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Re: [ARSCLIST] Looking for vintage open reel tape machine

Hi, Paul,

I would suggest that there is no portable tube tape machine that ever came close to what you can get today with a digital machine or even a transistorized tape machine. I see I'm not the only one to make these comments.

If you must have tape, in my opinion, the only device to consider is a Nagra IV full-track machine. However, my first choice -- and it's what I use -- is a Sound Devices 722 and just use one channel. If you do consider the mono Nagra, I'd suggest getting two. If you're considering that things might morph on the road, you might want to consider a stereo Nagra IV-S. The Sound Devices is already stereo.

From what I hear, the Metric Halo interfaces are superb, but for on-location "grab" recording, having to set up your MacBook (I believe MH is still Mac-only) and the interface is not conducive to location recording, but neither is setting up your Ampex 350 in two cases.

The only tube machines that may still survive in semi-reliable working order and are semi-portable are the larger put-a-studio-machine-in-a-couple-of-cases-with-handles Ampex 350 / 351 / 354 machines. Ampex made a robust little portable that took 7-inch reels, the model 600 (and Tom Fine knows more about that model than I do), but these are now over 50 years old and use mechanical tricks that are tough to get working correctly.

These machines rely on the power line frequency for speed stability, so running them remotely, away from AC power is problematic. Here's where the Nagra and Sound Devices excel.

While I haven't fully evaluated the built-in mics in the Zoom H2 pocket recorder, the A-D converters appear in my preliminary testing to be adequate for grabbing most cassette tapes -- and might be adequate for grabbing most reel tapes. Something like this might even work if you didn't want the Nagra or Sound Devices.

Of course, what microphone you'd use is a whole other question. The advantage of the Nagra or the Sound Devices is that they will power many microphones without an external power supply.

Besides, why limit it to tube reel-to-reel tape. Didn't Lomax have a disc-cutting lathe in the back of his station wagon?

If anything other than digital files are generated, they should all be digitized upon return for archival preservation.

Good luck with whatever is decided.



At 05:20 PM 2009-03-07, Paul Mahern wrote:

I have a client that is looking for a vintage tube powered open reel tape machine that is in good enough condition to take on the road and make recordings for his next record. A full track 1/4 inch would be best. Does anyone know of someone who sells or rents these in top condition . This is a major recording artist that is looking to make a record with one microphone and a tape deck.

Richard L. Hess email: richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.

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