Hello John Haley,
> Fred, what are your opinions on which machines are the "great reproducers"?
Any analog audio magnetic tape reproducer will be comprised of several
building blocks, two principals of those being the tape transport and
the playback electronics.
My firm, Adolph Thal Audio Engineering (ATAE) manufactures
reproducers. That's all we do, and to my knowledge, we are the only
such specialist company in the world today.
Because we make our products by re-manufacturing old Studer A80 and
A820 tape transports, you could say that we are cheating. I prefer to
think of this as recycling.
We are located in California, in the USA, where there seems to be a
conspiracy amongst many to never mention our existence. This could be
because we did not choose the American manufactured Ampex or 3M
machines as the benchmark for good design. This is said here, only
partly with tongue-in-cheek.
Importantly, we design and build our own headblocks for our
reproducers, because in professional use, quick-change,
ultra-low-flutter precision guided headblocks are an essential
requirement and no one was offering them. We can fit them with just
about any head that you can specify.
As for the playback electronics that are mated to our reproducer
transports, we offer many choices. We have to, actually, as some of
our professional customers prefer to employ their own designs.
In our reproducer playback electronics lab (a hardware collection
shared with sister company Audio Transfer Laboratory) we have on hand
the David Hill Aria, the Mark Levinson ML-5, the Cello P603, most all
of the significant Ampex, Inovonics and Studer playback electronics
designs, as well as some others. I am a mechanical designer, not an
electronics engineer. So our audio circuitry (and all other
electronics) products are designed by qualified and recognized
experts, working under contract to us.