Print

Print


On 2015-03-10 1:43 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
> I agree with Richard in every point except I disagree with this:
> "high quality music was never supposed to be recorded in a bidirectional
> manner and quarter track was not a high quality music format."

I accept your correction. With any format there is a small subset of 
tapes that far exceed the norm and we have to always be vigilant with 
knowing that we have one of those tapes. I think it is pretty obvious if 
we have one and then we take special care. It's well less than 1% and 
since my business does not generally do mass-duplicated commercial 
tapes, that could explain it. Copyright holders/agents thereof usually 
have access to something better.

I'm leaving all the below so we have it in one place.

>
> There is a small subset in the sea of fast-duped quarter-track tapes
> that are high-fidelity and sound very good to this day. And, I have
> heard plenty of homemade recordings, mostly made in the late era of
> quarter-track reel decks, mostly made on high-quality Scotch or Maxell
> tape (good slitting, smooth movement across the thin-track heads), which
> sound excellent. I've also transferred amateur live recordings and
> "masters" of home-brew band recordings from quarter-track tapes, some of
> my own and some made by others. When they were recorded well, they
> sounded very good. The last-generation quarter-track decks, like the
> Technics 1700, the Pioneer RT-707 and RT-909 and the Teac X1000, when
> combined with low-noise tape and not over-driven with too-hot levels,
> made quieter recordings than Ampex 350 2-tracks in the age of
> brown-oxide tapes. I also made plenty good-sounding quarter-track client
> dupes onto Revox A77 machines at Sigma Sound Studios NYC.
>
> The problems with many fast-duped quarter-tracks: 1) the Ampex 3200
> transport going at 30 or 60IPS, combined with 1-mil tape (no matter how
> well it was slit) is just not a model of stable tape handling. A stable
> tape path is key to quarter-track success. 2) at least in the early
> days, the recordings were made on two heads on each duper slave. Very
> few duper employees kept those heads in great azimuth alignment all the
> time. 3) even when recording was made on a single 4-track stack, azimuth
> alignment depended on the care and skill of the duper operator. 4) many
> duped tapes suffered from being several generations removed from the
> master tape, and this became more the case in the quarter-track era
> because the goal with tape-duping was always lower costs and faster
> output. 4) when duped tapes standardized to 3.75IPS playback speed in
> the late 60s, it was all over!
>
> Many of the above problems also could apply to 2-track duped tapes, but
> in many cases, 2-tracks were premium-priced niche products and a bit of
> care was taken in their manufacture.
>
> One other note about 1/4-track 1/4-inch tapes -- I've transferred more
> than a handful of Quad discrete-track tapes, and they tend to sound
> excellent, and the quadraphonic effects are always better than
> matrix-decoded LPs (much better channel separation).
>
> So, I conclude that while putting 4 tracks on a quarter-inch of tape is
> non-ideal, it's not inherently low-fidelity. My experiences with tape
> tell me that tape speed and what tape type the recordist chose to use
> are the biggest factors about fidelity with these machines, assuming
> they are in good working order and the heads are properly aligned.
>
> -- Tom Fine
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard L. Hess"
> <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 1:19 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Tape dubbing backwards?
>
>
>> On 2015-03-10 12:14 PM, DAVID BURNHAM wrote:
>>> When I talked about phase reversal when a track is played backwards,
>>> it has nothing to do with azimuth, I'm talking specifically about the
>>> polarity of the audio, which will be inverted whether the azimuth is
>>> correct or not.
>>
>> Thanks for clarifying, David
>>
>> I was attempting to address several different concepts.
>>
>> - If made on well-slit tape on the same machine at roughly the same
>> time, and assuming that both tracks of your premium repro head have
>> precisely the same azimuth, the azimuth error coming off the forward
>> and backward passes will be the same. Therefore adjusting for one will
>> automatically adjust for the other.
>>
>> - For any tape that I would do this with, there will not be tones for
>> precise azimuth alignment and none of the stereo tools will help as
>> there is only one track (unless you have a split head like the
>> Nakamichi Dragon's inner track heads) so you cannot compare. Therefore
>> we are relying on peaking high-frequency energy from the program
>> content as the sole means of adjusting azimuth. While that gets it
>> close it is not as good as using tones.
>>
>> - I concur with Tom Fine and others, I pick what tapes I do this with.
>> I would not do high quality, music that way, but high quality music
>> was never supposed to be recorded in a bidirectional manner and
>> quarter track was not a high quality music format.  However, there are
>> always exceptions to the rule. I do not reduce my charges because
>> these tapes also often require more post processing and other
>> fussiness so I can afford to do some if I capture in one pass.
>>
>> - If you do a reverse transfer the audio will require a polarity
>> reversal in the software to match the forward channel.
>>
>> - There is no absolute polarity reference on a tape, so one cannot
>> know which of the two tracks is correct. It is a toss up as to which
>> is correct. You might do as well listening to see which sounds more in
>> polarity and switch the other one. Or viewing the waveform is
>> sometimes instructive (positive peaks are usually higher than negative
>> peaks)
>>
>> Cheers,
>>
>> Richard
>>
>> --
>> Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada                             647 479 2800
>> http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.
>>
>>
>
-- 
Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada                             647 479 2800
http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.