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  • Visit With Andre Yesterday

    Andre made the 3 hour trek yesterday from OH to IN so we could have one last visit in my current home before I have to tear down the system in preparation for moving to TN at the end of August. Andre arrived at close to 10:00 AM and he didn't come empty-handed. It took us two trips to carry in everything he brought, and other than records and tapes, I had no idea what the other items were that we were bringing in except for the big oscilloscope that I carried in. Andre had hinted that something was up on Friday when he started asking me about shelf space on one of my racks. As were carrying in everything, I told my wife that Andre was moving in.

    We started off the listening session with LPs. Andre wanted to hear the MoFi one-step Santana LP and the infamous M&K D2D For Duke. After that, Andre told me that he had brought an MRL calibration tape along with his dual trace scope so that he could run the calibration tape on my deck to see how well it was calibrated and make adjustments as necessary. Andre proceeded to hook up the outputs from Otari deck to the scope and ran the MRL tape. The lower frequencies on the MRL tape showed proper head alignment, but as the frequencies on the calibration tape went higher, the scope clearly showed there was some slight azimuth issues. Andre made the necessary azimuth adjustments to the playback head so that it tracked correctly across the MRL tape. Next, we reconnected the Ampex 350s to the Otari and Andre hooked up the scope to the output of the 350s in order to see how closely they matched to what was observed with the Otari electronics. After minimal adjustment to the level on the right channel of the Ampex 350, all was declared well.

    Unlike most people that have outboard tape repros and have their head wired straight out and plugged into them, I am strictly using the Ampex 350s as a tube buffer. Via XLR connectors, I go from the tape outputs from my Otari into the line in on the Ampex 350s. I really like how this combination sounds. As it turns out, Andre had been working on his own tube buffer for some time. He started asking about certain tubes and when I would ask him what he was up to, he wouldn't really elaborate. I started teasing him and calling him "Secret Squirrel." I even conjured up a guess that he was designing and build a pair of tape repros to use with his Otari MTR-10 deck. Well, the mystery ended yesterday when Andre opened up one of the boxes that we had carried in and told me to take a peek. Here is what I saw:


    Andre started with a design from Lynn Olson and then made some significant changes to it which Andre can elaborate on if people are interested. It was a single-ended preamp design originally built by Gary Dahl and Andre changed it to a balanced circuit with XLR input and output connectors which is what you need if you are going to use it as a tube buffer with a professional tape deck. The tube compliment is somewhat unusual:

    (2) 6CJ3 damper diodes
    (2) JAN OD3 voltage regulators which glow a really cool purple
    (2) E182CC Phillips SQ (Special Quality) dual triodes

    I cleared off the top shelf of my middle rack and we installed Andre's buffer on the the rack and proceeded to hook up the output cables into the BAL 3 input of my ARC Ref 6. We could now easily swap cables from the output of the Otari to either the Ampex 350s or Andre's buffer. We started off listening to tape through the Ampex 350s and then we switched over to Andre's buffer. First thing I noticed is that Andre's tube buffer is dead-drop quiet. My 350s are uh, just a tad noisy by comparison which could be tube related. Given my brief exposure to Andre's buffer yesterday, my initial impressions were that the bass was tighter with more definition and punch than my 350s and that the sound was ultra-clean and transparent. It was a blast listening to tape yesterday and it was also reassuring to know that my Otari was calibrated for playback correctly.

    We had a couple of breaks in our listening to munch on some chips and salsa as a snack and then later when we stopped for dinner. So much music, so little time as I always say when we get together for listening sessions. We didn't make it through all of the tapes Andre had brought. We did listen to a tape that Andre had made on his tweaked and peaked Otari MTR-10 from one of his tweaked and peaked Basis tables, arms, and Lyra Titan cartridge. This was one of the tapes that Andre brought to Axpona to play in rooms that had tape decks. The tape Andre made faithfully captured the sound of his analog front end in his system and when Andre played this tape at Axpona, it was met with some very favorable reactions. It was a blast to hear it yesterday.

    After Andre calibrated my deck yesterday, it was evident to me that there was a newfound purity to the high frequencies. Some of the tapes we played yesterday were startling in transient impact. For those of you that own tape decks, I highly recommend purchasing an MRL calibration tape and if you have the tools and skills, run the calibration tape and make whatever adjustments are necessary. Otherwise, it would be worth it to have a tape tech make the adjustments for you.

    The day came to an end all too soon, but it sure was a lot of fun. Every time Andre comes to my house, he makes my system better. I always learn something from him and I certainly picked up some new tricks yesterday.
    Last edited by mep; 07-24-2017, 09:12 AM.
    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.

  • #2
    good times. we should all be so lucky to have audio buds that are also so technically proficient, its not like we all have an o-scope in our back pocket we can whip out in a moments notice to calibrate our toys Dre's buffer sounds interesting.

    Comment


    • JCOConnell
      JCOConnell commented
      Editing a comment
      I have an O-scope but wouldn't have a clue how to calibrate a tape deck using it.

  • #3
    Originally posted by Rob View Post
    good times. we should all be so lucky to have audio buds that are also so technically proficient, its not like we all have an o-scope in our back pocket we can whip out in a moments notice to calibrate our toys Dre's buffer sounds interesting.
    I actually have a dual trace scope, but I don't have an MRL cal tape and I damn sure wouldn't have known how to adjust the azimuth on the PB head. Andre made it look easy.
    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


    • Bill Hart
      Bill Hart commented
      Editing a comment
      All that test equipment is so sexy. I wouldn't have a clue what to do with 95% of it, but what fun! I was in a guy's shop last week- it is in a place in Austin known as "Slackerville" (kinda like double cheese), that was at its peak in the late '70s--- a bunch of shacks, basically, that formed a 'Hippie Mall'-- candle maker, Eastern trinkets, what have you--sort of a commercial commune vibe. It's all pretty much stripped of the outdoor art and all the businesses are gone--it will eventually be torn down for a storage building. But, this old time tech is still there, and has a bunch of shacks. He mostly repairs instrument amps, but does some hi-fi. Anyway, he had a couple of walls of what were probably top grade test equipment, HP distortion analyzer, scopes (Tektronics?), the whole thing. Oh, this dude knew how to solder too!

    • MylesBAstor
      MylesBAstor commented
      Editing a comment
      I lucked out. I was an early Tape Project subscriber and they included a free calibration tape with the subscription.

  • #4
    Mark: sounds like a very productive, fun session. Question: the tuber buffer is still relying on the preamp in the Otari for gain, and the buffer is just like 1:1 or whatever the correct terminology is for a device that processes the signal without additional amplification? Or are these substitutes for the preamplification in the tape machine?

    Comment


    • JCOConnell
      JCOConnell commented
      Editing a comment
      doesn't an audio buffer by definition have a voltage gain of 1?

    • mep
      mep commented
      Editing a comment
      Correct Bill. The gain from the Otari is pretty much setting the overall gain being fed to the Ref 6. Andre's buffer has a very modest amount of gain, but I will let Andre expand further on that if he wants. I think it's on the order of around 2dB.

    • Dre_J
      Dre_J commented
      Editing a comment
      HI Bill.

      Marks has it right. I have the buffer/output stage set for a fixed gain of 2.45ish dB. I didn't want to add more components to set the gain to 0 dB as I wanted it to be as pure as possible for this application.

      Dre

  • #5
    Originally posted by mep View Post
    Andre made the 3 hour trek yesterday from OH to IN so we could have one last visit in my current home before I have to tear down the system in preparation for moving to TN at the end of August. Andre arrived at close to 10:00 AM and he didn't come empty-handed. It took us two trips to carry in everything he brought, and other than records and tapes, I had no idea what the other items were that we were bringing in except for the big oscilloscope that I carried in. Andre had hinted that something was up on Friday when he started asking me about shelf space on one of my racks. As were carrying in everything, I told my wife that Andre was moving in.

    We started off the listening session with LPs. Andre wanted to hear the MoFi one-step Santana LP and the infamous M&K D2D For Duke. After that, Andre told me that he had brought an MRL calibration tape along with his dual trace scope so that he could run the calibration tape on my deck to see how well it was calibrated and make adjustments as necessary. Andre proceeded to hook up the outputs from Otari deck to the scope and ran the MRL tape. The lower frequencies on the MRL tape showed proper head alignment, but as the frequencies on the calibration tape went higher, the scope clearly showed there was some slight azimuth issues. Andre made the necessary azimuth adjustments to the playback head so that it tracked correctly across the MRL tape. Next, we reconnected the Ampex 350s to the Otari and Andre hooked up the scope to the output of the 350s in order to see how closely they matched to what was observed with the Otari electronics. After minimal adjustment to the level on the right channel of the Ampex 350, all was declared well.

    Unlike most people that have outboard tape repros and have their head wired straight out and plugged into them, I am strictly using the Ampex 350s as a tube buffer. Via XLR connectors, I go from the tape outputs from my Otari into the line in on the Ampex 350s. I really like how this combination sounds. As it turns out, Andre had been working on his own tube buffer for some time. He started asking about certain tubes and when I would ask him what he was up to, he wouldn't really elaborate. I started teasing him and calling him "Secret Squirrel." I even conjured up a guess that he was designing and build a pair of tape repros to use with his Otari MTR-10 deck. Well, the mystery ended yesterday when Andre opened up one of the boxes that we had carried in and told me to take a peek. Here is what I saw:


    Andre started with a design from Lynn Olson and then made some significant changes to it which Andre can elaborate on if people are interested. It was a single-ended preamp design originally built by Gary Dahl and Andre changed it to a balanced circuit with XLR input and output connectors which is what you need if you are going to use it as a tube buffer with a professional tape deck. The tube compliment is somewhat unusual:

    (2) 6CJ3 damper diodes
    (2) JAN OD3 voltage regulators which glow a really cool purple
    (2) E182CC Phillips SQ (Special Quality) dual triodes

    I cleared off the top shelf of my middle rack and we installed Andre's buffer on the the rack and proceeded to hook up the output cables into the BAL 3 input of my ARC Ref 6. We could now easily swap cables from the output of the Otari to either the Ampex 350s or Andre's buffer. We started off listening to tape through the Ampex 350s and then we switched over to Andre's buffer. First thing I noticed is that Andre's tube buffer is dead-drop quiet. My 350s are uh, just a tad noisy by comparison which could be tube related. Given my brief exposure to Andre's buffer yesterday, my initial impressions were that the bass was tighter with more definition and punch than my 350s and that the sound was ultra-clean and transparent. It was a blast listening to tape yesterday and it was also reassuring to know that my Otari was calibrated for playback correctly.

    We had a couple of breaks in our listening to munch on some chips and salsa as a snack and then later when we stopped for dinner. So much music, so little time as I always say when we get together for listening sessions. We didn't make it through all of the tapes Andre had brought. We did listen to a tape that Andre had made on his tweaked and peaked Otari MTR-10 from one of his tweaked and peaked Basis tables, arms, and Lyra Titan cartridge. This was one of the tapes that Andre brought to Axpona to play in rooms that had tape decks. The tape Andre made faithfully captured the sound of his analog front end in his system and when Andre played this tape at Axpona, it was met with some very favorable reactions. It was a blast to hear it yesterday.

    After Andre calibrated my deck yesterday, it was evident to me that there was a newfound purity to the high frequencies. Some of the tapes we played yesterday were startling in transient impact. For those of you that own tape decks, I highly recommend purchasing an MRL calibration tape and if you have the tools and skills, run the calibration tape and make whatever adjustments are necessary. Otherwise, it would be worth it to have a tape tech make the adjustments for you.

    The day came to an end all too soon, but it sure was a lot of fun. Every time Andre comes to my house, he makes my system better. I always learn something from him and I certainly picked up some new tricks yesterday.
    Hey Mark,

    Just like the other times we’ve managed to get together for some listening and fun, this was no different.

    The music was great, the conversations were great, and the company was great. Who could ask for more?

    Thanks for hosting the listening session this time. I enjoyed every minute of the experience.

    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.
    **************************************************
    Every day is a good day to listen to music.
    **************************************************
    Industry Affiliation:
    Contributing Writer, The Absolute Sound
    **************************************************

    Comment


    • #6
      You gotta love when you have a friend like Andre who comes over and it totally honest about what he hears in your system. And can help your system sound better too! Too often we get bogged down in what we like about our system and lose track about what can be improved. Like when I work with client. They come into the gym and do what they like doing; my job is to ensure they are doing what they need to do.
      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.

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