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Author Topic: Analog machine and tape maintenance  (Read 10517 times)

scottoliphant

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2006, 09:37:34 am »

is there a certain style of music that you are likely to be doing a lot of? One thing you'll find is how forgiving this medium is. You don't have to sit on pins and needles hoping something doesn't all of a sudden hit red in your digital system, making that oh so pleasant digital clip. I've got tracks all the time that even frighten me they are so hot. Also, do you know what level your tech aligned the deck to? It'll be something like +6 or +3 (or +7,8,9, although my 1/2 won't get up there). I ask about the style of music only because recording rock and roll and classical music at 15 ips would deliver more or less noticeable amounts of noise.

ssltech

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2006, 06:41:42 pm »

One SERIOUS caveat with Cotton Swabs:

If you SOAK the cotton swab with alcohol, when you first apply it to the machine, it "releases" a small amount of alcohol which runs down the head, and usually onto the deckplate. This as often as not goes nowhere before evaporating, but if you allow this to reach things like the capstan motor bearings, many machines' motors will die far more quickly as a result.

The alcohol is a phenomenally good solvent for the grease in the bearings of many machines' motors. Some Studer bearings will absolutely be destroyed in fairly short order if you regularly clean the capstan shaft with alcohol-soaked cotton buds.

ALWAYS wipe off a little of the alcohol. There is NO benefit in carrying a saturated cotton swab to the heads or any of the other path surfaces if much of it is going to be released on first contact. It will serve no good purpose, and only do harm.

ALWAYS "touch-off" excess alcohol, and -better yet- use a lint-free fabric such as "texwipe".

Keith
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MDM (maxdimario) wrote on Fri, 16 November 2007 21:36

I have the feeling that I have more experience in my little finger than you do in your whole body about audio electronics..

dmorrre

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2006, 09:45:37 pm »

Anyone use xylene to clean their tape heads?  I have 2 Ampex ATR800 1/4" machines.  When I bought them the seller gave me a bottle of xylene to use as head cleaner.  I have not had any problems but wonder if alcohol would be a safer choice?  Thanks,
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lek

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2006, 10:43:13 pm »

scottoliphant wrote on Wed, 11 January 2006 22:20

hey there! welcome to the wonderful world of analog. Yes to the tail out. A lot of folks store their tape "played through" and then  rewing it when they want to use it.

Thanks! Actually my first three years of recording (starting in 1992) were on a cassette 4 track - I diligently cleaned and demagnetized the heads even! It is because of a comparison several months ago of my digital recordings to my early cassettes that I knew I had to get back into analog. I now use much higher level digital stuff (crane song a/d's, etc etc), so I think I'm in a good place with the hybrid system. Actually, I'd love to get an analog 16 channel multitrack (and probably will one day) but being a songwriter with lots of experimental ideas, etc etc it's easier to track digitally.
Quote:

One reason you may be seeing the tape sticking out at different spots is because it was rewound or fast forwarded before storing. When the tape is played through and stored with the tail out, the packing on the reel is better, but if you fast forward it to the end, you are liable to get as bad a packing as rewinding it. It defeats the purpose of playing through for the packing if you FF it to the end, but some people store tail out for the protection that it gives to the beginning of the tape.  


Hi Ronny. Yes - I had been fast forwarding or rewinding to store. So I should let the tape play at normal speed until the end? (figured out what tail out means...)
-   will the sound of the tape degrade after many playings, rewindings, and fast-forwardings?
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Lek
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lek

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2006, 10:52:18 pm »

Johnny B wrote on Thu, 12 January 2006 00:03

Perhaps some of the information here will be helpful in some fashion.
http://home.flash.net/~mrltapes/
Keep us informed of how you are doing with your new machine.


Thanks!
how I'm doing is that I'm loving it. The edge and hardness is gone, as well as much added beef and glue. I do miss some of the high frequencies and clarity – should I be losing that much top end?

but it seems to be quickly added back – and sounds FAR better with eq than adding the same eq to my digital mix. I have a great river eq2nv, but I was just playing around with the Avalon 747’s eq, combined with a drawmer 1968 sounded ridiculously warm and rich off the tape (I’m almost thinking too rich – it’s richer than the cd song samples I compare to – have to go listen on a few different systems, the added 1968 tube compression might have been overkill)
LRRec wrote on Thu, 12 January 2006 01:41


Lek, you ask a lot of questions for someone from New Jersey.

Very Happy
Quote:


Personally, I would not leave the tape machine on 24/7 unattended. There are a lot of tantalum caps in there that are used for power rail bypassing and when they fail, they can possibly short and BURN! This may or may not be a problem depending on the state of your bank account. (You do know that any tape machine should NEVER be on when you demagnetize it?)

I would also recommend that you go through the archives of the Ampex Mailing List at Recordist.com,
Good luck.


thanks for the advice
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Lek
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lek

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2006, 11:07:34 pm »

Ryan Moore wrote on Thu, 12 January 2006 05:14


Its happily dawned on me we are probably seeing someone moving from digital to analog recording and is dealing with those issues instead of how many of us older folks moved from analog to digital, with all the issues of thereof - anyway, its funny (in a good way) contemplating making this 'reverse' journey and imagining what that must be like...


Yes, I have been on a continual reverse journey (even my amps keep getting older – from 68 plexi to 65 deluxe to a 62 b15n recently). I was about to say perhaps it's easier for me to go analog as I am a songwriter writing non-mainstream stuff, and not a commercial studio - but then I thought of the moderator of this great forum and realized...
Quote:


Hiss - welcome to the World of analog Smile
I view that as part of the sonic glue which holds things together..
You could try recording at a hotter level,
Hotter level = less hiss
Lower level = more hiss
Thats when you get into the art of analog tape eg: how hard to hit the tape,
its like a rubber band...
Personally I don't hit the levels too hard, but not too quiet either.
If the hiss issue becomes a problem you could always try NR but that can effect the sound so its a tradeoff..

Good luck!

RM


Oh yes I love hiss. One day I was perplexed as to why I wasn’t getting the same vibe from micing my guitar amp (68 plexi is the one I usually use). I realized the normal volume was down (I was plugged into the bright one). Raising the normal volume, gave it a background hiss and ‘air’ I was very much missing! Great glue. Thanks for your nice response
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Lek
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lek

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2006, 11:19:54 pm »

bobkatz wrote on Thu, 12 January 2006 05:26


Any tape that's going into long term storage should be flat wound, in either library wind or play mode, continuously from beginning to end. If you get lazy (as I often do) you can cheat by stopping at any leader tape and restarting, but the chances you're going to create a layer that sticks out and can be potentially edge damaged.

Thanks for all your help Bob. What does flat wound mean? And I’m not sure I understand your ‘cheating’ method either – stopping at any leader tape? I thought leader tape means only the tape at the beginning?

Alright, I know I’m hogging this thread (though I did start it  Smile ).
I’m thrilled to get all of these replies. I’m glad to be putting smiles on some people’s faces as well (is this getting too corny? – fade to scene in the movie airplane where everyone leans their head toward the center of the plane and smiles.
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Lek
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lek

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2006, 11:30:26 pm »

scottoliphant wrote on Thu, 12 January 2006 09:37

is there a certain style of music that you are likely to be doing a lot of? One thing you'll find is how forgiving this medium is. You don't have to sit on pins and needles hoping something doesn't all of a sudden hit red in your digital system, making that oh so pleasant digital clip. I've got tracks all the time that even frighten me they are so hot. Also, do you know what level your tech aligned the deck to? It'll be something like +6 or +3 (or +7,8,9, although my 1/2 won't get up there). I ask about the style of music only because recording rock and roll and classical music at 15 ips would deliver more or less noticeable amounts of noise.

Hey there.
Guitar based stuff, occasional piano or other...
I got the deck setup (and fixed up by ATR - though not one of their complete 'restores' - they set it up for 456 at +6 (originally gp9, but after some thought I told them 456 - though I have no friggin clue as to the sound difference... yet!)
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Lek
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bobkatz

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2006, 08:35:06 am »

You know, Keith. That is an excellent point for a newbie! I was taught that. MCI went so far as to make a special non-alcohol sovent for their ceramic capstans that might also be safer to the motor bearings.

Since this point is so basic but should be mentioned in every book on tape machine care... I'd like to give you, Keith, credit for the reminder in the second edition of my book on mastering, where I'm going to have a chapter on analog tape restoration.

Yes, I knew it, of course I did, as any good technician does, but I internalized it for so long I forgot that it's a point you absolutely must teach to newbies. Frozen motor bearings, hah!

BK
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bobkatz

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2006, 08:40:23 am »

lek wrote on Thu, 12 January 2006 23:19

bobkatz wrote on Thu, 12 January 2006 05:26


Any tape that's going into long term storage should be flat wound, in either library wind or play mode, continuously from beginning to end. If you get lazy (as I often do) you can cheat by stopping at any leader tape and restarting, but the chances you're going to create a layer that sticks out and can be potentially edge damaged.

Thanks for all your help Bob. What does flat wound mean? And I?m not sure I understand your ?cheating? method either ? stopping at any leader tape? I thought leader tape means only the tape at the beginning?

Alright, I know I?m hogging this thread (though I did start it  Smile ).
I?m thrilled to get all of these replies. I?m glad to be putting smiles on some people?s faces as well (is this getting too corny? ? fade to scene in the movie airplane where everyone leans their head toward the center of the plane and smiles.



Since I started it, I guess I'll have to finish it!

Lek, it's still wonderful watching you explore the world of analog for the first time. What I meant by cheating is that if you don't want to rewind to the head and then play out at slow speed, if you have an edited leader tape at the head of any song that's in the middle of the tape, you can stop there and then restart. We might not care if a piece of paper tape edge sticks out a little as long as it is not signal-containing audio. It is cheating though! And the library wind (constant tension) mode of the ATR 102 makes it so easy to just go back to the beginning and tail out that the issue is academic.

What I do on transports that don't have a library wind, if I'm in a hurrry, is to fast forward while holding back on the source reel to get more tension and slow things down. It's a skill developed over years of "cheating".

BK
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2006, 01:02:06 pm »

Beware that Xylene eats plastic and some kinds of heads. The fumes are also deadly.

scottoliphant

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2006, 03:26:25 pm »

Quote:

should I be losing that much top end
I wouldn't expect the top end loss to be that noticeable on a properly aligned deck. throw an MRL tape on there and check your 10K+ tones, maybe something goofy happened during transporting it around. If you switch over to GP9 at any point, also be sure to rebias your machine. There are plenty places on the net to read about how to do this (or you could ask us here if you ever feel the need).

ssltech

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2006, 11:58:43 am »

bobkatz wrote on Fri, 13 January 2006 13:35

Since this point is so basic but should be mentioned in every book on tape machine care... I'd like to give you, Keith, credit for the reminder in the second edition of my book on mastering, where I'm going to have a chapter on analog tape restoration.
I'm flattered... -Thanks!

-See you on Tuesday evening, perhaps?

Keith
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MDM (maxdimario) wrote on Fri, 16 November 2007 21:36

I have the feeling that I have more experience in my little finger than you do in your whole body about audio electronics..

bobkatz

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2006, 02:48:04 pm »

ssltech wrote on Sat, 14 January 2006 11:58

bobkatz wrote on Fri, 13 January 2006 13:35

Since this point is so basic but should be mentioned in every book on tape machine care... I'd like to give you, Keith, credit for the reminder in the second edition of my book on mastering, where I'm going to have a chapter on analog tape restoration.
I'm flattered... -Thanks!

-See you on Tuesday evening, perhaps?

Keith




Would love to see you Tuesday, Keith. Hope they'll look the other way and let them put in some extra chairs. Or is the company totally paranoid about that absurd fire department rule of a maximum of 49 chairs?  (I'm giving a seminar at the Student AES section in Orlando in a superb room at Full Sail. A full size film mix theatre with excellent acoustics.)

BK
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The other says-this is new and therefore better."

No trees were killed in the sending of this message. However a large number of
electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

bushwick

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Re: Analog machine and tape maintenance
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2006, 05:39:36 pm »

Lek I am not sure if anyone told you this or not, but be sure to put your new tape on the take up side (the right side) "upside down" when you first get it and rewind it on the the supply side (the left side). After the tape has finished, then flip the reel so that you will get a true "tails out" recording. I didn't recall seeing this flipping through earlier posts.

Also, there are two speeds that the machine can be set to operate in the library wind mode. Most likely the ATR folks set it up for faster operation which runs I believe at 5 times playback speed. Also, how much of a rebuild did they do? I wouldn't worry about the machine blowing up if you leave it on all the time but according to them, the machine does not need much stabilizing time after you turn it on. This as compared to an older studer 2" - that should be left on all the time.

As a general practice, I leave mine on when I am doing a stretch of mix days and off when it won't be used for days. My electricity bill has shot up quite a bit over the past few months, so it helps with that if nothing else.

As someone said, never leave your masters on the machine unattended. The machine shouldn't ever freak but if it does you can have squid-fettuccine salad where you had music. My machine ate my MRL once before the transport cards were recapped and the power transistors had been replaced and upped. It ate my finger tip too while I watched in horror as it started to munch the tape. Its funny, intelligence would tell you not to try to stop the deck with your hands with something that goes that fast.  $300 says, "NOOOOO" and you do it anyway. Or you just do it once.

Have fun learning about tape. Once you get in the groove with it you will never be more happy than when you listen back to the repro heads of your mix. I just finished a remix session a few moments ago -> 15ips, IEC1, +6, 456. Damn good way to hear rock.

Best,
joshua

EDIT: Which heads do you have on your machine? Stock ferrite or Flux Magnetics Extended response heads? I ask becauase that is going to affect your bias. Make sure you know.


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Joshua Kessler
bushwick  studio
brooklyn, ny
www.bushwickstudio.com
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