United Home Audio Ultima 4 With Outboard Power Supply

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,594
1,005
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#1
At T.H.E. Show Newport 2018 Greg Beron, proprietor of United Home Audio, debuted his new, top-of-the-line tape machine: the Ultima 4.



CCD8614C-D96C-451C-98D9-AB911B52E331.jpg



The Ultima 4 builds on the prior top-of-the-line machine — which already employed DC for the motors, a discrete component Class A head amplifier, a mu metal shield for the head-block and an outboard power supply — by moving the playback head to the record head position and replacing other friction points with precious metal rollers.

This is Greg’s ultimate repro-only tape machine. Brand new-in-the box and with a factory warranty tape playback does not get easier or better than this!
 

BMCG

VIP/Donor
Oct 1, 2016
205
4
18
United Kingdom
#2
Dare I ask the sticker price?
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,594
1,005
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#4
There are a lot of expensive parts in that machine, and with UHA you are not paying manufacturer-to-distributor or distributor-to-dealer mark-ups.
 
May 30, 2010
15,442
670
113
Portugal
#5
There are a lot of expensive parts in that machine, and with UHA you are not paying manufacturer-to-distributor or distributor-to-dealer mark-ups.
What is the base machine behind the Ultima 4?
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,709
842
113
#6

dminches

Active Member
Oct 22, 2011
837
82
28
#7

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,594
1,005
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#8
May 30, 2010
15,442
670
113
Portugal
#9
Thanks. Does United Home make improvements/reinforcements to the machine chassis? Looking at the service manual I could find in the link you supplied, according to the the inside pictures it looks structurally weaker than for example, even a Revox A700.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,709
842
113
#10
#11
There are many great options for tape decks in high end audio, to clarify some of the statements / questions posted, here are just some of the things I do.

A BIG BENEFIT TO THE TASCAM DECKS I USE IS DC MOTORS, no one talks about this for some reason...
Running the entire deck on DC power was a goal from the start of the UHA project.

A monumental difference of a UHA deck is the ability to RUN THE DECK 100% ON DC POWER by adding an Outboard Power Supply.

So, TWO large toroidal power transformers were sourced and custom configured to go into the UHA Outboard Power Supply.
The transformers are over sized and specially wound for UHA not off the shelf stuff, they use a special wiring, a special coating to reduce vibration and are wound around a "potted core".

1.) One transformer is to run the new head amps inside the deck, the head amps were put there to allow for the shortest runs of wire from tape heads to head amps possible.
This was to avoid noise picked up with a longer set of wires, something we all know about.

2.) The second one is to run everything else, motors, lights, transport, VU meters and so forth.
So you have complete separation of audio playback and everything else in the deck.

3.) There are banks of DC conversion devices inside the OPS that convert the AC from the wall to DC current and the only power traveling to the deck is DC.
NO AC IN THE DECK WHATSOEVER.

There are no power transformers or any dc conversion devices inside the deck at all, everything resides in the OPS.
There is shielded Synergistic Research power cable in the umbilical between the deck and the OPS, also the power cables were routed to avoid creating any noise.

The OPS is set up to avoid vibration energy:
The OPS has two sheets of 3/4" MDF bolted to the top and bottom of the OPS for damping and rigidity, the power transformers are bolted to the 3/4" MDF and also sit in a bed of special vibration damping devices to reduce vibration.
The OPS also has a Furutech power conditioner on the 15a IEC inlet.


The Tascam deck uses all DC motors, speed stable, reliable and quiet, with servo controlled arms and full logic control with no batteries or EPROMS to loose.
When I first started this venture (10 years ago) I bought 10 new motors from Tascam, they are still sitting on the shelf here, that says something.
I wanted a reasonable sized (some would argue that 70 lbs isn't super portable), reliable machine, another important point was I can still buy parts direct from Tascam.

One bonus on the Tascam deck was there is ample space for the head amps and they are only 3” from the tape head, super short wiring, low noise.
THe chassis also has separate compartments that can house each head amp.
I also use a specific tape head that is only made for UHA, no one else can buy it, it was chosen after listening to may different heads in addition the head amps were made specifically to compliment this one tape head only.

As far as the head amps:
UHA uses a 100% custom designed head amp, not stock!
Special board materials, hyper pure copper and dielectric have been chosen because of their mutual sonic benefits.
Resistors of the highest quality are used with crazy tolerances, each gain stage has their own dedicated power supplies with filtering systems.
The decks use PURE CLASS A FULLY DISCRETE AMP STAGES, 100% fully discrete components throughout, Synergistic Research wire, Next Gen RCA's and Furutech XLR's, and on and on....

Because the head amps are in the deck some may assume they are in some way inferior to the design of having an outboard head amp.
That would not be true, the benefit of having a 3" run of specially shielded wire from the tape head to the head amp is a significant design attribute.
The head amps in the deck are specially designed and every aspect of their construction has been analyzed over the last 10 years.
There was ample room inside the deck for the head amps regardless of size.


Probably the most coveted award UHA was in the 40th anniversary edition of The Absolute Sound, their "Top 100 Most Influential Audio products of the last 40 years".
There were only 100 products in the world listed and UHA was honored to receive one of these awards.


195e73d00.png
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,594
1,005
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#12
Thank you very much, Greg, for replying to several questions here!

One of the things I have learned (to my satisfaction, anyway) is that, all else being equal, the closer the first gain stage is to the playback head the better. Having a discrete component head amp 3” from the playback head definitely is an attractive feature.

We know in this hobby that implementation often matters more than theory. I think Greg has taken the Tascam machine and turned it into a completely different machine on the inside.

Every single person I know personally who has a UHA machine loves it! That is a fact.

I continue to insist privately (and annoyingly, no doubt!) to Kedar, PeterA, Marc and others that they should dip a toe into tape with Greg’s entry-level machine.
 

steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#13
There are many great options for tape decks in high end audio, to clarify some of the statements / questions posted, here are just some of the things I do.

A BIG BENEFIT TO THE TASCAM DECKS I USE IS DC MOTORS, no one talks about this for some reason...
Running the entire deck on DC power was a goal from the start of the UHA project.

A monumental difference of a UHA deck is the ability to RUN THE DECK 100% ON DC POWER by adding an Outboard Power Supply.

So, TWO large toroidal power transformers were sourced and custom configured to go into the UHA Outboard Power Supply.
The transformers are over sized and specially wound for UHA not off the shelf stuff, they use a special wiring, a special coating to reduce vibration and are wound around a "potted core".

1.) One transformer is to run the new head amps inside the deck, the head amps were put there to allow for the shortest runs of wire from tape heads to head amps possible.
This was to avoid noise picked up with a longer set of wires, something we all know about.

2.) The second one is to run everything else, motors, lights, transport, VU meters and so forth.
So you have complete separation of audio playback and everything else in the deck.

3.) There are banks of DC conversion devices inside the OPS that convert the AC from the wall to DC current and the only power traveling to the deck is DC.
NO AC IN THE DECK WHATSOEVER.

There are no power transformers or any dc conversion devices inside the deck at all, everything resides in the OPS.
There is shielded Synergistic Research power cable in the umbilical between the deck and the OPS, also the power cables were routed to avoid creating any noise.

The OPS is set up to avoid vibration energy:
The OPS has two sheets of 3/4" MDF bolted to the top and bottom of the OPS for damping and rigidity, the power transformers are bolted to the 3/4" MDF and also sit in a bed of special vibration damping devices to reduce vibration.
The OPS also has a Furutech power conditioner on the 15a IEC inlet.


The Tascam deck uses all DC motors, speed stable, reliable and quiet, with servo controlled arms and full logic control with no batteries or EPROMS to loose.
When I first started this venture (10 years ago) I bought 10 new motors from Tascam, they are still sitting on the shelf here, that says something.
I wanted a reasonable sized (some would argue that 70 lbs isn't super portable), reliable machine, another important point was I can still buy parts direct from Tascam.

One bonus on the Tascam deck was there is ample space for the head amps and they are only 3” from the tape head, super short wiring, low noise.
THe chassis also has separate compartments that can house each head amp.
I also use a specific tape head that is only made for UHA, no one else can buy it, it was chosen after listening to may different heads in addition the head amps were made specifically to compliment this one tape head only.

As far as the head amps:
UHA uses a 100% custom designed head amp, not stock!
Special board materials, hyper pure copper and dielectric have been chosen because of their mutual sonic benefits.
Resistors of the highest quality are used with crazy tolerances, each gain stage has their own dedicated power supplies with filtering systems.
The decks use PURE CLASS A FULLY DISCRETE AMP STAGES, 100% fully discrete components throughout, Synergistic Research wire, Next Gen RCA's and Furutech XLR's, and on and on....

Because the head amps are in the deck some may assume they are in some way inferior to the design of having an outboard head amp.
That would not be true, the benefit of having a 3" run of specially shielded wire from the tape head to the head amp is a significant design attribute.
The head amps in the deck are specially designed and every aspect of their construction has been analyzed over the last 10 years.
There was ample room inside the deck for the head amps regardless of size.


Probably the most coveted award UHA was in the 40th anniversary edition of The Absolute Sound, their "Top 100 Most Influential Audio products of the last 40 years".
There were only 100 products in the world listed and UHA was honored to receive one of these awards.


View attachment 41830
well deserved Greg. Thanks for the info
 

jdcolombo

New Member
Oct 29, 2017
22
0
1
#14
The Tascam BR20 transport is no slouch, and using it was a wise decision IMHO. I'd say that it is just as easy on tape and just as reliable as my Studer A810, except that the Studer has a scrape flutter roller, and the BR20 doesn't (but I think Greg may add one to the UHA decks). It's in the electronics where the Studer beats the stock BR20. So I've always figured that Greg's decks would sound superlative because he was doing all-new electronics (and BTW, my Studer A810 also has a head preamp 2" from the playback head - Studer's engineers weren't schmucks) married to an excellent transport.

I hope one day to be able to hear a UHA machine - I'm sure they are spectacular.

John C.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
8,846
975
113
E. England
#15
Hey Ron, not annoying. I’ve always been ok w the advice. But I hope you also are not too annoyed when I have to keep saying no.
 
Aug 29, 2016
52
4
8
#16
There are many great options for tape decks in high end audio, to clarify some of the statements / questions posted, here are just some of the things I do.

A BIG BENEFIT TO THE TASCAM DECKS I USE IS DC MOTORS, no one talks about this for some reason...
Running the entire deck on DC power was a goal from the start of the UHA project.

A monumental difference of a UHA deck is the ability to RUN THE DECK 100% ON DC POWER by adding an Outboard Power Supply.

So, TWO large toroidal power transformers were sourced and custom configured to go into the UHA Outboard Power Supply.
The transformers are over sized and specially wound for UHA not off the shelf stuff, they use a special wiring, a special coating to reduce vibration and are wound around a "potted core".

1.) One transformer is to run the new head amps inside the deck, the head amps were put there to allow for the shortest runs of wire from tape heads to head amps possible.
This was to avoid noise picked up with a longer set of wires, something we all know about.

2.) The second one is to run everything else, motors, lights, transport, VU meters and so forth.
So you have complete separation of audio playback and everything else in the deck.

3.) There are banks of DC conversion devices inside the OPS that convert the AC from the wall to DC current and the only power traveling to the deck is DC.
NO AC IN THE DECK WHATSOEVER.

There are no power transformers or any dc conversion devices inside the deck at all, everything resides in the OPS.
There is shielded Synergistic Research power cable in the umbilical between the deck and the OPS, also the power cables were routed to avoid creating any noise.

The OPS is set up to avoid vibration energy:
The OPS has two sheets of 3/4" MDF bolted to the top and bottom of the OPS for damping and rigidity, the power transformers are bolted to the 3/4" MDF and also sit in a bed of special vibration damping devices to reduce vibration.
The OPS also has a Furutech power conditioner on the 15a IEC inlet.


The Tascam deck uses all DC motors, speed stable, reliable and quiet, with servo controlled arms and full logic control with no batteries or EPROMS to loose.
When I first started this venture (10 years ago) I bought 10 new motors from Tascam, they are still sitting on the shelf here, that says something.
I wanted a reasonable sized (some would argue that 70 lbs isn't super portable), reliable machine, another important point was I can still buy parts direct from Tascam.

One bonus on the Tascam deck was there is ample space for the head amps and they are only 3” from the tape head, super short wiring, low noise.
THe chassis also has separate compartments that can house each head amp.
I also use a specific tape head that is only made for UHA, no one else can buy it, it was chosen after listening to may different heads in addition the head amps were made specifically to compliment this one tape head only.

As far as the head amps:
UHA uses a 100% custom designed head amp, not stock!
Special board materials, hyper pure copper and dielectric have been chosen because of their mutual sonic benefits.
Resistors of the highest quality are used with crazy tolerances, each gain stage has their own dedicated power supplies with filtering systems.
The decks use PURE CLASS A FULLY DISCRETE AMP STAGES, 100% fully discrete components throughout, Synergistic Research wire, Next Gen RCA's and Furutech XLR's, and on and on....

Because the head amps are in the deck some may assume they are in some way inferior to the design of having an outboard head amp.
That would not be true, the benefit of having a 3" run of specially shielded wire from the tape head to the head amp is a significant design attribute.
The head amps in the deck are specially designed and every aspect of their construction has been analyzed over the last 10 years.
There was ample room inside the deck for the head amps regardless of size.


Probably the most coveted award UHA was in the 40th anniversary edition of The Absolute Sound, their "Top 100 Most Influential Audio products of the last 40 years".
There were only 100 products in the world listed and UHA was honored to receive one of these awards.


View attachment 41830

I have seen and heard the UHA tape deck at audio shows and it dose sound fantastic, Greg tells us about all of the great things he dose to improve the sound of a stock Tascam BR-20, the new playback heads, a complete new playback amplifier and the outboard power supply, that’s all well and good but how about showing us what you have done (with pictures) of the inside and the back of the deck what dose this new preamp look like, I have a stock BR-20 and I know this deck inside and out, so instead of just telling us what you have done to improve the sound, show us, I have never seen what the specs of the UHA tape deck, like what is the signal to noise ratio, the frequency response, distortion, a stock BR-20 has a signal to noise ratio at 15 ips IEC is 72 db, how much has the outboard power supply improve on this, and the frequency response is 30 Hz to 22KHz, dose the UHA improved on this, now I know that specs aren’t everything and don’t tell us how good the sound is, but these are things that me, as well as others would like to know. and Ron Resnick: Why are you so down on OP amps?
 
Jun 8, 2015
33
2
8
#17
And there is Ballfinger which has the same Frequency response as the stock Br20, <0.7% distortion compared to the stock Br20 <0.8% distortion. Only the signal to noise ratio is less on the Ballfinger compared to the stock Br 20. Both Run on DC motors. Ballfinger is direct drive if that matters. Ballfinger has better WOW and Flutter specs.

Anyway I would really love to see a how a Studer A810 with flux magnetic heads sounds compared to the UHA. Has anyone done any comparisons?
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
7,089
308
83
Northern NY
#18
Anyway I would really love to see a how a Studer A810 with flux magnetic heads sounds compared to the UHA. Has anyone done any comparisons?
I have Studer A810 with flux using the standard Studer built in repro amp. My UHA smokes it badly. A Studer with a wired out flux head into a Doshi with a gone over transport should give the UHA a good run for the money. What sounds better would be subjective preference...both sounding great....one tube, one SS DC powered repro. The UHA handles tape more gentle than an A810 broadcast transport. The UHA also has a scrape flutter roller added to the transport. The Studer A810 does not.
 
Jun 8, 2015
33
2
8
#19
I have Studer A810 with flux using the standard Studer built in repro amp. My UHA smokes it badly. A Studer with a wired out flux head into a Doshi with a gone over transport should give the UHA a good run for the money. What sounds better would be subjective preference...both sounding great....one tube, one SS DC powered repro. The UHA handles tape more gentle than an A810 broadcast transport. The UHA also has a scrape flutter roller added to the transport. The Studer A810 does not.
Interesting. Don't have a doshi still so can't comment. And I thought Flux magnetic heads were a improvement over stock Studer heads.
Btw isn't the Tascam Br20 broadcast deck?
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
7,089
308
83
Northern NY
#20
Interesting. Don't have a doshi still so can't comment. And I thought Flux magnetic heads were a improvement over stock Studer heads.
Btw isn't the Tascam Br20 broadcast deck?
They are an improvement. The BR20 is a broadcast deck as is the A810 in stock configuration. The only stock parts used for Tascam UHA decks are the spooling motors and the logic control board for spooler motor control...FF, Play, RW, buttons.
 

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