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  • Studer vs. Sony Professional Reel-to-Reel Tape Machines?

    ***Added note: This thread started with a remark in my show thread about some of my tapehead buddies preferring the Sony Pro R2R machines to the Studers. Then Rob posed a question that follows below***


    #61.1

    Rob commented
    04-24-2016, 02:36 PM


    **Jonathan Horwich of International Phonograph, Inc. in Chicago brought along his Sony professional APR 5003 deck (some of my in the know tape buddies feel this deck is every bit the equal of the Studers)** I've heard the same comment from two tapes pros that love this deck, can you get Jonathan to write something about his machine, the care and feeding involved in owning one?
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
    -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    From Jonathan Horwich:

    Just to let you know there is no question the Sony is a better sounding playback by a big margin over Studers. On record it is better by a medium amount. Big amount on playback. Not opinion. Not even close. Only the A80 is closer to the Sony. I have Studers and only use them for rewind, editing, delicate work, as their mechanics are superb. Heavenly. But not their sound.

    Close is the Sony versus my custom Ampex. Each are superb in different ways. Not so the Studers.

    Look, if I were completely loaded I’d use a Studer 810 or A80 with Doshi electronics record and playback and then I’d be smoking. Best of both words, I think assuming the sound would be okay from the heads directly.But I don’t have that kind of money.

    Anyway I know it sounds biased but the Sony and Ampex are far better sounding than Studers.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
    -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

    Comment


    • #3
      After a little further thought, Jonathan expanded on his original comments for us.

      The Sony APR 5000 series along with the Ampex 102 are my two favorite sounding professional decks.
      The Sony APR stock is a wonderful sounding machine on playback and record. Some (famous) machines are pretty good on record but not so good on playback.

      The Sony requires no more maintenance or care than any other machine. However there is one inherent fault which is the power supply parts get very warm and I strongly suggest an added fan externally. Just get one of those little quite fans that have cloth for blades and put it next to the machine and blow down under the chassis and voila.

      My APRs actually have the power supply guts removed into an external power supply obviating that problem but I do have an APR without the full guts removal and I have a fan next to it which works like a charm. I do the same with my Ampex as I had the stock, back fan on the Ampex removed as my Ampex is mounted on thick maple slabs in my studio. So for any machine that gets more than just a bit warm, use an external fan as the ones I get are very quiet.

      Anyway this is the only “fault” with the APR. It can get hot so know you’ll want a small side fan to keep it coolish.

      Other than that, the transport is lovely (not as good as a Studer 810, A80 or A820, but much better on playback sound) and tape handles quite smoothly. I put master tapes on it all the time as it is gentle with tape and has library wind which is slow and gentle. Here’s where my Studer 810 shines as it has 3 library wind modes not to mention you can thread the tape above the head blocks so it never touches the heads. The 810 is amazing mechanically.

      The most important thing is the sound which is detailed and transparent without being scientific. Just pretty “neutral.”

      So in summary a great all around machine. No maintenance issues ever except keep it coolish. Not expensive compared with the Ampex and Studers. I bought one for $500.00 and another one free (parts but so what). Like any of the machines I bought except my 801 from Ki Choi, my tech had a lot of things to fix, including on my Ampex. Machines not kept up by expert Techs need a lot of work. the Sony is no different from any other machine, but once set up, I’ve not had one problem and I have 3 machines I use.

      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
      ________________________________________

      -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
      -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
      -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
      -Doshi EVO phonostage
      -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
      -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
      -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
      -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
      -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
      -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

      Comment


      • #4
        It's kinda' funny that Sony chose the Studer A80 to display at CES for their mastering demo!
        Last edited by Bruce B; 04-25-2016, 05:27 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          And as I understand it, parts are very plentiful for the Sony machines too.

          Certainly sounds like a machine for someone wanting to get into tape to consider.
          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
          ________________________________________

          -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
          -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
          -Doshi EVO phonostage
          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Bruce B View Post
            It's kinda' funny that Sony chose the Studer A80 to display at CES for their mastering demo!
            What's your thoughts on the Sony machine Bruce? I know you are a diehard type Studer guy. Especially say sans outboard electronics that brings up the Studer's performance.
            Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
            Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
            ________________________________________

            -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
            -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
            -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
            -Doshi EVO phonostage
            -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
            -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
            -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
            -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
            -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
            -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

              What's your thoughts on the Sony machine Bruce? I know you are a diehard type Studer guy. Especially say sans outboard electronics that brings up the Studer's performance.
              You know I'm biased. I have had the opportunity to listen to a few Sony machines and find them quite good, even comparing them equally to the ATR-102. The ATR with the Aria outboard is a downgrade IMHO. But like above, if you want the ultimate, get the A80 with Flux heads and the Doshi outboard pre and you have the holy grail!!

              I know Nick has a Sony as well as 2 A80 machines now. He'd might be better to ask since he can compare side by side. I know a couple have actually asked him and I know what he said....

              Comment


              • #8
                As you may know, the Sony bought MCI in the early 90's and developed the APR from the JH series. Came on the market just as digital was making significant inroads; I believe very few were sold.

                I have friends who have at least two of the APR machines and one suffered from the overheating problem Jonathan mentioned - extra ventilation is crucial. And they do "sound" better than the Studers; but do believe that the TRANSPORTs are equally good.

                Regarding the MCI machines. Their transports are EXCELLENT when "restored" and they used wonderful Bogen heads. If interested, look up maramachines.com. MCI PB electronics can be bettered by outboard but their record sections are fine.

                Charles
                Last edited by stellavox; 04-26-2016, 08:07 AM.

                Comment


                • Rob
                  Rob commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thanks for the history. I can put my hands on two APRs that are local to me but my cup runneth over for now, maybe someday...

              • #9
                Originally posted by stellavox View Post
                As you may know, the Sony bought MCI in the early 90's and developed the APR from the JH series. Came on the market just as digital was making significant inroads; I believe very few were sold.

                I have friends who have at least two of the APR machines and one suffered from the overheating problem Jonathan mentioned - extra ventilation is crucial. And they do "sound" better than the Studers; but do believe that the TRANSPORTs are equally good.

                Regarding the MCI machines. Their transports are EXCELLENT when "restored" and they used wonderful Bogen heads. If interested, look up manamachines.com. MCI PB electronics can be bettered by outboard but their record sections are fine.

                Charles

                Thanks Charlie and welcome aboard.

                Charlie is a great friend (he was my best man at my wedding!) and my tape guru! And he makes one of the best tape preamps out there today!

                Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                ________________________________________

                -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
                -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                -Doshi EVO phonostage
                -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Hello all - my first post so be kind!
                  ​Jonathan is correct in that when you compare stock machines the sony APR series are better sounding than the Studer A80 series on record and playback. I think the sony APR is the flattest recorder I have ever measured with respect to LF response. The caveats are as follows :
                  1- Early sony APR machines had steel guides which will wear over time and may damage tape edges on use. Later machines had ceramic guides which are preferable. Tape shops can sleeve the steel guides to fix this.
                  2- The motors have ceramic capstans and will all probably have bearings in need of repair but there are several services available
                  3- this is the biggest potential drawback - the Power supplies are built in and fan cooled. After these many years, they are all in need of refurbishment. New capacitors and quieter fans should be considered mandatory. Or you can go the route some have done which is to outboard the power supplies. I have run mine in the units with quieter fans for years and they are ok that way.

                  on the pro side - fantastic woelke heads, high bias frequency and the ability to go 320nW/m with ease.

                  Modifications to be considered : in the head amplifier, there is a 5534 op amp that couples through a NP electrolytic. It makes a good upgrade to put an op amp with low dc offset or null the 5534 and remove the electrolytic from a critical portion of the audio path.

                  If you want to upgrade the 5534's with op176's or better opamps, the choices are many. gotta be careful not to overstress the supply regulators which have a lot of work to do on those boards.

                  There is a message board on yahoo run by Richard Hess that is devoted to Sony APR's if you need more info / assistance from real experts.

                  HTH

                  Nick

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by Doshiaudio View Post
                    Hello all - my first post so be kind!
                    ​Jonathan is correct in that when you compare stock machines the sony APR series are better sounding than the Studer A80 series on record and playback. I think the sony APR is the flattest recorder I have ever measured with respect to LF response. The caveats are as follows :
                    1- Early sony APR machines had steel guides which will wear over time and may damage tape edges on use. Later machines had ceramic guides which are preferable. Tape shops can sleeve the steel guides to fix this.
                    2- The motors have ceramic capstans and will all probably have bearings in need of repair but there are several services available
                    3- this is the biggest potential drawback - the Power supplies are built in and fan cooled. After these many years, they are all in need of refurbishment. New capacitors and quieter fans should be considered mandatory. Or you can go the route some have done which is to outboard the power supplies. I have run mine in the units with quieter fans for years and they are ok that way.

                    on the pro side - fantastic woelke heads, high bias frequency and the ability to go 320nW/m with ease.

                    Modifications to be considered : in the head amplifier, there is a 5534 op amp that couples through a NP electrolytic. It makes a good upgrade to put an op amp with low dc offset or null the 5534 and remove the electrolytic from a critical portion of the audio path.

                    If you want to upgrade the 5534's with op176's or better opamps, the choices are many. gotta be careful not to overstress the supply regulators which have a lot of work to do on those boards.

                    There is a message board on yahoo run by Richard Hess that is devoted to Sony APR's if you need more info / assistance from real experts.

                    HTH

                    Nick

                    Thanks for the info Nick and welcome aboard!



                    Have you run your Sony machine with your tape electronics?

                    Nick's one of the smartest guys I've met in audio and really knows his tape stuff. Plus he makes a great sounding line of electronics--plus a tape preamp--that was used this year at Axpona with the new Wilson Audio Alexx speakers. Needless to say, everyone walked away very impressed that tube amps could drive the Wilsons.
                    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                    ________________________________________

                    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                    -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
                    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                    -Doshi EVO phonostage
                    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      It's funny one man's "so-so" is another man's dream I have recently ventured into the "tape world". I have a Revox B77 that I bought for $1K in VG condition. (Just to see if I like the "tape process") With 71/2ips tapes that I bought from Ebay (Simon/Garfunkel, Graham Nash, Paul McCartney etc) for about $10-$20 each I am in "listening heaven". I have two VG TT set ups and VG digital set ups, although now when I really want to enjoy a listening session I just cue up one of my 50 year old ebay tapes and am TOTALLY AMAZED at what I am hearing.

                      Honestly, I would be quite happy with what I am getting from the B77 and for as much as I will listen to tape I could live with it forever.....it's REALLY that good for me.

                      On the other hand Charles (Stellavox) is delivering my Studer A812 this Saturday with the King/Cello electronics, which Charles has integrated into the stand of the Studer. I also have a few 15ips tapes supplied by Jonathan Horwich who I recently met at Axpona.

                      I might not have a "Sony", but probably with me LOVING the B77 with Ebay 7 1/2 ips tapes I might surmise that the A812 with Jonathan's 15ips tapes will suit me just fine....can't wait until Saturday and what a shame, I leave for Munich early next week, so I won't get much listening done prior to Munich.

                      BTW, I now consider myself a "tape head", a newbie, but one nonetheless!
                      RHAPSODY.AUDIO

                      http://www.rhapsody.audio




                      Pilium Audio, Magico, Alsyvox, Bayz Audio, Diesis Audio, Kondo, VYGER, VYDA Cables, Constellation, Taiko Audio - Extreme server, Aqua Acoustic Quality, Raidho, TechDAS, Critical Mass Systems, Aurender, TelluriumQ, CMS/Center Stage, Devialet, REL Acoustics, RD Acoustics

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Many of us who've entered tapedom have accepted that what we're really buying in a deck is as reliable of a transport as possible. The electronics of all of these decks that i have heard seem to be improved by external tape preamps. Nick and Charles have top tier offerings in this dept.
                        Good to see you guys here

                        Comment


                        • MylesBAstor
                          MylesBAstor commented
                          Editing a comment
                          +1

                          Reliabilty being gentle tape handling too.

                      • #14
                        Originally posted by Rhapsody View Post
                        It's funny one man's "so-so" is another man's dream I have recently ventured into the "tape world". I have a Revox B77 that I bought for $1K in VG condition. (Just to see if I like the "tape process") With 71/2ips tapes that I bought from Ebay (Simon/Garfunkel, Graham Nash, Paul McCartney etc) for about $10-$20 each I am in "listening heaven". I have two VG TT set ups and VG digital set ups, although now when I really want to enjoy a listening session I just cue up one of my 50 year old ebay tapes and am TOTALLY AMAZED at what I am hearing.

                        Honestly, I would be quite happy with what I am getting from the B77 and for as much as I will listen to tape I could live with it forever.....it's REALLY that good for me.

                        On the other hand Charles (Stellavox) is delivering my Studer A812 this Saturday with the King/Cello electronics, which Charles has integrated into the stand of the Studer. I also have a few 15ips tapes supplied by Jonathan Horwich who I recently met at Axpona.

                        I might not have a "Sony", but probably with me LOVING the B77 with Ebay 7 1/2 ips tapes I might surmise that the A812 with Jonathan's 15ips tapes will suit me just fine....can't wait until Saturday and what a shame, I leave for Munich early next week, so I won't get much listening done prior to Munich.

                        BTW, I now consider myself a "tape head", a newbie, but one nonetheless!
                        Bob, please post pics of Charles' conversion, I'm curious how your installation looks. I have an RS1500 and Dehaviland tube/hybrid repro I cant decide where to place the preamp under the deck or up and over on a pedestal like a meter bridge. My heads are wired out and I want to keep the cable run as short as possible.
                        Simon Yorke + Zyx + B.M.C .> Soulution > Boulder > Magico

                        "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post


                          Thanks for the info Nick and welcome aboard!



                          Have you run your Sony machine with your tape electronics?

                          Nick's one of the smartest guys I've met in audio and really knows his tape stuff. Plus he makes a great sounding line of electronics--plus a tape preamp--that was used this year at Axpona with the new Wilson Audio Alexx speakers. Needless to say, everyone walked away very impressed that tube amps could drive the Wilsons.

                          ​Myles,
                          Thanks,

                          I have kept my Sony stock. The design of the machine and head block make it difficult to modify and, besides, its good to have a stock machine around. (ok, maybe 2-3 stock machines)

                          As a transport, it would be on par with a good running A80 so there is really not much to be gained on that front. Transports, my personal opinion FWIW is that a perfect running ATR is probably first, a Studer 812 coming very, very close second (but looks nicer!), A80 transports tend to sound incredible and don't need futzing (a technical term) for long periods of time. then you have the technics 1500 and studer 810/807 machines. I have not played with the Otari MX and MTR machines since the early 90's so no idea what they would do.

                          on a daily basis I listen to my A80 and technics transports. The studer has very low output / low inductance flux heads and the technics has medium output flux heads. Neither of them will win beauty contests but at least the tape path is clean.

                          On my want list is a Telefunken M15A - anyone want to trade ?

                          HTH


                          Comment

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