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Best Tape Machine and why? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 1st March 2011
  #61
Here for the gear
 

W2W is absolutley correct,it's what you put on the tape not the tape machine,however having said that & being an All Wave disciple myself,there are intelligent choices. 1) Go with a 1/4 inch not 1/2 inch Mixdown Machine. 2) And this is the MOST IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION, go RELIABLE, repeat RELIABLE ! This eliminates Studer & Ampex,yes best sounding but we're talking fractions here & nothing will make you ditch tape for digital faster than a High Maintenance,Fickle,Tempermental ,PRICY..tape machine.Go with good tape,I always liked Ampex Tape & either an Otari MTR Series or MX- 55, also the TASCAM 32 B (balanced) is a very warm & MOST IMPORTANTLY RELIABLE MACHINE as well,both are less than Studer,MCI & Ampex, both are MORE RELIABLE & Parts/Service are cheaper also,in addition they both require LESS MAINTENANCE..Think of it this way..The Really "HOT" Girl, spoiled,crabby,self-absorbed V.S The "Cute" Girl next Door, friendly,agreeable,fun...who ya gonna marry ? Remember "You can't go the distance with too much resistance" Peace- AND YES TAPE RAWKS !!
Old 1st March 2011
  #62
Gear Maniac
 
dodgeaspen's Avatar
 

I focus more on parts availability. You can still buy most parts for Tascam and Otari. I know Studer is noted for the best sound ever but I doubt I'll ever have the money to own one.
Old 1st March 2011
  #63
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Ampex are the best sounding machine's.
The first 2" machine I owned was a mm1200 16 track - used it for 10 years solid.
Then we bought a MCIjh24, then a studer A80 24 tk. because other clients were on 24 track and we needed to be able to interact with other projects.
We have kept all of these machines going.
Many of us who had used the Ampex kept wondering why these other machines did not sound as good as the Ampex - sure the Studer had a "smooth" sound, the MCI had a OK "rock" sound - but to me they all lacked in the top end openness.
One day my tech was lining up the machines and I asked him - why does the Ampex sound SO much better to my ears and he showed me.
We put 20k on all the machines for tape line ups.
The Ampex VU's were absolutely rock solid at 20k - the needles did not move at all - the MCI at 20k was drifting all over the place and the Studer was wobbly too.
My tech explained that even though the MCI cards are very similar, the reason why the Ampex machines sound better is the tape to head contact is the best out of all these machines - AND my tech informed me that a good Ampex machine is flat to 100k!!
So soon we bought a MM1200 24 track too - problem solved.
But - the trade off is they are basically a very old tape transport design, and at times you need to tweak the motor drive card pots - the Ampex machines also like a more stable operating temperature for the drive cards. (you get used to being able to adjust the transport pots on the cards - its pretty easy)
The Studer's definately have the best transport by far.
IMO the MCI is a dull and lifeless/old/retro sounding machine's compared to Ampex's and the Studer sounds really nice for "Smooth Jazz"

One must ask why all top mastering studios have Ampex 1/2 inch machine's ? Why not Studers or MCI's or Otari's?
Because they sound MUCH better than any other modern tape machine.

For multitrack - Ampex MM1200 16 TK 2" is THE BOMB!
- Nothing else compares!
Old 1st March 2011
  #64
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ddageek's Avatar
 

The best machine is the one in the best condition you can find and can keep running ! It's always about condition and service!
Old 8th September 2012
  #65
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oroz View Post
Many people say that the Studer A827 is the best sounding tape machine although I haven't had a lot of experience with it.
It's what Dr. Dre used
Old 9th March 2013
  #66
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nickelironsteel's Avatar
 

what are the pros and cons

24 track A800
24 track A820
24 track A827

anyone have experince, especially with the 820?
Old 9th March 2013
  #67
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danly's Avatar
 

I heard a horror story once about an 820 going into "auto calibration" on it's own and recording over a master.. Big lawsuit over that one. 820's are awesome but they are filled with obsolete ic's used for their logic. Unfortunately you're probably gonna see lots of 820 2 tracks being parted out soon.
I guess the ampex also has obsolete ic's on it's transport card. The reason why ampex's sound great is their audio is class A discrete.
Be advised, there are many revisions of studer's out there. Some have transformers, so don't. Same with MCI's. The a80 that dark side of the moon was done on, definitely was a good sounding tape machine.

Here is what a good a80 sounds like:

pretty frikken rock n roll if you ask me.
I own an ampex as well, but it's a little crunchy for my tastes.
Old 30th April 2013
  #68
Here for the gear
whoow

i agree with many answers..

i use following machines

Tascam ATR 60-2
Tascam ATR 60-16 track
Otari 5050
Studer A80
Studer 807
Tascam 58 ( just sold )

but the best of all i ever put my hands on was an old rocksolid TELFUNKEN M15. !!.. simple but solid. those machines are made for 24 h working time as there was no other format in the 60ies. no electronics. its mechanic ! you can put a 2" head for 2 track recording on that beast. 1" for every channel is superfat. you dont need noise reduction with that magnetic level. in good condition the telefunken will live longer that you for sure.

i have no experience working with ATR or Ampex or Matra.
Old 30th April 2013
  #69
Gear Nut
 

+ 1 on Telefunken M 15 / M 15a!

only have the best experiences with it - it`s said to sound better then A 800s Studers and tape-transport is nearly as good, though all mechanical... especially the multitracks...
"undestroyable" heads too...
Old 30th April 2013
  #70
Lives for gear
Stay away from 24 track. Ampex mm1200/440 are nice, but the freq response is far from flat. The best machines ever made were the Stephens decks, but a bitch to maintain.
Old 1st May 2013
  #71
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gpiccolini's Avatar
+1 on the M15! it's built like a panzer.
Old 1st May 2013
  #72
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

I still think that the very best 2-channel mains powered open-reel recorder ever made was the Nagra TA.
Old 1st May 2013
  #73
Gear Nut
 
lbruun's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ddageek View Post
The best machine is the one in the best condition you can find and can keep running ! It's always about condition and service!
Yes. Very True. Even narrow format decks can yield superb results when properly aligned and maintained.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weltraumalltag View Post
+ 1 on Telefunken M 15 / M 15a!

only have the best experiences with it - it`s said to sound better then A 800s Studers and tape-transport is nearly as good, though all mechanical... especially the multitracks...
"undestroyable" heads too...
Two track M15a was a popular broadcasting deck here in Finland. In my own conclusion it sounded quite clean by default. I noticed that it was hard to get that tape saturation / distortion I'm occasionally looking for when reaching for tape.

Would you agree or disagree with this statement? How would you describe its sonics compared to e.g A80?
Old 1st May 2013
  #74
Gear Addict
 
gpiccolini's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lbruun View Post
Yes. Very True. Even narrow format decks can yield superb results when properly aligned and maintained.

Two track M15a was a popular broadcasting deck here in Finland. In my own conclusion it sounded quite clean by default. I noticed that it was hard to get that tape saturation / distortion I'm occasionally looking for when reaching for tape.

Would you agree or disagree with this statement?
I agree. these days I'm about to revive it (I moved) and have a couple of ideas to solve that :D
Old 2nd May 2013
  #75
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Plush's Avatar
The best tape machine was the Nagra T-Audio. It was a double capstan stereo machine with incredible specifications and performance.

It's forte was clean recording with vanishing low distortion. It had extensive edit facilities such as a motorized edit wheel, built in edit scissors and the ability to capture fine detail that other machines did not even recognize.

Most of these machines went in to video edit bays and at post houses.

There were two versions of the non time code stereo music machine.
One was for broadcast and one was purely for music with higher specifications.
Old 2nd May 2013
  #76
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
The best tape machine was the Nagra T-Audio. .
For film, yes, but music, the ATR 102 was the best. It could play oval or even square reels with zero audible flutter.
Old 20th July 2014
  #77
Gear Head
 

The best multitrack tape machine is:


"1978-1979 MCI JH-16 16/24 CHANNELS" or "THE DREAM MACHINE"

With Transformers in the reproduce and control cards/Flux-Trac*
Combined with the MCI jh-24 1980-88 Technology "QUIOR" Fast-punching circuitry & Auto-locator III.


The number two:

Early Studer A800's had transformers in the meterbridge.
Get a Mk-III headstack and you are in business.

* Same audio cards as Ampex MM1200
Old 20th July 2014
  #78
Lives for gear
 

The question isn't, "Which was the best tape machine in 1985?" Or 1995. When new machines were available, parts were available, and techs were available.

The question is "Which tape machine is the best NOW, in 2014," when all of those things are in shorter and shorter supply.

That's why I bought Ampex AG 440s. Parts are easy to get, machines run pretty well and are very modular. Stone-age transports, but they sound good. And it really doesn't take long to get used to toggling the transport.
Old 2nd October 2014
  #79
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chet.d's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drpeacock View Post

The question is "Which tape machine is the best NOW, in 2014," when all of those things are in shorter and shorter supply.
Among the main reasons I'm tossing around the Mara MCI JH110 1 inch 8 track.

That and intrigue over the commitment / limitations of making 8 work. Admittedly a scary thought.

If the budget allowed, an A827 w a 8 trk headstock is mighty damn appealing though.
Old 2nd October 2014
  #80
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elektrovolt's Avatar
if you want headroom, clean sound and reliability, get a Telefunken m15 / m15a. far better mechanics than Studer machines.
too bad I just sold mine. It sounded really good with its 'butterfly heads and tuned for per528 tape.
Old 4th October 2014
  #81
Quote:
Originally Posted by drpeacock View Post
The question isn't, "Which was the best tape machine in 1985?" Or 1995. When new machines were available, parts were available, and techs were available.

The question is "Which tape machine is the best NOW, in 2014," when all of those things are in shorter and shorter supply.

That's why I bought Ampex AG 440s. Parts are easy to get, machines run pretty well and are very modular. Stone-age transports, but they sound good. And it really doesn't take long to get used to toggling the transport.
.

Um.

This thread was started in August 2007. ....over 7 years ago.

...not that analogue tape technology has evolved a lot since then!

.
Old 14th May 2015
  #82
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TacScorpion's Avatar
For me the best is the one that works and is easy to fix, I think the Otari MX80 sound nice and work fantastic, I bought one who was in a warehouse for more than 20 year, I clean everything switch it on and works properly!, the manual is for dummies and the access to the cards and adjustment is great. About the sound… if is properly aligned you can get a nice bottom end and can get a nice tape color, works fantastic +9 @ 185Nwb/m with RMG 911
One of the best sounding albums of the last years was made with an Otari MX80, Jonathan Wilson’s “Gentle Spirit” for the next album (Fanfare) they change the tape recorder to a Studer A80 and for me the album made on the Otari MX80 sounds better.
Here you got a link with the information:
California Dreaming
Old 14th May 2015
  #83
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burns46824's Avatar
Depends what type of sound you're looking for...

The best "vibe" I've ever heard is probably The Cure's Seventeen Seconds (1980), which was recorded on a Studer A80 2" 24-track at 15 IPS using a Harrison 32 series console. No noise reduction, from the sound of it. Stay away from noise reduction unless you absolutely need it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YD2EVqaSJ4o
Old 14th May 2015
  #84
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uffetuff's Avatar
I just throw in Lyrec Tr53 here. Don't know how it compares to the other machines here, but i love it. As some one else said it's also about parts and service. I got in contact with a man that used to work at the Lyrec factory who took it apart totaly and put it together fresh with new heads and all. Paid only a few hundred usd for the service. Guess he did it mostly for the joy of it.
Old 15th May 2015
  #85
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by uffetuff View Post
I just throw in Lyrec Tr53 here. Don't know how it compares to the other machines here, but i love it. As some one else said it's also about parts and service. I got in contact with a man that used to work at the Lyrec factory who took it apart totaly and put it together fresh with new heads and all. Paid only a few hundred usd for the service. Guess he did it mostly for the joy of it.
Isn't that the brand of multitrack Vangelis used in the late 70s/early 80s?
Old 15th May 2015
  #86
M2E
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M2E's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oroz View Post
Many people say that the Studer A827 is the best sounding tape machine although I haven't had a lot of experience with it.
In 2004, was the last time I used one and that was the standard in most studios.
Not sure what would be the standard tape machine now if you can still get them but, Studer is known for excellence.

Marc
Old 15th May 2015
  #87
Gear Addict
 
jslstrat's Avatar
 

Ampex MM1200

Ampex MM1200 F***ing Huge!!!! I also own a iZ Radar that I love for digital stuff…But If you even MONITOR
Through both…The Ampex Just sounds bigger! Fuller! Etc…….Honestly until you hear in a room and In front
of monitors…you will soon realize That just the electronics alone has a HUGE effect on the sound………..
And the Ampex are very easy to work on!!!!
Old 15th May 2015
  #88
Gear Addict
 
jslstrat's Avatar
 

Soooo True

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Tasmanian View Post
Ampex are the best sounding machine's.
The first 2" machine I owned was a mm1200 16 track - used it for 10 years solid.
Then we bought a MCIjh24, then a studer A80 24 tk. because other clients were on 24 track and we needed to be able to interact with other projects.
We have kept all of these machines going.
Many of us who had used the Ampex kept wondering why these other machines did not sound as good as the Ampex - sure the Studer had a "smooth" sound, the MCI had a OK "rock" sound - but to me they all lacked in the top end openness.
One day my tech was lining up the machines and I asked him - why does the Ampex sound SO much better to my ears and he showed me.
We put 20k on all the machines for tape line ups.
The Ampex VU's were absolutely rock solid at 20k - the needles did not move at all - the MCI at 20k was drifting all over the place and the Studer was wobbly too.
My tech explained that even though the MCI cards are very similar, the reason why the Ampex machines sound better is the tape to head contact is the best out of all these machines - AND my tech informed me that a good Ampex machine is flat to 100k!!
So soon we bought a MM1200 24 track too - problem solved.
But - the trade off is they are basically a very old tape transport design, and at times you need to tweak the motor drive card pots - the Ampex machines also like a more stable operating temperature for the drive cards. (you get used to being able to adjust the transport pots on the cards - its pretty easy)
The Studer's definately have the best transport by far.
IMO the MCI is a dull and lifeless/old/retro sounding machine's compared to Ampex's and the Studer sounds really nice for "Smooth Jazz"

One must ask why all top mastering studios have Ampex 1/2 inch machine's ? Why not Studers or MCI's or Otari's?
Because they sound MUCH better than any other modern tape machine.

For multitrack - Ampex MM1200 16 TK 2" is THE BOMB!
- Nothing else compares!

Totally!!!! 100% True!!!!! I have a Ampex MM1200 16/24……The thing BLOWS my mind just even monitoring through it!!!!!! Seriously…People who have not recorded on a MM1200 in a while…….would be surprised how huge these things sound! Today compared to ALL of the digital boxes….Puts a smile on my face!!!
Old 15th May 2015
  #89
Lives for gear
 
cheu78's Avatar
I own a Mara MCI JH24 16 tracks 2" and a Studer C37 in perfect condition..
Imho very nice sounding machines.

I worked with a Studer 827 16 tracks 2" and several studers A80.. the 827 is a cleaner sounding machine.. sounds nice.
I like good A80's for printing the mix... (as the mci's..)

Just my 0.02 $,



Cheu
Old 17th May 2015
  #90
Here for the gear
 
uffetuff's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Isn't that the brand of multitrack Vangelis used in the late 70s/early 80s?
Of that I have no clue... my machine was built 1975 though.
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