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Thread: Calibration tones on pre-recorded tapes?

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by astrotoy View Post
    I, for one, would like to have test tones at the heads of the prerecorded tapes. I have a bunch of safety masters and they all have test tones. Makes it a snap to set levels and fine tune the high frequencies. I do have calibration tapes from two of the tape companies where I have bought many of their tapes. If they have good QC then, having their calibration tapes given me reasonable confidence, though not as good as having the tones on each tape.

    As far as gentleman in China with the 200 machines, it will be very interesting whether he can have a business model that makes sense. Elon Musk had over 400,000 orders for the Tesla 3 (each with a $1000 earnest money deposit) before the first car came off the assembly line. It is hard for me to imagine the demand for 500K tapes a year unless there is an iphone app that can play R2R tapes :-) If they are going to issue their own tapes, a great difficulty is getting through the licensing and getting hold of the original master tapes to do the duplication, especially with the various mergers in the recording business. They may be thinking about just handling the duplication for companies, like Ampex did 50 or so years ago for many of the record companies selling prerecorded tapes. Manufacturing the tapes integrated the process for Ampex. I don't know whether Ampex actually made more from the production of the prerecorded tapes or from the tape manufacturing. QC is a major issue, since these are expensive products, and each tape should be defect free.

    I'll be very interested in seeing how things work out.

    Larry
    That was my initial question as well - will there be enough demand globally to support a high-production duplication line?

    You bring up an excellent hypothesis about providing duplication services for others, but even then the collective demand of all companies currently producing tape still wouldn't be enough to keep a large production facility busy - not these days. And as a 'boutique' tape producer selling relatively small quantities (after all, ours is a niche pursuit), if those companies are satisfied with the quality of their product and are not keeping their existing production decks continuously busy, what is the motivation to pay someone else to do it and add another cost layer to the equation?

    Purely conjecture, but perhaps the plan is to also produce quarter track tapes on 7" reels to reach a broader market. We won't know truly what will come of it for some time, I'm sure.

    As you mentioned, it all comes back to licensing and acquisition of the master tapes, which has always been the difficulty with broadening the market offerings for commercially available open reel titles. And limited rock and pop titles takes a large portion of the would-be market out of play.

  2. #32
    Member Skylab's Avatar
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    There was a point in time when I thought that 1/4 track 7" reels would mean a broader market for new reel tapes. Now I'm not so sure anymore. How many people who are interested in buying currently produced tapes have only 1/4-track machines? I actually think the state of reel to reel today is that the ONLY even close to substantial market there is currently is for 1/2-track, 15 ips tapes.
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  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by astrotoy View Post
    I, for one, would like to have test tones at the heads of the prerecorded tapes.
    I found this on another (apparently competing?) tape forum, posted just four days ago (on August 17):

    "With the tape, once the heads are aligned (using an MRL calibration tape at the mastering and playback machine) it is push and play. Just keep the heads clean."

    How could anyone with any technical background in analog tape be claiming that an azimuth adjustment tone on a pre-recorded tape is not necessary.

    They couldn't. So we have to conclude that they lack an understanding of the subject.

    Here are two introductory questions for those people to ponder. Perhaps with these questions we can get them interested in studying the subject more.

    What is the "azimuth loss formula" and why does this matter?

    How wide is quarter-inch tape and why does this matter?

    The second question is the trick question. It's also a key insight into understanding the azimuth problem.
    Adolph Friederich (Fred) Thal
    Technical Director and Founder, Audio Transfer Laboratory http://audiotransferlab.com
    Managing Director, ATAE ataudioeng.com

  4. #34
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    I request tones printed at the head from labels, which vend directly to the end-user. Otherwise, one seldom encounters alignment tones.
    Topoxforddoc mentioned spectrum analysis for possible use in alignment...I'm going to try applying this insturment
    for yielding optimal results from 'master tape dubs', etc., particularly those (many) absent even basic tones: Tek 760A


    Vbr,

    Sam
    SPQCV

  5. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by c1ferrari View Post
    I'm going to try applying this insturment
    for yielding optimal results from 'master tape dubs', etc., particularly those (many) absent even basic tones: Tek 760A


    That is a stereo program channel correlation display.

    It will be of no help to you in setting repro head azimuth if there is no azimuth tone on your tape.
    Adolph Friederich (Fred) Thal
    Technical Director and Founder, Audio Transfer Laboratory http://audiotransferlab.com
    Managing Director, ATAE ataudioeng.com

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Thal View Post
    That is a stereo program channel correlation display.
    It will be of no help to you in setting repro head azimuth if there is no azimuth tone on your tape.
    Given tape with no tones, judicious -- read, very conservative -- adjustment of repro head azimuth may positively affect stereo image / phase.
    My inference is that improved stereo image and phase (graphically corroborated with the 760A or another goniometer) are the result of better alignment to the tape.
    Vbr,

    Sam
    SPQCV

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by c1ferrari View Post
    Given tape with no tones, judicious -- read, very conservative -- adjustment of repro head azimuth may positively affect stereo image / phase.
    Please have a look at the azimuth loss formula to see that a repro head azimuth change of only one-half a degree (or thirty minutes of arc) can result in an attenuation of seven dB at 15kHz.

    I can't see the wisdom in destroying the analog tape's high frequency playback response just so you can make experimental, subjective changes to the program's inter-channel phase relationships.

    I suggest that you do your phase relationship investigations in the digital domain, after you have correctly played back the analog tape.
    Adolph Friederich (Fred) Thal
    Technical Director and Founder, Audio Transfer Laboratory http://audiotransferlab.com
    Managing Director, ATAE ataudioeng.com

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