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The Best of Prerecorded 71/2 ips, 2-track Tapes

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  • The Best of Prerecorded 71/2 ips, 2-track Tapes

    Some of the very, very earliest pre-recorded, reel-to-reel tapes, prior to mass, high speed duplication, can sound pretty amazing. Not 15 ips but very good nonetheless and maybe even very good in the low end. Remember that 15 ips was a compromise between 30 ips [great upper octaves] and 7-1/2 ips [very good bass]. In fact, some have suggested that 22-1/2 ips may have had the best overall sound.

    So as it happened a buddy dropped off yesterday four very early RCA reel to reel tapes for me to hear and if interested to purchase. There is no way other than playing to tell condition and whether the tapes suffer from sticky shed syndrome or were just falling apart.

    Turns out that had never even seen three of the four tapes. And everything-the boxes and the tapes-looked absolute mint. In fact, I don't think the tapes had ever been played. RCA cleverly used this small plastic spacer that wedged into the reel to hold the end of the tape in place. First time I've seen that and bespeaks to the tapes having never been played. Another interesting tidbit-and the first time I've seen this-is the strip across the reel allowing you to mark where each cut began (see attached picture). I am guessing that not all early tape machines had counters. Oh and the previous owner had recorded when Hi Fidelity has published the review of BB&H (4/59).

    The first of the tapes up was Dick Schory's Bang, Baroom and Harp. Recorded in 1958, BB&H was released in 1959 and has to be one of the earliest RCA R2R tapes. It is 7-/12 ips inline heads and as I heard years ago, these were the best sounding of the RCA tape releases. Of course these are NAB EQ. Interestingly, the tape unlike the LP lists the recording engineer (Joe Wells) but doesn't contain three of the tracks from side two of the LP. Actually, I don't know why they left those tracks off since there's plenty of room on the reel. Perhaps the extra tape might have added more to the cost than they thought the public was willing to pay.

    To end the suspense, I was shocked that the tape came tails out (!) and was in perfect shape. Sonically, it was excellent though will compare later to the LP. What I can say is that the low end was very good and didn't sound as hard as the LP, original or reissue. Of course, the 7-1/2 ips tapes are also a little softer sounding.

    More to come! Click image for larger version

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

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 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 Mk. 2, 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. 6, 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 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

  • #2
    I should also add that the clay color of the tape fits with its age.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 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 Mk. 2, 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. 6, 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 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Myles, I've got quite a few 7.5ips tapes. In fact it was those that got me started on tape... For the record, the first tape I heard that made me sit up and take notice was a 7.5ips copy of Dave Brubeck's Impressions of Japan, playing on a Technics RS-1500. It was only 4-track but so very much better than the 3.75ips stuff that we got over here in the UK!

      Getting back to the subject of 2-track 7.5ips tapes. Have you tried the Bel Canto tapes? I have a dozen or so. They are not by what I'd call top flight orchestras, and the music is rather 'middle-of-the-road', but the sound quality is pretty special. I think that the recordings were mastered at 7.5ips, and that the commercially sold tapes are direct 1:1 transfers. NAB obviously. Another interesting thing: they are translucent, which I think indicates that they're acetate-backed. Fortunately, they're not sticky because I understand baking is not an option with these, having said that none of my consumer tapes (3.75 & 7.5ips 2 & 4 track) are sticky. Some are quite brittle, several have drop-outs, but no stickiness at all.

      The Bel Canto tapes are very worth trying, inexpensive, superb sound, despite being not very musically challenging!

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      • #4
        This is a good review article on issues with older tapes.

        http://www.richardhess.com/tape/hist...urnal_39-2.pdf

        Acetate tapes are more susceptible to vinegar syndrome decay and brittleness. Of course acetate can't be baked.
        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
        ________________________________________

        -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
        -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
        -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
        -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 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 Mk. 2, 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. 6, 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 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

        Comment


        • #5
          Sticky Shed only became a problem starting in the late seventies and mostly with Ampex brand tapes. All 7 1/2, 2 tracks were abridged for release. They were not sold tails out, so the previous owner probably did that. Those little plastic tape holders were a product of the mid sixties and sold in bags.
          I not a classical guy but owned a few of the RCA's and they do sound great. Columbia also did a spectacular job with these. Two of the best are Brubeck's Time Out and Ellington's Jazz Party in stereo. I wasn't impressed with the two track Kind of Blue but that might be because the tape suffered from over play.
          Don't sell short 4 Track tapes either, I've many that are superb, although they are more hit and miss.
          System 1- Wilson Alexia 2, Pass XA100.8, Pass XP-32, Pass XP27 phono, Esoteric K1, G1, N05, Avid Acutus Ref with SME V and Koetsu Onyx, Studer 807 with Flux heads, J-Corder flux heads direct balanced output, Doshi 3.0 tape preamp,Modified Revox PR99, Teac X-2000M, Kimber Selects, Cardas Clear Beyond power.
          System 2 - Magnepan 3.7, Magnepan MMG (rear), Rel sub, Pass X-250.5, Marantz (rear), Pass XP-22, Parasound preamp, Vendetta Phono SCP-2T, SME 20/3 with SME V & Lyra Atlas & Titan I, OPPO 205, Sony SCD-5400ES, Revox B-77, Kimber Selects
          System 3 - Luxman L-505 UXII, Project Classic SP, Hana SL, JBL L-100 Classic, Oppo 205

          Comment


          • MylesBAstor
            MylesBAstor commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, corrected myself in above post. Vinegar syndrome decay.

            Thanks, my machine isn't set up for four track! I opted to take out the 2/4 track switch and another connection--and not great at that-- on my head block.

        • #6
          For those of you looking for"old" (1954-60) 2-track, prerecorded stereo tapes (7"reels, 7 1/2ips; there were previously 2-track MONO issues); for collecting purposes, a long time back I started compiling a list of all the 2-track stereo titles/labels I could find. After many years the list now contains something like 2200 titles. It's posted on the Yahoogroups chat-room REEL_TAPES (and may require group membership to view). The list contains label, title, artist(s), LP equivalent (if any) and my "sonic evaluation" (A thru D)

          Enjoy!

          Charles

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