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Best Tape Machine and why? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 22nd August 2007
  #1
Gear Addict
 
tonymite's Avatar
 

Best Tape Machine and why?

My latest obsession- Tape:

i want the tape option for colour - since my console is SONY/MCI-3630 and has been known to sound neutral / vanilla flavour - although I have outboard to counter that.


Which is the "BEST" sounding/behaving tape machine and why?

ie: I hear AMPEX MM1200 are fat and rock sounding but are a nightmare to maintain - although frequency plots show a roll off and a bump down low.

same applies for the MCI JH-16/24 I hear the cards are interchangable with MM1200 ie: Transformer Balanced class A discrete audio

Studer's are expensive and seem to be best all rounders. I dont know much about their electronics.

Sony APR-24 looks interesting but transformerless kind of defeats the purpouse of the desire for tape - but I hear the transport system is rock solid.

OTARI ?? I dont hear any remarks about Balls with OTARI

Soundcraft 760 and Saphire ??

any other optins to consider ??

I think I'd be happy with 16 Tracks - I wouldn't need more to track drums and bass + I'd get a bit more dynamic range out of 16 tracks compared to 24 tracks wouldn't I ? more fatness ??

Thanks In Advance)
Old 22nd August 2007
  #2
Moderator
 
Oroz's Avatar
 

Many people say that the Studer A827 is the best sounding tape machine although I haven't had a lot of experience with it.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #3
PDC
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonymite View Post
My latest obsession- Tape:

i want the tape option for colour - since my console is SONY/MCI-3630 and has been known to sound neutral / vanilla flavour - although I have outboard to counter that.


Which is the "BEST" sounding/behaving tape machine and why?

ie: I hear AMPEX MM1200 are fat and rock sounding but are a nightmare to maintain - although frequency plots show a roll off and a bump down low.

same applies for the MCI JH-16/24 I hear the cards are interchangable with MM1200 ie: Transformer Balanced class A discrete audio

Studer's are expensive and seem to be best all rounders. I dont know much about their electronics.

Sony APR-24 looks interesting but transformerless kind of defeats the purpouse of the desire for tape - but I hear the transport system is rock solid.

OTARI ?? I dont hear any remarks about Balls with OTARI

Soundcraft 760 and Saphire ??

any other optins to consider ??

I think I'd be happy with 16 Tracks - I wouldn't need more to track drums and bass + I'd get a bit more dynamic range out of 16 tracks compared to 24 tracks wouldn't I ? more fatness ??

Thanks In Advance)
Poop on the Soundcraft's and Otari's IMO. I don't know what you call expensive. There are some good deals all the time on Studer A80s.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #4
w2w
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Its the music you create & put on the machine.

If the music has no "balls",the tape machine (or any other gear) is not going to give it any.

Any well maintained tape machine(Otari,MCI,Studer etc) will do just fine.

You would have to have pretty special ears to be able to close your eyes & tell what brand of tape machine a song was recorded on.

A good Idea would be to visit a few studios with tape machines & listen to them & see what you are getting yourself into to see if it is right for you,take notes on what you like & dont like about them.Your going to get a ton of different opinions from a message board.Decide what YOU like after spending some time hands on with them,its the only way to know.

Old 22nd August 2007
  #5
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tonymite's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by w2w View Post
Its the music you create & put on the machine.

If the music has no "balls",the tape machine (or any other gear) is not going to give it any.

Any well maintained tape machine(Otari,MCI,Studer etc) will do just fine.

You would have to have pretty special ears to be able to close your eyes & tell what brand of tape machine a song was recorded on.

A good Idea would be to visit a few studios with tape machines & listen to them & see what you are getting yourself into to see if it is right for you,take notes on what you like & dont like about them.Your going to get a ton of different opinions from a message board.Decide what YOU like after spending some time hands on with them,its the only way to know.

You would have to have pretty special ears to be able to close your eyes & tell what brand of tape machine a song was recorded on.

If this is the case - I would just stick to digital

Access to all these studios may not be an option - and each studios signal path will vary.
I know studio forums can be a wank .. but I'm waiting on a reply from the right folk - the ones whose philosophy I recognise/admire.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #6
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numrologst's Avatar
the studer 820 and 827 have extremely flat freq responses
Old 22nd August 2007
  #7
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tonymite's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by numrologst View Post
the studer 820 and 827 have extremely flat freq responses
so does my Alesis HD24XR - will tape alone give me that magic or is there something in the Transformer In/Outs that do something too ?

Sony APR-24 would be flat(ish) no bump sin freq. plots ... but the transformerless signal path Im not wrapped about.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #8
Lives for gear
Studers always rock. I have an A80 mk4....killer. 827 sound great and are that much easier to use. A800 is probably god of tape machines.

Otaris....MTR90 Mk2 is great..if you stumble on a 100...greater. I'd stay away from the Mk1.

MCI......depeneds on the machine. If its a good one it will rock. Transport issues can affect some.

Ampex or Tascam... certainly workable...they sound great

3M......great machines, sound amazing. They seem kind klunky, but they are beasts.

Soundcraft.....Might depend on your tech savvy. there aren't a lot around, so parts and support are tough. The Saturn was a very advanced machine, but it was too late and never caught on.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #9
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analogtodd's Avatar
 

Just buy a Studer A80 mkI or mkII and have it gone through, use it for tracking and dump it straight to your Alesis. Everything will just start sounding better...

Seriously, the A80 are stupid cheap right now, and if you have a tech thats anywhere local, there is NO REASON not to own one.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #10
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darkwavo's Avatar
 

Ampex MM1200 2" 16 track + a good and kind tech.
Ampex ATR-102 --best mixdown machine 1/2"
Old 22nd August 2007
  #11
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vernier's Avatar
Best soundin' are Stephens and old Ampex (tube). Those are best.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #12
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numrologst's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonymite View Post
so does my Alesis HD24XR - will tape alone give me that magic or is there something in the Transformer In/Outs that do something too ?

Sony APR-24 would be flat(ish) no bump sin freq. plots ... but the transformerless signal path Im not wrapped about.
It depends on what magic is to you...Is the best freq response tape machine? Is it a dark sounding machine like the jh24?

No matter what 2" machine you go with, it will sound like tape. If that is the magic you want, then buy a somewhat reliable machine... To me reliable machines are studer 800's, late model jh-24's, and the otari mtr90/100. I have a jh24 and studer 827... Both of them sound like tape... But my jh24 is dark and the lowend is just okay... The studer is not bright but it's not overly dark, the lowend kicks ass, and it just sounds better than my jh24... I used the jh24 for a long time though without any regret
Old 22nd August 2007
  #13
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rainsinvelvet's Avatar
Having owned both a Otari MTR90mk2 and an Ampex MM1200 I will tell you that the Ampex killed the Otari in the "vibe" department, but the transport of an MM1200 is really slow. The Otari worked just about every time I powered it up while the MM1200 has little minor card issues often, but can be worked around without much hassle.

I love my MM1200 for sound, but the transport of the otari was stellar.
ERic
Old 22nd August 2007
  #14
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neilio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rainsinvelvet View Post
Having owned both a Otari MTR90mk2 and an Ampex MM1200 I will tell you that the Ampex killed the Otari in the "vibe" department, but the transport of an MM1200 is really slow. The Otari worked just about every time I powered it up while the MM1200 has little minor card issues often, but can be worked around without much hassle.

I love my MM1200 for sound, but the transport of the otari was stellar.
ERic

ive always liked the studer a820's, they have an auto align feature, plus even if you align manually, its electronic, no tweeky tools and squinting required,same deal with 827's...but i always liked the 820 sound for some reason....also in a dim control room those bright red led meters are very nice on the eyes...

alot of pro's claimed the 820 had TOO MAANY electronics what with the auto-align, but ive never bought into that, plus i think they were designed to dolby built in or something like that....

as far as great, without hassle of parts or finicky-ness studers are the way to go, plus being in melbourne, you are closer to europe, where they are from.

if you do go with an 800, make sure it is a mark 3, or it has been converted....

80's are great too, but ive never had to tech one, so im not sure what maintenance is like.

good luck and let us know which way you went.

you wont be sorry,sonically, you got one, if its in good shape.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #15
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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.
Cleanest sounding.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #16
w2w
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Quote:
You would have to have pretty special ears to be able to close your eyes & tell what brand of tape machine a song was recorded on.
Quote:
If this is the case - I would just stick to digital
You just might be better off with digital.



Quote:
Access to all these studios may not be an option - and each studios signal path will vary.
I know studio forums can be a wank .. but I'm waiting on a reply from the right folk - the ones whose philosophy I recognise/admire.
So peoples whose ideas you admire wont have signal paths that vary?? If someone tells you how a machine sounds to THEM,is that better than actually hearing one for yourself?

Just waiting for someone to tell you what you want to hear is a good way to possibly buying the wrong machine.What one persons idea of fat sounding can be anothers opposite,your ears may tell you something completely different.If there are just no studios in your area then you have no other choice than a forum.Regardless of the signal paths,you can still listen to a machine and get an understanding of a tape machine,and an idea if you even want to get involved in owning & using one.You would not regret trying to find at least one studio with a tape machine & checking it out first for yourself.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #17
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r0ck1r0ck2's Avatar
 

you've got to wonder about this bugger...


2inch 8track
for studers and i believe otaris as well
Old 22nd August 2007
  #18
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Fletcher's Avatar
In my experience the best "recording" deck is the MCI JH-24 ['82 & '83 models were really excellent... '86, '87 and '88 models the most reliable... and I'd avoid anything from '84 & '85 as those were "Sony" transition years].

The Studer A-800 mk III has always been the best sounding mix machine to me... the 827 isn't far behind, but it is definitely behind.

The best "overall" machine I've heard is the Ampex ATR-124... which are an absolute horror show to keep running... so unless you can find two [one for using, one for parts], and have excellent technical chops I'd avoid that machine like it caused testicular cancer.

Peace.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #19
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soundbarnfool's Avatar
 

I think the tape itself is probably more of a factor, assuming you are using a Studer, MCI, Ampex etc. I like 900.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Reminds me of the "whats the best AD converter" question. accept with mech issues thrown in.

The only machines I've used are the studer A80 and the Studer A827, which I have at the studio. I loved them both. machines play a large role in the sound, but then so does the actual tape used, bias settings, capacitors in the machine, and lastly WHAT you are laying down to it.

My advice is if you want to do this, DO IT , buy what you can for your money and aelrn to look after it yourself. Think of it as a vintage car that you stuff all your love into maintaining.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #21
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FULL-DUPLEX's Avatar
 

I like my Telefunken M15 (full discrete) 1/4"... thumbsup

Telefunken tapemachines are the bang for the buck IMO...
Old 22nd August 2007
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Why not just get a 1/4" machine to mix down to?
Old 22nd August 2007
  #23
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toolstudio's Avatar
 

I work every day with a Studer A800 MkIII, and the only thing I would change, is get
a second one :-)

Great punch, low end,... and simply feels good to work with.

Reliability ? Pretty good. In relation to the time and work I do.
As I remember, one blown motor power regulator and a bad solder joint in an
audio supply.
But as I said, the machine get's a really workout over the years.

Mixing will go to A820 1/2", best tape handling I've every seen.


wolfgang
Old 22nd August 2007
  #24
Han
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I've been working with an Otari MX80 for nearly ten years now. I want a second one.

Talking about reliable? This machine is as reliable as a Toyota Corolla.
Old 22nd August 2007
  #25
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RichTone's Avatar
 

Another vote for the Studer A820.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #26
Harmless Wacko
 

Buy TWO MCI JH24.

You can get them DIRT CHEAP. They are fairly easy to maintain once you know the drill(s) and they sound great contrary to the superstitions/hogwash/smoke and mirror show of the "Studer snobs", who are, thankfully, dying off here in the twilight of analog audio.

Use one machine and keep the other kicking around as a parts machine.

Or better yet. Buy THREE and keep a main machine, a fully functional 'on-deck' machine AND a 'parts bomber' in the garage.

Basically... You can NEVER HAVE TOO MANY JH24's.

HOHOHO.

Best regards,

SM.
Old 23rd August 2007
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

I often run my drum tracking trough 2x 4track 1 inch Studer J37.

Yes that is 1 inch 4, not 24 tracks.

Each of those 300 punds 4 track beasts has 52 tubes in them.

And no noise at all.

I use them for mixdown, tape-delay etc. aswell, amazing mix glue.

They are amazing machines,

best sound ever.

Studer C37s are the 1/4inch 1 and two track versions. They are a bit more affordable.
Old 25th August 2007
  #28
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stevep's Avatar
The Best Sounding Tape Machine

This should do it

AnalogRules / BASE which Tape Recorder sounds the best?




Old 25th August 2007
  #29
.

nice, steve...

.

.
Old 25th August 2007
  #30
Gear Nut
 

Multitrack - Studer A800 MkIII.
Stereo - ATR 102.
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