I agree with your frustrations--it's one of mine.
To answer your questions about FT playback, I noticed the worst problems
with a FT head on Studer A810s. I had better luck with the APR-5000s,
but the A80RCs are the best of all. I have transferred tapes that were
unusable when transferred on a B77 or MX5050 with NAB 2T heads that were
gorgeous from the A80 FT head. The tape path and guidance deals with the
country laning and the cupping very nicely...no accessories needed.
I had always thought that 7.5 in/s country-laning tapes would not work
with a FT repro head because of azimuth error based "combing." This was
mostly researched on the A810. I have not done many FT 7.5 in/s tapes on
the APRs -- most of the FT stuff I did on those were 30 in/s. However,
the tape mentioned in the previous paragraph was a 7.5 in/s tape and the
combing appears to be less of an issue on that transport.
I do have about a 200-mil centre swath head mounted on the APR platform
which I rarely used even before the A80s and have not used it since. The
one time I did a centre swath on the APR within the last few years, I
used the 82-mil right channel of a PR&E Tomcat cart machine format head
which is more towards the centre as the narrow cue track and a guard
band are below it. The guard band between left and right is reduced from
a normal NAB 2T head. It worked fine. I think I used it as there was
1/4-track record damage on a FT tape.
On 2014-06-04 6:13 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
> By the way, 2T playback of FT tapes is fairly rampant in the music
> remastering world. I hear it on a lot of mono jazz CDs. Even if you get
> the azimuth perfect, there will still be channel differences on 50+ year
> old tapes because of dropouts, warps, splices, etc. I can't understand
> why every professional player-back of reel tapes doesn't have a FT head.
> There are lots of mono tapes out there. The problem with summing 2T
> channels (another common practice) is that 50+ year old tapes rarely
> travel the tape path perfectly, so there ends up being "country
> lane-ing" and thus azimuth shifts and flange/phase artifacts.
> The latest flagrant example of all of these problems is the Record Store
> Day special issue "Gems
>> From Sun Records Vol 1." All of the content is MONO, but try summing a
>> stereo playback or playing
> the record with a mono cartridge. You will not be happy with the
> results. Listen especially to the middle cuts on each side, which seems
> to have been made from the worst warped/damaged tapes. Also the Charlie
> Rich cut. For most cuts, summing to mono produces pumping phase/flange
> problems, indicating the master tapes are badly warped, probably from
> vinegar syndrome, and aren't passing over the 2T play head smoothly.
> When played back in stereo, it's not annoying because the anomolies are
> out on the sides and the high-spl content is in the middle.
> I think Richard Hess and maybe others use special thinner FT heads,
> which just read the center half of the track. I very much agree with
> this method and would definitely purchase such a head if I were about to
> undertake a large job of 50+ year old FT tapes. I'm wondering about the
> ideal head-track width, would it be akin to 1 track of a 2-track head
> but in the middle of the head, or more akin to 1 track of a 1/2" 3-track
> head (about half again as large), in the middle of the head? The goal
> would be to read the "meat" of the track but not the edges, where
> warpage and shrinkage leave less signal and more artifacts. I think
> you'd still have country-laneing problems, but could the head itself be
> "cupped" to allow warped top and bottom to just hang in space while the
> unwarped center passed over the gap? Could guidance be made to allow
> that through the tape path?
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.