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ARSCLIST  January 2008

ARSCLIST January 2008

Subject:

Re: 1/4" tape player

From:

Eric Jacobs <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 7 Jan 2008 10:55:00 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (87 lines)

On Monday, December 31, 2007 1:08 PM Richard L. Hess wrote:
>
> While I am sure I would like a Studer A820/2CH, the cost of 
> these machines is very high and the electronics are the same 
> as the A810 which I do have.

Although much of the electronics are shared between the 
A820/2CH and the A810, there are also substantial differences.
For example, the A820/2CH uses transformerless (aka "trafoless")
cards, whereas the A810 uses transformers.  One can debate 
how transformers affect the sound, but the sound is different.
Some people will put the A820/2CH transformerless cards into
their A810 machines.  Another difference is the power supply,
of which the A820/2CH power supply is quite a bit more 
substantial.  Of course, power supplies can have a significant
influence on sonic performance.

Of course, there is more than just electronics which mark the
differences between the A820/2CH and the A810.  

For example, tape transport differences between the A820/2CH 
and the A810 affect the sound quality.  The A820/2CH achieves 
better tape-to-head contact when dealing with slightly cupped 
acetates and other compromised tapes.  Wow-and-flutter, scrape 
flutter, and other performance aspects are also better with the 
A820/2CH.

However, there is no question that the A820/2CH is an expensive 
machine.  Finding A820/2CH machines in good condition is also 
a challenge, as many led hard lives in broadcast and production.  
And given their complexity they can also be expensive to 
refurbish.  Nonetheless, they are built like tanks and even 
if a machine is not cosmetically excellent, it may still be 
in very good condition otherwise.  My A820/2CH machines run 
8-12 hours per day for weeks on end without a hiccup or 
performance drift.

> The A810 didn't fare as well in a shootout with the Studer
> A80RC as I had hoped.

Is there any report from this shootout?  For example, what do
they compare and how was the test conducted?  Were the tests
qualitative or quantitative?

> If I had to start all over with what I know now, I would 
> probably make the A80 my major/only transport/platform, and 
> would modify it to do 4-tracks and limit myself to 1-4 tracks 
> on 1/4 and 1/2-inch tape as that is the bulk of my business.

Certainly an excellent strategy - although I think your 
current set-up with the A80 and APRs is pretty slick and well
optimized.  However, there is something to be said for the 
streamlined simplicity of a single platform.

I've standardized on the A820/2CH and the A810, with three of
each (total of 6 machines) in a variety of configurations,
along with a Revox C274 4-track logger for ultra low-speed 
work down to 15/16 ips for which it was designed.

The A820 and A810 can share a fair number of parts in a pinch, 
which is an additional benefit.  I keep the A810s around for
tape prep and for projects which don't need the ultra high
quality of the A820.

Admittedly, the A820s get the most use simply because I find
the transport such a delight to use.  Watching that swiss
precision in action just brings a smile to my face.  It's 
the mechanical engineer in me I suppose.  And even for 
projects which the A820 is overkill, the results still
sound marginally better from the A820.  Who knows, I may one
day end up exclusively on the A820 for everything.

But before anyone thinks that great hardware will automatically
produce great results, think again.  The key to good transfers 
lies in the experience of the operator and their ability to 
properly align a machine (frequency response, EQ, and azimuth) 
for each tape.  Not to mention all the other elements in the
transfer chain (ADC, cables, etc.) and process (tape prep).


Eric Jacobs

The Audio Archive, Inc.
tel: 408.221.2128
fax: 408.549.9867
mailto:[log in to unmask]

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