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Author Topic: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?  (Read 6647 times)

ALLEN WRENCH

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2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« on: June 21, 2005, 07:42:32 pm »

Which 2" machine would you suggest?


With prices dropping like crazy on 2" tape machines, people like myself are finding that these pricey devices are now within the home studio budget.  But for someone with no tech ability... the wrong choice could end up becoming dangerous!

Last year I bought a 1978 MCI JH-16 and have recently run into repair issues that have totally fucked over my deadline for a project I'm working on.  I live in Riverside and it seems as though it's impossible to get people out here to work on this thing.

One of the options I'm considering is buying another tape machine.

I could get one of Randy Blevins super kick-ass rebuilt MCI machines, but then if I have problems in the future I'm stuck in the same 'no tech available' position.

Just for bullet-proof / run forever type of a rep...  a lot of people like the Otari machines.

If you were going to suggest a 2" analog tape machine for someone with zero tech ability... which would it be?



... here's me before DISASTER STRUCK!!!!


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djui5

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGERSTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2005, 08:24:12 pm »

Otari MTR-90's are pretty reliable.
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thedoc

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2005, 09:31:41 pm »

I will be honest and say that in my opinion, you must have access to a tech
if you are going to have a 24 track machine.  Issues of blown MDA's, bad pucks,
bad channel cards, reel tension issues, audio alignment, bias problems, tape
path problems, etc.

I wish I could say otherwise...

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Jolly Ted

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2005, 09:53:43 pm »

Hey Allen,

I can sympathize about your dilemma. What is happening with your JH-16 ?

I travel a lot into Riverside from Orange County. Maybe I can offer some helpful advice or lend a hand.

I've been maintaining and rebuilding pro analog decks since the 70's. It might be worth taking a look see to see about what the real problem is you're having and see about sorting it out...since you already have it.

Most used analog decks you purchase are all going to have some issues when you buy them. And ALL decks will need regular  standard 'upkeep' maintenance for as long as you own them.

Let us know what the issues are. Would love to see another 'analog brother' get up and runnin!

Regards,

Ted

vernier

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2005, 11:21:14 pm »

Yeah, Riverside is close enough to L.A (where the best analog recordings in the universe were made, and where the best analog techs still are) so basically, you're set. Link up with someone and go from there.
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ALLEN WRENCH

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2005, 11:28:45 pm »

Hey Ted,  I've got a tech friend of mine helping me a bit...  first it was the capstan motor that I fucked up with 409 ( MDI Precision Motor Works gave me great service ), coincidentally one of the brushes went out on one of my take up reels and once again MDI Precision Motor Works got me rocking with the 661 brushes.

Now after the motor was put back in it seems as though there's some trouble in the analog torque board.  My friend Terry says there are some suspicious chip and cap change outs that might be causing some problems.

The big point is that I'm lucky he has the time to come by and help me out.

As of right now I'm preparing PLAN B... and that could possibly include buying another tape machine, dropping cash on a rack of Mytek converters... or if I'm lucky, my MCI might work out just fine.

The reason I was mentioning the Otari machines is because everyone says they're work hoarses.  And probably an equal number of people say that the MCI's are temper mental pains in the ass!  I like my MCI, I just wish I could use it to record... instead of a place to stack screwdrivers and porno mags.
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ALLEN WRENCH

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2005, 11:32:32 pm »

Well, the FIRST thing I did was to get ahold of every tech I could, but to no avail.  But great for all the LA techs... they've got more work than they can handle.

I really do have to admit that Charlie Bolis is really a cool guy, but he's slammed on work right now.
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Brian Roth

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2005, 11:58:17 pm »

Wish I was out there, Allen, since things have been slow for me here!  That's changing a bit as I've been getting some rackup and other custom work from out of town.

Anyway, if you're going after an MTR-90, be SURE it's a Mark III.  The two that I care for here have been excellent once they got Athan rubber pucks on them.  There's a Mark I here that has been a bit of a problem child, but it's chugging along OK with very light usage.  By the MK III, Otari sorted many problems out.

I've been impressed by a Studer A-80 MK IV and an A-800 MK III that are in studios in my area.  Not too many problems, with the most irritating being the tension sensor pots on the A-80.

Ampex MM-1200 is a possibility, especially later mdoels with the constant tension kit.  The 1200 was basically a "bug fix" for the MM-1100!

The Ampex MM-1000 was a good machine, but 24 track versions are very rare.  Most sold were 16 track in that era.

Other possibilities I've worked with is the 3M M-79 and the Stephens.

Bri

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vernier

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2005, 12:46:41 am »

Wait a minute (doing the math here) ..there should be lots of techs in the L.A area twiddling their thumbs ..I'd look harder.
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Brian Roth

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2005, 01:43:44 am »

Vernier...well, maybe I should stay here then <g>.  Cost of living is a lot less, and slow workload would be the same, I guess!

Bri

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Cerumen

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2005, 03:04:25 pm »

i got the same machine.
here's my tech's number.

ken rains
714 208 3475 pgr
323 270 8560 cell
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Jorge Hernandez

arconaut

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2005, 06:09:07 pm »

Brian... a Stephens? Aren't those machines really difficult to maintain?

noah
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Markus Fischer

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2005, 06:46:01 pm »

ALLEN WRENCH wrote on Wed, 22 June 2005 01:42


If you were going to suggest a 2" analog tape machine for someone with zero tech ability... which would it be?


none  Confused
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thedoc

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2005, 09:56:36 pm »

I will also say that I agree with Brian that if you buy an Ampex MM1200, be SURE that it has the constant tension board (many do not).  Otherwise you will spend your
life normalizing reel servos and adjusting holdback tension.  A Tentelometer will be your friend.

I have had very good luck with many Otari MTR90 Mark II's but I am sure the III's are good.

Smile
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Jolly Ted

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2005, 12:06:21 am »

Quote:

Hey Ted, I've got a tech friend of mine helping me a bit...

The big point is that I'm lucky he has the time to come by and help me out.


Good deal, Alex!  Having a good tech to help is very important, no matter if you go plan A or B.

I'll be in the Corona / Riverside area next week if you need an additional hand. Just PM me.


Ted

Brian Roth

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2005, 01:30:40 am »

arconaut wrote on Wed, 22 June 2005 17:09

Brian... a Stephens? Aren't those machines really difficult to maintain?

noah


There was a Stephens here in OKC for maybe 15 years and it gave very little trouble.  However, it was sold/retired probably 10 years ago, so no telling how well one would be holding up these days.

John is still around, apparently in SoCal as I recall.

http://www.stephenselectronics.com/home.htm

Bri


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arconaut

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2005, 08:20:58 am »


>John is still around, apparently in SoCal as I recall.
>
>http://www.stephenselectronics.com/home.htm

I was excited to see this website, until I discovered that nothing works on it! I had no idea he was still at it, amazing the things you learn on this board.
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Brian Roth

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2005, 08:48:25 am »

arconaut wrote on Thu, 23 June 2005 07:20


>John is still around, apparently in SoCal as I recall.
>
>http://www.stephenselectronics.com/home.htm

I was excited to see this website, until I discovered that nothing works on it! I had no idea he was still at it, amazing the things you learn on this board.


Yeah, it's pretty bare-bones, including the "contact" page:  "Send me YOUR contact info and I might get back with you."  <g>

Bri

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vernier

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2005, 02:50:38 pm »

Stephens are great. Weirdly, theres hardly any electronics  ..where's the electronics?!
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lucey

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2005, 12:59:34 am »

All machines take work, get a new Radar system, sounds better than Otari and many things by far.

A good tech in Hollywood is Rob Harvey at World Audio, maybe he can help you find someone in Riverside.

MM1200 here ... lots of little things go wrong, but it sounds amazing.  Stephens are HOT to tape, neat head design, hard to find.

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vernier

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2005, 01:36:13 am »

Radar is digital right?
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ALLEN WRENCH

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2005, 09:20:47 am »

Every time I listen to digital recordings I just get pissed off at the crappy sound.  For my workstation set up I'll probably be ending up with a LynxAES16 card and the Mytek converters...  but I still only use the workstation for writing.  

Even if I ever decide to go all digital at some point, I'm still planning on recording on tape and then hitting the ADC's (on my Manley SLAM) off the REPRO head of my tape machine.
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Ronny

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2005, 02:57:57 pm »

vernier wrote on Sat, 25 June 2005 01:36

Radar is digital right?



Yes, I wouldn't say it sounds better than Otari 2", but a lower noise floor and there isn't any reason that you can't get great results with 24 bit digital these days, after all 99% of the music is going to wind up on digital cd's and dvd's anyway and the annie recordings and mixes are eventually going to go through several digital processes before they reach the consumer. I still work with both, I have to say that some instruments track better to tape, such as drums, especially cymbals, but the benefits of digital in the mixing stage often outweigh the slight improvement that I hear tracking overheads to annie.
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vernier

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2005, 03:20:25 pm »

Doesn't matter that it ends up on CD ..analog recordings still sound much different (as proven by outstanding reissues of late). Digital has some specs (low noise floor, whatever), but still sounds weird, I think it's the dynamics, the way the sound comes at you ..much different than with analog.
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Ronny

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2005, 06:58:51 pm »

vernier wrote on Sat, 25 June 2005 15:20

Doesn't matter that it ends up on CD ..analog recordings still sound much different (as proven by outstanding reissues of late). Digital has some specs (low noise floor, whatever), but still sounds weird, I think it's the dynamics, the way the sound comes at you ..much different than with analog.



Yes analog recording and mixing sounds different than digital recording and mixing, but to diss digital while listening to analog recordings on cd's like some people do, is a bit weird methinks. Savvy engineers utilize both mediums for what they offer, it's just not a one is better at all things than the other, each has it's drawbacks and benefits. The key is to take advantage of the best of both worlds.
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vernier

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2005, 07:51:12 pm »

I can't help but to diss it ..digital just doesn't have holding power, I play 'em once or twice and thats it, but all-analog recordings get played over and over (and over). Hybrid really doesn't do it either.
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acorec

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #26 on: July 01, 2005, 09:45:53 am »

There is no such thing as a 2" machine that will not have problems. Every machine brand has different problems and hassles. I have a 1983 MCI JH 24 2" 24 track and I don't see how a machine could be made any easier to fix. The Studers are a level above these and require more tech savvy to keep running.
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Han S.

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #27 on: July 01, 2005, 10:11:48 am »

I bought an Otari MX80 24 in 1998 and so far it has only had a small problem with a broken capacitor.

Even aligning isn't needed very often for the machine is quite steady.

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Les Ismore

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #28 on: July 01, 2005, 02:23:21 pm »

thedoc wrote on Wed, 22 June 2005 18:56

I will also say that I agree with Brian that if you buy an Ampex MM1200, be SURE that it has the constant tension board (many do not).  Otherwise you will spend your
life normalizing reel servos and adjusting holdback tension.  A Tentelometer will be your friend.
Smile


Actually the MM1100 and mm1200 Ampex will run at correct speed without the constant tension kit. You just need to know how.
With a 1k tone on a fully packed 10" reel, get it to just slightly overspeed into correct speed at the head of the reel, and at the very tail have it come slower up to speed.
This will have it running at speed to spec throughout the reel, but is not covered in the manual. I do this without a Tentelometer.
Then put a note on the controls "DO NOT TOUCH".
What happens is the optical light on the tension arm burns out and the first thing people do is start wanking on the tension controls. Of course without a lightbulb all the tweaking in the world won't fix it. And then it's so far out you need to do a complete tension alignment.
cheers, Les
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Brian Roth

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2005, 04:23:11 pm »

Indeed, all (?) of the 1100's and most of the 1200's didn;t have the constant tension kit, but it does make it more "solid".

In any case, pinch roller maintenance is important...keeping it unglazed and at the proper pressure.

Bri

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thedoc

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #30 on: July 01, 2005, 06:33:57 pm »

At Heiders we had probably 20 MM1200s and some 1100's...working without the constant tension card can and did work, but I would not buy a machine without that card today.  The machine really got squirrly when using 5000' loads.  In the remote trucks, engineers would have to tweek while recording when it got near the end of the reels...not fun.

It's not about knowing how, the maintenance staff had it down. It's about what makes sense today. Why deal with the hassle and have a machine that is just not as good when you don't have to.

Having said all that, they do sound good and are easy to fix if you have parts.  I don't know about head availability today...anybody out there have a handle on that?
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vernier

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #31 on: July 01, 2005, 06:53:40 pm »

Analog is well worth it ..wish I hadn't strayed from it all those years (wasted years).
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Brian Roth

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2005, 10:19:16 pm »

thedoc wrote on Fri, 01 July 2005 17:33


Having said all that, they do sound good and are easy to fix if you have parts.  I don't know about head availability today...anybody out there have a handle on that?


It would be worth a call to John French ar JRF magentics.

Bri


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Les Ismore

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #33 on: July 03, 2005, 02:41:00 pm »

thedoc wrote on Fri, 01 July 2005 15:33

At Heiders we had probably 20 MM1200s and some 1100's...working without the constant tension card can and did work, but I would not buy a machine without that card today.  The machine really got squirrly when using 5000' loads.  In the remote trucks, engineers would have to tweek while recording when it got near the end of the reels...not fun.



Yeah, that's with a 14" reel. Mostly video guys and remote guys used to use those. That's when you would have wanted the tension kit.
With a standard 10" reel it's fine without the kit, so I wouldn't turn down a nice machine in good shape just because it didn't have the kit. Anyone buying a machine today will be using 10" reels of tape.
I still have one of these (a modified MM1100 with a syncronizer) and have been using it since the late 80's without a tension kit. It's built like a tank.
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thedoc

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #34 on: July 03, 2005, 02:44:32 pm »

I personally would not want the machine without the card.  I am happy that it works for you, no bad vibes...
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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #35 on: July 13, 2005, 09:26:35 pm »

Les Ismore wrote on Sun, 03 July 2005 19:41

I still have one of these (a modified MM1100 with a syncronizer) and have been using it since the late 80's without a tension kit. It's built like a tank.


I have an MM1100 also. The power supply has been upgraded so it doesn't blow transistors anymore and two cards have the mod so they punch in/out better. What mods has your machine had Les?
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Les Ismore

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Re: 2" TAPE MACHINE SUGGESTION ... FOR HOME STUDIO IDIOTS ?
« Reply #36 on: July 14, 2005, 01:20:20 am »

Hi Hallams. Yeah, they updated the power supplies when I bought mine too. I bought mine from a film mixing house and they basically incorporated some of the 1200 upgrades into the supplies and other things. Other than that, the biggest upgrade I have is an Adams Smith Zeta 3 synchronizer. This gives me a nice modern remote, full sync capabilities,100 point autolocation and automated punching. It even automatically calculates the head gap and times the punch accordingly. Very cool.
BTW if you need any parts I have quite a large stash. PM me if you are needing or wanting anything.
Cheers, Les
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