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    Reel to reel. The format from hell.

    Dave_in_Va
    Dave_in_Va

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    Post by Dave_in_Va on Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:43 pm

    Never mind.
    Peter W.
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    Post by Peter W. on Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:50 am

    Dave_in_Va wrote:Never mind.

    RtR is an equation in (at least) four (4) variables:

    1. Quality of the Tape
    2. Quality of the recording system
    3. Quality of the playback system
    4. Compatibility between the recording system and the playback system


    Arbitrarily, let's assign "Values" to those variables:

    1. = 5
    2. = 5
    3. = 2
    4. = 10

    The highest possible number as a multiple is 500. Arbitrarily, that means that the input is very nearly equal to the output.

    In the universe of pre-recorded tapes, tape quality would be, at best, a 2.
    High-speed, high saturation commercial recording devices, also, at best a 2.5
    It is a trivial exercise to make a decent playback system. And about any 3-head deck has at least that. So, 2.
    The odds of a pre-recorded tape being perfectly aligned to a vintage home-use deck today are very nearly nil. At best, we will have a 5.

    Takes you right to 100. From a possible 500. And that is ignoring bias, wear, and so forth.

    Those of us who keep Revox, Nagra, and any of those very few, but very good Pacific Rim machines understand the capabilities of a well made consumer-oriented deck. Making and playing back *its own* recordings.
    Otherwise, not so much.
    Dave_in_Va
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    Post by Dave_in_Va on Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:28 am

    The meters on the RT 1050 go from -17 up to 0 and then to +6 (with +3 and up "in the red").

    It has a meter scale switch which switches between +3  and +6 which I set at +3 as it seemed to show more action on the needles (and I believe is correct for standard tape).

    When playing two different pre-recorded half track tapes, the meters basically bounced around between -17 and -7 or -3, very low. They sounded very nice but I really had to crank the vol. on the VTA SP 14 and I had the outputs dimed on the reel to reel.

    The two tapes appear in excellent condition.



    I haven't been able to try recording with the deck.

    My non-tech conclusion is that the deck needs calibration and the output adjusted. Of course, I don't have the equipment to do this (and don't even know how to work an o-scope if I had one).

    Edit: Peter, I understand that you can make very high quality tapes on these decks that are going to be better than pre-recorded tapes but I remember hearing pre-recorded tapes in the '80's and they sounded great (the 7.5 ips tapes). In fact some of them sounded better than vinyl.
    Peter W.
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    Post by Peter W. on Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:04 pm

    Dave_in_Va wrote:The meters on the RT 1050 go from -17 up to 0 and then to +6 (with +3 and up "in the red").
    I haven't been able to try recording with the deck.

    My non-tech conclusion is that the deck needs calibration and the output adjusted. Of course, I don't have the equipment to do this (and don't even know how to work an o-scope if I had one).

    Edit: Peter, I understand that you can make very high quality tapes on these decks that are going to be better than pre-recorded tapes but I remember hearing pre-recorded tapes in the '80's and they sounded great (the 7.5 ips tapes). In fact some of them sounded better than vinyl.

    I am definitely a throwback (Not a Luddite or a dinosaur):

    I keep a head demagnetizer.
    A saturated head will add several layers of cotton between the signal and the output - so demagnetizing early and often is a key process. At least every 20 hours or so. Note that most tape machine owners do not know what a head-demagnetizer is in the first place, nor have ever used one in the second.

    When I first get a machine, I will make a 1,000 hz 1-minute tape at 0dB on the meter, then play it back, adjusting the input reading until the output reading is 0dB for the full minute.
    From there, it is usually a simple task to barely tweak/adjust the *alignment* until any discrepancy is removed.
    After the heads are first demagnetized, of course.
    Then, make and save this, on virgin tape, for future use.

    https://www.amazon.com/Universal-DEMAGNETIZER-Cassette-Recorder-Track/dp/B003ZKLP4W/ref=sr_1_2?gclid=CjwKCAjw36DpBRAYEiwAmVVDMNCN5rZe-IyiIv2m_nmXHN_1Qab3_3BRUZjypqkj6IMroqw1spSIbhoC2P4QAvD_BwE&hvadid=234339019090&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9007324&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=12510414479028305965&hvtargid=kwd-1791370001&hydadcr=19133_10158216&keywords=tape+head+demagnetizer&qid=1562947320&s=gateway&sr=8-2
    Dave_in_Va
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    Post by Dave_in_Va on Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:29 pm

    Thanks Peter.

    There's nothing gauzy, thick or distorted about the sound. It's just low output. It sounds nice with the deck's output dimed and the SP 14 turned up 3/4 of the way.
    I'm pretty sure it was de-magged before shipping to me.

    Also, I have no way to make a 1000hz tape.

    I wouldn't be so so bummed out about these things if these was tech closer than 65 miles from my house to calibrate them.
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    Dale Stevens

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    Post by Dale Stevens on Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:52 pm

    Dave, that tape can actually sound better than vinyl ?? I heard your excellent system 2 yrs ago when I was invited a visit; your cartridge and pre were hi end. If tape can sound better then I gotta know!! Dale
    Dave_in_Va
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    Post by Dave_in_Va on Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:09 pm

    I'm 99% sure this deck just needs the output level correctly set. Unfortunately I'll just have to drive 65 miles and drop it off for a month :-( :-( :-(

    Dale, since you stopped by I've upgraded my speakers to Tylers and the cartridge to an Ortofon 2M Black. The system really sounds nicer now, especially with LPs.
    Ernstmach
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    Post by Ernstmach on Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:45 pm

    I find that I can get great results recording from vinyl to tape. My best results are recording directly from the phono preamp to the tape deck gives me the best results. Using a 2M Black has Worked very well, especially using a great vinyl recording. SQ will be as good as vinyl recording.
    Seems a$$ backwards but recording from vinyl works well. I very much enjoy having the open reel option as I enjoy the technology. I have also enjoyed learning about recording to tape. It can be expensive bringing the tape machine up to specs but once it has been done you will have years of enjoyment. Also consider that open reel machines are making a comeback.

    Checkout https://tapeproject.com/ if you haven't already. Lot's of interest and activity in tape.
    Peter W.
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    Post by Peter W. on Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:14 am

    Dave_in_Va wrote:I'm 99% sure this deck just needs the output level correctly set. Unfortunately I'll just have to drive 65 miles and drop it off for a month :-(   :-(   :-(

    Dale, since you stopped by I've upgraded my speakers to Tylers and the cartridge to an Ortofon 2M Black. The system really sounds nicer now, especially with LPs.

    Mind if I harp a bit?

    Do you have Head Demagnetizer?
    Have you used it?
    Have you cleaned the heads thoroughly?
    Have you made a test-tape on your machine, presumably with virgin (also new, not vintage) tape?

    Before you subject the beast to surgery, do the basics. It may be as simple as a cleaning and demagnetizing. That, by the way, is the entire tape path from the guides to the heads themselves.
    Dave_in_Va
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    Post by Dave_in_Va on Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:47 pm

    The RT 1050 is out with Fed Ex going to get a complete refurbishment back to factory specs. Re-cap, etc. The whole nine yards.

    Hopefully I will pick up the RT 909 this week. I ain't giving up!
    peterh
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    Post by peterh on Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:22 pm

    Dave_in_Va wrote:The RT 1050 is out with Fed Ex going to get a complete refurbishment back to factory specs. Re-cap, etc. The whole nine yards.

    Hopefully I will pick up the RT 909 this week. I ain't giving up!
    There is more then replacing working components with other components in a tape drive.
    Cleaning, de-magnetizing, and azimut adjustment as a start, then follows
    mechanical service, break alignment, etc, folowed by
    playback level adjustment using a known calibration tape, and finally
    bias adjustment for the given tape quality.

    Note that recording is highly tape brand/type sensitive.

    But, again, ad-hoc replacing of components is a non-starter
    Dave_in_Va
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    Post by Dave_in_Va on Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:34 pm

    Jeez...

    This is what's being done. If it needs anything else, I'll be notified and and we'll go from there.

    1. Full polishing of brushed/ machined aluminum ie; both faceplates and tensioners and head block.
    2. Complete rebuilding of tensioners and dampers.
    3. Replacement of tensioner switches
    4. Cleaning, polishing and demagnitizing of entire tape path including all heads.
    5. Rebuilding of the capstan motor.
    6. Cleaning and lubing of both reel motors
    7. Rebuilding of the brake assemblies
    8. Complete replacement of all aging, problematic electrolytic capacitors on 8 circuit boards. A total of 122* capacitors are replaced!
    9. All electrolytic capacitors in sensitive audio sections upgraded to Nichicon FG series Fine Gold audiophile grade caps.
    10. All transistors mounted to heat sinks pulled and cleaned and reinstaled with new compound and insulators.
    11. Pinch rollers and belt replaced.
    12. All solder connections retouched.
    13. Unit brought back to factory specifications. All functions checked and a new parts burn-in for 15 hours before being returned to you.
    14. Clean all switches and potentiometers with deoxit.
    15. Replace power cord

    That sounds good to me and it's my deck and my money.

    * This in reference to a 909.
    peterh
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    Post by peterh on Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:07 pm

    Dave_in_Va wrote:Jeez...

    This is what's being done. If it needs anything else, I'll be notified and and we'll go from there.

    1. Full polishing of brushed/ machined aluminum ie; both faceplates and tensioners and head block.
    2. Complete rebuilding of tensioners and dampers.
    3. Replacement of tensioner switches
    4. Cleaning, polishing and demagnitizing of entire tape path including all heads.
    5. Rebuilding of the capstan motor.
    6. Cleaning and lubing of both reel motors
    7. Rebuilding of the brake assemblies
    8. Complete replacement of all aging, problematic electrolytic capacitors on 8 circuit boards. A total of 122* capacitors are replaced!
    9. All electrolytic capacitors in sensitive audio sections upgraded to Nichicon FG series Fine Gold audiophile grade caps.
    10. All transistors mounted to heat sinks pulled and cleaned and reinstaled with new compound and insulators.
    11. Pinch rollers and belt replaced.
    12. All solder connections retouched.
    13. Unit brought back to factory specifications. All functions checked and a new parts burn-in for 15 hours before being returned to you.
    14. Clean all switches and potentiometers with deoxit.
    15. Replace power cord

    That sounds good to me and it's my deck and my money.

    * This in reference to a 909.

    azimut, levels and bias adjustment ? Have you agreed about what tape brand/model to adjust for ?
    deepee99
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    Reel to reel. The format from hell. Empty Back to basics, OK?

    Post by deepee99 on Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:14 pm

    Dave in VA, your 909 was no POS when it left the factory and hopefully has not been mistreated. You've been advised to demagnetize (de-Gauss) your machine and give it a thorough cleaning. Since these are such basic maintenance duties, let's delve into them a bit more thoroughly. First, forget everything you might know about the procedures on a cassette deck. You're starting from scratch here.
    When you're cleaning your heads and capstans, use ONLY 94% or above denatured alcohol at the end of a Q-Tip. Lower than 90% means there's water and oils in the alcohol. This wicked brew can actually make things dirtier.
    Clean the capstans and heads ONLY!!!! High-octane alcohol can and will wreak havoc on the pinch-rollers, those miniature black tyres that pinch the tape to the capstan. I never noticed this phenomenon cleaning a cassette deck, but R2Rs are a different critter. Even a little friendly wipe on any black thingie that is round and spins will turn the rubber to permanent goo and lose the war for the Allies. Pinch-rollers don't need the cleaning regime nearly as frequently as heads and capstans do anyway, because the rollers only are in contact with the backing, non-magnetic side of the tape so they don't pick up near the crud the magnetic side does.
    The capstan cleaning will go quicker and better if your deck is turned on, transport set to Stop, because the capstan(s) will remain spinning, so just rub a dose of alcohol on a Q-tip up and down on it (them). Just be careful no cotton from the Q-tip works its way off the stick and into the guts of the machine.
    Degaussing is the other vital procedure, and people make it sound more complicated than it really is.
    First, be sure the machine is turned off. As a safeguard pull its plug out of the wall.
    Now, at an arm's length from your machine, energize the demagnetizer and move it slowly and steadily closer to the head (you're doing each head separately) until the business end of the degausser is almost (but not quite) touching the head. Move the tip of it around in gentle circular motions around the head gap, then with it still turned on, slowly and steadily withdraw the degausser back the full 3 feet or your arm's length. Repeat this for each head, and the metal capstans and metal tape guides. Takes all of about 5 minutes once you get the hang of it. Again, just two things that can do REAL DAMAGE to your deck; attempting this procedure with the deck energized, and touching any part of the heads or guides with the bare tip of the degausser.
    I'm not sure of the time intervals between cleaning and de-magnetizing, but an old rule-of-thumb is to degauss every other time you do a cleaning.
    Doing these procedures should blow your mind at how good your deck can sound. Then go the extra step and get it calibrated by a pro. Sticking to a single type of tape and speed will permit your pro to optimize your machine for that particular tape. And use good, newly-manufactured tape. ATR Magnetics is my choice, as it is American-made and consumer-friendly. The leading two others, Pyral (formerly BASF) and Quantegy (formerly Ampex) are made in Europe and aren't any better.
    So there ya go: tape bliss in about 10 minutes, once a week for heavy users. Then you'll appreciate why RTR junkies are so passionate about their Precambrian-era machines and procedures.

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    Dale Stevens

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    Post by Dale Stevens on Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:08 pm

    Wow, DeePee. this is making me appreciate that wimpy streaming (Spotify, dedicated pc). Dale

    deepee99
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    Post by deepee99 on Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:12 pm

    Dale Stevens wrote:Wow, DeePee.   this is making me appreciate that wimpy streaming (Spotify, dedicated pc). Dale


    Oh, but the sound!
    https://www.atrtape.com/sound-of-tape
    deepee99
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    Post by deepee99 on Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:51 pm

    Here's a good primer on all things R2R

    https://www.udemy.com/analog-audio-tape-recorder-basic-theory-and-alignment/

    VERY MUCH worth the price of admission of $11.00. Starts with the very basics and moves to the advanced stuff like calibration quite painlessly.
    peterh
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    Post by peterh on Mon Jul 22, 2019 3:18 am

    deepee99 wrote:Here's a good primer on all things R2R

    https://www.udemy.com/analog-audio-tape-recorder-basic-theory-and-alignment/

    VERY MUCH worth the price of admission of $11.00. Starts with the very basics and moves to the advanced stuff like calibration quite painlessly.

    Do they quote a source of prerecorded normalization tape ? One needs one to
    - align playback head
    - calibrate output level.

    I remember agfa sold these once upon a time for a lot of money.
    Also for a 4-track unit you will need iron-oxide solution to adjust track-to-track distance.
    Peter W.
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    Post by Peter W. on Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:36 am

    peterh wrote:
    Do they quote a source of prerecorded normalization tape ? One needs one to
    - align playback head
    - calibrate output level.

    I remember agfa sold these once upon a time for a lot of money.
    Also for a 4-track unit you will need iron-oxide solution to adjust track-to-track distance.

    https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/004948-magnetic-reference-lab-21t204-1-4-multifrequency-calibration-alignment-tape-for-open-reel-applications-75-s-250-nwb-m

    Here is one (1) source. I am sure that there are others.
    peterh
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    Post by peterh on Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:44 am

    Peter W. wrote:
    peterh wrote:
    Do they quote a source of prerecorded normalization tape ? One needs one to
    - align playback head
    - calibrate output level.

    I remember agfa sold these once upon a time for a lot of money.
    Also for a 4-track unit you will need iron-oxide solution to adjust track-to-track distance.

    https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/004948-magnetic-reference-lab-21t204-1-4-multifrequency-calibration-alignment-tape-for-open-reel-applications-75-s-250-nwb-m    

    Here is one (1) source. I am sure that there are others.
    Thanks. Nice price :-(

    Peter W.
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    Post by Peter W. on Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:00 am

    peterh wrote:
    Thanks.  Nice price :-(


    The brute fact of the matter is that tape machines, unless they are abused (most are not) are pretty good about holding overall alignment and bias - if one knows what the original tape was in the first place. The wild-cards are:

    Head wear - tape heads suffer from what is akin to the Cliff Effect. They are fine until the wear starts to affect the gap, making it larger. At which point bias goes out the window, and track bleed becomes a serious issue.
    Head Clogging - you cannot see it unless it is far beyond obvious.
    Residual magnetism - the most pernicious problem of all.

    There are lapping services to restore worn heads - probably less costly to replace the heads altogether - even with the subsequent full service requirement. Such services typically are used for multi-track studio devices.
    Clogging: 99% Pure isopropyl alcohol is commonly available, does not attack rubber or plastic, and cuts most residual grease, oxides and so forth very well.
    Magnetism: Head demagnetizer.
    peterh
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    Post by peterh on Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:00 pm

    Peter W. wrote:
    peterh wrote:
    Thanks.  Nice price :-(


    The brute fact of the matter is that tape machines, unless they are abused (most are not) are pretty good about holding overall alignment and bias - if one knows what the original tape was in the first place. The wild-cards are:

    Head wear - tape heads suffer from what is akin to the Cliff Effect. They are fine until the wear starts to affect the gap, making it larger. At which point bias goes out the window, and track bleed becomes a serious issue.
    Head Clogging - you cannot see it unless it is far beyond obvious.
    Residual magnetism - the most pernicious problem of all.

    There are lapping services to restore worn heads - probably less costly to replace the heads altogether - even with the subsequent full service requirement. Such services typically are used for multi-track studio devices.
    Clogging: 99% Pure isopropyl  alcohol is commonly available, does not attack rubber or plastic, and cuts most residual grease, oxides and so forth very well.
    Magnetism: Head demagnetizer.

    The really hard point is heads. The units i worked with had bogen heads, and it does not
    seem possible to get new today. Or, do anyone have other information ?
    Dave_in_Va
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    Post by Dave_in_Va on Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:27 pm

    The rabbit hole deepens.
    Fed Ex just dropped off a second Pioneer RT 1050. Seems to be in great condition. Came from the widow of a guy who used it in a recording mastering class he taught. FF, rewind and play work fine and the meters light. The heads look good to my untrained eye. I'll have an expert go through it.

    So I currently have an RT 909 in the shop being properly set up and calibrated and another RT 1050 800 miles away being fully refurbished (re-cap, etc).

    Three decks with nothing hooked up to my system but I knew reel to reel wasn't going to be plug and play.

    Oh yeah....I've got a cool replica dust cover for the RT 909 coming in from Ukraine (if it actually makes it to Va. in one piece). Fun stuff.

    Peter W.
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    Post by Peter W. on Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:29 pm

    Have you gone directly to the source?

    BOGEN Electronic GmbH
    Potsdamer Str. 12-13
    14163 Berlin - Germany
    Phone +49 30 81 00 02-0
    magnetics@bogen-electronic.com

    Then, these guys make OEM-style replacement head kits for various brands and models. They may also be able to restuff an existing head block of you would send it to them:

    ATR Service, Inc.
    385 Emig Road, Ste A
    York, PA 17406
    PH: (717) 852-7700
    Fax: (717) 852-7755
    email: info@atrservice.com
    website: atrservice.com

    And, then, I believe that Scully head blocks fit Bogen machines - not that they are any easier to find.

    Corporate Headquarters
    Global Manufacturing Industries
    7710 Shawnee Run Road
    Cincinnati, Ohio 45243
    +1 513 271-2180
    Fax +1 513 271-2374
    info@globalmfgind.com


    European Office
    Magnetic Head Technologies (Bulgaria) AD
    1 Stara Planina St
    2760 Razlog, Bulgaria
    +359 747 80111
    Fax +359 747 80113
    mhtb@globalmfgind.com

    Made heads for Ampex, Wollensak, Advent & Crown that I know of. They may have made Bogen-compatible heads as well. They are the successor to Michigan Magnetics, and still retain the name as a subsidiary.

    Best of luck!
    peterh
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    Post by peterh on Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:35 pm

    Peter W. wrote:Have you gone directly to the source?

    BOGEN Electronic GmbH
    Potsdamer Str. 12-13
    14163 Berlin - Germany
    Phone +49 30 81 00 02-0
    magnetics@bogen-electronic.com

    Then, these guys make OEM-style replacement head kits for various brands and models. They may also be able to restuff an existing head block of you would send it to them:

    ATR Service, Inc.
    385 Emig Road, Ste A
    York, PA 17406
    PH: (717) 852-7700
    Fax: (717) 852-7755
    email: info@atrservice.com
    website: atrservice.com

    And, then, I believe that Scully head blocks fit Bogen machines - not that they are any easier to find.

    Corporate Headquarters
    Global Manufacturing Industries
    7710 Shawnee Run Road
    Cincinnati, Ohio 45243
    +1 513 271-2180
    Fax +1 513 271-2374
    info@globalmfgind.com


    European Office
    Magnetic Head Technologies (Bulgaria) AD
    1 Stara Planina St
    2760 Razlog, Bulgaria
    +359 747 80111
    Fax +359 747 80113
    mhtb@globalmfgind.com

    Made heads for Ampex, Wollensak, Advent & Crown that I know of. They may have made Bogen-compatible heads as well. They are the successor to Michigan Magnetics, and still retain the name as a subsidiary.

    Best of luck!

    Many thanks !

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