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[ARSCLIST] Tape problems, was Re: [ARSCLIST] Collection for sale
But London allowed itself to get into 4-track tape because they were impressed
by the operations at United Stereo Tapes (Ampex's duping division). It says so
right on the back ad in a 1959 High Fidelity issue (I've been going through a
ton of these lately). It's in print, it must be true..heh heh.
Duped tape disasters weren't limited to 4-track consumer product. I remember
the Cleveland Orchestra coming in on ten-inch reels with horrible sound and on
more than one occasion, an entire channel missing. This was in the early 90s.
carlstephen koto wrote:
Tom, I agree completely regarding the dismal sound found on most factory
produced r2r tapes. It's a real shame since the few that were produced
following the items you've listed, reveal a texture (particularly with
orchestral recording) to the sound that's absent on most lp's. I've got
a number of Mercury 1/2 tracks and a few RCAs that are spectacular. Some
of the Verve 1/4 track jazz titles are really something to hear also.
BTW I almost never buy tapes from online auctions. That's a sure formula
On Feb 23, 2008, at 3:43 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
The craziest thing in all of this is, mass-duped tapes generally are
TERRIBLE, I mean awful. If you understand anything about how they were
made, you'd understand why they generally sound terrible. A few
1. 4x to 8x and later 16x duplication speeds. Generally on Ampex
3200-type transports, which were hardly stable at 60IPS or later 120IPS.
2. duper masters generally made by low-skill personnel from
many-generations-removed copies sent to the duper plants. The duper
plants would get a 15IPS safety (second generation from master, which
could be a generation or more from the session tapes, particularly in
the multi-track era), it would be a safety that close to the master if
they were lucky because one common practice was the keep the safety at
a studio and run series of duper masters from it for popular titles.
Then this 15IPS tape would be reduced and combined to make a 4-track
usually 7.5IPS dupe master. If someone decided to make a 15IPS dupe
master that meant the duper's playback transport would be running
twice as fast as the record transports, adding still more variables to
the system. This all got even worse with 8-track carts and 3.75IPS
duped reels. Those formats are such dog-doo, I won't even discuss them.
3. the tape stock used by dupers varied and was usually lousy. By the
mid to late 60's, Ampex in Illinois was the biggest duper. I think
even then RCA and CBS did their own duping (generally with better
results). Ampex used their own tape, which is notoriously bad. They
never perfected slitting so the tape "country lanes" and at high speed
duping that leads to severe azimuth instability. Plus, the Ampex tape
is notorious for warping, so most of those 40+ year-old tapes on eBay
are badly curled or warped and full of left-channel dropouts. Any
acetate tape will warp with the way most of these were stored by
consumers, so I probably shouldn't single out Ampex.
4. Azimuth varies widely from tape to tape and even on parts of the
same reel (and sometimes different sides of the same reel since some
dupers used different record heads for each side of a quarter-track
reel -- the heads were offset and would run at the same time but early
3200 systems didn't accomodate 4 tracks on one record head). Unless
you check azimuth with a scope for each side of each tape (sometimes
difficult since of course there are no alignment tones on these
tapes), you're only somewhere in the neighborhood (and often outside
5. maintenance of the duper equipment varied from day to day, line to
line and worker to worker. Sometimes there's hum in a channel.
Sometimes level is all wrong. Sometimes channels are reversed. And
remember that this junk sold at a premium to LPs.
6. finally, the hiss and wow/flutter level on most duped tapes I've
heard is unacceptable. Unless you like digital artifacts better than
hiss, there is no digifilter that satisfactorally cleans this up. I
don't even think something like Plangent that locks to bias would help
since the wow and flutter could date back any generation between the
studio tapes and the duped tape and the bias recovered would only be
the duper bias on the final duped tape.
Meanwhile, in contrast, a properly done LP was mastered right from the
master tape and if it was mastered and pressed properly, it is much
closer to the source than a duped reel. Also, I should mention that
some dupers were better than others. Ampex was particularly bad in my
experience. So was Bel-Canto. And early 2-track duped tapes are a
whole other matter and often sound better than the early stereo LPs,
if you can find one that's not completely worn out from age nowadays.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message ----- From: "carlstephen koto"
Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2008 1:11 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Collection for sale
Speaking of crazy,.. I collect reel to reel tapes (in a minor way)
and an auction of one came to my attention a couple of weeks ago. It
was a Japanese 7" 7.5 ips 1/4 track issue of Pink Floyd's "Adam
Heart Mother". The reason this auction attracted the interest of
several tape collectors was that it had already reached a bid of
over $400 with two days left. By the next day, it was over $700. At
that point, I speculated that it would go for over $1k. I guess
that's why I usually lose bidding wars. The final price was over
$1800! We were flabbergasted. Luckily, I suggested some reasons why
a single 7" tape could be worth that much to someone when one of the
regular posters let us know that he'd bid $1600 on the tape.
BTW reel to reel tapes have had a dramatic upswing in prices the
last year or so. But nothing like that!
On Feb 22, 2008, at 7:55 PM, Roger and Allison Kulp wrote:
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