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Question for you old analog tape guys (or young ones?)
Old 1st April 2008
  #1
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dannygold's Avatar
 

Question for you old analog tape guys (or young ones?)

If I bought a reel of 24 track tape to use the studio I hang around at:

What is a good place to buy such a thing at a good price? Recommendations for current tape brand? Is there such a thing as NOS tape?

If I track to it and then dump to PT (or process PT tracks thru tape) can I reuse the tape if the erase heads on the 24 track machine are good? Do I have to not print too hot to make that realistic? Should I erase it in an erase only pass before I re-record on it or just "erase as I record"?
Old 1st April 2008
  #2
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Which country r u in
Old 1st April 2008
  #3
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I'm in the People's Republic of Cambridge. Massachusetts. USA.
Old 1st April 2008
  #4
A good place to buy one is from a user who has taken care of it. There is such a thing as NOS tape, but if the person is using the machine good luck getting them to part with it. ATR is making new tape, I have 'NOS' 499 (heh), probably about 20 reels of it for my own use. But you gotta record with my studio to use it. I would erase once then re record on any used tape, if it's not shedding it should be fine. Some people get really picky about this, but it's for color, depth and glue anyhow, forget the purity factor.
Old 1st April 2008
  #5
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You can definitely re-use tape if it isn't rapidly losing oxide. One of the advantages of printing tones is that you re-align the machine to the specific reel of tape before every session, so even though tape will lose high end over time and wear, you can compensate for that in the alignment. In my analog days it was a major pet peeve of mine that many cheapskates would leave off the tones and alignment pad to try to get a couple extra minutes of tape. This was a bad idea, as there could be a 3dB swing between brand new reels in the same case.

I'd certainly do an erase pass to avoid any funny surprises when punching!
Old 1st April 2008
  #6
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young guy's opinion:
If you want to spent $290 , buy a reel of ATR magnetics 2". I use the 1/2" and it is very good. For used 2", I like used ampex or quantegy 499. I found 16 reels of 499 for $10 each on ebay!!! they work great. As long as they were originally used on a 24 track deck and they are not sticky or mistreated, they seem to be fine. erase them first. Beware...If the original owner used the 2" tape on a 16 track machine, you will not get proper erasure on the whole width of the tape with a 24 track erase head. This requires bulk erasing.
There is a place called tapetape in LA that offers bulk erased tape.
also look for used or n.o.s. Emtec 900. that is good.
set up and record at 15 ips.
Old 1st April 2008
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannygold View Post
I'm in the People's Republic of Cambridge. Massachusetts. USA.
Not "our fair city!"?

Anyway, thereare still 2" reels of used stuff out there. But it's horses for courses - different machines prefer different types of tape, so it would halp to know which machine you have.
Old 1st April 2008
  #8
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vernier's Avatar
Yep, you can buy used tape, use it, erase it, use it again ...not a problem. Studios even do it.
Old 3rd April 2008
  #9
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Someone gave me a reel of Quantegy 456 with only one pass of on it and no splices. And the studio tech confirmed that our machine works best with +6 tape, so that's cool! Free is good.
Old 3rd April 2008
  #10
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so now we're getting to the nitty gritty.
what in the world is +6 tape ?
Old 3rd April 2008
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Reel Thing View Post
so now we're getting to the nitty gritty.
what in the world is +6 tape ?
Each type of tape has an official tolerance level for how hard you can push levels onto it before it is completely saturated (in magnetic terms that means all domains charged the same way). Aligning a tape machine to +6 means that when you see 0 on the vu it's actually 6dB hotter. 456 was really rated for +3, but it was common practice to hit it harder to get more fatness. Later tape formulas such as 499 and GP9 were designed to take levels at +9 without distortion.

Ah, the good old days of MRL test tapes and little screwdrivers.
Old 3rd April 2008
  #12
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+ 6 or + 9 don't say anything about your tape saturation as long as you don't how many nWb/m your putting to tape.

I guess by +6 you mean +6 dB over 185 nWb/m.

Since there's a worldwide choice of reference tapes from 185 to 520 nWb, you might be pretty far off, not taking that into count.

Old 3rd April 2008
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Reel Thing View Post

I guess by +6 you mean +6 dB over 185 nWb/m.

Since there's a worldwide choice of reference tapes from 185 to 520 nWb, you might be pretty far off, not taking that into count.

What does this mean ?

I'm going to buy a 1/2" deck but am confused by these numbers as
the VU meter only goes up to 0.

How do you set a tape up to +6 / +9 etc.. and how do you know
that's whats required from each individual tape company ?

Old 3rd April 2008
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul EQ View Post
What does this mean ?

I'm going to buy a 1/2" deck but am confused by these numbers as
the VU meter only goes up to 0.

How do you set a tape up to +6 / +9 etc.. and how do you know
that's whats required from each individual tape company ?

a VU meter goes up to +3.

the number of dBs is merely a reference point. it works only in combination with whatever reference tape you use to align your tape machine.
you don't put dBs on tape, because dBs are an electrical value. Tape is saturated with magnetic flux, that is measured in Nanoweber/meter (nWb/m).
The dBs are a matter of translating the amount of magnetic flux on tape to your VU or peak meter.
let's say you want to saturate your tape with 520 nWb/m, which is quite hot for 456 or BASF 911 and recommended for GP9. Depending on how many nWb/m your alignment tape has, you need to set your VUs so the needle doesn't bend with the first couple of kicks.
With a 185 nWb/m alignment tape you would set your VUs or peak meter to - 9dB while the test tone is playing back. if you mixdown so the VU reads 0 dB at the peaks, you're mixing +9 over 185.

talking +6 and +9 has become a false habit over the years, because hardly anybody uses 185 tapes anymore, most people use 250 or 355 tape, which changes the whole equation.

i recommend reading and understanding a bit about recording to tape before expecting wonders from the purchase of a 1/2" machine.
even the basic information is way too large to be posted in a forum.

there's literature and also lots on the internet:

Tape Alignment

MRL Calibration Tapes

That's a good start.
Enjoy,

Tom


analoghaus :: studio label verlag - home
Old 3rd April 2008
  #15
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Hey Tom,

Thanks for the info - i'll print everything off ready for the tape
machine to arrive.

Old 3rd April 2008
  #16
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The key is making sure you have a calibration tape and know how to align your deck. Otherwise you're just guessing.

Great explanations, Tom.
Old 5th April 2008
  #17
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Great guidance from Tom.

It can all sound very confusing at first.
You can sort it out on your own................but it is pretty difficult.

If you decide you really want to get serious about it, contact ATR Services and find an excuse to attend one of their one-day seminars in Pennsylvania.
ATR Services, Inc. - Your mixes will thank you.

You'll come away knowing all you want about calibration, etc., you'll take away a simple booklet that gives you the step-by-step procedures, and you can ask questions to your heart's desire.
A fun and easy way to learn it, and the one day will save you many days of struggling.

This is all from someone who didn't go to the seminar......................and who ended up getting the booklet and effectively going through the seminar via numerous emergency phone call back to York.
I should have gone...........................and the phone call alternative is only an option if you buy your rebuilt deck there.
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