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Thread: Good 'Semi-Pro' Half Track decks for High Output tape (+9 etc)

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    Question Good 'Semi-Pro' Half Track decks for High Output tape (+9 etc)

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    Hi,

    So I've read a bit about peoples perspectives on running the +9 (or higher) range of tapes (Q 499 / SM-900 / ATR) with the 'semi-pro' format tape decks (1/2" 8-track, or 1/4" half track) and why its not always possible or advantageous.

    What ARE the 'semi-pro' half-track decks that could take it as is or with minor modification?


    quoting some post from EVM1024: "There is a mod (increase the bias coupling cap value from 100 pF to 180 pF) that will allow the MS-16 to bias properly." I presume this would work out for the 52 as well? what about the 42?

    And the Otari 5050 series? (I don't know much of the differences between the ii, iii etc.)

    I'm just trying to get an idea of what machines could be biased for the +9 tapes and would have a chance of holding up to the added strain of the thicker tape.

    anyone have any experience with that?
    "Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric. " - Bertrand Russell

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    I don't have any direct experience but will pass on this caution: Sometime in the 1970's, Dick Rosmini, author of TEAC/TASCAM's MultiTrack Primer, among other things, asked the TEAC techs to optimize his 3340 for Ampex 456 @ +6. The machine had enough suds to be biased & eq'd for same but at least one of the heads could not deal with the added current. (It's been long enough ago that I can't remember whether it was erase, record, or both. End result, the core(s) melted. I have no idea whether this prompted a design change or not so I'd advise doing not messing with a machine's operating limit until you do a lot of research.
    Rick Ruskin
    Lion Dog Music - Seattle WA
    http://liondogmusic.com

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    FWIW I had a tech calibrate my A-3300SX for 456, this was a long time ago, when I didn't know a nano weber from Potsie Weber so I don't know if it was cal'd at 250 or 370 or what exactly.

    Don't know if this helps, but per the manual, the Otari MX5050BII-2 are factory calibrated for 320nW/m at the high setting. The peak LEDs are calibrated for 1040 nW/m which I think per the manual is +15dB. The Otari seems to have a pretty stout transport. 499/GP9 are just slightly thicker oxide coating, (base is the same. ) oxide is 600 u vs 500 u for 456 or 2.03 (499/GP9) vs 1.996mil (456). 2.28 overall for ATR all of that oxide, (base is the same.)

    There are guys on Tapeheads that use ATR and SM900 on consumer machines without issue, so I'm assuming that is on machines calibrated for 406.
    Last edited by Blue Jinn; 12-07-2010 at 13:00.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RRuskin View Post
    End result, the core(s) melted.
    woah, interesting story, just from trying to bias to 456!!!
    "Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric. " - Bertrand Russell

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jinn View Post
    per the manual, the Otari MX5050BII-2 are factory calibrated for 320nW/m at the high setting. The peak LEDs are calibrated for 1040 nW/m which I think per the manual is +15dB.
    i guess those Otaris could handle it anyway: +15db peek leds!!!??? interesting.
    I'll have to look at any differences in those Otari MX5050 decks.

    thanks for the info.
    "Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric. " - Bertrand Russell

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    IIRC the BR20 has presets for 320 and 520. I could be wrong, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LUNE View Post
    I'm just trying to get an idea of what machines could be biased for the +9 tapes and would have a chance of holding up to the added strain of the thicker tape.
    You could try out the thicker tape and see if the capstan pinch roller pressure goes up very much. Assuming you can bias the tape, you should still calibrate to the rated operating level for the machine (+4 over Ampex for the Otari) to leave reasonable headroom on the record electronics. Of course, that illustrates that there isn't much reason to try to do this, since even if the tape can handle higher levels, the machine probably can't record them without distorting, so what's the point?

    Cheers,

    Otto

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    I run my Otari MX5050 half track at +9 with ATR tape. It is DELCIOUSLY good.

    A bit of wisdom, though: ATR tape can be used at any operating level (+3, +6, +9) with amazing results. The tape's unique formulation gives it a lower noise floor at +6 operation than 456, SM911, and the like. You might find that you like it at +6, so give it a shot if you're inclined.
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    One more thing: If you want tape compression, you may want to go with SM900. You're likely to overload your deck's electronics before you get compression from ATR tape.
    Don't let schooling interfere with your education - Mark Twain

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    Quote Originally Posted by lo.fi.love View Post
    I run my Otari MX5050 half track at +9 with ATR tape. It is DELCIOUSLY good.

    A bit of wisdom, though: ATR tape can be used at any operating level (+3, +6, +9) with amazing results. The tape's unique formulation gives it a lower noise floor at +6 operation than 456, SM911, and the like. You might find that you like it at +6, so give it a shot if you're inclined.
    Good to know. On a hub, you can buy 1/2" direct for $64, not much more than RMGI SM 468. I wonder if my 8-track could pull this off, too?

    I'm impressed that the Otari can put levels that hot on the tape and not distort the rec electronics. If you are tracking that hot, it makes sense to calibrate at +9, to avoid overloading the line level electronics.

    Cheers,

    Otto

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