Head direct-out and after-market playback electronics

Jan 18, 2012
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Drobak Norway
#21
most enlightening thread in months imo
so jumping to outboard external repro and record electronics from the "top hifi shelf", might get you worse off than onboard std e.g A80 electronics to start with....
at least I guess all was matched to each other from Studer ....
but I heard somewhere that the std 15ips heads are a compromise between 15 and 30ips and actually have ideal speed of 22ips? true?
best
Leif
 
Oct 22, 2011
617
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#22
My guess is that the average person spending $5k to $15k on an external preamp is having someone who knows what they are doing make sure that the reproduce head and the preamp are properly matched. I worked with John French and Nick Doshi on my setup. They worked together to ensure that the head, cabling and preamp were all working together and calibrated appropriately.
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,559
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38
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#24
most enlightening thread in months imo
so jumping to outboard external repro and record electronics from the "top hifi shelf", might get you worse off than onboard std e.g A80 electronics to start with....
at least I guess all was matched to each other from Studer ....
but I heard somewhere that the std 15ips heads are a compromise between 15 and 30ips and actually have ideal speed of 22ips? true?
best
Leif
Yes the optimum speed as observed by McKnight was 22ips.
 
May 30, 2010
13,939
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Portugal
#25
Yes the optimum speed as observed by McKnight was 22ips.
I am not sure any more where I read it - probably in the Tapeproject forum section. Some one brought reel machines using synchronous motors from Europe to a US studio for a recording project and noticed that they sounded much better there - less noise and better bass. Due to the 50Hz / 60Hz the machines were running at 18 ips!
 

Ron Resnick

Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,051
29
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Beverly Hills, CA
#26
I did this some time ago.... using freq. sweeps for measuring and testing outboard tape stages vs. stock electronics. Thought I had posted graphs somewhere. I'll have to look.
Dear Bruce,

It would be great if you could find those measurements! I'm sure a lot of tape people here would be very curious to see those results!
 

Fred Thal

[Industry Expert]
Jul 15, 2016
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#28

Fred Thal

[Industry Expert]
Jul 15, 2016
147
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#30
. . . I'm sure a lot of tape people here would be very curious to see those results!
Ron, at ATAE, we have examined some of the after-market tape playback electronics (aka tape stages) that are currently popular with tape hobbyists.

Yet because we also manufacture and sell this type of product, I will assert that it's not for ATAE to be publishing the results we have compiled on the performance of competitor's products in our test lab.

What has been badly needed (for many, many years now) is for a qualified, impartial equipment reviewer to perform their own testing on these purportedly "audiophile" tape stages.

John Atkinson of Stereophile comes first to mind, but I have no idea if he has any interest in analog tape today.

Absent any such qualified, impartial testing results being published, I fear that in far too many cases, tape hobbyists are simply accepting the testimony of some who report big improvements in sound quality obtained by hacking into the repro head wiring and connecting up this or that brand of after-market tape playback electronics.

The first problem in this approach is that the people are not taking careful measurements of the the playback response of their machine’s stock playback electronics before they start in on a modification path.

The second problem with these crude "head direct out" modifications is that you might be throwing the baby out with the bath water. Here the baby is the head and its associated loading network, usually a simple passive RC network.

Studer machine owners could study the schematics of a Studer repro head first stage, to see this network. Keep in mind that the loading network component values may need to be changed with any change of head inductance, a phenomenon that will occur with head re-contouring, aka head re-lapping. Any change to the head cable must also be factored in.

For those interested, there are useful similarities and analogies to tape head loading to be found in the subject of phono cartridge loading. I see that Ralph Karsten has recently commented on phono cartridge loading in another thread here on WBF.

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?14815-Best-phono-stage/page32

Warning: huge thread and the 90/10 rule applies.