I’m entertaining the idea of purchasing a reel to reel to record my albums on and also use to possibly soften the digital age a bit. Does anyone know where or if NEW blank tapes can be purchased? Are there any thoughts on a resurgence of R2R and if blank media will become more easily accessible?
I’d reach out to Myles Astor or Greg Baron, who are both into the high end 15 ips 1/2 track 1/4" playback thing of pre-recorded tapes. But, they should both know what the best current reel tape formulation is and where to get it. A bridge I have not yet crossed--- Much as I’d love to look at a big assed Studer mastering deck in my room. :) PS: don't mean to exclude others here who travel in those rarified circles who might have more info.
let’s see @[email protected] I don’t know if this will work. Myles writes for Positive Feedback and also has a chat board on audio. Greg is a dealer--very involved in the revival of the hi-end tape phenomenon. (United Home Audio, I think is his retail brand name). Note I misspelled Greg's last name- it is Beron.
You can tell them you got their names from me-- not that it will make much difference. Neither sell blank tape but may be able to give you the best info on sourcing. And if you are going to dive into tape, I’d suggest you get on one or another boards with some "tapeheads"- those old machines are cool, but repair and maintenance can be a challenge. There are companies, like Greg’s, who sell what amounts to a new deck or refurbished deck. There’s all kinds of stuff, involving changing out the preamp, in addition to tape handling issue that you should know, apart from what the different options are in terms of basic machines.
Of course you can buy new blank tape. Of course it might be hard what with Google finagling their filters but if you use one of the less manipulated search engines like DuckDuckGo it should be a snap to find.
I had a 10.5" open reel deck for years back when it seemed smart to make tapes to avoid wearing out my precious vinyl. Nowadays that seems silly but that’s what we did back then. You can buy it just like I did back then in boxes of 10 which at 7.5ips is a whole lotta music.
The question isn’t availability, its all that and more. The question is why? And what? And how good? Unlike back in the day when we had few choices today you have everything from preserved or restored vintage to new to heavily modded high end boutique to pro decks.
Think carefully and do a lot of research because while open reel is awesome its also really heavily mechanical and maintenance is much more an issue than even with turntables. Not that its not worth it. Its hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t had one how great they are. But use one a lot and it is a fairly high maintenance piece of gear so think it through.
@millercarbon, thanks for the info. Sounds like you and I may be from the same era lol! Back in 5he day that’s exactly what I did with my vinyl as well many moons ago. That’s one of the things I’d like to do today. I owned (2) reel to reel decks at different times. I owned a Pioneer RT-707 and a Teac X-2000R. In my opinion, neither were high end decks but I thought they both sounded pretty sweet. In fact, I’m leaning towards another 707 that I can get a good deal on which is a 7” machine. The other is a Teac 3300 which is a 10.5”. I don’t want to spend tons on a deck, at least not at this time. I also remember buying a Maxells or TDK 7” for about $8 and a 10” for around $20. That’s the biggest hurdle besides the fact I bought a brand new with warranty RT-707 in the 80’s for $250 and the X-2000R if memory serves around $600. Anyway, now I’m looking at 40yr old decks that are getting more money than paid new. This is a crazy hobby lol!
Yeah I was dumb to sell mine but the heads and pinch roller were worn and this was before the internet when it was hard to find stuff like this, shops were chock full of gear being jettisoned by people who bought into the digital hype, if someone had said fix it it'll be worth more 20 years from now I'd never have believed it.
So instead of keeping a deck that would be worth twice new, and which I'd probably not want to sell since it still sounds good, I bought CD which is worthless, and two or three more since, all just as worthless.
Then you try and tell people don't waste your money on digital. Analog is the only way to go. And they won't listen. Now that's crazy!
The aim of every audiophile is to go where no audiophile has gone before; it's for certain that I've gone beyond anything I've heard before, but it wasn't cheap, then again, it never is.
I'm speaking of recording from a well set up high end TT to a perfectly maintained reel at 15 IPS. Begin with the output from the phono pre to tape in on the reel, and let her rip at 15 IPS. RMG blank tape was $80. dollars, and at 15 IPS, that only accommodated 1 LP; not exactly cheap, but what a ride; Santana was in the house!
New tape = 2 choices buy the big box and save Me I use ATR in my mobile rack w Revox B-77 ( high speed half track iec) as for gear, it’s a bit like a wood boat, initial purchase price is low compared to lifecycle and ancillary costs... demag, calibration tape, maintenance, blank tape, etc.... some glorious sound possible and ya might go off the deep end of fun check out The Tape Project there are also links there to the wider community of tape heads... have fun
Right. I found the ATR stuff too. Most of the tape heads I know are using it for a "higher fidelity" medium than LP (i use the quotes only because I don’t want to create an argument about whether tape is better than LP, just noting the difference in use): that tapes are available pre-recorded at a premium and some folks find old tapes, including safeties used for making records in various territories (there were a bunch of Yugoslavian tapes for sale on e-Bay a while ago- who knows what the story is on those sonically). This is different than the OP’s objective- which i remember too-- recording your albums to reel to reel, not only to save on wear but to make highlight reels (or what people today might call a mix tape or playlist). The modern hi-end reel to reel stuff is deep and the real cost, ultimately, is source material in my estimation. One of the excuses I’ve used so far to avoid diving into that pool, much as I love the gear. I think the comments about researching thru the tape head community are well taken though-an old machine is going to have needs. I gather Otari was a pretty good bargain deck, but don’t know. Crazy, but Lee Perry recorded what is considered one of the very best reggae records on a TEAC - probably a 3340 or equivalent-- The Congoes, Heart of the Congo. Killer record (you need the Blood and Fire remaster, most of the others I’ve heard are pretty bad sonically, though i never heard a first Jamaican pressing-- rare and costly). Good luck with this- could be a fun project. The ReVox and Tandberg were very common in the early -mid ’70s when I was fooling around with this stuff. Have no idea what it would cost to restore one of those machines or whether it is even worth it.
Reel to reel is ultimate audio, this is unequivocal fact; just a few days ago, in order to prove this to myself, I decided to record one of my favorite Santana albums at 15 IPS. This is something I had never done because it shortens recorded time and raises cost; a ridiculous thing to do; never the less, I proceeded.
The results were far beyond my expectations; the experience of hearing this album that I played so many times that the new one I recorded must have been the fourth album, was so intense and exhilarating, that I repeated it over and over; the same as other experiences that I never tire of repeating.
As to speakers, what speakers; the sound emanated from a black velvet background of silence across the rear wall; left, right, and center, with background sounds that were to the rear of the rear wall.
Santana, "Barboletta" is one of the best albums ever made; let me give you a rundown of the artists.
Personnel Leon Patillo – vocals (3,4,5,7,8), piano (8), electric piano (3,5), organ (4) Flora Purim – vocals (1,11) Jules Broussard – soprano and tenor saxophones (4,6,9,11) Carlos Santana – guitar (3-5,7-11) percussion (2,9), congas (7), gong (8), vocals (11), producer Tom Coster – piano (4,9), Hammond organ (7,10,11), electric piano Fender Rhodes (2,9-11), organ (3,5,6,8), Moog synthesizer (4,8), producer Stanley Clarke – bass guitar (6,9-11) David Brown – bass guitar (2,4,5,7,8) Michael Shrieve – drums (2-5,7,8), producer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler – drums (6,9) Airto Moreira – drums (10,11), percussion (12), sound effects (1), triangle (11), vocals (12) Armando Peraza – percussion, congas (2,4,5,6,8,11), bongos (3,6,11), soprano saxophone (10) José Areas – timbales (4), congas (2,3) Michael Carpenter – echoplex (2)
Although all the artists on this LP were fantastic "Chepito" really caught my attention;
I’m very bummed right now. Snooze you lose I guess. I just saw and ad for a great shape working Pioneer RT-909 with literally boxes and boxes of newer ATR tapes for sale for $900. When I responded to the ad, the seller told me there were 3 people ahead of me that wanted it. If they fall through, he’ll let me know. I’m trying to stay positive thinking this thing has probably had the living crap used out of it but the 10” tapes alone are worth 3 times if not more of that value. The ad was up 4 hours before I saw it. Sucks!!
If you want to do it right spend right as well. Forget that Pioneer with those boxes of tapes. The price is too low. How good is your vinyl front end, including phono ? I am not even close to knowing this stuff but I researched the subject, started a few threads here and talked to people outside this forum. Otari two track with four track playback capability appears to be the best value. There are a few models. All XLR balanced in/out. Couple of Technics too. I would choose Otari, it should be more durable. If you are lucky you could find it for about $1500 in good or better condition, so you wouldn't have to have it professionally looked over and calibrated right away unless you wanted to. Yeah, tape cost ranges from about $50 to $100 for Maxell NOS back coated. I cannot advise but I myself would start with vintage Maxell not modern incarnation of BASF and AGFA. Yes, I know, there is a risk, the tape is old, might not have been stored properly etc. I would start with Maxell because I know for a fact that in cassettes Maxell Vertex back coated is the very best tape and a great tape at that. Same or very similar tape as in reels. If you take type II cassette tape Maxell tape is also the best, better than TDK, BASF etc. and AGFA is junk. Reputable company never makes junk even at their lowest level. BASF and Quantegy vintage should be alright. You would have to compare, but there is also a question of longevity and reliability. Point is you would want best tape even if you have a modest deck. Anyway, it would all cost you, and as Bill said, if you want to buy pre-recorded from a reputable source, it might be a fortune. How does $200-$500 for one reel sound to you? 15 ips speed is not necessary if the recording is not good - 7 1/2 ips would be enough, but again you would have to compare. Playing tapes is a serious thing that requires attention, including deck maintenance from time to time. This is not this funky records spinning - just set up the table once, clean the records and go. Personally, I have decided most likely not to get Otari and save up for Studer A810 or A807. They say there are also some excellent Sony pro machines, I'll consider them too. Studer transport is incomparable, it seems, and that's the most important thing to begin with. Just like in vinyl set-up the most important part is table itself. ReVox as poor man's Studer - two track high speed - might be all you need, I don't know. Tape is great, tape sounds best, tape is fun. But it is not consumer medium like vinyl, discs and computers, it requires effort.
Uberwaltz, 15 IPS is reserved for special LP's only, I record at 7.5 most of the time; especially with brand new tape.
When you record and playback on your machine, even if it's a little bit off, you will still get good results because your record and playback speed are the same. However, if you buy prerecorded tapes, your machine has to be perfect.
As long as you're having fun, what you got sounds good to me.
I hope that I'm not acting the wet noodle here, but I am confused by claims that an LP recorded to tape and then played back has MORE fidelity than the original album. How is that possible?
I'm not coming from nowhere with this question. Years ago (80s-90s) I owned several reel-to-reel decks, including some that are considered the best of the lot today. I transferred many LPs to RTR and on a good day I was happy if the tape copy fidelity was close to the LP. There is always a loss when copying from one analog source to another. So how does loss = better fidelity?
I understand that tape media is (or is purported to be) better today. I also understand that LP playback gear and tape preamps (if you are employing a dedicated external tape pre) are better. Great. So you have minimized the loss. Where does the extra signal bandwidth come from?
Tape recorded off vinyl will not sound better in every respect. Tape recording has better flow coherence and 'sound saturation '. It might also have a better drive and some differences in sound that are hard to put into words. Certain things will be lost in the process of the recording, no doubt, but minimally if your deck and cables are really good. Think of the recording to tape as a kind of re-mastering. When recording digital to tape the difference is more, I always prefer tape.
I am not making the claim but stating the fact, as I have already stated in my post, but first you must tell me at what speed you are referring to, what kind of tape, and whether or not the machine was 1/4 track or 1/2 track?
"There is always a loss when copying from one analog source to another." That's false.
Magnetic tape recording works by converting electrical audio signals into magnetic energy, which imprints a record of the signal onto a moving tape covered in magnetic particles. ... Between the reels, the tape passes over a series of magnetic heads that convert audio signals into magnetic energy and back again.Mar 31, 2018.
You were probably using 1/4 track reel in order to record in both directions, that meant your tape had less signal area, meaning less of the tape was converted to magnetic energy, which would become audio energy on play back, and you didn't say what speed you recorded at.
"I transferred many LPs to RTR and on a good day I was happy if the tape copy fidelity was close to the LP."
There is far too much information left out of that statement; 1/2 track 1/4 track, recording speed, etc. The top machines, of which there were many, gave top results, but there were also many lesser machines. For example; AKAI had models from the best to the cheapest; that was a wide ranging variable.
We are not talking about tape media of today as opposed to yesterday, we are talking about yesterdays machines and tape.
In regard to my claim that the playback of an LP far exceeded the original LP; take it for what it's worth, I have no intention to prove or disprove it.
Absolutely nothing is better, including amps, pre-amps, phono amps; just different. A top of the line ARC amp of 30 years ago, would sound as good as a brand new one; assuming both amps had brand new parts; for my money, I would take which one was the cheapest.
I have a Technics RS 1500 that I modified by replacing all the electrolytic capacitors with "Black Gates", and also replacing all the transistors with new ones. Panasonic people are wonderful to do business with; while I didn't get the caps from them, they supplied the new transistors, plus new tape rollers.
orpheus10"Reel to reel is ultimate audio, this is unequivocal fact"
It is an "unequivocal fact" for those who enjoy the euphonic noise, distortion, and unlinearity inherent in the use of analog tape no matter the deck and tape formulation there is no way to completely suppress, avoid, or eliminate the distortion that results from analog tape and it is fine that some people prefer the resultant sound but it is less accurate, faithful, and true to the original source and that is truly an
Tape from masters doesn't necessarily have summed mono bass either. It can be a killer depending on the provenance of the tape. That's the hard part. If you are having fun recording LPs knock yourself out.
The most wonderful thing about this forum is "Freedom of speech"; anyone can state as "unequivocal fact", that the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East, and that's a good thing. However, there are those who know, and those who don't know; it's up to the seekers of truth to separate the two; fact from fiction.
Maybe it would help if I compared the size of the tape to the size of the signal; beginning with a cassette, and working up to 1/2 track, which uses all of the 1/4 inch tape in one direction; that yields a lot more signal strength than what many people used to save money on tape and recorded in two directions.
In regard to tape speed, that yields "resolution"; if anyone has ever been into photography, maybe they know what a difference that makes. When you combine increased size of the signal, plus increased speed, you have transformed those tiny squiggles in the LP to giant squiggles that are exact reproductions of the tiny squiggles, and that gives us giant music.
@benjie- I didn't read that review, but i've heard some of the high end decks as sources using tapes sourced from masters. Some are just spectacular. There is a very 'filled in' sound and even with a top tier turntable, less of a sense of a machine running. Greg has been at the forefront of this revival of reel to reel as a source and is a very nice guy. I don't know if Robin Wyatt still uses tape- he had a Stellavox modified by Charlie King, using a Frankenpreamp cobbled together from old Levinson parts playing a Starker performance of that Kodaly piece for solo cello over a pair of old Quads. Myles played me a bunch of tapes on his system, which is top notch- it was pretty 'whoa'- especially on complex stuff where the LP tends to get a little congested- large orchestral passages. @orpheus10 - since the copy can't really be better than the source it is taken from, in your case, an LP, I'm wondering if you are hearing the effects of increased gain or juiciness through the tape process, including the tape preamp. @cleeds- clearthink did suggest that tape was inferior. I don't think I have much more to contribute but will watch this thread with interest. regards, bill hart
yes the recorders of LP are hearing gain and a bit of EQ effect, I figured this out s my German 4 track Dokorder and Denon TT In 1978... it made A needle drop of The Band - Rock of Ages “ jucier” as you say Bill... louder is better is HOW the brain is wired... i figured it out... but it came with some minus....
i would take a Revox B-77x, the poor mans Studer over many other decks, especially when considering parts availability.. but sure Studer is the Pro line ( which machine is more likely to be worn thin ??? )
Revox... even the lowly A-77 was Good enough for Dylan and The Band ( basement tapes )....and it comes with a carry handle, but typically not high speed...
i will say Royers into Fern into Revox at high speed can edge out the same chain into a WADIA 17, etc in some dimension...
At 15 IPS, my tape deck defies logic; yes, the copy is better than the source.
At 7.5 IPS, the tape equals the source. Most people agree on this; if that's so, what's the improvement at 15 IPS?
I don't make the news, I just report it; 15 IPS on reel was better than the record being played through the rest of the rig; the speakers were bigger, the room was filled with more music, there was more depth; there was more dynamic range. I'm not the first person to observe and state this "fact".
I just report the news, some scientist will have to figure it out.
I purchased an R2R on eBay for $1100, a nice Revox B77. Plugged it in operated for about 30 seconds before a 7-Up can inside the unit opened (pitsssstt) and smoke came out of the top of the unit. UGG! The seller gave me $300 to keep it. I invested another $200 and had the unit lovingly restored in Denver at Electric City Repair. Wonderful! I had never owned a reel to reel before, although I bought my first hi-fi in 1983. I am rank amateur musician, I play synthesizer. I have had a nice Tascam CD recorder for many years. I had purchased it to record LPs. They sound terrible even when recorded from a really nice turntable directly to CD, harsh, and so do my synth recordings. I purchased the real to reel because of its abilities to dampen that harshness. With all the other stuff that goes with it I paid about $2000. It works very well, sounds great, and I’ll soon have an entry on SoundCloud. @luvrockin do it! It’s fussy. But the result is fantastic sounding. Everyone else already answered your questions about tape availability.
At 15 IPS, my tape deck defies logic; yes, the copy is better than the source ...
That doesn’t defy logic at all if you define "better" as a preference, and not a statement of technical superiority.
If we define high fidelity as truthfulness to the original, then we know that a dub of an LP made to tape can’t be superior to the original. At best, it can only be the equal of the source, because tape can only add distortion, no matter how little it might be. It can’t possibly retrieve resolution or dynamics that were not present in the original. (I’m assuming we’re not using any signal processing here, such as EQ or dynamic range expansion.)
It is not at all far fetched to think that the subtle distortion added by tape might make the result preferable to the original.
To be clear, I’m into tape, and have a half-track Crown 822 and a quarter-track Tandberg TD-20A. But tape has a dirty little secret that some of its advocates overlook, and that’s the difficulty of recording HF at high levels, which is mostly a consequence of tape’s bias current. If you look at tape deck specs or test results, you’ll see that FR is typically spec’d at -10dB for reel and -20dB for cassette. The closer you get to 0 VU, the harder it is to preserve HF. And that may explain why tape dubs remove some nasties, whether from LP or digital.
Again, deck does re-mastering when recording and the better it does it the better the sound. But it will never sound better than the analog source in every respect, this is nonsense, regardless of the number of magnetic particles. The recording will have certain advantages, as I stated, that might be particularly important to the listener, me included. It will not have greater dynamic range or resolution. Let's differentiate reality from BS. Some of you should question your hearing, preferences is one thing and hearing is another. Well-done pre-recorded tape is a completely different matter if you have a good deck in perfect order.
"There is always a loss when copying from one analog source to another." That’s false.
This statement is false. There is a loss of bandwidth and increase in distortion with each additional generation of analog copy.
Absolutely nothing is better, including amps, pre-amps, phono amps; just different. A top of the line ARC amp of 30 years ago, would sound as good as a brand new one; assuming both amps had brand new parts
So is this one. If you do things differently, it is possible to bypass problems that other equipment may have and yield a performance and audible improvement.
"What makes tape such a smart choice? For starters, it has greater dynamic range than vinyl, with extraordinary sound at the frequency extremes: the treble and bass. Next, consider the amount of signal processing that each medium requires. Vinyl: a lot. Tape: very little. Signal processing is the enemy of hi-fidelity.
I’m a fan of tape, but geez! This statement is false. The LP has bandwidth from about 12Hz to about 40KHz and with lower distortion. It also has a lower noise floor. That this is a fact should not be hard to ascertain! Anyone with an LP from the 70s or earlier can hear when the tape is started at the beginning of the LP- the background noise increases. The noise floor of an LP can be very nearly -90dB if everything is set up properly with the lacquer and the pressing machine does not vibrate as the vinyl copy cools. An example of the latter is the QRP pressing plant in Salinas KS. We did a job through there a few years ago with surfaces so quiet that quite literally the electronics was the noise floor, not the LP.
It helps to understand how vinyl and tape albums are manufactured. To make a record, the MT signal must be compressed to match the dynamic limits of vinyl. Some of the highs and lows are slashed in the bargain. All the other audio tricks needed to shoehorn a signal into those tiny grooves compromises the signal even more.
This statement is false. The reason compression is used is two-fold. First, there is an expectation that the LP might be played over the air, second, its a lot **cheaper** to engineer the LP if compression is used. You literally turn it on and read a book while the cutter head does its job. When no compression is used you have to be more careful to avoid overcutting prior grooves and making sure that the groove you cut can be played back without the stylus jumping out of the groove and such. But if you do that properly, the dynamic range of vinyl is greater than that of tape. Direct to disc recordings demonstrate what this is about. The limitation in LP dynamic range is in playback, not record. As reproducers have improved over the decades, so has the dynamic range that is possible.
The reason a tape recording of an LP can sound better than the LP itself is simply because quite often the speakers aren’t playing when the recording is made, and a tape machine is unaffected by room-borne vibration while a turntable is. My friends and I used to use this trick all the time in the old days to make better cassette recordings. BTW, I have a Revox B-77 that runs although it could use some minor service (tape counter needs a belt). Its mounted in a travel case. Speeds are 3 3/4" and 7/5" although it could be used at 15ips if a capstan adapter were used in the high speed mode. Free if you pay the shipping.
Nor only do you turn the speakers off when recording, you turn everything off that is not needed. But that's not why tape has an advantage in certain elements of sound even when it is a recording from vinyl. Besides, speaking of vinyl reproduction, playing records is a very 'bumpy' ride and there is nothing you can do about it, that's how it is. Yes, top level set-up minimizes it but it is still there. Vinyl is not a true audiophile format, understand and accept this, people, once and for all.