I think it's great that this forum will, after one posting and a
reply, change the greeting from" Hello Mr Fine," to Hi Tom. I hope
I'm not taking undo leeway.
I did take the one day seminar at ATR and it was quite an
experience in more ways than one.------- Sue and drove our F350 Club
cab from Richmond Va. to York, Pa. the day before the seminar. For
me, the next day was going to be a BIG day. I woke up at 5 AM, got up
and took a shower at 6. I put on my Mitchum deodorant, shaved with
a razor- not the electric job and put on a new pair of jeans, topped
off with my gold and silver Virginia belt buckle. For a 65 year old
dude, I LOOKED SHARP.
Betti, Mark's wife, told me not get there early because they open
the door a few minutes before 9 AM. I'm never late for anything, so I
left at 8:15 and planned on waiting in the parking lot with my tongue
panting. My hotel was 4 miles form ATR's office.
First I took the wrong ramp on the highway, picked up a nail and
after 5 miles going the wrong way, I finally turned around and drove
on an almost flat tire. I pulled in their lot, called AAA to fix the
tire. They didn't. It was still flat when I left ATR at 5 PM. The
least of my problems.
I was overdressed, the only audiophile in the group of 6. All the
others were studio owners, two of which were there to pick up their
ATR's. One was a 1 inch 2 track and the other a 1/4 inch 2 track. 9
to 12 was classroom time on theory; Tom, you said "It's Basic Tape
Recorders and Machine Alignment 101.''
After lunch, we spent the rest of the day going through all the
test and alignment procedures on the two machines the lucky owners
were there to pick up. We all had the opportunity to perform all the
adjustments on both machines using the Sound Technology 1510
Analyzers that ATR employs to set up all their machines. When you're
a 9'th grader in a College class you keep your ears open and your
mouth shut. However, I asked a few questions that were relevant to
the the tasks at hand. With a little studying on the subject, I just
might surprise myself!
When it came close to my turn I realized that my Mitchum wasn't
working--the first time. Bill, ATR's tech, was over the shoulder
while each attendee spent the 45 minutes going through the procedures
with detailed explanations as to what was going on. I really
should've recorded the procedure on my Ipod. My turn--- I passed with
the excuse that I'll go through it again when I pick up my machine.
I'm just old fashioned, but offending someone for the sake of
learning something you've paid to learn, just doesn't compute. My day
will come.---------By the way, the tire was still flat when I left
the facility at 5 PM, thanks AAA, and my deodorant was on holiday.
I think next time will be better.
On Jan 21, 2008, at 6:42 PM, Tom Fine wrote
> Hi Ken:
> A great place to learn a lot is to take one of ATR Services'
> seminars. I forgot if you said you had been to one already or not.
> Good luck with your endeavors.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Ken Fritz"
> <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, January 21, 2008 5:33 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Ampex ATR-102 opinion (was MD5 Hash Generators
>> Hello Mr Fine,
>> It was gratifying to read your reply as well. It cited
>> additional views of what it takes to end up with a good machine
>> along with fortification of the views expressed by Richard Hess.
>> In 1958, when I was in high school, I purchased a new Ampex
>> 351-2. For a few years, I recorded bands around the Wisconsin
>> area until marriage and a few kids eliminated that. I sold the
>> machine and mikes to a good friend of mine who put it in his
>> closet and never used it. Two Christmases ago, while visiting my
>> family in Milwaukee, I called him and bought it back. I always
>> took good care of my things so it looks just as if it rolled off
>> the Ampex line. It probably has no more than 1500 hours of use on
>> it. I realize caps need to be replaced after that amount of time
>> and will probably do so at some time. Not having ANY program
>> material on tape I subscribed to The Tape Project and now have 3
>> tapes to play. WOW!! ---it's a start!
>> I realize I need to begin learning about tape recorders and
>> recording in general. Opinions such as yours are important to
>> someone who has just about everything to learn.
>> Thanks, Ken Fritz
>> On Jan 20, 2008, at 8:52 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
>>> I'll second a lot of Richard's thoughts. If I did commercial-
>>> master quality music tape transfers often enough, I'd own an ATR
>>> for sure, and I'd be getting enough $$ from that kind of work to
>>> afford a professional tech to keep it running. They're not
>>> necessarily fragile machines, and not really finicky at least as
>>> I've noted in the limited time I've spent using them, but when
>>> they break, it's a complex electrical-mechanical system that is
>>> not for the basement tinkerer to fix.
>>> My pro-grade platform of choice is the Ampex AG-440B, with
>>> plenty of tweaks to make it run very quiet and sound very
>>> smoothly. One major tweak for older Ampex decks, by the way, is
>>> simply putting in better heads. For instance, Ampex stock AG-440
>>> era full-track head has a bass "bump" and a slight "presence
>>> bump" typical of Ampex heads. Replace it with a Nortonics or
>>> more exotic flavor and suddenly you can garner almost ruler-flat
>>> frequency response. There are other tweaks. Anyway, AG-440's are
>>> cheap and plentiful and a decent basement tinker CAN make one
>>> run very well, thus saving the pennies for a JRF or IEM
>>> headblock restoration/alignment, which I consider mandatory for a
>>> professional-grade machine restoration.
>>> I also sing the praises of the Technics 1500 series decks. These
>>> are gentle on tape, steady on speed, offer a variety of playback
>>> options and are of fine sound quality (not commercial-music
>>> master grade but good enough for just about any other content).
>>> I had one of these decks converted to full-track because I get a
>>> surprising number of old brown-oxide 7.5IPS full-track spoken-
>>> word reels to do. Few machines treat an old tape more gently
>>> than the Technics transport.
>>> In the end, though, I think a good transfer/restoration man or
>>> woman has to rely on their ears and judgement much more than
>>> their equipment. Talking up one's gear has been the age-old
>>> marketing dodge for audio folks, and really tells a client very
>>> little about how good a job you'll do. An excellent body of work
>>> can be done on what's considered adequate gear and a terrible
>>> body of work can be done on state-of-the-art ultra-tweaked gear.
>>> What you get when you engage Richard's services is not really the
>>> roomful of APR's and Studers. It's his experience and judgement
>>> and proven track record (and, in Richard's case in particular,
>>> his willingness to freely share all kinds of important
>>> information and advice). Same with me and anyone else who does
>>> good work on this list. Something to keep in mind ... experience
>>> and good references beat gear lists as a barometer of good work
>>> any day of the week.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard L. Hess"
>>> <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2008 10:00 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Ampex ATR-102 opinion (was MD5 Hash
>>>> 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 baking.
>>>> 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
>>>> 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
>>>>> 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
>>>>> be why the ATR isn't in your studio, if it is that. May I have
>>>>> 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.