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Studer A80 machines...should I buy?
Old 22nd July 2008
  #1
Gear Head
 

Studer A80 machines...should I buy?

Okay, here's the scoop.

I have the chance to buy two Studer machines. One is an A80 MK4 2" 24 track, with remote and manuals. There are 15981 hours on the machine. The heads were lapped and the Capstan Motor/Shaft was rebuilt at 9600 hours.
It is the wide-body machine.

The second is an A80RC 1/2" 2 track, with manuals. This machine also includes an additional A80RC chassis/transport and many spare electronics cards.

Apparently, the only issue with either machine is that one of them has a speed control issue on one of the speed settings. The seller didn't remember which speed it was or which machine, as they have been sitting unused for roughly a year and a half. There is no current head report on either machine. Anyone know roughly what JRF gets for lapping heads or even just doing a head report?

I will be getting the chance to hear every single track on both machines before purchase (though i will have to drive 8 hours to get them). If they don't work, I won't be buying them.

He is also throwing in about 20 rolls of 2" tape, all with one pass on them, and he said he may also have a test tape for the 2" machine.

We agreed on $4500 for the whole package. Please, everyone, start hurling some opinions my way as quickly as you can. Is this a good deal?

These will mostly be used to record my own albums, and also eventually for other clients part-time. My material is 70's influenced rock, and I will mostly be doing rock for other people when I get really good with the equipment. Will these give me a nice fat sound? Is the A80RC a good machine to use for bouncing tracks and mixdown?

The only tape machines I've ever heard in person were some MCI units that were loaded with transformers going in and out...I know that effects the sound, and I loved what I heard. I've read somewhere that the MK4 didn't have the transformers, though. So where does that place this machine sound-wise? Will it still give me some sweet sounds? I have not picked out my console yet, so what I hit the tape machines with is still completely up in the air here...

I'm not afraid of tech work, and have already built some absolutely killer Marshall Plexi clones, so I'm no stranger to a soldering iron either. I feel that i can handle maintenance and alignment of a tape machine with no problems, and don't mind doing so because I love analog so much.

I'm thinking of going and grabbing them next week, but that $4500 didn't come easy for me, so I just want to get as many opinions as I possibly can. Please guys, share your thoughts!


Tommy
Old 22nd July 2008
  #2
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
Tech-wise I can't comment, but soundwise, Studer was king of the 70's, and you only live once.
'
Old 22nd July 2008
  #3
Lives for gear
 

That is a really good deal - and they are BOTH fantatic sounding machines
Old 22nd July 2008
  #4
Lives for gear
 
dubrichie's Avatar
you jammy bastard, that's a killer deal, especially since you can handle the tech work yourself.

buy them today in case you die tomorrow!
Old 22nd July 2008
  #5
Gear Nut
 
Paul Hammond's Avatar
 

My comments, tech-wise.

Tech-wise you will need a competent tech that knows that machine inside and out. There is a large amount of knowledge to make those machines top notch. Reading and analyzing tachometer pulses, knowing how to troubleshoot older cmos logic circuitry, knowing both discrete and IC opamp topology and circuit design, and the list goes on. Troubleshooting studer IC boards is light years away from building plexi clones. You could do irreversible damage. The replacement parts are hard to acquire and pricey. With my knowledge set of those machines (I've used, repaired and set up A80s, A800s, A827s, currently own A827) my recommendation to you would be to pay a tech with a good reputation to check the machines out for you. Tech work is not that reasonable these days and usually starts at $75 per hour for someone worth their weight in salt. It's worth the hundred or so dollars to find out if you are buying an albatross. Relapping could set you back over 1K. Studers with worn heads develop tape wrap issues, tension problems, high frequency record eq issues, and more.
Also the old Frako caps in those machines are all dried up by now causing alignment drift, sonic performance issues, power supply current drain, etc.
While the sound of a properly aligned Studer professional analog deck is hard to beat, it comes at a price. Just sayin', the deal might not be as good as it seems. Cheers PH
Old 22nd July 2008
  #6
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
It's an excellent price for the 2 track if it's in good shape [if it's not, you're pretty well screwed as parts are harder to find than hen's teeth].

On the 24 track... just shy of 16,000 hours? Dude... those heads have been lapped SEVERAL times!! If there is more than 10% left on the record and repro heads I would be amazed. I'd recommend you get a full "head report". If you're in the US I'd recommend JRF Magnetic Sciences... if you're outside the US I have no idea who can do that kind of inspection... but seriously, have it done!!

On the bright side... if the heads on the 24 track are shot [which at just under 16k hours I would think they would be] you can use the repro head from an A-800 and remove the head coupling transformers from the signal path. This will dramatically increase the headroom of the machine as well as the clarity of the audio. While an A-80 mk-IV is transformerless in and out on the audio there are still head coupling transformers in the signal path... Studer didn't spend what they should have on those transformers... however changing to A-800 heads will get rid of the need for those transformers so you'll be in pretty good shape with only a bit of modification expense. New heads are about $3,500 USD each... you won't need an erase head as those things last pretty close to forever [like 50k+ hours!!] but that's still $7k for a record and repro head.

If he has an MRL "test tape" that's more than 5 or so years old get new ones. You don't need to go for all the tones, 1k, 10k, and 15k is really all you need... if you want to get a longer one, fine... but they're way less expensive if you only get the tones you need.

The other thing you're really going to want to do is determine who will be working on the machines BEFORE you get them and have that person do the inspection of the rest of the machines. You will be able to tell a lot about the care and feeding of the machines from the head reports [if there is more wear at the top or bottom of the heads then the tape path was off... and if the tape path is off then the previous owner wasn't quite as anal as he should have been with overall maintenance of the decks].

When you move the machines you'll need to have a tech set up the tape path alignment and transport tensions. This is VERY important. That should be the same tech that did the initial inspection of the machines and the person who will be responsible for the regular and routine maintenance of the machines. While it ain't rocket surgery to learn things like electronic alignments and azimuth alignment it does take a good bit of finesse to get the transport rock solid... even on a Studer.

Best of luck with it!!
Old 22nd July 2008
  #7
Gear Head
 

Dammit...I was afraid of that. Well, my original plan was to pick up an MCI JH16 24 track with the Quior circuitry from Randy at Blevins Audio, once he has another available. It will be slightly more, but I imagine it's a much safer idea. Plus, I do love the sound of those machines!

I'll let the guy know I'm gonna pass, and then I'll wait to hear from Randy again. I think I'd be better off paying slightly more up front, instead of a boat load more later on.

Tommy
Old 22nd July 2008
  #8
Lives for gear
 

can studer machines be disassembled into smaller parts for shipping?
Old 22nd July 2008
  #9
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
See if Randy has a JH-24... JH-16 transports really suck ass!! They handle tape poorly at best, punch like ****, the locator [if it's an AL-II and not an AL-III] is at best a pain in the arse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleestack View Post
can studer machines be disassembled into smaller parts for shipping?
Very easily... the bitch is putting them back together and having them actually work.

Peace.
Old 22nd July 2008
  #10
Gear Nut
 
Paul Hammond's Avatar
 

Theoretically yes, practically, no.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleestack View Post
can studer machines be disassembled into smaller parts for shipping?
Theoretically yes, practically, no. The cast transport assembly alone will weigh over 100 lbs. The most common method of shipping is to carefully remove all the channel electronics and transport control cards, bubble wrap and pack into big boxes. Crate up transport and frame then ship via a freight carrier such as roadway, etc. We have received EMT 140 plates in this manner with no trouble.

Any time my business associates and I have purchased large format consoles and tape machines we fly to the location, rent a truck, disassemble and pack ourselves, drive cross country with gear. Hire our road crew and stage techs to help move the equipment when we return. Makes for great road trips and great stories......PH
Old 22nd July 2008
  #11
Lives for gear
Hey!

Just get a MCI JH-24 2" 16trk. w/ AL III and a Studer A80 1/4" 2trk.
They're avail. on the net most of the time...
The best sound around, for the money...


Best,

T.
Old 23rd July 2008
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Buying a Studer A80

NO!!

Just get an MCI JH-24 and JH110B 1/2 inch
10 million CAN be wrong, the MCIs blow Studers away. Yes they need TLC but they are worth it. The A80 starts at dull and boring. Check the cue/sync playback vs the repro response. Unacceptable.
We had an A800 Mk1 at RedBus, sold it and bought more JH-24s. and the A80 was worse than the A800.
Old 23rd July 2008
  #13
Here for the gear
 

More on buying a Studer

Having now read some of the replies!!............BTW it's still NO!!
re:MCI/Sony
The last QUOIR JH-16s with grey decks were good; even better when they were 16-track. They still needed some mods doing to the strip channel strip boards, though. The record lights on the channels should hold on for 1/2 second when you drop out to complete the ramping off. If they drop out with the transport, they need the final QUIOR mods.
The real problem on the older machines, (ie not JH-24 versions) is keeping them going long enough to get paid!!
Don't touch the yellow ones now, too intermittent
Old 29th March 2018
  #14
Here for the gear
 

[hi !

I have a studer a80 mk1 and want to sell this great machine.
I'm located in lima, peru, south america

greetings
Old 29th March 2018
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Hi!

I have a studer a80 mk1 and want to sell this great machine ..
I'm located in lima, peru, south america

greetings

manuel
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