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Why Is It Once You Hear Tape, There's No Going Back?

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  • Why Is It Once You Hear Tape, There's No Going Back?

    Is it the coolness factor? Is it the Ferrari club mentality? Is it the amount of music on tape? Is it ease of use?

    Not really. The most overwhelming reason is that it's quality over quantity and the emotional reaction tape engenders. Or as the late Mike Spitz said, "nothing sounds like tape."

    And this from ATR magnetics sort of sums it up: "Music is an intrinsic part of the human soul. It plays to our emotions, it talks to us, it calms us, it makes us rise to our greatest accomplishments and brings back our warmest memories." Daniel Levitan said much the same thing in his first book, This is Your Brain on Music when he asked the basic question why do even in the most primitive societies on earth have music?


    Nothing Sounds Like Tape

    Why does music recorded on analog tape sound so good?
    To understand why, a professional tape recorder provides the most lifelike reproduction revolves around a couple of important factors. The key lies in the inherent technology of the tape itself. Audio tape in use during the 1950s and ’60s provided approximately 65,000,000 magnetic particles per second of recording a quarter inch format at 15 inches per second (ips) tape speed. Each magnetic oxide particle or groups of particles takes on either a north or south orientation after exiting the recording head. Starting to sound like digital bit stream? Well yes and no. However there is one huge difference between analog tape recordings and even the best digital recordings.
    Resolution
    The highest digital resolution today offers 4,608,000 bits switching per second. Not bad. Big improvement over the standard Red Book CD but it is not even close to sub-micron particle resolution of ATR Master Tape.
    Random Particle Stacking
    Quarter inch, two track ATR Master Tape running at 15 inches per second (ips) involves approximately 80,000,000 oriented and randomly stacked particles per track second. It’s not just the particle count but the random stacking that turns this super binary resolution into pure analog playback. This is why even a narrow track width recording still sounds so detailed despite the lower surface area.
    Music is an intrinsic part of the human soul. It plays to our emotions, it talks to us, it calms us, it makes us rise to our greatest accomplishments and brings back our warmest memories. Why not record it on the best medium to achieve the best quality of sound?



    For me--and I'm a rank newbie at this thing called tape compared to some of the veterans here--it's all about having one Armani suit compared to 10 Metropolitan suits. Yes, they are both suits and they both fit you but there is something more to the way that Armani suit fits the body and feels on you. It's much the same thing with tape. One finishes with a far more fulfilling after listening to one, much less a series of tapes, than any other musical medium. And after all, the difference between a good and great high-end system is that the former plays notes while the latter makes music. Emotional impact. That ill definable quality that eludes even the best of measurements.

    Sure, many of us were frustrated with the paucity of music available when The Tape Project, to many cries of derision, was first launched ten years (and that software issue kept me from getting into tape for the longest time). But times have changed and we now have 22 companies recording and releasing both new and old recordings on 15 ips tape. Hopefully, that groundswell with continue and more labels will see fit to release music in this format. I strongly urge people to check out the work being done by Yarlung Records, Opus 3, Open Reel Records, and so many more nowadays. Make sure when you go to shows to plan to spend some after show time at one of Greg Beron's UHA tape parties. I guarantee you won't leave until he locks the place up!

    Yes tape is expensive. But when you factor that high speed duped, two track with only one side of album back in 1958 ran $20, it's not out of the question. Put that $20 in the CPI multiply by two and the answer is that tape today would cost around $360. But tape is not exorbitant when you take into account that the blank tape (and reels) cost over $100 nowadays, licensing fees, maintenance, set up, artwork, etc., no one is getting rich selling tape.

    Most of all, tape will make even a modest system sound like a million dollars. When I was in the studio, master tapes made the studio JBLs sound like the best high-end speaker one could imagine.

    The one small fly in the ointment at the moment? The choice of musical genre. Yes, many classical and jazz recordings are currently available on tape but rock is far behind. And there's a good reason for that as the licensing fees for rock recordings is hideous (not to mention, these labels don't want to take their precious, old master tapes out of the vault and send them to just any Joe Blow for duplication). I believe more people would jump on the tape bandwagon if rock music--and after all it constitutes probably 60% of what is listened to today--had more representation. But it will happen. Right now I'm waiting on Horch House's newest Yello release on tape. And they will be issuing more. So stay tuned!
    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 V3.0 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
    Nice writing as usual Myles. I agree with you in the magic of tape sound. For me, I have had tape fetishize from my teens. A relative had an Akai with built in amp and speakers but it didn't hit me until when I had a pair of Pioneer headphone on and threaded the Carpenters tape with the song, Superstar crying out loud - "Don't you remember! You told me you loved me, baby!

    I hadn't been right since.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm continuing to deny the inevitable. So far, I've succeeded in avoiding the purchase of a reel-to-reel deck.

      I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out.

      Dre
      **************************************************
      Every day is a good day to play analog.
      - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
      - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
      **************************************************
      Every day is a good day for live music.
      **************************************************

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Dre_J View Post
        I'm continuing to deny the inevitable. So far, I've succeeded in avoiding the purchase of a reel-to-reel deck.

        I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out.

        Dre

        Stop hanging out with Mark, Ki and me!
        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 V3.0 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


        • #5
          Originally posted by Dre_J View Post
          I'm continuing to deny the inevitable. So far, I've succeeded in avoiding the purchase of a reel-to-reel deck.

          I'm not sure how much longer I can hold out.

          Dre

          I have one to give you for free which should hold you over until you get a great deck.
          Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post


            Stop hanging out with Mark, Ki and me!
            Thank goodness you are on the right coast; Ki is on the left coast; Mark is three hours away. Otherwise, I'd be in serious trouble!

            Originally posted by mep View Post


            I have one to give you for free which should hold you over until you get a great deck.
            Oh great!, Mark's not far enough away!

            Dre

            **************************************************
            Every day is a good day to play analog.
            - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
            - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
            **************************************************
            Every day is a good day for live music.
            **************************************************

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mep View Post


              I have one to give you for free which should hold you over until you get a great deck.
              I'll SEE Mark's offer above and CALL it with a free reel of enslaving potion!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mep View Post


                I have one to give you for free which should hold you over until you get a great deck.
                Originally posted by Dre_J View Post

                ..Oh great!, Mark's not far enough away!

                Dre
                Originally posted by Ki Choi View Post
                I'll SEE Mark's offer above and CALL it with a free reel of enslaving potion!
                Goodness gracious. You guy's are in cahoots with each other. I may have to cry "Uncle!" soon!

                Dre
                **************************************************
                Every day is a good day to play analog.
                - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
                - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
                **************************************************
                Every day is a good day for live music.
                **************************************************

                Comment


                • #9
                  Free deck and if I understand Ki correctly, he is throwing in a reel of goodness.
                  Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mep View Post
                    Free deck and if I understand Ki correctly, he is throwing in a reel of goodness.

                    there's a lotta love on this 'board, you guys rock,

                    Dre, whatcha waiting for??
                    Simon Yorke S10 | My Sonic Lab Eminent GL | AcousticPlan PhonoMaster | Wadia X32 | Innuous ZEN Mini Mk II | Valvet Soulshine2 | Linear Tube Audio ZOTL10 MkII | Avantgarde Uno Fino XD

                    "One of the great challenges of this world: Knowing enough about a subject to think you are right, but not enough about the subject to know you're wrong" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We do have a bunch of guys who care about each other and try to help each other on this forum.
                      Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Rob View Post


                        there's a lotta love on this 'board, you guys rock,

                        Dre, whatcha waiting for??
                        Originally posted by mep View Post
                        We do have a bunch of guys who care about each other and try to help each other on this forum.
                        UNCLE!
                        **************************************************
                        Every day is a good day to play analog.
                        - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
                        - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
                        **************************************************
                        Every day is a good day for live music.
                        **************************************************

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          How about you listen to tape but cannot find a tape deck in your price category? Why are there not more R2R manufacturers?
                          Marty

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Marty-There should be used decks available in all price categories. You will most probably have to spend some more money on them to bring them up to spec. As for why there aren't more R2R manufacturers in business today is because the BCA doesn't look good for a large investment. However, as new tape production spreads across the world, this could change. There is already a consortium of some experienced industry people who are promising to bring a serious deck to market at what has to be considered a bargain price in this hobby.
                            Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

                            Comment


                            • nc42acc
                              nc42acc commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Thanks Mark. I did the whole eBay search of used decks and was inundated with so many options and then how to get it up to spec. Not an easy task for someone who knows nothing about R2R. Maybe Greg will get a trade in or feel sorry for me.

                          • #15
                            Originally posted by nc42acc View Post
                            How about you listen to tape but cannot find a tape deck in your price category? Why are there not more R2R manufacturers?

                            What is your price range Marty?

                            Horch House has announced a brand new deck but no time table for release yet. Another was in the works but Mike Spitz passed away. And Greg is doing a great job plus Jeff Jacob's decks.
                            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 V3.0 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

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