That is elegant, Eric! Kudos!

Now, what you need is a midi encoder on the first head and a midi drive 
on the second and record a midi track as you go along...

With StereoTool on cassettes, you can see the cyclical azimuth wander on 
the virtual "strip chart" display. I don't know if it addresses that in 
its azimuth adjustment, but it's a good guide to keeping things centered 
within the smaller wobble envelope.



On 2014-09-10 5:49 PM, Eric Jacobs wrote:
> I reluctantly describe a process that weıve used on mono tapes
> with country-laning.  Itıs tedious and problematic, but it can
> be better than aligning the azimuth just once at the beginning of
> a tape.  Weıve only resorted to this process a few times, itıs
> hardly a ³production² process.
> In essence:
> 1.  We play the tape back with a stereo headblock that is fitted
>      with a precision vernier azimuth knob.  The precision vernier
>      azimuth knob allows you to read the relative azimuth adjustment
>      that youıve made at any time.  This is the actual headblock we
>      use to do this (a fantastic sounding headblock as well):
> 2.  As the tape is playing we note the times and values for the
>      azimuth knob. This can be a very slow process since we need to
>      stop the tape to take the time and azimuth reading and write
>      it down.  We also record how slowly or quickly we should change
>      the azimuth in seconds.  Did I say ³tedious²?  It really is.
> 3.  We stuff the times and azimuth values into a spreadsheet to
>      calculate the relative azimuth changes.  We use a spreadsheet
>      to calculate the changes because if you accidentally change
>      the azimuth in the wrong direction, you actually make things
>      worse.
> 4.  Switch to a mono headblock that has an identical precision
>      vernier azimuth knob.
> 5.  Play the tape and make the azimuth changes according to the
>      spreadsheet.
> Iıll be the first to admit that there are all kinds of issues
> with this process, just to name a few:
> a. mechanical backlash in the azimuth adjuster
> b. only works for gross changes in azimuth over the course of
>     playback
> c. cannot deal with continuous real-time changes in azimuth
> d. a mistake in calculating the relative azimuth is worse than
>     no azimuth adjustment at all
> e. prone to human error during playback
> f. requires great care and patience
> g. effort is only justifiable on special/important recordings
> Again, I mention this process as a method of problem solving, and
> would never advocate this process as ³best practice².
> Eric Jacobs
> _________________________
> Eric Jacobs
> Principal
> The Audio Archive, Inc.
> 1325 Howard Ave, #906
> Burlingame, CA 94010
> tel: 408-221-2128
> [log in to unmask]
> Disc and Tape Audio Transfer Services and Preservation Consulting
> Please consider the environment before printing this email.
> On 9/10/14, 7:25 AM, "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hi, Andrew and Tom,
>> I am (very) slowly working towards a paper on azimuth.
>> The full-track mono tape is, of course, the hardest to play from an
>> azimuth perspective (of the common formats)--I hate to think about the
>> 1-inch two-track!
>> Transport guidance is a huge issue and I have found that the Studer A80
>> is magical in that regard--and the Studer A810, not so much. The Sony
>> APR-5000 is between the two.
>> For those of us who have taught ourselves how to adjust azimuth by ear
>> (sort of the same thing as focusing a camera lens in many ways), we do
>> not need crutches, but I have come to realize that using a two-track
>> head for "factory workers" might be beneficial.
>> For one project I proposed (but we chose not to implement) a wide/narrow
>> head for full track mono. We batted around a few different
>> configurations--including a long discussion with Greg Orton. I was
>> thinking of something like 0.120 and 0.04. The nice thing is even if
>> things go south, you still have a good percentage of the highs on the
>> 0.04 track, albeit noisy.
>> With that said, for oral history cassettes, I use, in addition to manual
>> azimuth adjustment, the azimuth compensation feature of
>> This allows excellent channel summing for improved
>> noise, assuming both channels were recorded.
>> There is a similar feature in iZotope RX Advanced.
>> Cheers,
>> Richard
>> On 2014-09-10 7:51 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
>>> Hi Andrew:
>>> It's interestng you bring up this topic. I was just reading the book
>>> that comes with the new Beatles In Mono LP box and they talk
>>> specifically about azimuth on the full-track tapes. Despite the fact
>>> that these mono masters were made in-house at Abbey Road, most of them
>>> on the same machines, the mastering engineer said he had to adjust
>>> azimuth on the fly as records were being cut, especially with the later
>>> albums where mono mixes were done days or months apart. His point was,
>>> azimuth was specific to each track on some albums. He had made notes and
>>> used a gauge-based azimuth adjustment on his Studer A80 playback deck,
>>> so he was able to make precise tweaks as the tape rolled between cuts,
>>> according to the book text.
>>> I was taught, with full-track azimuth, that you really have to adjust to
>>> ear, how the top end sounds best. Keep in mind that time-damaged tapes
>>> and poorly slit tapes will likely "country lane" through the transport
>>> and wreak havoc with azimuth. Adjusting tones at the head of the
>>> full-track tape (when they exist) is somewhat helpful, but ears need to
>>> be the final judge.
>>> Azimuth is a tricky thing and I'm still learning about it after 40 years
>>> of playing tapes. What I have learned is that it's really critical to
>>> solve the azimuth puzzle in the analog domain because problems can't be
>>> satisfactorily fixed in the digital domain.
>>> For old full-track tapes, I am curious about using the center two tracks
>>> of a 4-track quarter-inch machine. I haven't done much with this, but
>>> when there are tones on the tape, you can get a scientific azimuth
>>> adjust with a scope. Many old tapes are edge-damaged and I wonder if
>>> it's better not to play the outer edges of the tape. However, the
>>> effects of country-laning may be even worse if you're grabbing two
>>> narrow bands of signal and either combining them or not.
>>> If you want to hear a prime example of azimuth issues, get a copy of the
>>> "Sun Records Greatest Hits" LP that was sold on Record Store Day this
>>> year. The tapes were clearly and audibly played back with a 2-track head
>>> and either were in such poor shape that they couldn't go through the
>>> transport correctly or the playback engineer was inept. In any case,
>>> with many of the songs, if you combine them to mono, they flange, "phase
>>> effect" and go in and out of treble cancellation, telltale signs of
>>> being played out of azimuth. If you listen on a stereo cartridge and
>>> don't combine to mono, it's not as bad, it just sounds like bad
>>> edge-warp. I think it was inept playback all around, but I've never
>>> handled the tapes. I do bet that they'd sound better if played back
>>> either through a narrow-width single head capturing the middle 1/2 of
>>> the tape height or with the middle two tracks of a 4-track quarter-inch
>>> head with azimuth constantly monitored on a scope and tuned to ear.
>>> By the way, even with the less than ideal playback and remastering, the
>>> tunes on that Sun LP jump right out the speakers, still hot and rockin'
>>> to this day.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Andrew Dapuzzo"
>>> <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 7:34 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] recording "cleanup" plugins and 192/24
>>>> While I understand the importance of capturing output "above 20kHz"
>>>> with
>>>> the aforementioned tools, are there any tools available to help with
>>>> azimuth adjustments?  Older recordings, especially those made in the
>>>> field
>>>> with machines that have been "banged up", may be recorded with azimuth
>>>> that
>>>> is slightly off.  Therefore, the higher frequencies may be lost or
>>>> diminished if playback is not adjusted to the exact azimuth of the
>>>> original
>>>> recording.  Is the only tool available our ears listening as we
>>>> manually
>>>> adjust the azimuth?
>>>> On Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 6:18 PM, John K. Chester <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> At 04:49 PM 8/29/2014, Tom Fine wrote:
>>>>>> John, is there a modification for to remove those noises? Do 3rd
>>>>>> party
>>>>>> electronics also carry those noises or are they something with the
>>>>>> power
>>>>>> rails under the transport? Sorry if these are ignorant questions,
>>>>>> I'm not
>>>>>> that familiar with the innards of ATR's.
>>>>> I suspect this is neither the list nor the proper subject heading for
>>>>> discussing such a highly technical issue, but here's a brief answer:
>>>>> I have never tried to clean up an ATR with stock electronics,
>>>>> although I
>>>>> have a good idea of where to start.  I have no data on 3rd party
>>>>> electronics other than Plangent's.  When I got the Plangent
>>>>> electronics to
>>>>> be clean enough for our purposes, I stopped worrying about the
>>>>> problem.
>>>>> Plangent does use a preamp in the headblock with a cable running
>>>>> directly
>>>>> to our box, which helps keep things clean.
>>>>> I do find it a bit odd that folks doing 192k transfers often don't
>>>>> seem to
>>>>> worry about how much signal gets from the tape to the tape machine
>>>>> output
>>>>> above 20 kHz, and how much noise in that region comes from the machine
>>>>> rather than the tape.  There are useful signals up there, and we know
>>>>> that
>>>>> if the transfer captures them they can later be used to improve the
>>>>> quality
>>>>> of the audio below 20 kHz that we can actually hear.
>>>>> -- John Chester
>>>>>   ----- Original Message ----- From: "John K. Chester"
>>>>> <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> Sent: Friday, August 29, 2014 4:33 PM
>>>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] recording "cleanup" plugins and 192/24
>>>>>>   At 05:06 PM 8/29/2014, Shai Drori wrote:
>>>>>>>> So if I turn the display off the 28.8 kHz goes away?
>>>>>>> No, that noise on an ATR is actually coming from the reel motor
>>>>>>> drivers.  The display generates other noise which starts somewhere
>>>>>>> in the
>>>>>>> mid-50's of kHz and has lots of harmonics.
>>>>>>> Turning off the display removes a lot of the noise spikes in the
>>>>>>> audio
>>>>>>> output but not all of them.
>>>>>>> -- John Chester
>> --
>> Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada                             647 479 2800
>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.
Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada                             647 479 2800
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.