The idea of "playing vintage tapes on vintage tape machines" is a mute point nowadays. The old tapes
are too fragile for the old transports, so it's unlikely anyone will ever put a valuable 1950s tape
on the likes of an Ampex 300 transport again.
I very much like the results that Soundmirror got using Aria electronics with, I think, a Studer
transport. I also like the results Mark Wilder gets at Battery Studios using an Ampex ATR with stock
electronics. Vic Anesini at Battery has Aria Electronics in his room, I think with an ATR transport,
and his work sounds good too.
By the time of all the later-generation professional tape machines, things like speed stability and
scrape-flutter were well understood, so playback was more precise. What one always has to be careful
with when doing remastering is to get too far afield of the original's sound character unless making
undisputed improvements. Something like pitch stability or correction to a known standard is an
improvement. Changing the character/timbre of the sound to something very different will be
controversial, will invite backlash and could well doom sales.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jon Samuels" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 10:29 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile Way to Own Music"
> In my personal experience, the best sounding tape machines I'
> Hi Karl,
> In my personal experience, the best sounding tape machines I've ever worked with are the tube
> Ampex MR-70 and the transistor Ampex ATR-102s and ATR-104s. My understanding is that Mark Donahue
> (correct me if I'm wrong, Mark) upgraded the electronics on Soundmirror's tape machines. Whether
> they actually sound better than the ATRs original electronics, I can't say.
> Soundmirror did a superb job on the Living Stereo remasterings. This was due to multiple reasons.
> First, the engineers doing the work were very conscientiousk and did a first-rate job. (Dirk
> Sobotka, who did many of the SACD remasterings, is an excellent engineer. He used to work at
> Soundbyte here in New York. While there, I personally taught him about the proper playback of RCA
> tapes.) Second, they worked from the best available tapes. Third, they used high quality tape
> playback machines (see above). Third, they used state-of-art A-Ds. Fourth, they kept the
> three-track originals in three discreet tracks on the SACD layer.
> Jon Samuels
> On Wednesday, March 26, 2014 9:59 AM, Karl Miller <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> From: Jon Samuels <recorded
> From: Jon Samuels <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 7:43 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile Way to Own Music"
> Almost all the first Living Stereo releases from three-tracks were remastered using an Ampex 351
> tube machine (in not great condition), while the later ones were done from transistor machines
> (Ampex 440 for three-tracks and Ampex ATR-102 for two-tracks).
> Over lunch with John Newton (Soundmirror) we discussed his work on the Living Stereo reissues. He
> mentioned that the machines used for his transfers featured heads better than had been used in the
> past and that the sound they got from the tapes was likely better than what the original engineers
> could have heard. Does this make any sense to you? Would, in your opinion, the transistor machines
> have had better sound than the original machines used, yet, that would suggest that the record
> capabilities of the original machines were better than quality of their playback. Or, perhaps, I
> misunderstood John?