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Which tape to buy?

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Which tape to buy?

Postby vetsdiggy » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:42 am

Hey all
I'm about to buy some half inch tape to use with my 16 track fostex (b16).

I'm looking at buying some RMGI tape as I hear good things.
However looking at the distributors and the RMGI website, I notice that there are two types of half inch tape ( 900 and 911). .... http://www.rmgi.eu/rmgi.asp?Id=3

I can read the differences, but I'm still a little in the dark as to which is the best for me to go for?

Standard bias 911 , or high output 900?

I will be using it to record 16 previously mixed stems to, then back out onto the computer as a stereo file.

Thanks for any help!

Steve
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Re: Which tape to buy?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:51 am

The B16 was originally specified to use Ampex 456 tape (see specs on page 2):

http://www.fostexinternational.com/docs/downloads/pdfs/b16_owners_manual.pdf

The RMGi nearest equivalent to Ampex 456 is type RMGi SM911:

http://usrecordingmedia.com/1oprereta1.html

So that is probably the best place to start... but ideally you should have the machine properly aligned and optimised for the SM911 if you expect to get something back off tape that sounds like what went in

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Re: Which tape to buy?

Postby vetsdiggy » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:05 pm

hey Hugh!

Thanks for that!

I'll go for that one then.....

The machine is in great nik and the heads are great. As I understand there are no separate record and play heads.... So do I still need to 're-aligne' the machine?
If so how?
Or do I need to calibrate it?
How do I best do that?
Or should I just give it someone who knows?

Thanks Hugh

Steve
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Re: Which tape to buy?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:55 pm

vetsdiggy wrote:I'll go for that one then.....

Good plan! I use it myself and it is good and reliable tape.

As I understand there are no separate record and play heads.... So do I still need to 're-aligne' the machine?

Ideally, yes. Different tape formulations, and even different batches of the same formulation, have slightly (or radically) different characteristics, and so to get the best possible performance it is necessary to adjust and fine tune the record level, record EQ, bias, replay level and replay EQ. The machine will still work if you don't, but you won't be getting the best performance (noise level, distortion and HF response) and there may well be a very audible change in quality between the source sound and when replayed off tape.

A three-head machine (with separate rec and rep heads) makes it quicker and easier to align because you can adjust the record side in real time while listening off the replay head. On a two head machine like the B16 it's a lot slower and very tedious because you have to record a test signal then rewind and play it back, noting the results, then tweak the record settings and repeat until you get it right!

If so how?

This is one of those 'if you need to ask' type of answers. Aligning tape machiens isn't that complicated, but it does require a level of technical knowledge and some critical test equipment and reference test tapes. These things are relatively expensive and you are probably better off finding someone with the required experience, knowledge and equipment to align the machine for you.

Here are some articles that discuss tape machine maintenance to ive an idea of what is involved:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1997_ar ... logue.html

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1997_ar ... nance.html

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov07/a ... 1107_5.htm

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/mar10/a ... advice.htm

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Re: Which tape to buy?

Postby James Perrett » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:50 pm

While Hugh has posted a few useful links, one of the best places to look is in the manual for the Fostex as they go through the procedure fairly thoroughly (or at least the E16 manual does). If you want to exchange tapes with other studios you need to use a test tape to set up the replay side of things first but, if this is just for your own use, you might get away with just aligning the record side.

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Re: Which tape to buy?

Postby vetsdiggy » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:05 pm

Hey!
Thanks both.
Yes this will just be for our own use.
I believe I have the manual, so that can be my first port of call.
I'll check the links too!
Thanks for your help!
I'll let you know how I get on....
Steve
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Re: Which tape to buy?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:36 am

James Perrett wrote:... one of the best places to look is in the manual for the Fostex as they go through the procedure fairly thoroughly (or at least the E16 manual does).

I linked to the manual above:

http://www.fostexinternational.com/docs/downloads/pdfs/b16_owners_manual.pdf

It's not very thorough, but it does cover basic alignment in the last couple of pages -- and at least it tells you how to access the relevant tweeks. However, it assumes a lot of prior knowledge about what to look for when aligning bias etc, so those other articles I suggested might still be helpful.

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Re: Which tape to buy?

Postby James Perrett » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:30 pm

Just realised that I was thinking of the E16 service manual which is much more thorough than the E16 user manual (which, in turn, is slightly better than the B16 user manual).

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