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best 2 track 1/4" tape machine? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 26th March 2010
  #31
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OK

There are a few outstanding choices. The Ampex ATR-100 can be had for under $1500 sometimes but you will end up spending more on it. So we can put that out of the picture. The Technics machines are quite nice but the Tape Project folks have a corner on that market.

Let me put forth the Tascam BR-20 as a contender. You can find them in the $500 range with low hours. They handle tape quite gently and sound great. There are parts available and some folks hotrod them. TZhey are quite under-rated still.

Regards, Ethan
Old 26th March 2010
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying_Dutchman View Post
Not really, sorry, cause the tracks aren´t sitting on each other, there is space between.
Peace
This means the 1/4" half track actually has more tape per track than a 2" 16 track.
Old 26th March 2010
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evm1024 View Post
There are a few outstanding choices. The Ampex ATR-100 can be had for under $1500 sometimes but you will end up spending more on it. So we can put that out of the picture. The Technics machines are quite nice but the Tape Project folks have a corner on that market.

Let me put forth the Tascam BR-20 as a contender. You can find them in the $500 range with low hours. They handle tape quite gently and sound great. There are parts available and some folks hotrod them. TZhey are quite under-rated still.

Regards, Ethan

Also you can find a Fostex E2, which is actually a pretty good machine. Or go for the E22 1/2" 2 track. Still in the right price range and an excellent recording deck with very smooth operation. heh
Old 27th March 2010
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterTrax View Post
It's not so much a matter of how wide the tape is, but how wide the track being recorded on the tape is.

Precisely.


Quote:
A 1/4" machine recording two tracks has the same track width as a 1/2" 4-track or a 2" 16-track.

This is not correct, because as others have said it doesn't account for head gap, the space in between the tracks.

Assuming the 1/4" 2-track is a half track, the track width is generally around .08".

A 1/2" 4-track and 2" 16-track are closer to .07".

A 2" 24-track is a paltry .04" in comparison, which is why 16-track has so much more balls.

At the end of the day, though, it's all tape, it all sounds great, even crappy tape machines sound great in their own way!


Gregory Scott - ubk
Old 27th March 2010
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
This is not correct, because as others have said it doesn't account for head gap, the space in between the tracks.
If we're going to be technically correct on this thread, it bears mentioning that "head gap" has nothing do with the "space between" tracks on the tape. I admit I'm not an expert on the physical make-up of a tape head, so I don't know the exact technical explanation, however, I believe the "head gap" could be described as the distance between the two halves of the head core.
Old 27th March 2010
  #36
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phillysoulman's Avatar
 

I have an Otari 5050bIII.
Works for me,when needed.
Old 27th March 2010
  #37
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Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
This means the 1/4" half track actually has more tape per track than a 2" 16 track.
do you mean 1/4" 2-track?

1/4" 2 track has the same same tape for a track at the tape than 2" 16 track,
but the head has small gaps between every track, so the resulting space on tape is higher at 1/4" 2 track
Old 27th March 2010
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raw-Tracks View Post
If we're going to be technically correct on this thread, it bears mentioning that "head gap" has nothing do with the "space between" tracks on the tape. I admit I'm not an expert on the physical make-up of a tape head, so I don't know the exact technical explanation, however, I believe the "head gap" could be described as the distance between the two halves of the head core.
Off course. There are no physical tracks on a tape medium.
You can decide if you use 1" tape with 4 tracks, 8 tracks, 2tracks (ATR,crazy ) or 16 tracks (Tascam, for example).
The space between the tracks is set by the head of the machine.
I think UBK means the same, off course.
Old 27th March 2010
  #39
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This thread is like tape 101... good article in Sound On Sound this month on buying a machine, explains all the important technical points very well, and points out caveats.

OP, you might be better off with a simulator.
Old 27th March 2010
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
...This is not correct, because as others have said it doesn't account for head gap, the space in between the tracks.

Assuming the 1/4" 2-track is a half track, the track width is generally around .08".
In general, yes. But the term "head gap" doesn't refer to the space between the tracks, but to the space between the toroidal poles where the flux is focussed.

Also, FWIW, in the 1/4" half-track format, the space between the tracks is not as large as the track itself. The standard format is 60 mil, with the tracks being 95 mil (.095") each.
Old 27th March 2010
  #41
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m15

I have a telefunken m15 1/4 inch, sounds amazing and a lot of spare parts available ( at least in europe) so far no repairs though.

I bought this one for 350 euro's , new these machines costed around 20.000 DM.
very reliable and good sounding.
Old 27th March 2010
  #42
FFS
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by evm1024 View Post
Let me put forth the Tascam BR-20 as a contender. You can find them in the $500 range with low hours. They handle tape quite gently and sound great. There are parts available and some folks hotrod them. TZhey are quite under-rated still.

Regards, Ethan
I have one of these and can honestly say its an amazing machine for both quality and stability! if you can track one down its definitely worth the £200-£400 you will pay!
G
Old 27th March 2010
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying_Dutchman View Post
Off course. There are no physical tracks on a tape medium.
You can decide if you use 1" tape with 4 tracks, 8 tracks, 2tracks (ATR,crazy ) or 16 tracks (Tascam, for example).
The space between the tracks is set by the head of the machine.
I think UBK means the same, off course.
What you say is true before you record on the tape. After you record on the tape, there most certainly are physical tracks on the tape.
Old 27th March 2010
  #44
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Richard Hess has a good page showing all the formats ever for every tape width... here is the link on 1/4" tape:

Restoration Tips & Notes » 0.25" reel tape

Track widths are:
DIN = .100"
Ampex = .075"
NAB = .082" (there is a history there on these last two to more fully explain the practices over time)

16 tracks on 2", 8 tracks on 1" and 4 tracks on 1.2" are generally .070"

So, actually, even Ampex and NAB (American made) 1/4" machines have very slightly wider tracks than 2" 16 tracks, but of course DIN 1/4" machines (European made machines) have significantly wider tracks (and more crosstalk).

Cheers,

Otto
Old 27th March 2010
  #45
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Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying_Dutchman View Post
do you mean 1/4" 2-track?
Yes 2-track, but that isn't enough information. A pro 1/4" machine generally uses a half track set up.

A 2-track recorder can be a half track or a quarter track. Quarter track is still a 2 track recorder, but you flip the tape and get 2 tracks again the other way, generally on consumer models.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying_Dutchman View Post

1/4" 2 track has the same same tape for a track at the tape than 2" 16 track,
but the head has small gaps between every track, so the resulting space on tape is higher at 1/4" 2 track
Yes, this is true. But not for a quarter track machine. The consumer Teac, Pioneer, Akai, and even Revox can be quarter track machines.
Old 27th March 2010
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lobit View Post
If you had to get a 1/4" in two track tape machine what would you look at, lets say between $800-$1500? floor standing would be okay. sound quality and reliability/lower maintanance would both be desirable features.
Are you going to do your own service and maintenance? If not, you may want to find out what machines can be serviced locally.

If I had to get a 1/4" 2-track, I'd probably get another 3M, but I doubt that's relevant.

Pro machines that often get top honors for audio are Stephens, 3M and Ampex ATR. However, those first two also top the list for scarcity of machines and parts and, depending on your experience and skills, may be hard to service. Stephens didn't make many 2-tracks, mostly he sold multi-track machines, and especially machines for portable use. Also, an ATR in good working order will probably be a bit above your price range.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 28th March 2010
  #47
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rob S's Avatar
ATR 102
1/4" headstack.
the sound of rock n roll
Old 28th March 2010
  #48
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Teddy Ray's Avatar
 

if you want rock solid reliability and killer sound...Nagra or Stellavox. they used them in the field for a reason. rugged as all hell...


Stellavox SP-8, Nagra T-Audio or IV
Old 28th April 2010
  #49
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a bit late on this but Im also looking for a nice 2 track to bounce my mixes to. I have a revox b77 and although I can use it to track mono tracks and then dumping in protools, I need a more serious one to make the masters. But I also want to have one that has a sound for itself. I dont want boring, I ll go digital for that. IN that matter what should I choose from?

A80? or A810/20. soundwise
Telefunken?
Any other that i should know about?

I just had a nagra that a friend landed me for 3 weeks. I didnt like it that much. yes it is very well built and everything works really good but:
1-Not much vibe. On the boring side
2-Its a pain is the ass to rewind and fast forward. So slow you can go out and have dinner.
3-Everything is so pro that you need interfaces for everything. The inputs are not standard, you need a special cable. For Sync you need another interface that comes a part. To use varispeed you need yet another interface to connect to the first interface that connects itself to the recorder! Man...

I want a simple machine that sounds really good, that doesnt give me too many problems, with varispeed. In Europe.

Bassmec, thats a beautiful recorder you have there
Old 28th April 2010
  #50
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spectrasound's Avatar
Ampex/Sony

I stand by my Sony 5000 (1/2") with Ampex 440C electronics & heads. Ampex 440 series is affordable and available. Tons of great records mixed to these!
BTW...nothing wrong with 1/4" As a matter of fact, the bigger tape width, the more critical AZ adjustment becomes. I've heard of double blindfold tests where 1/2" was picked over 1" 2 track. My humble opinion.
Old 28th April 2010
  #51
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For all practical purposes they are almost exactly the same.
Old 28th April 2010
  #52
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Yes, azimuth is more critical, but it isn't THAT hard to set!
Old 28th April 2010
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeancab View Post
In good condition, a Studer A80 would be fine.
Smooth transport, good sound, reliable, and maintenance is not a nightmare.
The a*) VU is much more complicated than the A80R or RC. The R and RC are descrete and simple in comparison. T=I have an A80R that was refurbed and now sounds freaking great!
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobit View Post
nagra IV is so small, how could it possibly compete with something like an a80 sonically?
Please tell me this is a disguised size matters joke. The Nagras are SERIOUS machines.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peacock View Post
Its just as good sonically as the Studer. The disadvantage is that most ME do not have the capability of playing back the Nagra size reel. Its no problem for us because we transfer to digital format and send that for mastering.
Doesn't the Nagra also use it's own EQ curve so an ME would need a Nagra to master off?
Old 28th April 2010
  #54
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Lets get back to something basic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lobit View Post
wow lots of responses,

I record disco sounding stuff. so would be to bounce a mix from my daw, or possibly subgroups individually, and re-assemble them. depending on how into it i'm feeling.
That's probably not going to happen for you. Even the best tape machine transports (I'd say Studers) play back at a slightly different speed every time. Things may line up but you're going to lose some of the groove, which is probably pretty damn important if you're mixing disco.

Just saying, sometimes it's not a problem to line things back up in the computer afterwords but often it is. I wouldn't want to plan on being able to use a machine for that.
Old 29th April 2010
  #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcocet View Post
Lets get back to something basic.



That's probably not going to happen for you. Even the best tape machine transports (I'd say Studers) play back at a slightly different speed every time. Things may line up but you're going to lose some of the groove, which is probably pretty damn important if you're mixing disco.

Just saying, sometimes it's not a problem to line things back up in the computer afterwords but often it is. I wouldn't want to plan on being able to use a machine for that.
This assertion would be news to all users of tape recorders if it were true.
Luckily, not a word spoken above is accurate. A quality tape recorder, meeting spec, always plays back at the same speed. It is controlled by a quartz speed control.

It is certainly true that some beat tape recorders purchased off Ebay for $300 might not run on speed, but a real tape recorder always will run on speed if it is adjusted correctly.
Old 29th April 2010
  #56
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Studer A80 - impressive engineering feat
Telefunken M15(a) - quite simply a tank

1/4" sounds great!
Cheers,
Recky
Old 29th April 2010
  #57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Doesn't the Nagra also use it's own EQ curve so an ME would need a Nagra to master off?
NAGRAMASTER is a proprietary EQ that as best as I understand it, in layman's terms, is a combination of NAB and CCIR filtering, moving the hiss up in the frequency spectrum and diffusing it out a bit. I believe that there is a method of using straight NAB playback EQ with an additional EQ inserted for proper playback. I have never done this myself, so can't be certain. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a digital profile out there for a plugin. However, you don't have to use NAGRAMASTER, you can simply use NAB or CCIR, with most machines I've seen set up for NAB.
Old 29th April 2010
  #58
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Telefunken machines are normally much cheaper in Europe than Studers, based on my intense searching at the beginning of this year
i went crazy on the net and asked as many experts i could get and most said that the Telefunken is sonically above, but i can´t jude, cause i didn´t hear both with the same settings, tape, room and so on
i got Telefunken 8track 1" from ´68 and it´s a great machine imo
Old 29th April 2010
  #59
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I hate to disagree with you but i've never synced up two seperate stems that were printed to tape and not had to correct in some way. Nowadays I'll print my mixes to tape but print the stems direct to digital to solve any alignment issues. And I'm not talking about $300 machines. But if you've had luck with it then obviously there are many possibilities.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
This assertion would be news to all users of tape recorders if it were true.
Luckily, not a word spoken above is accurate. A quality tape recorder, meeting spec, always plays back at the same speed. It is controlled by a quartz speed control.

It is certainly true that some beat tape recorders purchased off Ebay for $300 might not run on speed, but a real tape recorder always will run on speed if it is adjusted correctly.
Old 29th April 2010
  #60
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Hmm... I have a pretty well maintained A810, and when I bounce certain parts to and from the DAW... I must say that it is certainly not sample-accurate. I'm not just talking latency - there are actual tiny variations in time that I can't hear, but I can see on the waveform(s).
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