


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