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Studer Multitracks - A80, A800, A820, A827 Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 24th January 2019
  #1
Studer Multitracks - A80, A800, A820, A827

I own an Otari MTR-90III 24-track with upgraded audio cards and I like it. The transport is pretty good, though I can tell it's not perfect, either...(primarily from seeing how much a 10k or 16k tone wavers on the VU meter). The electronics are really clean because they've been upgraded. It's not a "character" tape machine at all...

I've worked on the Studer A800 and A820 multitracks in the past, but I've never owned one. I recall the A800 sounding really great and the A820 also sounding really good, though perhaps a bit more clinical. I have not used the A80 or the A827, however.

Are there some opinionated (and experienced) Studer 'slutz who can give the rundown for each tape machine? Potential characteristics to address for the A80/A800/A820/A827:

1) Sound
2) Transport
3) Punch Speed
4) Features/User Friendliness
5) Maintenance and Repairability
6) Power Consumption/Heat Production

NOTE: I co-own an analog studio and we are not dumping from tape into ProTools...we are mixing from tape.
Old 24th January 2019
  #2
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the fxs's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
NOTE: I co-own an analog studio and we are not dumping from tape into ProTools...we are mixing from tape.
gotta love that.
Old 24th January 2019
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by the fxs View Post
gotta love that.
Thanks.

I know we've had a number of threads comparing some of these machines, but I don't think there's been a comprehensive thread yet...
Old 24th January 2019
  #4
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Drumsound's Avatar
As far as features go, the A820 is kind of the king. It can store 4 (I think) forms of alignment and perform the alignment automatically. The bar graph meters have a couple of setting, so you can see more detail. I believe you can also record backward without flipping the tape. I remember something about that. You had to record silence in forward first, because the erase head is AFTER the record head when running it backward.

The 820 is the Electrical Audio machine of choice. I believe they have about twelve of them.
Old 25th January 2019
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
As far as features go, the A820 is kind of the king. The 820 is the Electrical Audio machine of choice. I believe they have about twelve of them.
It's definitely a great recorder. Was listening to something I'd done on one about 8 years ago and it was really hi-fi. Have you used all the Studer multitracks, Drumsound?
Old 25th January 2019
  #6
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I think you'd really like the 827. Really good transport, great for punches, and really clean sound. A never had to fix one, though...so I can't comment on that.
Old 25th January 2019
  #7
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
It's definitely a great recorder. Was listening to something I'd done on one about 8 years ago and it was really hi-fi. Have you used all the Studer multitracks, Drumsound?
I have an A80 2-track. I really like the sound of it, it isn't ridiculously gooey, but it adds something nice. I did a session at The Bunker in Brooklyn and then had an A80 narrow body 24-track that sounded great as well. We were recording Arron Lee Tasjan playing lead guitar for The Artist Formally Known as Vince. All the guitar parts he played sounded great, and the tracks donw on my JH24 played back and gave me what I expected.

I went to a calibration demo at Electrical so I got to hear the 820 set up as 3 8-tracks, each with a different calibration 15ips NAB, and CCIR at a couple of levels. They recorded a rhythm section and it was really interesting to hear. The 820 sounds great.

Mitch Easter and a few others I know consider the A800 to be the best sounding Studer, but the 820 and 827 have better transports.
Old 25th January 2019
  #8
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[QUOTE=Drumsound;13763805

Mitch Easter and a few others I know consider the A800 to be the best sounding Studer, but the 820 and 827 have better transports.[/QUOTE]

both the A800mk 1 and tha A800mk3 sound great.

i currently own a Studer A800 mk1. its the transformer version.

in the 90s i worked on a Studer A800-mk3 for 6 or 7 years. the non transformer version. mainly on 456 and later on 499.

in terms of transport i find them about the same.

in terms of sonics i think the A800-mk1 is a tiny little bit fatter, but its not significantly different enough to be of concern.

theoretically perhaps the transient response of the A800mk3 non transformer machine, is marginally better for hi fequency performance, but i never noticed a great deal of difference between the 2 machines. i can track happily on either.

i never did enough work on 820 or 827 to comment with any authority.

also on the machine you have now, if your tones are drifting up and down at 10k, its the heads not the electronics. get the heads lapped.

the electronics are stable once the machine has warmed up. head wear or transport misalignment causes tones to drift.

my old A800-mk1 has stable tones at 15k.

also i had an ampex mm1200 for 5 or 6 years or so,but the transport was not to my likeing, and it was slewing when it got too hot, so out it went.

hope that helps Buddha
Attached Thumbnails
Studer Multitracks - A80, A800, A820, A827-studer-a800.jpg   Studer Multitracks - A80, A800, A820, A827-456-vu-meters.jpg   Studer Multitracks - A80, A800, A820, A827-headblock.jpg  
Old 25th January 2019
  #9
Gear Head
 
Jeancab's Avatar
A80: they are a little simpler to maintain (no microprocessors), transports are great from 1/4" to 1" versions, but are a bit slow for 2" versions.
They sound good, specially in stéréo, 4trk, 8trk, and 16trk 2". 24trk models sound a little dull for me. They cannot receive 14" reel, too.

A800 , A827, A820 have all great transports, powerful and fast, although smooth with tape.
About the sound, all of them sound very good, (I never saw Studers as very "characterful" machines, but it is not necessary a bad thing...)
I probably tend to prefer the A800, specially transformers versions, then the A827, then the A820. But the condition of a machine is probably more important that the model...
The punch speed on the A800 MK1 are slower (than the Mk2-3 models) because of the heads position (But some prefer this heads layout, actually more balanced between heads and rollers.)
All the reliabilities are really improved with a good cooling and a stabilized voltage...
Old 25th January 2019
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
both the A800mk 1 and tha A800mk3 sound great.

i currently own a Studer A800 mk1. its the transformer version.

in the 90s i worked on a Studer A800-mk3 for 6 or 7 years. in terms of sonics i think the A800-mk1 is a tiny little bit fatter, but its not significantly different enough to be of concern.

theoretically perhaps the transient response of the A800mk3 non transformer machine, is marginally better for hi fequency performance, but i never noticed a great deal of difference between the 2 machines. i can track happily on either.

also on the machine you have now, if your tones are drifting up and down at 10k, its the heads not the electronics. get the heads lapped.

my old A800-mk1 has stable tones at 15k.
Fascinating. Yes, I've heard the mk1 version of the A800 was a bit soft in terms of transient response...but I'm sure the sound is fantastic. I've worked on a mk3 before and it sounded amazing.

Yes, I also realize that the vacillating high frequency tones have to do with the transport, not the electronics.
Old 25th January 2019
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeancab View Post
A80: they are a little simpler to maintain (no microprocessors), transports are great from 1/4" to 1" versions, but are a bit slow for 2" versions.
They sound good, specially in stéréo, 4trk, 8trk, and 16trk 2". 24trk models sound a little dull for me. They cannot receive 14" reel, too.

A800 , A827, A820 have all great transports, powerful and fast, although smooth with tape.
About the sound, all of them sound very good, (I never saw Studers as very "characterful" machines, but it is not necessary a bad thing...)
I probably tend to prefer the A800, specially transformers versions, then the A827, then the A820. But the condition of a machine is probably more important that the model...
The punch speed on the A800 MK1 are slower (than the Mk2-3 models) because of the heads position (But some prefer this heads layout, actually more balanced between heads and rollers.)
All the reliabilities are really improved with a good cooling and a stabilized voltage...
Obviously I love the sound of records cut on the A80s...that was THE tracking machine in Europe from the mid 70s until about '82, someone correct me if I'm wrong.

I believe Spandau Ballet's TRUE and Imagination's IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT were done on an A800...wow those sound amazing. Good to know about punch speed on the mk3 being better than the mk1.
Old 25th January 2019
  #12
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
I've heard the mk1 version of the A800 was a bit soft in terms of transient response...but I'm sure the sound is fantastic. I've worked on a mk3 before and it sounded amazing.
yes what i was getting at basically in the post, is that without being infinitely pedantic, the 2 machines are almost interchangable.

i prefer the mk1, as its the genuine Fat article, and that thickness is what im after when i decide to track on tape.

but i could happily use a mk3 without transformers as well.

but if you are about to buy one you have the choice

1. Tape and transformers. mk1 only

2. Tape and no Transformers. Later models. mk3 and 820s 827s

the transformer models have a thicker sound, but its subtle. i can pick it when im using it. but its not obvious like the difference between analog and digital.

i guess by now you have good ears, and im pretty sure both the MK1 and the MK3 would please you.

Buddha
Old 25th January 2019
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
i guess by now you have good ears, and im pretty sure both the MK1 and the MK3 would please you.
I'm sure. No mk2?

How would you characterize the difference in sound between the mk3 (no x-formers) and the 820/827? I'm guessing the mk3 still, somehow, has more "vibe"?
Old 26th January 2019
  #14
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
I'm sure. No mk2?

How would you characterize the difference in sound between the mk3 (no x-formers) and the 820/827? I'm guessing the mk3 still, somehow, has more "vibe"?
sorry but i have not worked long enough on 820 and 827 to have any genuinely usefull information.

you cant say much, unless you have done lots of hours, and i havnt on those machines.

best being honest eh...

Buddha
Old 26th January 2019
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
sorry but i have not worked long enough on 820 and 827 to have any genuinely usefull information.

you cant say much, unless you have done lots of hours, and i havnt on those machines.

best being honest eh...

Buddha
Cool...thanks for your honesty!
Old 26th January 2019
  #16
Gear Head
 
Jeancab's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
I'm sure. No mk2?
Yes, of course. They would sound identical too Mk1 if they are "316" type heads fitted.
I think all the MkIII are fitted with "317" type heads, a little more resistant than the 316, but they have a bigger bumb in the LF. (So some prefer the 316 heads sonically)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIG BUDDHA View Post
im pretty sure both the MK1 and the MK3 would please you.
Agree with that !
Old 26th January 2019
  #17
It's fascinating hearing all the different opinions about these things. Some people swear by the A80, some by the 800, and some people dislike the sound of both of those and only like the 820/827, lol
Old 26th January 2019
  #18
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Jeancab's Avatar
All these machines sound great, even if one can have slight preferences...
And, again the condition of a machine is probably more important that the model
Old 26th January 2019
  #19
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
It's fascinating hearing all the different opinions about these things. Some people swear by the A80, some by the 800, and some people dislike the sound of both of those and only like the 820/827, lol
i guess that people have a favourable bias towards gear that they worked on, and the equipment that worked for them personally.

i spent 1/2 the 80s, and 1/2 the 90s, on Studer A800mk1 and mk3s.

but only a few weeks on the later models.

thats why i didnt comment about the 820/827s.
but my instinct says they will both be fine. its a Studer. how could it be wrong.

i also didnt work much on A80s, as they were being replaced by the A800s, not because of sonics, but because the tape rewinds were slower on th A80s, and time was money. also i vaguely remember something about the head gaps in the A80s being wider so there was not the same accuracy with punch in and out.

maybe an A80s expert can expand on this.

what i can tell you with A800s is that you can drop in and out to perfection.

the age of the poster will often define an era, and then the posts reflect the gear from the era, and the dominant information that was happening at the time.

hope that helps Buddha
Old 26th January 2019
  #20
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also Burns, you will often find that the person sell an old machine will have 16 track head blocks.

generally back in the day, most sessions ran on 24 track heads (due to need for trackcount) and it was an occasional hassle that engineers would track on a 16 track machine, and then bring in the tapes to mix. then the tecknicians had to take off the 24 track block and replace it with a 16 track block, to run the mix.

so the 24 track headblocks, did ten thousand hours, and the 16 track headblocks often only did only a few hundreds, in a mix studio.

the machine i have now, came with 24 heads, with a few thousand hours, and a set of 16 heads that only have 350 hours on them. almost brand new.

those unused 16 track heads will become like U47s in the next 20 years.

also the real purists just love 2 inch on 16 track, there is nothing more analog than that combination.

i get the feeling that thats where you are headed....

Buddha
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
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Studer A80 power supply issue!

I wonder if anyone experinced the following problem with Studer A80. There is a permanent loud hum untill I take off the generator card. When I put it in place the hum is there again. Could that be a problem with capacitors failure in the power supply unit? Thanks for the tips!
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