UHA Reel to Reel/Tape Project opinions


I list this under analog because I feel it is the truest copy of master tape and is pure analog. The question is has anyone out there compared a UHA Phase 4 reel to reel deck with Tape Project tapes to any VPI reference scoutmaster or other reference table playback of records? Is it worth the $10k investment when there are only 20 current titles to choose from at $300 each?
My system details: Magnepan 20.1s, Pass Labs X250.5 amp and Xono phonostage, Audio Research Ref 3 preamp and Ref 8 CD player, Shunyata Hydra 8 and anaconda powercords, Audioquest interconnects.
powerdoctor
I don't think it is worth the investment. I have reel to reel playback equipment, Technics and Teac. I do like the sound and I am sure Tape Project media would be even better. I do have some two track, 15 ips broadcast tapes and the cd and vinyl equivlents. Tape does sound better. I have over 2,000 pre-recorded tapes. You can buy a lot of music for the $13,000 needed to get into UHA.

I think the future is blu-ray, wherein many of the old analog masters, some three channel, will be re-released with the highest resolution possible. Better then SACD. You never are going to get that sound from tape second generation source, which what Tape Project is. Sony will release Miles/Blue early next year on blu-ray, three channel. Also, there is a lot of other stuff done originally in three channel masters that will come soon, Sinatra among others.

Invest in a oppo blu ray SE. Leave tape behind. Remeber it is all about the music, not the gear.

Enjoy the music.
Powerdoctor, you are really asking two questions.....one of which can be answered pretty objectively, the other becomes a question of priorities.

does a high quality RTR deck (of which the UHA Phase 4 deck is one (possible) example) playing Tape Project tapes outperform a VPI Reference Scoutmaster?

no question, a big yes.....and it's not likely very close.

is high quality RTR and Tape Project tapes worth the investment over a tt such as the VPI plus Lps?

debatable.

i could make a case either way.

if someone was a big digital fan and had mostly digital but wanted the very, very, very best analog source for those special moments......then RTR with Tape Project tapes would be better than a tt. a tt is really quite a bit more involved in terms of the hassel factor for occasional use. i have a few friends that have tapes for just this situation.

OTOH if i was looking for a frequent source of good analog, no question would i first get a high quality tt and lots of Lps before i would get into tape.

you have a system capable of the very best performance, congrats. Tape Project tapes would sound amazing on your gear.

i have only heard the UHA deck a couple of times at shows and not in a familiar system. i liked what i heard but am no expert on them specifically.

i have 3 expensive to very expensive tt's and 10k Lps. i have 3 RTR decks, 2 of which are very expensive....and 30 or so 15ips 1/4" master dubs.....someday i'd like maybe 100 nice tapes.

i play the Lps every day, the tapes a couple of times a week. i love them both.

Buconero,

honestly, i have 20 or so reels of broadcast 15ips 1/4" tapes. they are ok but nothing special....not even as good as a typical 2-track 7.5 ips commercial tape. my Lps sound much better. i would guess they are mostly dubbed at 3X or 5X speed and are nothing like a Tape Project tape. they were made in bulk to fill time on radio stations.

maybe yours are different.

as far as Blue Ray; you have a right to your opinion. my opinion is that PCM, even at high resolution, does not compete with Lps, let alone tape. it is easy however.

this is the second 'tape' thread you have pushed Blue Ray. maybe describe your personal Blue Ray--Tape--Lp experience so we can understand where this perspective came from.
Mikelavigne, you are right, tape even the broadcast tapes are an uneven experience. I have some that are good, and some not so. Condition is everything. I have some AFRTS broadcast tapes that run at 3.75, quarter track and they out perform many of the 15 and 7.5 reels I have. The government always knows how to spend money. Don't get me wrong, I do feel vinyl is superior to CD, SACD and tape. I have VPI Aries stuff, with close to 10,000 records.

Yes, I am pushing Blu-Ray as I believe it is a way of getting the best performance from the tape masters, especially masters that were done three channel. Hopefully you have heard the L2 product, which comes together with the SACD and Blu-Ray. I'm impressed. I have Miles/Blue in every media it was produced in, and yes I found the LP still the best. When Blue comes out next year in Blu-Ray another step forward is possible, maybe. I remind you that cutting vinyl always involved many compromises. I am sure you know of the Nat Cole stuff being remastered by Steve Hoffman and being cut to new vinyl and sacd. The Cole project gives a light into the what is possible. Right now I can't decide which title of the Cole release to get, one in LP the other in SACD. I think this is a good way to compare, especially with the Steve Hoffman talent in play.

Enjoy the music.
Yes, I am pushing Blu-Ray as I believe it is a way of getting the best performance from the tape masters, especially masters that were done three channel.

do you truely think that Blue Ray or any PCM can match Tape or Lp when analog master tapes are the source?

my experience is that hirez PCM is not even remotely close to a properly dubbed 15ips 1/4" tape copy of a tape. and really not close to a good Lp either (at least in my system to my ears).

i had multi-channel SACD in my 2-channel room for a year and experimented with 3-channel and 5.1 at hirez (higher rez to my ears than 96/24 pcm or 192/24 pcm) and while i did enjoy it my Lps smoked it. i had the SACD multi-channel version of KOB, and again, the 45rpm Classic Records reissue of KOB was dramatically better. my 15ips master dub of KOB was better than the 45.

don't get me wrong; hirez PCM is a very good format and the performance is worth the effort over redbook. Blue Ray has a chance to bring better sounding music to lots of people.

but......don't make statements that it 'blows away tape' or 'blows away top level vinyl' unless you actually do the comparisons on top level gear. or guys like me will need to call you on it (when it's posted on a tape oriented thread).

Blue Ray can be a very good thing for music lovers without being better than analog.

i'll be getting the AP 45rpm pressings of Nat King Cole when they come out and compare them to my much loved DCC's. i already have definitive versions of KOB. as far as Blue Ray for myself (besides my Blue Ray player in my separate Home Theatre room), i have a hirez server in my 2-channel room with 176/24 and 192/24 files now, i'm not sure i need to add another source to my 2-channel room. as always, i'll follow the music. if Blue Ray becomes the best format for the music i want to listen to, i'll add it. unfortunately; music already recorded in analog is mostly what i listen to.

i'm definitely not adding multi-channel to my 2-channel room again.
Mikelavigne has got it spot-on- digital still has a long way to go before it will beat out the best of analog tape!

If you spend some time in a recording studio using high quality microphone feeds (in my case, refurbished Neumann U-67s driving refurbished Western Electric tube mic preamps going straight into the recorders, both analog and digital), you hear very quickly how 'OK' digital is yet how dreadfully far behind analog it is. Sorry- not even close and blu-ray, though a lot better than regular CD, is not a cure.
Bravo analogue tape!
Powerdoctor, you are really asking two questions.....one of which can be answered pretty objectively, the other becomes a question of priorities.

does a high quality RTR deck (of which the UHA Phase 4 deck is one (possible) example) playing Tape Project tapes outperform a VPI Reference Scoutmaster?

no question, a big yes.....and it's not likely very close.

I would have to agree fully with this, I have a Scoutmaster and a subscription to the TP tapes. The tapes easily out perform my Scoutmaster and LP's. I have a few TP tapes and the same copy on vinyl and have done many comparisons, the tapes wins every time.
my experience is that hirez PCM is not even remotely close to a properly dubbed 15ips 1/4" tape copy of a tape. and really not close to a good Lp either (at least in my system to my ears).

Mike:

I have a 15 ips/2 track copy of KOB and it beats every LP copy I have, including an original Columbia and Classic reissue, hands down! :) Everyone who has heard the tape is speechless-you know the effect when a group of audiophiles stop talking and start listening :)

Myles
Myles,

Can I come over?! :-)

Regards,
Sam
You live in New York :) Play you a Basie big band recording never ever issued from 1961 too. That'll knock your socks off too!

Myles
Myles,

i have the Basie 61' 'party tape' and the KOB. they both do 'rock'. the Basie might be my single favorite recording.

Sam,

come on up to Seattle and i'll be glad to play them for ya....and a couple other 'special' tapes too.
Mike:

Luv the Basie '61 but I'm partial to the Impulse Basie and the KC7. Talk about realistic sounding instruments. Wow!

Myles
Awesome, Mike! :-) How do the last week of Dec.'09 and the first week of Jan.'10 look?? Are you going to CES? Yahoo...is my spouse invited - you met her at RMAF '09...She's really cool!
Sam,

let me say this in a politically correct way; your wife is definitely included in my invitation. i enjoyed our (you me, and your wife) conversations at RMAF and i envy you having an 'audiophile' wife.....and agree she is cool and knows her music too. my wife is a Saint but sadly not really an audiophile partner.

e-mail me and we'll figure out the details. i'm in town those 2 weeks (unless i go to CES (50-50 at the moment) in which case i'd be gone at the end of the first week in January.
RE: 2-track Kind of Blue Master Dub

Where does one find a KOB 2-track Master Dub Tape?

With all due respect to the catalog of the Tape Project, KOB would be worth the membership fee alone!
Where does one find a KOB 2-track Master Dub Tape?

without intentions of sounding like a smart ass, one does not find a 2-track master dub of KOB, it finds you.

in fairness to The Tape Project; they play by the rules and negotiate licensing agreements on every title. not likely on KOB. it would be like expecting a master dub of DSOTM, a fully licensed master dub of DSOTM is not gonna happen. the rights holder is still expecting to be able to go to the well many more times for more re-issues.
How about 8 tracks?
Haha...8-tracks, that's great! :-) It'd be kind of fun to resurrect a legitimate 70's system replete with an SAE rack, JBL's, and a Montgomery Ward's 8-track!
Just an FYI... Paul Stubblebine from the Tape Project will be visiting UHA this Saturday. It will be interesting to hear the Tape Project's direction from Paul's perspective.
RE: 2-track Kind of Blue Master Dub

Where does one find a KOB 2-track Master Dub Tape?

With all due respect to the catalog of the Tape Project, KOB would be worth the membership fee alone!
Powderdoctor
To answer your question

"Is the $300 bucks worth the price of admission to the Tape Project?"

Once you hear how energetic the music sounds, I can say positively yes it is.
After visiting Mike Lavigne's place back in April (posted impression on his system thread 04-13-09) I decided to get into tape as well.
The tapes that are available are limited yes but if you search you will find different sources besides the Tape Project. Eg recording studios, craigslist, radio stations.........
You have a great system and once you have tried it you will be hooked.
My 2 cents worth.
To make the 70's experience even better, I have a powder blue leisure suit you can borrow.
Mst,

Were I could fit in my 70's garb! :-) Are you contemplating R2R? There's some great stuff out there!

Best,
Sam
I remember when I got serious about vinyl... people would scoff, talk about how 'scratchy' records sound, etc... most of these guys were convinced nothing could beat CD's... even sound guys I worked with were dead set against even considering vinyl as a high resolution source... I had a bunch of crew over for beers and such after we wrapped a commercial, and one of the sound guys showed up...
I played some CD's for them and then put on some records, when I tried to talk audio with these guys is was "yeah, but, yeah, but...." There were no "yeah, but's" after the record played, lots of "holy cow's"
When these guys saw my stereo (tubes, single driver speakers, turntables) they all rolled their eyes, talked about their 5.1 surround, their 500 watts, their subwoofers, and so on. Each of these professional "sound" guys, to a man, asked me how much it would cost to replicate my system.
That was 6 years ago, now I'm into 15ips tape, and I find it hilarious that these same guys approach tape from the same standpoint of contempt prior to investigation. Why would someone think that a cd or sacd could possibly outperform the actual SOURCE and format that it was copied from?
Bizarre. I'm glad that I've never been happy with the status quo and mainstream audio wise, if I'd not had an open mind and been willing to explore a little I'd have never known just how good it can get!
To anyone into RR I say god bless & wish you all the enjoyment from the format it offers.
Analogue tape in whatever size is my least favorite format except 2" in the studio. There's all the calibration, cleaning, rollers/motors/other moving parts that break. The tape itself degrades, stretches from use, even gets sticky when not stored properly. Never mind accidentally twist or crink up in a moment of clumsiness.
Guess its only a matter of time till folks start snapping up ADATs or DAT masters and there's a run on 90s digital tape decks.