Turntable, Cassette Player, Pre-amp, for archive project.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by kmetal, May 9, 2017.

  1. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Hey all, I've been doing some research in the hifi realm looking to see what's available and price points.

    I have about 250 vinyl albums between my dad and I, and at least 3 irreplaceable cassette demos from my old days, and tons of other commercial cassettes.

    I'm not looking for boutique quality but I'm looking for something pro, or very close to it. I'm going to be feeding a brand new set of comverters (RME adi -2 pro slated right now) so I've got that end covered.

    I'm looking for something to either be transparent or slightly flattering, so I can listen to all these records on the go via my NAS streaming.

    I don't have a set price range, but from preliminary digging, it seems it's about 500+ for a turntable, and similar for a pre amp.

    I'd like to keep it around or under 1k if possible, but absolutely no more than 2k without an amazing reason.

    I'll probably send a couple of the cassettes out to a real mastering / archive place as well as transfer them myself.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a cassette machine?? All I've got is a tascam 424mk3 portastudio.

    Also, would it make sense to get a 'regular' pro audio pre amp instead of dedicated phone/tape hifi one?

    any thoughts and suggestions are welcome!!
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    If you got an audio pre-amp, you would need to use an external RIAA correction unit for the pickup cartidge. These are built into the phono (pickup) inputs of hi-fi pre-amps, but are rarely fitted in pro audio units.

    As for the cassette tapes, you can get DAW plug-ins that perform corrections on cassette tracks once digitised. The more sophisticated ones even detect wow and flutter, and wobble the sampling instants around to correct for those problems.
     
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  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Good to know. I'm completely pre amp less so all options are open.

    Is there any sort of cassette player that's of a general high quality? The tascam 424 has direct outs for the 1-4 tracks, and then a line out which goes through the stereo buss. I wanted to avoid the any sort of summing amps because these tapes are already Stereo mixdowns. Not sure if that totally makes sense.
     
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I would imagine running through your RME would have higher potential for quality.

    Luckily for you turntables won't be hard to find, there are lots available at the big retailers ( Crutchfield and BestBuy ) since vinyl still has a niche market. Have you looked into any of the new turntables that output to USB for the the sole purpose of archiving vinyl (Sony, Audio-Technica, Denon/Marantz, TEAC)? That's one type of turntable still in production, that isn't the over-kill DJ type (Technics & Stanton).

    Finding a good cassette deck these days might be a challenge. The only 2 cassette decks I can find still being produced are the Tascam CD-A580, and Marantz PMD-300CP. Both of those also have a USB output option. You could definitely look around on eBay and other "used" options. In any case, you'll probably need to give it a good cleaning and head demagnetizing and may need to find some belt kits.

    A couple used 'pro-level' cassette decks to consider, if you find them in good condition (or with a good return policy), would be or Tascam 122, or Tascam 202, or just about any Nakamichi. Sony made some decent consumer models, but I remember seeing mostly the Tascam 122 in studios and the Nakamichis in cassette duplication rigs. The cassette to CD rack that I currently rent out has a Tascam 202 for playback and a professional Sony standalone CDR-W66 CD recorder. (There's also an unbalanced W33 version that would do the job). A friend of mine found a Nakamichi Dragon cassette deck at a local Goodwill for a couple bucks - so anything's possible if you're patient.

    If the RME can adapt to unbalanced -10dB RCA jacks, it would be great if you could get your hands on a genuine 20-30 year old receiver of good quality, you'd have your tape and RIAA magnetic phono inputs covered, and you would connect via the unbalanced Left/Right RCA Tape Outputs.
     
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  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    good idea, Dave.

    Here is another thought...

    Prism converters have excellent SS preamps and RIAA correction, so if you are still looking for the converters to your new rig, and now adding the RIAA correction /preamp, cost into this, you might save by getting a more multi function-able ADDA that has more of what you want.

    I'm thinking you could kill a bunch of birds with one stone going with Prism. I've seen Lyra 2 going for pretty reasonable. That's why I invested in Prism. I used their 2 channel for 2 DAW capture, remote work, and the RIAA correction is there too. I didn't need to carry preamps as well. Oh... , and they have excellent, very truthful monitoring.

    Cassette deck... sounds like Dave has good suggestions. Ebay...

    I recently bought an AT turntable. Its really nice. USB works excellent too.

    Hope that helps.
     
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  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Dave! Excellent words there. I'm kicking myself for tossing out a great sounding zenith receiver from he 70's. I'm gonna start looking into the models and brands you mentioned, which should keep me busy.

    I've considered a few turntables (akia, teac) thy have the USB out. I'm a bit skeptical of the overall quality vs feeding an interface/converter, and if possible I'm going to do hi sample rate captures for a little future proofing.

    I've got to check the specs on the RME. Still deciding if it's 'the one'. Funding is there right now thankfully.

    It's very interesting about the built in RIAA in the prism stuff. The Lyra is a contender still along w the antelope pure 2.

    Truthfully I'm a bit concerned that the prism is towards the end of its shelf life span.

    It sure is a nice all in one unit of high quality.

    I'd like to make sure this is all gonna play nice together even if I purchase in steps.

    Thanks fellas, some very useful suggestions. I think I'm gonna plan on keeping the turntable, since my Stanton rusted in my basement flood.

    Any thoughts on belt drive vs direct drive? The Stanton was entry level and direct drive.

    I'll likely sell the interface and line/pre amp, to put towards my atmos/surround rig, which requires more than stereo.

    Does anyone see any advantage to going w a hifi type pre amp for the turntable or a pro audio unit?
     
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    lol wouldn't be surprised if one of these demos were duped on one of the machines Dave linked, particularly the tascam.

    The machine available new (tascam cd-a580, and the marantz pmd-300cp) both have similar specs on the cassette end of things.

    Is there a reason to favor one over the other? Not sure if the tascam is priced higher becuase of the CD player or not. Either one is affordable. Didn't know if anyone had good or bad experiences with either in particular.

    Lol coulda taken my neighbors mint condition marantz tirnatable and Steroe months back had a i known. Oh well.
     
  8. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    The only other option I see would be something like these sound devices interface/recorder units. I heard one of the first gen all in ones that my buddy had and felt it sounded good. Seems like sound devices gets good uses on tv and movie sets. Which says something of the quality / reliability. I like that these just came out, so resale should be good for a while.

    Any thoughts or experiences w Soud Devices?

    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MixPre-6

    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/USBPre2
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I've owned 3 Prism systems. They are excellent stand alone units for pristine mobile acoustic work where you are capturing and not overdubbing. They make great mastering ADDA systems, are excellent for capturing vinyl but lack for multi tracking. They aren't intended to be like Antelope or most of RME to name a few, where those brands are targeting affordable mid level stuff to the populous.
    Prism is top level specific and not overly pretty.

    If you notice most of the top level converters are usually 8 or less channels. Maybe Bos can explain why that is? I suspect it has something to do with the power stability and clocking limits. Heat maybe? Just guessing.

    One last thing, I had a chat with one of the companies who make well known converters we mention a lot (I won't name them) who said to me a few years ago... People think we need better than 192k so we are going to do it but its a complete waste of money. But if it sells, who cares.

    There is also a reason Dan Lavry wrote an article about 96k that is worth reading. I wouldn't waste time on anything past 192k. I don't think we are remotely close to seeing anything past that, that will perform the way you want. Re Kurt's recent post on CPU etc.
    Also, good 44.1 sounds waaaaay better than cheap 192k. Remember that. (y)

    I also owned 2 DSD recorders (just to prove something to me) and although they tracked the audio precisely, they were only good for me. You can't upload 1bit and you can't crunch it either. Those are the most over rated (stupid) things in pro audio to buy. They are almost as stupid as the 10M clock lol.

    Anyway, not to keep pushing Prism or go off track here, back to you.
     
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  10. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    I always appreciate your perspective. Yeah you know me and the whole sample rate thing. I just think it's neat, not necessarily useful in a meaningful way, or worth paying premium for.

    It seems the actual chips, at least the akm ones that RME usually uses seem to have several models that do the 764. I'm wondering if that's almost just a by product of improving the design at real world sample rates.

    They also work at 32bit internally which I started a thread on, becuase numerous new products like the Sound Devices, and RME are advertising the 32bit depth. No idea if that's important... lol

    basically antelope is I think out cuz it's the same design as the Orion in the conversion section (analog stage too?) which is not mastering level.

    I know abbey road uses prism, and bos speaks well of them too, so your not alone chris.

    I like that theirs no dsp, built in. Although realtime performance and src would be handy tracking the eleven rack.

    Good point about DSD.

    Also I've definately also noticed 2-8ch being the norm at higher end conversion.

    I've got such few hours experience on good converters / interfaces, that I'm worried I'm gonna just love the first thing I try. Perhaps I should snag a couple, provided there's a return policy.

    Since features wise there's no one box that coverers all of them, or at least without unwanted extras (dsp mainly) Im thinking either subjective quality or resale might be the best determining factors. Of course how will I tell in a living room on a set of yammys.

    I wish I could ab prism vs RME adi. I want to believe that RME didn't necessarily design to. Price, but I always wonder about companies that have mid level stuff on the roster. Prism doesn't do that.
     
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    I've done my share of A/B/C and was lucky to not have to like a lot of stuff I have used over the years because it was supplied to me to build the hybrid rig I had. There has never been support of purchase BS from me. Now whether or not I have the best ears for things.. that's subjective >
    But the one main thing I've noticed between good, better, best ADC.... good 44.1 sounds waaaaay better than cheap 192k. (y)

    I would bet... a Lavry 44.1 capture would sound better to most main stream 192 and above ADC that needed to be crunched.
     
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    PS: I'm excited you are taking the HD lead with RO here! You have my blessings. I hope you discover stuff we don't know yet. I will be right at your side with all the support.
     
  13. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't doubt that.

    Sample rate isn't an indicator of quality on its own. According to the sos review the adi-2 pro had like 1db better tech spec on the AD side (I believe) than the lavry. Although it was behind merging technologies, benchmark, apogee symphony, and one other spec wise on the da side. By 1-6db. Just based on the bench tests, not listening.

    To be honest it's the dynamic range and signal to noise that appeal to me more than exotic sample rates. The adi-pro has high marks there.

    If I can't justify one or the other on features alone, I might just have to try both at once, assuming a good return policy.

    In all fairness, the gear sales companies can't realistically expect people to shell out 1k per adda channel, without listening to it. Or can they?? Hopefully they aren't following me here or my intentions will be known.

    The vast digital trim range, AD Filter options, and realtime performance lean me to RME. The reputation and classy appeal have me on prism.

    Awsome man! I tend to gravitate towards extremes by nature. HD is the future, whether we'll hear it or not is the question. One other advantage to high sample rates is lower vsti latency. That is a real world advantage to HD if nothing else is.

    I couldn't tell the diff between 44.1 and 192 w my m-Audio fw1814 years back, so I never did more than 44.1 generally. Perhaps it'll be more apparent 2-3 gen further on now, and w a higher end unit.

    This quest is an ode to my insatability. I love love love hearing my familiar stuff in a new light and system, especially a nice one. I find these tech advances not as much as an expense or hindrance, but another step towards great sounding audio again. Analog took about 80 years to get to that peak of fidelity, how long will digital move up? Could be hundreds of years with nano and quantum tech....

    I'm glad to have your support on this SR and fidelity ride @audiokid, I surely enjoy talking with everyone here. Cheers for now.
     
  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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  15. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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  16. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

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    There's one school of thought that it's easier to deal with clicks and pops before the RIAA curve is applied. There was a hardware processor that worked like that back in the day. I don't have personal experience with doing it like that, hardware or software.

    I picked up a used Tascam 302 for $42, so there are deals on good gear. At that price getting the rubber replaced would still make it a deal.

    One key factor with cassette is head alignment. It's not enough for it to be in spec. If the recording was made with any misalignment then you need to match it in playback, otherwise there's a high frequency loss that can't be properly recovered after the fact, along with a phase discrepancy between tracks. If NR was used, the HF loss is worsened.
     
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  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    I was always a fan of Nakamichi MR2B's..
    I used to have a rack of 12 that were synced by a remote back when I was doing low run cassette duping.
    They were built like tanks and always sounded great -But - boulder's comment about alignment are spot on. The tapes you are playing back are usually going to sound the best on the deck you originally recorded them on ... though that's not to say you couldn't re-align/bias another deck.
    Your biggest risk in buying one used is that it will have mechanical parts - motor, lifters, capstan, etc - and those components wear out over time.
    If you can find a used Nak in good working order it would probably be your best bet for stability and fidelity.
    I don't know anything about newer decks with USB interfacing, so you'd have to trust someone else on those.

    FWIW
     
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  18. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    12! wow.

    Same, I've used Naks since the 80's. I liked having the speed control on them , same for turntables. Back in the day, we never had the internet to get chords. Having something where you could tune the playback unit to our instruments was essential for me.
    Plus, vinyl and tapes can be all over the pitch range.
     
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  19. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    Lots of good links and perspective here fellas. Gotta chew on this for a bit, but I appreciate the info and direction. Defiantely is having a positive effect.


    Wicked good points. I still have the four track that made a couple of them. The other was duped at a local project studio from adat or maybe dat, probably on something like a tascam deck. It's great that you mention th alignment ect, maybe I can get in touch w the guy somehow and see what machine he was using at the time ('98). He did FOH for a gig my band played a few years back, so could still be around.

    Imagine if he still had he masters on dat!? *RO thread warning*

    Daves link introduced me to Nak and I started drooling immediately. Love what it is. I'm on the lookout now regardless of what I end up w for the transfers. Nak stuff seems cool. Luckily I still have the portastudio, and the 90's Awia stereo I used as a mixdown deck, so really it's a matter of figuring out what my bands demo was duped too or hopefully getting that master. Which I didn't think of till responding here.

    I also think I'm gonna scoop up that marantz from daves link. For 150 it's a good deal to have in a rack for fun.

    The hunt continues, gotta take some time to investigate more.

    I really appreciate the thoughts fellas! If you see any good deals on anything related to this thread, give me a heads up. I don't mind aquireing even a three or four cassette machines for fun and research and archive. Ditto for VHS. There's also a small niche market for cassette as a delivery format. Perhaps not as popular as vinyl, but, if you have a summing rig anyway, adding 'cassette' mastering or mixdown services could pay for itself in one or two billable hours.
     
  20. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Actually, we had 13. There was one in the control room for mix down or single copies for clients.
    The other 12 were located in another room for duplication use.
    I was offering short-run real time cassette duplication for a few years. I also had a cassette shell imprinting machine, that printed actual ink onto the shell of the tape, as opposed to labels. It was a perk for my clients that did very well for several years.
    The Nakamichi's were so solid, built so well, sounded so good, and could be chained together in sync so that when I hit "rec" on the Nak remote, all the decks would start at the exact same time, duplicating from either a cassette master, a 1/4" tape master, a DAT master, and in later years, from a CD or HDD master.

    I used to order pre-cut tapes from a supplier in Orchard Park in New York, (any type, metal, chrome, etc) and they would cut the cassettes to whatever length I ordered, so that there wasn't any wasted tape at the end of the cassette. I could get them custom cut to as little as 1 minute (per side) if I wanted. These short tapes were great for radio spots, message on hold, etc, so I wasn't having to buy a C-60 for a one minute spot.

    The Naks always sounded great, were super reliable and the most servicing I ever had to do was tape head re-lapping, or in some cases, replacement. We had a box of 12 spare head assemblies on hand so that no machine was ever down.
    Those decks got a LOT of use, and I don't ever recall any servicing being needed beyond head switch-outs.
    If you can find a Nakamichi MR2B in good condition, I don't think you'd be disappointed.
    ;)
    --D.
     
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