The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Best Tape Machine and why? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 25th September 2017
  #181
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
That has literally NOTHIG to do with a DAW. It is 100% about the operator. YOu don't have to edit to the grid, you don't have to use a click even. There is no law say bull**** drum replacement is a MUST. If you don't like those type of records a) don't buy them and b) don't make 'em. I don't.
.
That's kind of like saying don't click to agree with user agreements online. Yes, technically you should read them before clicking, and it's the user's responsibility, but in practice no one reads them. The operator uses DAW's on the vast majority of productions these days, and the DAW regardless of the freedom it gives you, forces a certain type of production, which is much more visual than analog, and more OCD.
Old 25th September 2017
  #182
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Yes, but not NOS. OS. Got multiple reels of GP9 and 456 and 499 and 911, I believe. I don't bother using old tape, though, because of potential shed. We threw an old reel of 911 on my MTR-90III (I believe it was 911) and it was shedding all over the place.

As for ATR improving their batches within the past year...yes, I believe they have. At least, that's my experience. The tape I'm using right now I bought a few months ago and it has almost ZERO shed, even with many passes.

There is something about tape that digital does not do...tape compression. Makes things sound very "natural," especially vocals.
911 would frequently shed,even when new. They had problems with their binders. It became very unrealizable from batch to batch, in that respect. It's a big part of why I was a quantegy guy.

Tape compression is something that is really only noticeable when you start pushing it. When I started out, I thought I loved it. I would listen to the repro head, and adjust my kick and snare until they distorted, and then back it off. Then Massenberg talked about leaving a bunch of headroom on kick and snare, and I tried it and realized how much I was destroying my transients with tape compression. My drums were much punchier if I avoid tape compression, and then used an 1176 for the "bigness."

Give it a try.

Apogee for years had a "soft limit" feature to try an mimic the effect of tape compression. I'm not sure tape compression is anything I'm really missing, honestly.
Old 25th September 2017
  #183
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
911 would frequently shed,even when new. They had problems with their binders. It became very unrealizable from batch to batch, in that respect. It's a big part of why I was a quantegy guy.

Tape compression is something that is really only noticeable when you start pushing it. When I started out, I thought I loved it. I would listen to the repro head, and adjust my kick and snare until they distorted, and then back it off. Then Massenberg talked about leaving a bunch of headroom on kick and snare, and I tried it and realized how much I was destroying my transients with tape compression. My drums were much punchier if I avoid tape compression, and then used an 1176 for the "bigness."

Give it a try.

Apogee for years had a "soft limit" feature to try an mimic the effect of tape compression. I'm not sure tape compression is anything I'm really missing, honestly.
Oh I'm on board with you in terms of not smashing stuff. Even at nominal levels, tape simply handles differently than digital...I was referring to that as tape compression
Old 25th September 2017
  #184
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post

Tape compression is something that is really only noticeable when you start pushing it. When I started out, I thought I loved it. I would listen to the repro head, and adjust my kick and snare until they distorted, and then back it off. Then Massenberg talked about leaving a bunch of headroom on kick and snare, and I tried it and realized how much I was destroying my transients with tape compression.

My drums were much punchier if I avoid tape compression, and then used an 1176 for the "bigness."

Give it a try.

I tend to repeat something, not to create animosity, but to highlight the ever-present "it depends" angle.

To create a new track with the final sonics of say, "Spooky" "Stormy", the approach you backed off from is the exact approach that would be required to get to the final sonics. imo. And then some, what with submix bounces that intensify the effect on say, the B3 or the vocal comps and doubles/triples. And some almost purposeful screwed-up console gainstaging as well.

To say that you liked tape compression when you pushed it...and then didn't like the effect (when done on your own)... and that Massenberg presented a "cleaner" workflow .... well... that certainly destroys the approach philosophy to Spooky. Stormy, White Room or a host of others. Or Shining Star for that matter.

But maybe you're not quoting an approach to those three songs as examples. You're mentioning a more general "what I like to do and hear" thing.

Which as I harp on elsewhere in this thread.... does not necessarily serve every song. At least in my mind as I have not completely killed off the appeal of the hard-approach ways.

It may serve what you want to do in general for "tracks".... it may be that you would say "um, no mr. x, I am not gonna get involved with you to create a track that sounds like song xyz because .... I'm not IN to that sound".

Same with Massenberg. imo. There are some things he's simply not gonna do.... that he knows how to do.... because.... he's just not into it now.

Having said that again (as in other posts here), we all serve the song in different ways. It's a pain in the a** to do certain things in certain ways and because of that.... if you happen to know of ways to serve a track that many others don't.... you'll say no to getting involved with the pain in the a** approach. If for no other reason, there's no money in it like there used to be. No one is gonna pay what it would take in studio time or my/your/engineer X 's time and expertise to get there. I may wake up one morning and fire everything up and do it... but I haven't felt the urge enough to actually commit.

JJ, if you can actually DO a start-to-finish-all-the-way-to-the-cutting of a song track that duplicates the sonics of Stormy/Spooky/White Room .... on your daw....my hat is off to you. I can't. I can do it the conventional, hard way, but not on a daw. Perhaps if I had a fraction of time-crunch daw sessions under my belt at the level I did with tape/console.

The stuff you mentioned earlier that you felt you could do tapeless/console-less weren't exactly what I would call tremendously submixed, massive generation downs, or seat-of-pants impossible-to-get-sounds stuff.

But if you really feel confident that you can nail stuff like "It's Good News Week" start to finish on a daw and then onto vinyl cutting, you deserve people beating down the doors to work with you. imo anyway.
Old 25th September 2017
  #185
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drpeacock View Post
Got it.



I dunno...I guess I'm a tape diehard, at least in one respect. I keep that damn machine still, anyway. And I have always allowed that there are great and compelling reasons to record digitally. What ends up getting me in arguments (and keeping me there) with digital enthusiasts is the refusal to admit that there is an advantage to tape sonics—at least according to a certain aesthetic ideal. In other words, I allow freely that a person might like the aesthetics of digital sonics better than tape. I allow that they might not like dealing with the PITA that is tape. I allow that workflow may dictate digital, budget may dictate digital, I allow all manner of valid reasons to prefer digital.

But if you are the guy who uses all kinds of plug-ins to emulate tape and saturators to emulate consoles, which means you DO hold that aesthetic ideal, where we are going to argue off into the sunset together is you refusing to admit that real tape and console actually sound better for that aesthetic.

I can accept, "If I use plug-ins on a digital system, I have choices, whereas if I only have tape, I don't." I can accept any of the reasons above as long as it comes with the disclaimer, "90% is close enough for me when a tape machine is a constant PITA and a decent console is $20,000 and up."

But where I get annoyed is the insistence that anything digital sounds as good as real tape sounds at sounding like tape.
I don't want to sound just like tape. There were sonic aspects of tape that I never liked. I pretty much get sounds that make me 100% happy. I don't get 90% of anything. I can emulate the aspects of tape that I like, and avoid the aspects I don't. Win/win.



Quote:
I think that's one approach and I think it's a valid one, especially if the gear we're randomly sticking our hands in a hat and pulling out is all quality gear. On the other hand, if your job as an engineer is to make things sound the best they possibly can, well...

I also think there's a balance between missing opportunities to capture a moment b/c you're futzing around with something that is likely to only make a single-digit percentage difference, and missing an opportunity to maximize the sonic impact b/c you just grabbed something you knew "would work," and threw it up. And I guess people find that balance in different spots along the continuum.
I've seen more records ruined and budgets wasted on this approach. What I have discovered is that over the years, the listener really only cares about the song and performance, if you have a sound that's works, and you're wasting time dicking around with that stuff, it's just a waste of time and energy. There's a great story about JJP doing his voodoo for five minutes on mic placement for a guitar amp, and Glynn Johns going in the live room, kicking the mic, and proclaiming that it should have taken all of ten seconds.



Quote:
But if analog tape was the standard medium right now, you'd be doing your best stuff on analog tape. What you're referring to is simply the degree of experience you've attained, which is neither here nor there with regard to medium—just like the fact that analog isn't keeping you from doing your best work, digital isn't making your best work possible. You are.
Actually, DAWs are making som of my best production possible.


Quote:
Now wait a minute...before you said that was the pinnacle of your career. The thing that if you didn't record another thing would be enough.

So which is it? Was that your crowning achievement on that lowly ADAT, or are you creating those crowning achievements now?
I said my favorite recording. It's actually not my favorite mix, and a couple other things I would do differently these days. But it's my favorite recording. I don't think it's my best recording.



Quote:
While entirely true, the thing that makes me argue these questions is the insistence that sonics are not compromised when choosing digital, yet attempting the aesthetic we associate with analog. I get choosing digital when you just don't like what tape does in terms of distorting the signal, shaving off frequencies, introducing artifacts, etc. I get choosing digital for convenience, expense, recall, workflow, compatibility, etc.

But I argue the idea that guys (or gals) who have every tape emulator plug-in or box known to man—which means they clearly want to go after that sound—will not admit that emulating tape doesn't sound as good as real tape.

I can take, "My digital emulators get me 90% of the way there, and that sonic compromise is well worth it to me in order to gain what I gain by recording digitally rather than to tape." No problem.

My problem is when people insist that their digital system sounds as good as tape at sounding like tape. It doesn't.

You can get the best of one world and maybe the good in another. You do not have the best at sounding like tape. Tape is the best at sounding like tape.
As I said, I get the sounds that make me 100% happy. I don't want to sound exactly like tape. I can choose the aspects of tape that's I want to simulate, and ditch the parts I don't like.


Quote:
I have a Lynx Aurora. And here's the thing...when I compare the two, I compare them in the moment. Not remembering what tape sounded like 15 or 20 years ago when I used to use it.

That story I just told about my machine not erasing and having to switch formats, I made that comparison instantly, by just switching some patching in the patchy, making one more pass, and A/Bing by switching the patchy again.

The people I end up arguing with here about this never seem to do that kind of comparison, where we're talking about the same room, same musicians, same mics, same everything.
That's how it SHOULD be done. The Lynx is OK. You could get better sounding AD though, for when you are stuck in that medium.


Quote:
Do that and tell me that plug-ins sound as good as tape (at sounding like tape, that is).
Again, I don't want to sound exactly like tape. I love recording vocals at 32/96 and putting the ATR102 on vocals more than I love tape, and not just because of comping and editing. I don't have tape noise, and I don't have to use Dolby, which I hate. I get an even more emotional reaction to the vocal, because the shortcomings of tape are not distracting me from my listening experience.



Quote:
Well, there are advantages and disadvantages (compromises, right?), but yeah. It's a love-hate relationship.

I know more than a few engineers with carpal tunnel from operating a mouse all day every day.

Yeah, we try to not have to punch too often.
My point was simply, god bless you for trying to tame that beast.
Old 25th September 2017
  #186
Gear Addict
 
BrianK's Avatar
 

I have used (and still own) many, many tape machines. I have Scully, Ampex, Studer, 3M, Otari, MCI etc etc.

Here's what I think:

MCI - easiest for you. Parts and repairs - not hard. Sound is pretty good - not amazing.

3M - M79 - Amazing sound. Parts are out there, tech help is rare but possible. Not expensive

Ampex - MM1100 and MM1200 sound Amazing too! But harder on tape and repair help also tricky.

Studer - the older the machine, the better the sound, the worse the repair service help, and the lesser parts. Anything in the 800 range is a modern machine, without great sound, but pro and good. EXPENSIVE to buy and there are more techs out there for these than anything. But once you analyze what happens with modern Studers, they have brilliant mechanisms and "ok" audio compared to the old ones and other machines like 3M and Ampex.



Scully - very midrangey kind of sound, good for rock and jazz, a bit more brute force on tape.

Soundcraft/ACES machines - run away!

Stephens - brilliant sound and design BUT (as they said it was the closest thing to digital back then) it doesn't sound much like tape! Hard to service, no parts out there.

Otari - almost as nice on tape as a modern Studer, but ok sound, like the MCI.

My advice - MCI to get your feet wet with tape.

OR try to find 2x Ampex or 2x 3M machines - cannibalize one for parts when you need them, the other is tweaked as your main machine! Cheaper than Studer and better sound.
Old 25th September 2017
  #187
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
I don't want to sound just like tape. There were sonic aspects of tape that I never liked. I pretty much get sounds that make me 100% happy. I don't get 90% of anything. I can emulate the aspects of tape that I like, and avoid the aspects I don't. Win/win.
Then what I said doesn't apply to you.

Quote:
I've seen more records ruined and budgets wasted on this approach.
Wasted on the approach of finding a balance between not missing a performance and not missing an opportunity for sonic excellence? Do tell.

Quote:
Actually, DAWs are making some of my best production possible.
Then it IS about the tool, not the engineer?

Quote:
I said my favorite recording. It's actually not my favorite mix, and a couple other things I would do differently these days. But it's my favorite recording. I don't think it's my best recording.
That is not what you said. This is what you said (emphasis mine):
Quote:
The best recording I ever did, the one that I'm the most proud of, that conveys the most emotion possible, that will bring tears to people's eyes and would make me be happy if it were the only thing I ever recorded, was done on blackface ADAT, because that's what the studio had.
That may have been what you meant, but that's not what you typed. And your point was that the gear doesn't matter, but you then say that DAWs matter because they are enabling you to do your best work ever. Except this ADAT recording of Johnny Cash was supposed to be your best work ever.

Sincerely not trying to be a jerk, but for clarity's sake...I hope that doesn't irritate you.

Quote:
That's how it SHOULD be done.
Agreed. Ever done it?

Quote:
The Lynx is OK. You could get better sounding AD though, for when you are stuck in that medium.
You think the Apogee is better? What about RADAR? I've thought about saving up and going in that direction. I think about it every time that damn Ampex does something like stop erasing, in fact. Does RADAR still have a significant conversion advantage over what else is out there?

Quote:
Again, I don't want to sound exactly like tape. I love recording vocals at 32/96 and putting the ATR102 on vocals more than I love tape, and not just because of comping and editing. I don't have tape noise, and I don't have to use Dolby, which I hate. I get an even more emotional reaction to the vocal, because the shortcomings of tape are not distracting me from my listening experience.
That's totally cool. Like I say, if you honestly like that better, good for you.
Old 25th September 2017
  #188
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
JJ, if you can actually DO a start-to-finish-all-the-way-to-the-cutting of a song track that duplicates the sonics of Stormy/Spooky/White Room .... on your daw....my hat is off to you. I can't. I can do it the conventional, hard way, but not on a daw. Perhaps if I had a fraction of time-crunch daw sessions under my belt at the level I did with tape/console.
Honestly, I'm not a fan of the sound of the Cream stuff, from a recording standpoint. It works, but I can't get past the drum sounds. I can't stand the way Ginger tuned his drums, and I don't dig the way Dowd captured them. Zeppelin I it ain't. It's not even Beggars Banquet. That's just my personal tastes. I love the songs and performances, so I overlook the recording, and concentrate on the things I love. The vibe happens to be awesome. But in terms of recording, I'd much rather make a record that sounds like Blind Faith, if we're talking Eric and Ginger.

The Classics IV stuff is easy to replicate. You don't have to recreate the process to achieve the accumulative effect of bussing and bouncing. Staying Alive's drums were 2 bar loop of Jive Talkin', mixed to two track, and then recorded onto the Staying Alive multi track. Think of all the bussing and bouncing that went down to achieve that in the end. The hardest part of recreating that for me was the drum tuning. Getting that 4th generation analog sound was the easy part. Having the alignment tools in the UAD makes that stuff a piece of cake. And having aligned tape machines for 20+ years, it's helpful to know what to tweak in order to replicate that vibe.

But honestly, I can't understand why you'd want to make a record in 2017 that sounds like Wheels of Fire. Maybe the vocal sound or the guitar tone, but I'd be embarrassed to have drums sound like that in this day and age. Tom was still trying to figure out the transition from jazz to rock at that point. His production ideas were great, but the sounds don't slay me. I'm more interested in listening to his productions like "This Is It" and getting those sounds.

But this goes back to a thread I started a while back. People posted examples of what they thought analog should sound like, and there were lots of examples of what I consider bad recordings. For some reason, people thought those were the ****. Go back to my Hawkwind example. It has a certain vibe to it, but not even Albini would want his recordings to sound that bad. If I were to release something that sounded like that, I would consider myself to be ripping off the audience.

But that's just me.

Last edited by jjblair; 26th September 2017 at 12:12 AM..
Old 26th September 2017
  #189
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drpeacock View Post
Wasted on the approach of finding a balance between not missing a performance and not missing an opportunity for sonic excellence? Do tell.
There's a celebrated engineer who really popularized that mentality in the '90s. People started thinking, "This is how you're supposed to engineer." It became an epidemic. Well, I'll tell you a couple experiences friends of mine had with that guy: One said they tried different mic pres for for 90 minutes, to record a tambourine track. Another one, in a different band, said they spent the first two days trying every mic in the Ocean Way locker on the bass drum. Mind you, that's not even in the context of the song. As this mentality persisted throughout the record they went over budget, and the band could only afford to eat once a day towards the end of the record. Those are just two stories.

On both of these records, you probably never heard them, even though you have certainly heard of the producer/engineer. Maybe he should have put the time into making sure the songs were good, so you might've heard the song on the radio or something.

Quote:
Then it IS about the tool, not the engineer?
We're talking production, in that respect.

Quote:
That is not what you said. This is what you said (emphasis mine):

That may have been what you meant, but that's not what you typed. And your point was that the gear doesn't matter, but you then say that DAWs matter because they are enabling you to do your best work ever. Except this ADAT recording of Johnny Cash was supposed to be your best work ever.

Sincerely not trying to be a jerk, but for clarity's sake...I hope that doesn't irritate you.
I never mind somebody clarifying. I'm a stickler for semantics! When I say the best thing I ever recorded, I do mean my favorite, so I apologize for the confusion. And my point is that the gear doesn't matter as much as the medium, and in that case I got something to sound "huge" on an ADAT.

Quote:
Agreed. Ever done it?
How else would one A/B? I shoot everything out. Know thy gear! I just don't do that kind of stuff in the middle of a record. I do it in my own time.

Quote:
You think the Apogee is better? What about RADAR? I've thought about saving up and going in that direction. I think about it every time that damn Ampex does something like stop erasing, in fact. Does RADAR still have a significant conversion advantage over what else is out there?
I like the Symphony better. I'm extremely happy with the Symphony. Maybe it gets even better with an Atomic Clock, but I've been seeing a number of those have reliability issues, and Antelope can't seem to service them for some reason. One of my best friends has had his sitting in repair for a year, waiting for a part or something. This shop has a little pile of them accumulating.

RADAR is awesome, that that's about the Nyquist converters. If you want into PT with those files, it's gonna sound the same. if you like the sound of tape, RADAR may be your favorite fallback.
Old 26th September 2017
  #190
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianK View Post
I have used (and still own) many, many tape machines. I have Scully, Ampex, Studer, 3M, Otari, MCI etc etc.

Here's what I think:

MCI - easiest for you. Parts and repairs - not hard. Sound is pretty good - not amazing.

3M - M79 - Amazing sound. Parts are out there, tech help is rare but possible. Not expensive

Ampex - MM1100 and MM1200 sound Amazing too! But harder on tape and repair help also tricky.

Studer - the older the machine, the better the sound, the worse the repair service help, and the lesser parts. Anything in the 800 range is a modern machine, without great sound, but pro and good. EXPENSIVE to buy and there are more techs out there for these than anything. But once you analyze what happens with modern Studers, they have brilliant mechanisms and "ok" audio compared to the old ones and other machines like 3M and Ampex.



Scully - very midrangey kind of sound, good for rock and jazz, a bit more brute force on tape.

Soundcraft/ACES machines - run away!

Stephens - brilliant sound and design BUT (as they said it was the closest thing to digital back then) it doesn't sound much like tape! Hard to service, no parts out there.

Otari - almost as nice on tape as a modern Studer, but ok sound, like the MCI.

My advice - MCI to get your feet wet with tape.

OR try to find 2x Ampex or 2x 3M machines - cannibalize one for parts when you need them, the other is tweaked as your main machine! Cheaper than Studer and better sound.
Stephens is pure ...almost pristine.
Old 26th September 2017
  #191
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Caps are so much better today that after you replace some, you can REMOVE some, because you don't need as many to pass the audio. The removal of caps is the biggest reason for the sonic improvement of this upgrade. As my tech says, the best cap is no cap.

All of my channel cards were upgraded by Waltzing Bear Audio in Portland, OR. Cost me a little over $2k, I believe. This is a fully transformerless machine operating with modern specs...about as clean as it gets for tape. Some people don't want that, but it sure sounds good to me. Having said that, I like the colorful sound of Studer A80s, for example, too.

Of course, the transports of the MTR-90s aren't perfect, but they're not bad. I bet an A820 or an A827 with some mods would sound killer if you're going for transparent sound.

At the end of the day...it's tape! It's gonna be great, even if you're recording on cassette!
The 827 without any mods is IMO the best tape machine out there.
No transformers, minimal caps in the audio path and the most ridiculously oversized power supply system I have ever seen.
A transport that can keep over 5kg of tape (14" reel) stable to an empty reel.
Auto align- hit a button, wait a minute and bang, all thee electronics have been calibrated, no pissing around.
Old 26th September 2017
  #192
Gear Addict
 
BrianK's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyMac View Post
The 827 without any mods is IMO the best tape machine out there.
No transformers, minimal caps in the audio path and the most ridiculously oversized power supply system I have ever seen.
A transport that can keep over 5kg of tape (14" reel) stable to an empty reel.
Auto align- hit a button, wait a minute and bang, all thee electronics have been calibrated, no pissing around.

Except the HF end is out of phase with the regular signal - which is why it sounds weird to me and others. And I LOVE transformers, as most people in audio do.

Alan Sides will argue that his Ampex 2" machines are the best - I cannot comment as they only made a dozen or so. I agree his ears supercede ours!
Old 26th September 2017
  #193
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
How else would one A/B? I shoot everything out. Know thy gear! I just don't do that kind of stuff in the middle of a record. I do it in my own time.
Sure, I meant specifically have you ever A/Bed your Apogee Symphony against a tape machine like that?


Quote:
RADAR is awesome, that that's about the Nyquist converters. If you want into PT with those files, it's gonna sound the same.
Sorry, I'm not sure I understand these sentences...can you re-state? And thanks for the opinion on RADAR!
Old 26th September 2017
  #194
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianK View Post
Except the HF end is out of phase with the regular signal - which is why it sounds weird to me and others. And I LOVE transformers, as most people in audio do.

Alan Sides will argue that his Ampex 2" machines are the best - I cannot comment as they only made a dozen or so. I agree his ears supercede ours!
Do you have a link about the high end being out of phase? It's the first I've ever heard of it. All measurements I've ever seen show the 827 to be the flattest response of all the 2" machines.

As for the ATR124, David Bock did some very interesting tests with the 124 vs. the 827. I'm not sure I recall it correctly, but I think all the magic was in the playback of the 124. I'll email him and see what it was.

Last edited by jjblair; 26th September 2017 at 06:58 PM..
Old 26th September 2017
  #195
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drpeacock View Post
Sure, I meant specifically have you ever A/Bed your Apogee Symphony against a tape machine like that?




Sorry, I'm not sure I understand these sentences...can you re-state? And thanks for the opinion on RADAR!
Sorry. This is what happens when I type on my iPad in the doctor's office. I was saying that you can through the RADAR files in ProTools, and it will sound the same.
Old 26th September 2017
  #196
Gear Maniac
 
Dan O's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyMac View Post
The 827 without any mods is IMO the best tape machine out there.
No transformers, minimal caps in the audio path and the most ridiculously oversized power supply system I have ever seen.
A transport that can keep over 5kg of tape (14" reel) stable to an empty reel.
Auto align- hit a button, wait a minute and bang, all thee electronics have been calibrated, no pissing around.
Not very important but I'm pretty sure that 827 dont have autoalign but 820 does.
Old 26th September 2017
  #197
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Unless I have a spare machine and an on-staff technician, I will go for reliability as the determining factor, any day of the week. The 800 never sounded that much better to me that the maintenance headache made it more attractive than the 827, which in 23 years has had a total of about 4 maintenance calls. (Mind you, it gets turned on so rarely now, but when it does, it works perfectly and the alignment is rock solid.)

And since so many of you guys think Albini is the be all end all of analog, I believe that his machine of choice is the 820, no?

827 doesn't auto align, but having the built in tone generator option is a real time saver. Also, you can store 2 alignments at each speed, automatically switch from NAB to CCIR with the push of a button, and you can print an alignment and store it, and automatically reload it. Fancy!
Old 26th September 2017
  #198
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianK View Post
Except the HF end is out of phase with the regular signal - which is why it sounds weird to me and others. And I LOVE transformers, as most people in audio do.
From Charlie Bolois: "All Studer tape recorders (and the JH16 MCI!!!) from the A800 forward employ "phase compensation" circuitry to correct that sort of error. "
Old 26th September 2017
  #199
Gear Addict
 
BrianK's Avatar
 

The test was not (yet) published, but a major software company is working on a "tape" plugin and tested all the various machines. They found the Studer HF to be rotated over 90 degrees out of phase relative to the original. I visited when they were doing it, and this is what I was told.

Their favorite among machines was the 3M, although nothing is "pure" - they all have their issues! You just choose from listening. "Flat" response is not something I seek in tape machines, consoles or microphones - it comes from digital (not a sound I'm after in tape or anything!) I look for harmonious returns... subjective, but "what sounds good" is what I choose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Do you have a link about the high end being out of phase? It's the first I've ever heard of it. All measurements I've ever seen show the 827 to be the flattest response of all the 2" machines.

As for the ATR124, David Bock did some very interesting tests with the 124 vs. the 827. I'm not sure I recall it correctly, but I think all the magic was in the playback of the 124. I'll email him and see what it was.
Old 26th September 2017
  #200
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianK View Post
They found the Studer HF to be rotated over 90 degrees out of phase relative to the original.
If that's true, and not just a particular machine, then it doesn't matter anyway. It a great sounding machine, and obviously no one has ever noticed, so it doesn't matter in the least. This is more of an OCD thing. I encountered a guy who was OCD about phase on drum samples, but he would have never known they were out of phase unless he saw the waveforms in DAW.

The precision of controls and such that we have on audio fool us into thinking our hearing is far more precise than it is, mostly by placebo effect.
Old 26th September 2017
  #201
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
No it's not out of phase ever. That is not true.
Old 26th September 2017
  #202
Gear Addict
 
BrianK's Avatar
 

I would agree to disagree that it's a great-sounding machine. Any 800 or later series Studer don't compare sonically to their earlier machines, but they have nice features like alignment and transport that the earlier ones do not.

And pure sonics, it's the Ampex and 3M designs (alongside the clean, plain ones like Stephens and Sides' Ampex?). Ampex and 3M are strongest for positive coloration (is there ANY other reason to use tape, besides workflow?). Linearity is not a selling point on tape, you wouldn't want it for that, which digital does so well.
Old 26th September 2017
  #203
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
I was awarded Tube and Tape Supremo in 2012, 2013, and 2014 by Fluffy Package Records and Tapes Foundation.

The best sounding machine is the Stellavox SM8 with the super wide heads.
Old 26th September 2017
  #204
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianK View Post
The test was not (yet) published, but a major software company is working on a "tape" plugin and tested all the various machines. They found the Studer HF to be rotated over 90 degrees out of phase relative to the original. I visited when they were doing it, and this is what I was told.

Their favorite among machines was the 3M, although nothing is "pure" - they all have their issues! You just choose from listening. "Flat" response is not something I seek in tape machines, consoles or microphones - it comes from digital (not a sound I'm after in tape or anything!) I look for harmonious returns... subjective, but "what sounds good" is what I choose.
Flattest, in terms of frequency response.

I will have to measure this. Never heard this before, and neither had Charlie. But as you already know, transformers have their own phase shift, generally.

Tape is just adding another level of color. When I worked exclusively with tape, I EQ'd on the way in to tape much less, as well as maybe compressed less. Now I simply make sure I get all the color I want on the way in, and then I'm very thrilled with what I've captured.

BTW, I don't mind the argument that digital doesn't have a sound, or is flat, if that's what you're saying. I just rankle at the idea that I'm seeing in here that you can't make great recordings with digital, or that you need tape to make things sound "big." Ideally, digital shouldn't have a sound. If you get a great sound going in, then that is the sound you get coming out, provided you have good conversion.

There's bad digital and there's great digital. Same with analog. It's not a binary choice (no pun intended). Every single part of the signal chain is a compromise, and you have to personally decide what works best for your process. But to subscribe to a dogma that you can't make great sounding records without tape, is really tying one hand behind your back.

(Brian already knows all of this. He's one of the smartest folks I know. I'm just thinking out loud.)
Old 26th September 2017
  #205
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
BTW, this page has been around for years, with the response graphs of various machines. (Sadly no 3M.) What some people think are the "best sounding machines" really have some of the craziest frequency responses. Is that -2dB drop at 150Hz on the MM1200 really something that translates into good sound? Very subjective.

Response Curves of Analog Recorders
Old 26th September 2017
  #206
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
BTW, this page has been around for years, with the response graphs of various machines. (Sadly no 3M.) What some people think are the "best sounding machines" really have some of the craziest frequency responses. Is that -2dB drop at 150Hz on the MM1200 really something that translates into good sound? Very subjective.

Response Curves of Analog Recorders
Subjective is right. And that often-quoted page doesn't even show the half of things in historical real-time work....

Specifically if one is approaching a session in the context of doing massive submixes/bounces through console xyz, the anomalies multiply in unpredictable, perhaps pleasing, perhaps irritating and perplexing ways..... multiplied by how many weeks/months the tape is played back over and over.

In that regard, the op question "What tape recorder shall I buy" still requires some of us (imo) to ask......"what are your favorite commercial references". Followed by a question as to if the op has a console and what it is.

By the way while I'm thinking about it, 1" Scully 284-8 eight-track machines are the worst machines I ever used in terms of doing massive submixes and getting anything that didn't completely aggravate me.... through at least 4-5 different consoles in 1970/71. Maybe they were okay for one-pass captures of stuff and then mix. Never met a machine I hated.... but I intensely disliked that Scully.
Old 26th September 2017
  #207
Lives for gear
 
jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
Subjective is right. And that often-quoted page doesn't even show the half of things in historical real-time work....

Specifically if one is approaching a session in the context of doing massive submixes/bounces through console xyz, the anomalies multiply in unpredictable, perhaps pleasing, perhaps irritating and perplexing ways..... multiplied by how many weeks/months the tape is played back over and over.

In that regard, the op question "What tape recorder shall I buy" still requires some of us (imo) to ask......"what are your favorite commercial references". Followed by a question as to if the op has a console and what it is.

By the way while I'm thinking about it, 1" Scully 284-8 eight-track machines are the worst machines I ever used in terms of doing massive submixes and getting anything that didn't completely aggravate me.... through at least 4-5 different consoles in 1970/71. Maybe they were okay for one-pass captures of stuff and then mix. Never met a machine I hated.... but I intensely disliked that Scully.
You know, I hate to say it, but I'm going to name a recording that was (for me) ruined by tape. Jimi Hendrix's "Burning of the Midnight Lamp." It sounds like many generations of bounces an submixes, in order to fit all the extra production on that track. Muddy, mangled, distorted, warbly, etc. Sounds so lousy and small compared to the tracks on the record without all the extra bells and whistles. It really makes you appreciate how meticulous the Abbey Road engineers were to keep the integrity of the sounds during their submixing on Beatles records.

(Sorry to be so talkative lately. I've got these two days off, if you can't tell, and you guys are keeping me busy while I wait for my latest coat of lacquer on a Tele to dry, so I don't spray another coat too soon. Patience is the hardest part of guitar finishing.)
Old 26th September 2017
  #208
Lives for gear
 

Ah cmon noodle , a lot of great stuff was done on
Scullys . Zep II mix . Stones brown sugar .
Stepen wolf born to be wild record ( no over dubs tho ) . I imagine over dubbing and sub mixes
On that machine must have been tough tho.
Old 27th September 2017
  #209
Lives for gear
 

Thats not a bad resume for a tape machine!
Old 27th September 2017
  #210
I agree with v much of what Brian & JJ have written here... tape at its best sounds big and open.

Best I ever tried was a Stephens owned by Jon Brion (yes less transformer-y but gave the sound of the actual tape itself, w 456 it was heaven, big with holographic leading edge and transients / detail). Listen to the Cars records or Queen, unreal. We'd do guitar takes and listen to repro... always 5% better than input a minute ago while tracking. Never muffled or damped down.

Probably almost as good all around but different were the 124s at Cello / OW.

Ampex 1200 / MCI for drum beds were amazing. Punch.

Scully for vintage vibe.

Studers, not partial to them.

BTW if anyone has a Stephens 2 track 1/4" for sale, I might be interested in buying, only need it for playback
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
lanervoza / So much gear, so little time
6
nalin / So much gear, so little time
0
Circular Light / Low End Theory
21
blumediaprojekt / So much gear, so little time
2
FMNYC / So much gear, so little time
4

Forum Jump
Forum Jump