I thank you for the time you took to answer my posting on the List.
While there are always many opinions on any given subject, those
that come from someone with firsthand knowledge are the credible
ones. The reasons you cited for your views eliminate the
possibilities of a poorly founded opinion being taken seriously by
someone just looking for the facts.
Over the last 12 months or so I've purchased a number of very fine
pro machines that were very close to being new or in excellent
condition. The relatively low cost of the machines seemed to
indicate that tape is dead. However, after reading the many sites
that pertain to tape, I think I've found out otherwise. Your comment
regarding having "one of the best machines supported in depth," is
the reason I asked about the ATR-102.
Being an audiophile this is just a serious hobby for me. Since I
don't need to make a living from my hobby, not making the best
decision doesn't have dire consequences, it just makes you feel like
an uninformed fool.
A few months back I spent a day at ATR Services learning about the
care and feeding of their machines. Mike Spitz and his staff were
very impressive, as were their machines. For the money I've spent on
the used machines I purchased I could've almost had an ATR. Maybe its
still the best decision to make.
I thank you again, Ken Fritz
On Jan 19, 2008, at 10:00 PM, Richard L. Hess wrote:
> Hello, Mr. Fritz,
> An ATR-102, especially one refurbished my ATR Services in York,
> PA, is held in high esteem by many. There are some who are
> concerned about its use on sticky archival tapes, but it is my
> understanding it can be properly set up for those tapes and sticky
> tapes should be rendered temporarily non-sticky prior to playing by
> I got into this business slowly and began adopting a variety of
> tape machines that appeared to meet my needs.
> It is my goal to do an excellent job with as few different
> platforms as possible. My current mainstay in reel-to-reel machines
> are the Studer A80 and the Sony APR-5000.
> ATR-102s are very expensive in good condition and while they are
> superb, I have been able to find refurbishable A80s and excellent
> condition APRs at much lower prices. My goal is to minimize
> expenses so
> (a) I can keep more of the money to run my household
> (b) keep my pricing competitive and reasonably affordable
> (c) have some money to feed my location recording, photography,
> and travel hobbies
> The APRs are my machine of choice for most formats as they adapt to
> different formats much easier than most machines. The A80s are my
> machine of choice for NAB and DIN (Euro) stereo and full-track mono
> formats of high-quality material as they sound slightly better than
> the APRs. They are more difficult to change formats on. In fact, I
> keep one dedicated as NAB playback and a second switches between
> full-track mono and DIN playback, as needed. I am in the process of
> transforming a third machine into a 15/30 machine to handle the few
> 30 in/s masters I'm currently seeing.
> At the very high end, I think the choice of AVAILABLE and
> MAINTAINABLE machines comes down to: Ampex ATR-100, Studer A80RC,
> Studer A820/2CH in alpha-numeric order. Each machine has its
> proponents. I do not lust after the other two as I'm not sure what
> owning them will provide that the A80RC doesn't. The A80 is perhaps
> the most maintainable longest term as it is a relatively simple
> machine and all but one of its 31 bearings are stock, standard
> metric ball bearings.
> There are several more esoteric machines, including the Nagra T-
> Audio, Stellavox, and perhaps some other German (Telefunken?)
> machines that are not commonly available in North America. The
> Nagra would be probably the most common of these.
> While the difference between the APR and the A80 RC is noticeable,
> I'm not sure any potential further improvement that MIGHT be made
> by the A820/2CH, the ATR-100, and the others is worth it or could
> be justified by my client base.
> I do find the Studer A810 close to the APR, but in a single blind
> test that I've run by several people the end result repeatedly is
> A80, APR-5000, A810 from best to good. I do have specific tasks
> that I continue to use A810s for as they do certain "stupid tape
> recorder tricks" better (at least as I have them accessorized) than
> the APRs. The A80s are not accessorized for many "tricks". I am
> planning on having varispeed available for them.
> I handle half-inch tapes on both the APR-5000s and the APR-16. Some
> 1/4-inch tapes (specifically 8-channel ones) may be handled in the
> future by a "FrankenSony" combination of an APR-5000 transport and
> the APR-16 electronics. Four-channel 1/4-inch tapes are handled by
> two "FrankenSony" pairs of APR-5000s. 1-inch tapes are handled on
> the APR-16. I do not handle 2-inch tapes.
> As I said, having a "stable" of different machines is not the
> mainstay of my equipment strategy. I would rather have one of the
> best models supported in depth than one each of the three best. I
> have enough indecision in my life. For 0.150-inch tape, my mainstay
> is the Nakamichi Dragon, of which I have six, all currently up and
> running in the studio to do 6x ingest. I also have one each Tascam
> 234 and 238 machines to handle 4- and 8-track cassettes and other
> oddball formats.
> While I have a specially configured A807 for tape prep, it's
> infrequently used today, and I happily traded my A807 MK II for an
> A80RC. Despite the photos on my website, the current reel-to-reel
> machines in the studio are the APR-16, five APR-5000s, two A80RCs,
> and a Racal Store 4DS and please read all the notes about that
> machine in my blog before purchasing one.
> At 09:20 PM 2008-01-19, Ken Fritz wrote:
>> Mr. Hess,
>> Being an audiophile, who is contributing as much as
>> possible $ $$ to the music industry, I have one question I'm sure
>> you can address.
>> I've navigated your web site with particular attention to your
>> stable of RTR machines. I realize that you need a variety of machines
>> to accommodate the variety of material supplied to you for
>> restoration. I've not seen an Ampex ATR machine. It is apparent to me
>> that you need more than a "machine for all seasons" and that may
>> be why the ATR isn't in your studio, if it is that. May I have your
>> opinion on that machine.
>> Regards, Ken Fritz --- an audiophile addict.
> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
> Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
> Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/
> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.