As a followup note, I agree with John that the earliest tape machines had better record capabilities than they did playback.  I also agree that high quality playback heads made today are better than the ones made in the 1950s.  To my knowledge, the best manufacturer of tape heads is Greg Orton of Flux Magnetics.

Jon Samuels

On Wednesday, March 26, 2014 10:29 AM, Jon Samuels <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
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?