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When did 15 IPS become 30? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 1st January 2013
  #1
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When did 15 IPS become 30?

Up until what time period were most records recorded at 15 IPS? Was the 80s conpletely dominated by recordings at 30 IPS?
Old 1st January 2013
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sotsirc View Post
Up until what time period were most records recorded at 15 IPS?
The Ampex 200 was 15/30.
In 1949 the 300 was introduced, speed pairs were either 7.5/15 or 15/30.
Most Ampex 400, 350, and 351 models were 7.5/15, though 30 could be special ordered (I've never seen a factory 350/351 set up for 30).
The MR70 was available 15/30, but during the 50's and early to mid 60's, most recordings were done on Ampex machines operating at 15 ips.
When Scully came on the scene in the mid 60's, they offered 15/30 as a speed pair in the model 280. This time period coincided with the introduction of the Dolby noise reduction system (A-301). While most studios that could afford Dolbies did so, some opted for machines that could run at 30. Certain operators claimed the Dolby system had sonic artifacts. Meanwhile, the newly introduced Ampex AG-440 did not offer 30 ips. These factors helped give Scully an advantage in economics and in the "hip" factor. By 1970, a significant but minority percentage of contemporary recordings were recorded or mixed at 30 ips. As 16 track progressed into 24 track and the cost of noise reduction was appreciable, more operators saw the benefits of using 30.
It was my observation that by the late 1970s, the majority of pop recordings were recorded or mixed at 30 ips.

Quote:
Was the 80s conpletely dominated by recordings at 30 IPS?
I would not say dominated, as Dolby SR/15 was popular. But 30 was the defacto quality standard, whether multitrack or 1/2".
Old 1st January 2013
  #3
Then again... there was always the debate on whether or not to use 30ips for it's lower noise floor or 15ips and have better low-end response. Some would argue that there was very weak bass response from 30 ips and that's why some of us always used 15ips and NR.
Old 1st January 2013
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cathode View Post
The Ampex 200 was 15/30.
In 1949 the 300 was introduced, speed pairs were either 7.5/15 or 15/30.
Most Ampex 400, 350, and 351 models were 7.5/15, though 30 could be special ordered (I've never seen a factory 350/351 set up for 30).
The MR70 was available 15/30, but during the 50's and early to mid 60's, most recordings were done on Ampex machines operating at 15 ips.
When Scully came on the scene in the mid 60's, they offered 15/30 as a speed pair in the model 280. This time period coincided with the introduction of the Dolby noise reduction system (A-301). While most studios that could afford Dolbies did so, some opted for machines that could run at 30. Certain operators claimed the Dolby system had sonic artifacts. Meanwhile, the newly introduced Ampex AG-440 did not offer 30 ips. These factors helped give Scully an advantage in economics and in the "hip" factor. By 1970, a significant but minority percentage of contemporary recordings were recorded or mixed at 30 ips. As 16 track progressed into 24 track and the cost of noise reduction was appreciable, more operators saw the benefits of using 30.
It was my observation that by the late 1970s, the majority of pop recordings were recorded or mixed at 30 ips.


I would not say dominated, as Dolby SR/15 was popular. But 30 was the defacto quality standard, whether multitrack or 1/2".
Nice info! Thanks! Do you know, was 7 1/2 ever used widely for professional recordings?
Old 1st January 2013
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by cathode View Post
I would not say dominated, as Dolby SR/15 was popular. But 30 was the defacto quality standard, whether multitrack or 1/2".
Dolby SR came in to more regular usage by the very end of the '80s, but 30 IPS No NR was the standard for rock, pop, and r&b for the 80s and 90s. NR [all forms] always had artifacts and required even more scrupulous alignment and tweaking. Despite the Dolby hype, more than 80% of records made in the 80's/90s were done w/o NR of any kind.

By the mid nineties most of us went with elevated levels/hotter alignment. 30 IPS while having a slight LF rolloff [more so on certain machines] was usually chosen because it had a flatter LF response, much more mid-range headroom, and had another very important feature- you could punch out on an A80, MM1200, or JH-24! {Always hopeless on a M79 at any speed}. Out of the hundreds of records I was involved in during the '80s and '90s for record labels, I think only one used 15 IPS/Dolby SR and we wasted at least an hour+ a day [sometimes several times a day] lining up the SR for it...

Best-
Jonathan
Old 1st January 2013
  #6
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drBill's Avatar
In the circle of studio's and engineers I ran in, noise was always the demon of analog, and as soon as 30 IPS was available, 95% of recordings were done at 30. The exceptions mostly being live recordings that needed more continuous run time or demo's that could not afford 2X's the tape expense. Personally, I think head bump mania is a thing of the 2000's not the 1980's. Back in the day, we were more concerned about reducing noise than getting a couple extra dB of LF bump. At least that's how my memory recalls it.....
Old 1st January 2013
  #7
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I believe Jack White's 2012 album "blunderbuss" probably went platinum, and was recorded at 7 1/2 ips.
Old 1st January 2013
  #8
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The comments so far don't indicate "the world" switching to 30. It's not like "when did everyone go from 16 bit to 24 bit"... another murky topic to try to slap dates on.

15ips never went away when 30 appeared. I didn't really see the advantage myself, so I rarely used 30.

Some used 30, some didn't.
Some didn't like the low end rolloff at 30 (some did not hear it as "slight").
Some didn't like the drastic reduction of tape time per reel at 30.
Some used dbx at 15ips ... others hated dbx .. bazillions of hits both ways
some used dolby at 15ips... some hated dolby.. bazillions of hits both ways.

The above comments still stand today for those using tape.

Good gain staging creates very useable s/n overall at 15ips... including whatever noise the console was adding ..... some people nitpicked noise figures into sterile land (like nowadays). And some feel the slight... however slight.. background noise... as imperceptible as it may be... IS some of the magical mojo interjecting itself into a project. No comment myself on that.

Then, you speak of the 80s.... that's a moving target. For 1979 onward through the ENTIRE 80s, you now had 15ips users.... 30ips users.... 3m 16bit digital 1" users... Mitsubishi etc 16 bit users .. Fairlight 16 bit users ... etc etc.. with ALL those guys claiming those formats as vastly superior to 15ips or 30ips tape... a topic later "re-thought" on many levels after the 80s ended.

I will say though, that I remember a lot of the early LA 80's "hair bands" yakking about staying at 30ips because they liked the drum transients better. I'm not from that music category though.

I like 15ips the best, given all the pros/cons of considering 15 vs 30. I always like the warmer sound too... that is... "warmer" to MY ears. I was also a fan of dolby on some projects.. so that puts me in a smaller category of users I guess.

If you start stacking a bunch of overdubs done at 7.5ips into a final mix, there's definitely a "sound" to that approach. It's never been an interesting enough topic for me to experiment with myself.
Old 1st January 2013
  #9
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The original 1948 Ampex 200 ran at 15 and 30 but most people bought 7.5/15 Ampex 300s because 7.5 was common at radio stations. Victor wanted all of their records recorded at 30 beginning in the mid '60s so almost all indy record studios went for a 15/30 16 track machine. Most of us thought 15ips. 16 track sounded better but the extra noise from 24 track led most of us in the U.S. to start using 30 by 1973 or so.

If we'd had modern tape and CCIR eq., I doubt that many would have switched to 30 or put up with Dolby.
Old 1st January 2013
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodwindy View Post
I believe Jack White's 2012 album "blunderbuss" probably went platinum, and was recorded at 7 1/2 ips.
Vance told me it was only certain tracks.
Old 2nd January 2013
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Vance told me it was only certain tracks.
this probably doesn't sound quite as funny now as it would have 20 to 30 years ago, but it makes me laugh! Yes, I literally LOLLed.
Old 2nd January 2013
  #12
"Back in the day, we were more concerned about reducing noise than getting a couple extra dB of LF bump. At least that's how my memory recalls it....."

Very true dr bill- but depending on the music you were doing, the choice of where the head bump was mattered [especially for R&B and Hip Hop!]. I never found a super significant LF Rolloff on the MCI's [-3db to around 36-38hz with all the mod's]. But we didn't expect to get 20 hz back from our machines, 40 hz sure.

Really for me and my friends it was mid range head room and punching. For the rock records we were doing noise was a bit irrelevant compared to a Marshall, Hiwatt or Orange stack, not to mention headphones-except for those intro's and breakdowns... HA! For acoustic and pop records, noise was definitely a factor. We would debate and try different bias & eq settings to maximize the tradeoffs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ward Pike View Post
this probably doesn't sound quite as funny now as it would have 20 to 30 years ago, but it makes me laugh! Yes, I literally LOLLed.
Certain songs I believe Bob meant...ha. And 16 track did and still does sound better, but we somehow felt we needed the extra tracks and there began a very slippery slope. If Bob says 1973 I'm going with him! And I do remember putting dolby or dbx on some quiet individual tracks [strings or acoustic gtr], but still hated the way it changed the sound, and gave up and embraced the noise as the noodle says.

Re Mr White and Mr Powell -It's a pair of 8 track A800's, pretty awesome concept, but as Vance points out 7.5 IPS does create some problems...like punching! And 8 tracks requires a very special level of discipline...Vance does some pretty amazing things!!

Fun discussion folks! Anytime we can entice Bob Olhsson to weigh in, I'm listening!

Best-
Jonathan
Old 2nd January 2013
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ward Pike View Post
this probably doesn't sound quite as funny now as it would have 20 to 30 years ago, but it makes me laugh! Yes, I literally LOLLed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Certain songs I believe Bob meant...ha.
Yes, I knew what he meant. Still funny!!
Old 3rd January 2013
  #14
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Selling tape in the 80s and 90s I learned time and time again that even at the top of the studio food chain, how o that once you got enough beer to lubricate the parties involved you would be surprised how often the choice of 15ips was very often one of cost.
Old 3rd January 2013
  #15
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I have limited experience, but I did have a 16 track Scully that ran 15 and 30 with no noise reduction.

Tape use was never much a concern to me as I was recording just myself and small projects for others, and after many experiments I always ended up going with 15 ips. It just sounded fatter/warmer/thicker, I dunno, just better. And noise was never a problem.
Old 3rd January 2013
  #16
Tape costs were and are more of a concern when you are using only new reels of tape and keeping them all. When you were or are re-using previously recorded on reels of tape that can go back into "stock" after your project is mixed, the cost is not much of a concern and the choice to go to 30ips for noise reasons is more easily made.

Still prefer 15 ips because of the better low end response.

Just me two pence worth.
Old 3rd January 2013
  #17
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Drumsound's Avatar
It's really weird, when I first started recording on 2" (on a modded 3M that punched GREAT JP ) I did a record at 15ipsNAB and OBSESSED about tape hiss while I mixed. I realized after the fact, that a lot of that doesn't translate to the release the way it does in the studio. I did, however, record a lot of records after that at 30ips. I really like the sound of 30ips on the 3M, though I still did records at 15ips NAB. At one point I decided to get an MCI JH24. I had read some things about 15ips IEC/CCIR so I talked to Greg at Electrical Audio and decided to try it. It's much quieter than 15ips NAB and the top end sounds more extended (more like 30ips) but with the nice low end one expects from 15ips. Most of the records I've done since switching to IEC/CCIR EQ curve from NAB have been at 15 ips.

Oddly, even before the switch, I often found records tracked at 15ips easier to mix.
Old 3rd January 2013
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ward Pike View Post
Tape costs were and are more of a concern when you are using only new reels of tape and keeping them all...
I honestly don't recall tape costs ever being a very big concern in a pro facility as opposed to a project or home studio.
Old 3rd January 2013
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I honestly don't recall tape costs ever being a very big concern in a pro facility as opposed to a project or home studio.
BOB, it all came down to the client, I always laughed when somebody thought "they were saving money by buying the tape themselves" rather than through the studio!
Old 3rd January 2013
  #20
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I honestly don't recall tape costs ever being a very big concern in a pro facility as opposed to a project or home studio.
I don't either. I'd regularly have clients buying 8 reels of tape for a project. No worries on the money. It was just a cost of recording. Never a second thought.
Old 3rd January 2013
  #21
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Tape cost was never an issue. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I don't even remember ever paying retail for tape.

I routinely bought four or five cases of 12 at a time for the studio and darned if I can remember where, but I do seem to remember it was alwasys at wholesale pricing. Maybe direct from Scotch 3m Ampex.

Trying to remember if there were distributer channels back in the old days.
Old 3rd January 2013
  #22
Audio X
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I used to get 2" Ampex and 3M (4 at a time) from a local distributor _ delivered for $125- 135 each. . Price is a over 300 today - pre shipping
Old 3rd January 2013
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio X View Post
I used to get 2" Ampex and 3M (4 at a time) from a local distributor _ delivered for $125- 135 each. . Price is a over 300 today - pre shipping
Yes, I just bought 1 roll of 2" and 1 roll of 1/4" ATR Magnetics Master Tape for a project I'm doing in a couple of weeks. Cost almost $400.
Old 4th January 2013
  #24
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The biggest cost was what the folks out in front of the mikes were getting paid!
Old 4th January 2013
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The biggest cost was what the folks out in front of the mikes were getting paid!
Well sure, as it should be.

Without them, there wouldn't be much use for the rest.
Old 7th January 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Vance told me it was only certain tracks.
Actually I recorded the entire record (and every record done by Jack in the last three years) at 7 1/2. Blunderbuss was recorded on a 2" 8 track A800 at 7 1/2. It's a great sound.
4 songs on the record where more than 8 tracks so we used the second 8 track locked up. But there were never more than 14 tracks on any song.
V
Old 7th January 2013
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by vancalot View Post
Actually I recorded the entire record (and every record done by Jack in the last three years) at 7 1/2. Blunderbuss was recorded on a 2" 8 track A800 at 7 1/2. It's a great sound.
4 songs on the record where more than 8 tracks so we used the second 8 track locked up. But there were never more than 14 tracks on any song.
V
Well if we can get Vance and Bob on a thread, now that's VERY COOL!
I for one would love to see a guest forum from each of them!

Quote:
(on a modded 3M that punched GREAT JP )
Tony you did have to move the Erase head and mod the electronics to make a M79 punch - HA! Of course you're a good drummer so maybe you had a better 'time' punching...

Quote:
I don't either. I'd regularly have clients buying 8 reels of tape for a project. No worries on the money. It was just a cost of recording. Never a second thought.
drbill- In the "good old days" we would buy 20-30 reels for an album, 3-5x for pre production and then it was a song a reel, three takes [if you couldn't get it in three, then we had bigger problems!], double the tape when it was 48 tracks [Vance I know that was folly, but producers wanted it, and I did like having slaves and not playing my drums until mixdown]. Even in the days before TSA it was quite a struggle to get 20+ reels of tape on a plane without x-raying them!

When budgets were $200-$300k, we would just write $5k into the budget for tape as a line item, $5k for cartage, $10k for food and hotels, $10k for mastering, etc. Towards the 'end of days' [early 2000's], I remember remixing quite a few peoples albums out of mastering budget [as it was all they had left] when the original mixer, errrr 'failed'. They got $50K, I got $5k...

Quote:
Tape cost was never an issue. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I don't even remember ever paying retail for tape.
I routinely bought four or five cases of 12 at a time for the studio and darned if I can remember where, but I do seem to remember it was alwasys at wholesale pricing. Maybe direct from Scotch 3m Ampex.
Trying to remember if there were distributer channels back in the old days.
noodle- Ampex had this thing were they made all the studios "dealers' and some of us 'distributors', and sold it to us at 'cost' [distributor cost]. Scotch soon followed suit and did the same thing.

Quote:
used to get 2" Ampex and 3M (4 at a time) from a local distributor _ delivered for $125- 135 each. . Price is a over 300 today - pre shipping
Audio X - when I started 2" 456 was $75.00/reel direct from Ampex. 1/4" was about $9.00/ea. 2" topped out at about $175.00ish for 499 at the very, very end when a bunch of us made a large group buy of the last run from the Alabama plant. Still have a good stash... I expect Bob remembers when it was even cheaper!

We never made any money on tape, never marked it up, always just wanted folks to use what they needed, always appalled me when I was in a studio that was charging $200.00 or $300.00/reel when it cost $100.00 or $125.00. Like when studios charged $10.00 for a CD-R...or $5.00 for a floppy! HA. Ridiculous!

Best-
Jonathan
Old 7th January 2013
  #28
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People often think faster with tape is always better. On paper that may be true, but part of the joy of tape is the way it saturates (at all levels, not just hot) and speed has a big effect on how that happens. There is a very organic and musical softening of the sound taking place with tape recording. And it is not about loss of high frequencies, it is something much more complex.

Even the tiny tape of a cassette running at less than 2 ips is capable of amazing sound reproduction. I've always had great sound systems in my cars and since I changed over to CD's a few years back the sound has become less pleasing to my ears, I preferred the previous 3 or 4 decades with cassettes.
Old 7th January 2013
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodwindy View Post
I believe Jack White's 2012 album "blunderbuss" probably went platinum, and was recorded at 7 1/2 ips.
keen to know more here....what is your source of info? Do you know which machine? What tape?

ok, found something, cheers ...... http://www.emusician.com/artists/0767/jack-white/149038
Old 7th January 2013
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richgilb View Post

ok, found something, cheers ......
And you might also read Vance's post, three above yours.
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