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Thread: 2 Track (stereo) reel to reel machine! Help me decide!!

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    2 Track (stereo) reel to reel machine! Help me decide!!

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    Hello,

    I mainly record "live" from my mackie 1202 vlz pro to my cassette deck. Non of that multitrack stuff for me . Anyway, can anyone please suggest a stereo reel to reel recorder for recording direct to and that has a real "analog" sound ? I have this guy who has "connections" and who can hook me up with a reel to reel. Prob is I'm no expert when it comes to the r2r. Which brand and model should I be looking at, taking into consideration quality, parts, reels, support etc .. ? Is 1/4 inch enough or would 1/2" be better ? Does the unit needs to have other ins and outs in addition to RCA's like xlrs etc ? What are the pluses or minuses ? Also, cost is an issue. I don't wanna spend many hundreds of dollars or have an "over-kill" machine. I just want a significant step up from my cassette deck. Thanks very much in advance for your help. (It would also be a nice bonus if it had a voltage switch for around the world operation - not essential though ).

    Daniel

    PS: Just a quick additional question .. For that pure "analog" sound, is it perfectly acceptable to not use any noise reducing while recording to reel to reel ?
    Last edited by cjacek; 04-25-2003 at 00:43.

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    Re: 2 Track (stereo) reel to reel machine! Help me decide!!

    Originally posted by cjacek
    I mainly record "live" from my mackie 1202 vlz pro to my cassette deck. Non of that multitrack stuff for me . Anyway, can anyone please suggest a stereo reel to reel recorder for recording direct to and that has a real "analog" sound ?
    You won't get more "real analog" than that casette, my friend.

    The higher up in quality you go with tape decks, the less "analog" they will sound.

    A nice half-inch 2-track professional reel to reel will have an almost totally flat frequency response, with a rolloff around 40hz, and maybe a rolloff at 20kHz too (but sometime actually a small increase around there).

    Can you hear the difference between that and a good 24/96kHz converter? Well, maybe. But the better the recorders get, the smaller the difference is.

    However, you can get some nice tape compression with them if that's what you want.

    I have this guy who has "connections" and who can hook me up with a reel to reel.
    Well, too bad you missed that Otari MX-5050 1/4" two-track that went for under $70 on ebay yesterday. Assuming it's in working condition, that is some good value for your lire.

    The big thing to watch out for is head wear. If it has a lot of head wear, relapping them or replacing them can be quite expensive. Other than that, I'd say almost any 1/4" reel to reel made during the 80's will make you happy.

    Is 1/4 inch enough or would 1/2" be better ? ... I just want a significant step up from my cassette deck.
    1/4 is enough, AND 1/2" is better.

    Just a quick additional question .. For that pure "analog" sound, is it perfectly acceptable to not use any noise reducing while recording to reel to reel ?
    Yup.
    Random Pavarotti Disease Victim.

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    Re: Re: 2 Track (stereo) reel to reel machine! Help me decide!!

    Originally posted by regebro
    You won't get more "real analog" than that casette, my friend.

    The higher up in quality you go with tape decks, the less "analog" they will sound.

    A nice half-inch 2-track professional reel to reel will have an almost totally flat frequency response, with a rolloff around 40hz, and maybe a rolloff at 20kHz too (but sometime actually a small increase around there).

    Can you hear the difference between that and a good 24/96kHz converter? Well, maybe. But the better the recorders get, the smaller the difference is.

    However, you can get some nice tape compression with them if that's what you want.



    Well, too bad you missed that Otari MX-5050 1/4" two-track that went for under $70 on ebay yesterday. Assuming it's in working condition, that is some good value for your lire.

    The big thing to watch out for is head wear. If it has a lot of head wear, relapping them or replacing them can be quite expensive. Other than that, I'd say almost any 1/4" reel to reel made during the 80's will make you happy.



    1/4 is enough, AND 1/2" is better.



    Yup.
    Hey! Thanks for the quick response!! I'm just a bit confused on one point though .. What did you mean by: "You won't get more "real analog" than that casette" and "The higher up in quality you go with tape decks, the less "analog" they will sound". Are you suggesting that "real analog" sound is better on cassette ? I know it's not what you meant but it sure sound like it Please explain.

    Thanks again,

    Daniel

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    The Otari 5050 went for about $98 yesterday on eBay. I think someone got a bargain. Still, I'd like to get an Otari MX5050 BIII 1/2" 8 track one day to play with. Record from a board into the deck and dump to my Aardvark Q10. Just curious how good a sound I would get. You know - the "fatten it up" thing. I'm not an analog guy but I'd really like to play around with a decent R/R deck.

    DD

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    Re: Re: Re: 2 Track (stereo) reel to reel machine! Help me decide!!

    Originally posted by cjacek
    Are you suggesting that "real analog" sound is better on cassette ?
    Not better: More analog.

    I know many will try to get you to think that that 'analog' and 'good' are equivalent, but they are not. They are not mutually exclusive either, as some digital fanatics will claim. What is 'good' depends on what you like and what you want.

    The artifacts and coloring of sound that analog will give you is more prevalent and easier to find on cassette than on R2R. Hence cassette has a "more analog" sound than R2R. Again, that does not automatically make it *better*.

    So if what you desire is an analog, and a *clearly* analog sound, you may not be interested in a Otari MX5050, because it will sound quite clear, transparent and noise-free, and not much different from a high-end digital system.

    If however, you want something that is clear, transparent and noise-free, then you will be very happy with an Otari. Or a Sony. Or a Revox. Or well, any of the top machines.
    Random Pavarotti Disease Victim.

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    You don't need an 8-track for that. Get a 2-track and dump your mixes on it, and you will get much of the same effect. Some tape compression (but on the total mix instead, of course) a bit if that low-end bump (although it usually gets more of it with narrower tracks, if I understand correctly).

    Cheaper way of getting almost the same effect.
    Random Pavarotti Disease Victim.

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: 2 Track (stereo) reel to reel machine! Help me decide!!

    Originally posted by regebro
    Not better: More analog.

    I know many will try to get you to think that that 'analog' and 'good' are equivalent, but they are not. They are not mutually exclusive either, as some digital fanatics will claim. What is 'good' depends on what you like and what you want.

    The artifacts and coloring of sound that analog will give you is more prevalent and easier to find on cassette than on R2R. Hence cassette has a "more analog" sound than R2R. Again, that does not automatically make it *better*.

    So if what you desire is an analog, and a *clearly* analog sound, you may not be interested in a Otari MX5050, because it will sound quite clear, transparent and noise-free, and not much different from a high-end digital system.

    If however, you want something that is clear, transparent and noise-free, then you will be very happy with an Otari. Or a Sony. Or a Revox. Or well, any of the top machines.
    Ok, I understand your point. How about that tape, whether it be cassette or r2r provides a frequency bump in the mid-high frequencies and that the sound is "different" altogether from any digital machine ? What are your thoughts on that ? I did some A/B comparisons between my cassette deck and my cd recorder and recorded direct to these, and found that although the cd result is clearer, the cassette gave my demo more "shine" in the mid-high frequencies and better overall "warmth" ? I've also heard examples of sounds from r2r, like the tascam 388, machines from other people and found the sound "different", and better to my ears than digital. So how can you say that some R2R machines are similar to top end digital machines ? The're different mediums altogether. Also, what would you call "any of the top machines" ?

    Thanks,

    Daniel

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    A cassette sounds more analog than a R2R? Mmmmmm...

    I have a review about the Nakamichi 582 cassette deck. It was compared with a number of consumer R to R machines like the Revox and the Tandberg TD20A, which is the best sounding consumer tapemachine.

    The Nakamichi sounded as good as the Tandberg, it had only a tad more tapehiss.

    Beware for machines with worn heads, don't buy them.
    A 1/2" machine is still very expensive today.

    Get yourself a decent Studer, Otari, Ampex or whatever, it will sound better than any consumer machine.

    Quote:
    "Can you hear the difference between that and a good 24/96kHz converter? Well, maybe. But the better the recorders get, the smaller the difference is."

    Even a 1/4" R to R at 15 ips will have more "punch" and a nicer, more "silky" hi end, which gets better on 30 ips.

    For rock you better use 15 ips

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    Originally posted by Han
    A cassette sounds more analog than a R2R? Mmmmmm...

    I have a review about the Nakamichi 582 cassette deck. It was compared with a number of consumer R to R machines like the Revox and the Tandberg TD20A, which is the best sounding consumer tapemachine.

    The Nakamichi sounded as good as the Tandberg, it had only a tad more tapehiss.

    Beware for machines with worn heads, don't buy them.
    A 1/2" machine is still very expensive today.

    Get yourself a decent Studer, Otari, Ampex or whatever, it will sound better than any consumer machine.

    Quote:
    "Can you hear the difference between that and a good 24/96kHz converter? Well, maybe. But the better the recorders get, the smaller the difference is."

    Even a 1/4" R to R at 15 ips will have more "punch" and a nicer, more "silky" hi end, which gets better on 30 ips.

    For rock you better use 15 ips
    Thanks Han. What are some other names for 2 track r2r machines, that you can list, that you recommend, besides the ones above ? Also, I noticed that many r2r machines have RCA, XLR and 1/4 inch inputs ... What should I be looking for re inputs ? Also, how do I tell if heads are worn out ? Are there any photo examples of good condition heads that I can compare ?

    Thanks,

    Daniel

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    Daniel

    What connections a machine has is not very important. A 24 track Tascam MSR has 48 RCA in/outs because of the limited space.

    More important is the condition of the machine, particularly the heads. You can find images of worn heads on Eddie Cilettie's site.
    On the bottom of the page here:

    http://www.tangible-technology.com/tape/baking1.html

    You can find tons of info on the many forums like prosoundweb, musicplayer.com, recording.org and many more. Just do a search for analog 2 track. You can find a discussion on Fletchers board:

    http://recpit.prosoundweb.com/viewtopic.php?t=5842

    There's also much info at: http://www.jrfmagnetics.com/

    An analog 2 track can sound wonderful, but if your budget is limited it might not be the best option, especially a good 1/2 machine in good condition is quite expensive. Tape is expensive too.

    I have a Studer B67 which I've got for free from a film studio. I only had to renew the bearings and the machine sounds pretty good and is built like a tank.

    As for consumer machines you could try a Revox A or B, or a PR77.
    The best sounding consumer machine IMHO is the Tandberg TD20A (high speed version), but it suffers from dropouts.

    Some Teac machines are pretty good too.

    If you can spend some money, go for a Studer.

    The best sounding machine is probably an Ampex ATR102, but that's the most expensive machine also.

    Peace, Han

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