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Channel Classics Condenser Microphones
Old 15th January 2017
  #61
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Since this thread has wandered very off topic, but is still labeled Channel Classics, please let me point out that Jared has been using DSD since its inception. He has used DSD converters from dCS, EMM, Grimm and Merging. He also monitors his mixes in analog, and constantly compares those analog mixes with the DSD recorded. Jared is one of DSD's strongest advocates
Old 15th January 2017
  #62
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Plush's Avatar
Thank you, Roland. It is a good discussion. It is certainly true that digital recording has much better specs than analog. It is also arguably "more accurate." No argument there.

But I am talking about the "pleasant-ness quotient" of analog tape playback.

There is no shed with a good machine and there is no print-through with using proper levels. There is never any sloughing off of oxide in a well maintained tape transport running good tape. And there is never any "scrubbing" of oxide along the length of the tape. It sounds like you are describing worn transports from the 60's!

Here, I propose, we are only talking about which playback is more pleasant to listen to.

That is why I am talking about this. I would never describe myself as "golden-eared." I AM set up here to do these comparisons, however.
Old 15th January 2017
  #63
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Roland's Avatar
You can't tell me that you never have to clean the heads on your tape machines? I know a very well known engineer that has been recording to tape in recent times. He loves the sound and the process of recording to tape (this isn't classical music by the way), however, when he was telling me this over a pint I pulled a face and said what about shedding? A lot of tape in recent times from the two exponents of the art has become colloquially known for shedding problems. This engineer told me it was so bad they were having to back up to the pro tools after every good take. In my day we used to have some Racal Zonal tape, sounded alright but used to leave a pile of oxide by the head, and dropouts galore after a couple of years.

My only point is that I look for systems to be as pure path as realistically possible. As I mentioned before I don't dislike the euphonic sound of tape and some analogue kit, I recognise it for what it is, a distortion of the original. I think that given more understanding we will be able to reproduce these effect reliably and potentially give the listener the option to listen both ways. I do, however, disagree that analogue is capable of something digital isn't, certainly in terms of "fidelity" defined as sounding as close to the original source as possible. Furthermore I believe that we can reproduce these effects in the digital domain.
Old 15th January 2017
  #64
I won't get into which sounds better, that's a matter of opinion/preference, and arguing it is as pointless as arguing any other matter of faith.

However, the wear and gradual deterioration (even though with top quality materials it's slow) of any analog tape is a matter of science and is not influenced by our opinions. There IS friction, there IS deterioration. The other issues such as printthrough also exist, though the lower the energy the less printthrough. The materials available today are better, but they aren't perfect.

This isn't just related to music on rusty plastic either. My data center backs up about 2 petabytes of data a week onto magnetic tape cartridges. We do each backup twice because we KNOW that we can expect only 99% of any given backup to be recoverable. And we KNOW that we can only run each cartridge through a certain number of cycles before the reliability drops off drastically. And we KNOW that the maximum shelf life, even in ideal conditions, is measured in years, not decades. Oh, and we have to clean the tape drives every 15 cycles, because we KNOW that the tape sheds (a little, but when you run hundreds of cartridges through in a 48 hour period, it adds up).

Fortunately, disk-based storage has gotten cheap enough (and cloud-based storage too!) that we are retiring the tape systems as quickly as budget allows. Even disk storage (or memory storage) isn't perfect. A lot of work goes into building filesystems that include error detection and correction, as well as periodic "let's read the data from disk and rewrite it somewhere else" exercises that refresh the files so that the chances of getting a perfect readback are in the 99.9999% range. Even then, we occasionally have an issue.

How much this matters when we talk about it in practical, rather than absolute and theoretical terms, is back into the range of informed opinion, I guess.

For me, give me digital storage, with some redundant copies.
Old 15th January 2017
  #65
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whippoorwill's Avatar
the weird thing about digital is that it seems to often have a simultaneously long and short shelf life.
the data will remain easily, but digital makes audio into just another form of data.
a tape machine is a rubbish youtube browser, a difficult spreadsheet maker, and i cant read my word documents on it well at all,
but by golly is it good at playing and recording music as fluxuation of magnetic domains.
also the quick upgrading of digital means a lot of files that i have perfectly well kept aren't able to be played back easily.
Old 16th January 2017
  #66
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boojum's Avatar
Crystal sets were simple, too. And there are those who still insist that mechanical looms will never be as good as hand looms. Maybe even true. But analog has become all but irrelevant. We are in the digital world, just like this board and the internet. When I started listening to music there was radio, AM, records, 78's, and live. We have come so far. Every tech jump has those who insist the previous technology was better. 78's were better than LP's and so on.
Those convinced of this are in the distinct minority and for a reason.
Old 16th January 2017
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
Yes, records (CD's) do not need and should not display all the technical (RE) information. It would be great if all this information were available somewhere on the issuer's website just for the geeks and propeller heads like us. But don't burden down and bamboozle the ordinary consumer with this level of detail.

A review or two by someone with gravitas about how good the recording is a lot more important. Time, place, players and some reviews should suffice.
I actually think recorded music could always benefit from additional information, be it technical, historical, biographical, conceptual, etc. This can be done tactfully so that the consumer can choose to read it or not. If this choice is a burden to consumers, then I would argue consumers need to be challenged more.
Old 16th January 2017
  #68
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Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
This isn't just related to music on rusty plastic either. My data center backs up about 2 petabytes of data a week onto magnetic tape cartridges..
You're comparing digital tape data storage with analog open reel music storage ?
Anyone who's lived with both types of media will know how finicky DAT machines are to set up and maintain, compared with their analog counterparts. I'm assuming your data centre uses tapes akin to DAT ?

How many DAT machines from the 80's and on are still functioning now, compared with the analog tape machines Plush refers to ? I've had more DAT tapes chewed by record/playback devices than analog tapes similarly ruined by their machinery.

Please don't hold tape data storage (of the DAT ilk) up as any sort of paragon of a trouble-free medium. I'll take the rusty plastic of open reel analog tape over the rusty plastic of data tape any day.
Old 16th January 2017
  #69
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boojum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Given To Fly View Post
I actually think recorded music could always benefit from additional information, be it technical, historical, biographical, conceptual, etc. This can be done tactfully so that the consumer can choose to read it or not. If this choice is a burden to consumers, then I would argue consumers need to be challenged more.
You've got a good point there.
Old 16th January 2017
  #70
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boojum's Avatar
It has been decades, many, since I have been in a computer room. However, the last time I was in one we had tape backup cartridges. The digital backup cartridges were stressed to us as being an entirely different formulation than what we would use at home for analog audio. Also, digital has to be so accurate. You can get by with some missing/slightly degraded analog. This does not work at all in digital. That's my 2¢.
Old 16th January 2017
  #71
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LTO7 tape is obviously not the same formulation as analogue recording tape as provided by Pyral (RecordingTheMasters).

Side note: Pyral appears to no longer manufacture the various film tape options, concentrating on audio-only.
Old 16th January 2017
  #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
Also, digital has to be so accurate. You can get by with some missing/slightly degraded analog. This does not work at all in digital. That's my 2¢.
I don't think this is strictly correct, in fact just the opposite. Don't forget that CD has error correction inbuilt into the Red Book standard (remember Reed-Solomon ?) while DDS data tapes use interpolation and additional spinning confidence heads to restore missing data. That's while all those scratched CD's floating around uncorralled on the car dashboard still play !

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reed%E...ror_correction (PS... no need to read past the 'dizzying maths' section....)

and

https://www.newscientist.com/article...-storing-data/

Analog tape on the other hand...it's all in the top layer of oxide, and if the play head doesn't hear it, it isn't there !
Old 16th January 2017
  #73
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boojum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I don't think this is strictly correct, in fact just the opposite. Don't forget that CD has error correction inbuilt into the Red Book standard (remember Reed-Solomon ?) while DDS data tapes use interpolation and additional spinning confidence heads to restore missing data. That's while all those scratched CD's floating around uncorralled on the car dashboard still play !

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reed%E...ror_correction (PS... no need to read past the 'dizzying maths' section....)

and

https://www.newscientist.com/article...-storing-data/

Analog tape on the other hand...it's all in the top layer of oxide, and if the play head doesn't hear it, it isn't there !
Yes, CD's have error correction and it is very good. But what I had in mind was those weekly, daily, monthly data backups in machine rooms. I am sure the software folks who have written the backup software have some lovely error correction for data, too. But with thise 0's and 1's close does not count. I am sure there is a lot of re-reading in bad sections. And I am sure that the ordinary day-to-day operation will block out bad areas after movinig the correct/ed data to a safe area. And I am sure that regular maintenance programs are run to test, retest, rewrite and check everything. I do that here on my desktop machine. So nice to fix the error before it is a problem.

Analog can have slight damage which will cause little concern, greater damage which will cause greater concern and so on. But it is pretty hard to fix damaged analog. I know of no way or even if it can be done, Tape and LP's seem to last longer than CD's. But I have CD's from the early 80's which still play fine. Cool, dark storage, no touching the playing surface and lots of pixie dust. So analog storage last longer if accuracy is not your main concern.

There are so many variables on all of them.
Old 16th January 2017
  #74
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
You're comparing digital tape data storage with analog open reel music storage ?
Anyone who's lived with both types of media will know how finicky DAT machines are to set up and maintain, compared with their analog counterparts. I'm assuming your data centre uses tapes akin to DAT ?

How many DAT machines from the 80's and on are still functioning now, compared with the analog tape machines Plush refers to ? I've had more DAT tapes chewed by record/playback devices than analog tapes similarly ruined by their machinery.

Please don't hold tape data storage (of the DAT ilk) up as any sort of paragon of a trouble-free medium. I'll take the rusty plastic of open reel analog tape over the rusty plastic of data tape any day.
Both DLT and open reel data storage (9 track) have similar issues. The point is that any claim of there being no wear, print through, self erasure, etc with magnetic tape is just BS.

The real difference between the two methods is the ability to make copies without degradation in digital. That lets us overcome the limitations of the media. As I mentioned, no storage media is perfect.
Old 16th January 2017
  #75
Question, can one even buy a brand new Studer half inch two track machine today?
Old 16th January 2017
  #76
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Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
Question, can one even buy a brand new Studer half inch two track machine today?
You mean Harman, rather than Studer ? I doubt it, they seem to have abandoned the tape recording realm in favour of concentrating on mixers.

The tape recorder manufacture tooling and parts must reside somewhere... maybe Neil Young or Dave Grohl (or a similarly situated old-school rock god) has bought all the remaining stock, but you'd have a better chance of picking up a highly refurbished used machine than a new one.
Old 16th January 2017
  #77
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Fun Fact: The dad of two of my guitar students worked on CERN's Super Hadron Collider as it was being built, specifically with data storage. The primary storage medium they used was tape...lots and lots of tape. The reasons were rather simple: tape was less expensive and more reliable than anything else at the time. That concludes my Fun Fact.
Old 16th January 2017
  #78
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Plush's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
Question, can one even buy a brand new Studer half inch two track machine today?
You can find any number of Studer 1/2 machines around. With maintenance, they will act as new.

This could be a servicing as simple as a tape path alignment and calibration up to a complete tape head replacement and re-capping of the machine.

All parts are available. New heads and re-lapping is available at a moment's notice.

Some posters are posting red herrings about analog recording. It obviously does not replace digital but exists side by side in serious music recording places.

Those who say that it is obsolete, don't have a machine next to them and don't use modern tape--that is clear.

Here I run a Studer B-67 quarter inch, a Stellavox SM-8 quarter inch (the world's best tape recorder), and two Studer A807 1/2" 4-channel machines (orchestra on two tracks, soloists on two tracks). Overlap in recording.

I also use Dolby SR and Telcom C4 when necessary.

Data tape discussions when talking about music machines are for a different thread, aren't they?

YOu would be very surprised at the sound of a string orchestra recorded on analog tape. Likewise how a Steinway D or Bosendorfer sounds recorded on a great tape recorder. There is NO wow or flutter ever.

Typical frequency response of the best tape systems is 25Hz. to 45kHz.---+ or -2dB.
Old 16th January 2017
  #79
Hudson,

If your Stellavox was destroyed in an accident, could you buy a new replacement? Put another way is anybody making open reel analog recorders? Or is it like owning an old airplane where you hope you can repair it using used and aftermarket parts?

I'm not gonna argue sound, I'm just wondering if anyone is actively manufacturing the gear anymore.
Old 16th January 2017
  #80
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Plush's Avatar
If the machine was destroyed, one may or may not be able to buy a replacement. The machines are available but most would need maintenance. Part of the problem is that those who really know the machines are retiring and not working on them any more.

In general, Stellavox parts are in short supply. There are only two sources in the world. But Studer parts are available in quantity. These Studer parts are new parts, not used ones.

It does take a dollar and time commitment to keep the analog machines in top condition. One's clients have to pay for this service.

Not for the faint of heart or tire kicker.

There is word that a German company called Horch House will be offering a brand new 1/4" tape recorder sometime in the fairly near future. It is the brainchild of a fellow named Volker Lange. He runs a large auto parts company.
Old 16th January 2017
  #81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
There is word that a German company called Horch House will be offering a brand new 1/4" tape recorder sometime in the fairly near future.
The initial release is playback only, i.e. the "reproducer" model, tentatively retailing for €4.5k. The "recorder/reproducer" model with XLR connections (instead of the standard RCAs) will follow at a later point where the aim appears to be a retail price of roughly €5k.

https://horchhouse.com/project-r2r/
Old 16th January 2017
  #82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
If the machine was destroyed, one may or may not be able to buy a replacement. The machines are available but most would need maintenance. Part of the problem is that those who really know the machines are retiring and not working on them any more.

In general, Stellavox parts are in short supply. There are only two sources in the world. But Studer parts are available in quantity. These Studer parts are new parts, not used ones.

It does take a dollar and time commitment to keep the analog machines in top condition. One's clients have to pay for this service.

Not for the faint of heart or tire kicker.

There is word that a German company called Horch House will be offering a brand new 1/4" tape recorder sometime in the fairly near future. It is the brainchild of a fellow named Volker Lange. He runs a large auto parts company.
Thanks! I suspected that it was something like that, and wondered if the market was still big enough to keep a company like Harman making new parts.
Old 16th January 2017
  #83
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
If the machine was destroyed, one may or may not be able to buy a replacement. The machines are available but most would need maintenance. Part of the problem is that those who really know the machines are retiring and not working on them any more.

In general, Stellavox parts are in short supply. There are only two sources in the world. But Studer parts are available in quantity. These Studer parts are new parts, not used ones.

It does take a dollar and time commitment to keep the analog machines in top condition. One's clients have to pay for this service.

Not for the faint of heart or tire kicker.

There is word that a German company called Horch House will be offering a brand new 1/4" tape recorder sometime in the fairly near future. It is the brainchild of a fellow named Volker Lange. He runs a large auto parts company.
I was under the impression that Studer had ceased part manufacture for their analogue machines?

The biggest issue, of course, are pinch rollers. These harden with age (even faster when not being used), so even if there are original spares on the shelf they will be of little use in a short space of time.

The quicker a true emulation circuit can be developed the better for all of us.
Old 16th January 2017
  #84
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Pinch rollers can be refurbished. Terry's Rubber Rollers in USA does a great job at this. There are also companies that manufacture new pinch rollers, belts etc. I will wager that Plush can keep his R2R equipment running for a long time. Analogue tape is far from dead, but it is a niche market. As is DSD.
Old 16th January 2017
  #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
Analogue tape is far from dead, but it is a niche market. As is DSD.
They are both niche markets, with DSD having a far larger share. They are also alike as both are analog representations of the incoming signals, and share IMO that analog sound quality sweetness An advantage of DSD is that it's storable and retrievable in digital media.
Old 16th January 2017
  #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tailspn View Post
...They are also alike as both are analog representations of the incoming signals, and share IMO that analog sound quality sweetness....
While you are welcome to your opinion of the sound quality (of course), in what sense is DSD analog?
Old 16th January 2017
  #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeDeF View Post
While you are welcome to your opinion of the sound quality (of course), in what sense is DSD analog?
Unlike PCM, which are discrete samples containing digital binary coded values of some bit depth, DSD is a modulation of a bit clock process, which contains no values. It's simply a portional density of bits modulation process, who's percentage of modulation is proportional to the incoming signal level. 100% modulation is the maximum supported, with all bit times "on" on the positive side of the incoming signal and the absence of bits on the negative side (DC at both extremes). 0% modulation is alternating 1's and 0's bits.

To make this useful for audio, 50% modulation is defined as 0dB, allowing then +6dB headroom.

The only thing digital about DSD is, due to the modulation carrier being "bits", it's storable and retrievable in digital media. Also, as long as the bit clock carrier is at a high enough frequency compared to the bandwidth of interest, the modulation products are well outside the signal bandwidth of interest, and the bit density (especially at DSD256 bit rate of 11.2 MHZ) for all practical purposes is continuous (analog).

The downside is that since the bit stream(s) do not represent digital amplitude values, the only digital thing that can be done with them is storage and retrieval. Any processing requires a conversion of the bit stream(s) to a digital value based system (currently PCM)

Last edited by tailspn; 17th January 2017 at 05:22 AM..
Old 16th January 2017
  #88
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
[QUOTE=tailspn;12381145]Unlike PCM, which are discrete samples containing digital binary coded values of some bit depth, DSD is a modulation of a bit clock process, which contains no values..../QUOTE]

That is the most succinct explanation of why DSD resembles analogue that I have heard. Thank you.
Old 17th January 2017
  #89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
If the machine was destroyed, one may or may not be able to buy a replacement. The machines are available but most would need maintenance. Part of the problem is that those who really know the machines are retiring and not working on them any more.

In general, Stellavox parts are in short supply. There are only two sources in the world. But Studer parts are available in quantity. These Studer parts are new parts, not used ones.

It does take a dollar and time commitment to keep the analog machines in top condition. One's clients have to pay for this service.

Not for the faint of heart or tire kicker.

There is word that a German company called Horch House will be offering a brand new 1/4" tape recorder sometime in the fairly near future. It is the brainchild of a fellow named Volker Lange. He runs a large auto parts company.
I have a working 1/4" B62, if that counts ?

There's a guy (Fred Thal) who has taken Studer refurbishing very seriously, I'll try and track down his contact details. I believe he specializes mainly in repro, rather than recording machinery, however.

One hopes that someone of his ilk has made a serious offer to Studer to secure the parts manufacture plant, for therein lies the future of keeping them on the road...much like the bespoke auto parts industry for rare and exotic cars. Pinch rollers are trivially easy, and more than one supplier makes them (I bought one for an Otari MX90 a few years ago)

The record/replay heads aren't that hard to produce either...it's the motors and transport parts that require finishing to high levels of mil-spec standard. I suspect the price of ex studio and radio station Studers, which flooded the used market in the early 2000's, has reached its max and plateaued, but the price of entry ain't cheap.

OK analog kids, prepare for salivation..Fred (Adolph) is in the building: Classic A80 reproducer — Adolph Thal Audio Engineering

Owner/operator training is a nice add-on too !

However, there's a sad museum/dinosaur/zoo vibe associated with the fact that these are the last 7 REPRODUCER machines coming off that particular refurb production line...with no mention of recorders being catered for ?

Last edited by studer58; 17th January 2017 at 09:54 AM..
Old 17th January 2017
  #90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tailspn View Post
Unlike PCM, which are discrete samples containing digital binary coded values of some bit depth, DSD is a modulation of a bit clock process, which contains no values.
But DSD still has a delta sigma sampler on the front, same as PCM, its still a sampled signal. They both need "the signal was this big at this time" on the front end, so still need the same high performance clock and the same stable voltage ref. This is where the sound is made.

Last edited by David Spearritt; 17th January 2017 at 09:50 PM..
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