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Thread: Analog Tape specs

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    Analog Tape specs

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    I started this thread in a different section, the realized it probably belongs here.

    I've read about a million threads on analog vs digital, but they seem to generally be religious arguments rather than factual. I do not want to start another one. What I do want are some cold hard specs on reel to reel sound quality. SNR, Dynamic range, frequency response, THD and the likes.

    We all know the how this works in digital audio, but as far as analog tape goes, I've never seen a spec written. Can somebody please provide this?

    Also, the same for vinyl.

    (I don't want this to turn into an analog vs digital argument. I just want some real information. The words warm, brittle, sterile and so forth are useless terms. Please don't use them.)

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    It depends on the machine and the tape used on it, what tape speed you're using and what standard the machine was aligned for. With all due respect, what you're asking is basically "How efficient are cars?"
    Each model is different, and it will depend on what fuel you use, how they are driven and so on.

    If you're interested, this will give you some ballpark figures (for that machine):
    http://www.reeltoreel.de/worldwide/B77.htm

    The figures for the A807 can be found in section 1.5 of this:
    ftp://ftp.studer.ch/Public/Products/...kI_Op_Serv.pdf (172 megabytes!)
    ...which is scanned from the original manual, but not OCR'd so I can't cut and paste the relevant numbers unfortunately. I note they didn't seem to be in the 2MB brochure, either.

    Hope that helps somewhat... other people may be able to give you more specs for TASCAM, Otari machines and so forth.

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    This surely won't answer your question but specs are absolutely meaningless, generally speaking. The moment I stopped listening to folks who rave about freq response, S/N ratio and such and actually started listening to my analogue rig, it turned everything around for me, some 8 or so years ago.

    Don't wanna sound brash but analogue, in general, is not about specs but rather whether you like the sound or not. On paper, many open reel machines may not look impressive but will sound like it. Tape machines are not tools of measurement but of experience. Same goes for vinyl.

    Listen and work a bit with analogue and make up your own mind. Specs won't do it and will give you a skewed perspective.

    --

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    Actually analog is very much about specs. There is nothing magical going on with magnetic tape. You can look at it scientifically to find out what is actually going on to find out why it sounds the way it does.

    You can look at the waveform of a tack recorded on tape vs CD to get an idea of what the difference is.

    Tape doesn't "feel" any different. It is doing something to the sound that people like, and that's what I'm trying to figure out. Again, no religious debate here.

    And yes, my question was very vague. How about specs on the "best" analog tape and vinyl. And I know that that hardware can have equal specs to any digital counter part. I'm most interested in the actual medium.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bozmillar View Post
    Tape doesn't "feel" any different. It is doing something to the sound that people like, and that's what I'm trying to figure out. Again, no religious debate here.
    No offense intended here, but how can you say that when you have admitted yourself that you've never worked with analog?
    famous beagle

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    It feels different because it is doing something to the sound. There's nothing magic about it. It's the same air molecules being compressed by the speaker cone and making it to your ears. I'm trying to get an idea of why magnetic tape sounds different.

    Just so everyone can understand where I'm coming from, I'm not saying that digital is sonically better. I do believe that digital is more accurate, but I can be convinced other wise by someone who knows what he is talking about. I record digitally because I find it much easier to work with.

    I just too often hear people defend tape and vinyl because it is more "real" and plays back exactly what was recorded while digital is just a bunch of 1's and 0's. I know that this is a bunch of bull and I know that most people who work with tape know that it's a bunch of bull. Something is happening to the sound on tape, and it's not just sending warm fuzzies through the speaker cone.

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    bozmillar: We've done this before so no need to rehash. Check out this thread instead: https://homerecording.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=263641

    Peace man.

    --

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    how can you say tape doesn't "feel" any better man? You obviously haven't worked with tape. Have you ever sat down and listened to vinyl? I guess not for quite a while. And if you have then maybe you should get your ears checked. None of us would be here wasting precious time conversing about this stuff if it didn't make us feel better some how. It seems to me like you are doubting your digital resources or else you wouldn't care about the science of it. When it comes down to it, science doesn't mean shit to most of the guys in this here forum. Its all about the puritism that you so clearly do not have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bozmillar View Post
    It feels different because it is doing something to the sound. There's nothing magic about it. It's the same air molecules being compressed by the speaker cone and making it to your ears. I'm trying to get an idea of why magnetic tape sounds different.

    Just so everyone can understand where I'm coming from, I'm not saying that digital is sonically better. I do believe that digital is more accurate, but I can be convinced other wise by someone who knows what he is talking about. I record digitally because I find it much easier to work with.

    I just too often hear people defend tape and vinyl because it is more "real" and plays back exactly what was recorded while digital is just a bunch of 1's and 0's. I know that this is a bunch of bull and I know that most people who work with tape know that it's a bunch of bull. Something is happening to the sound on tape, and it's not just sending warm fuzzies through the speaker cone.
    To put it as simply as possible, analog recording is continuous, digital is sampling many thousands of times per second, but it's not continuous.
    famous beagle

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjacek View Post
    bozmillar: We've done this before so no need to rehash. Check out this thread instead: https://homerecording.com/bbs/showthread.php?t=263641

    --
    Actually, that is exactly what I didn't want this thread to turn into. I understand mshilarious's frustration because nobody gave him any real information when it comes to analog. I'm hoping to leave the word "digital" out of this thread completely.

    Anybody who says that it has nothing to do with specs, is really saying that they don't understand the specs or don't know them.

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