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Not another Quad Newbie with questions

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SurfRinsed

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Sandiego
I’m sure you get these all the time so here mine goes...

Short History and Background - I thought 4 track reel to reel was quad up until recently. Yep, I’m one of those...you see I had just picked up a Sansui QRX 3500 and 4 track reel to reel...put the reel to reel on...saw all the levels working and music coming out of the back speakers...sounded mighty fine to me. So Ya, quick learning curve there when it was revealed I’m sorta a Dumas and wasn’t hearing “quad” sound.

My main intention by picking up the Sansui and Reel to Reel was coping my records on the reel for preservation... so you know, I don’t drop them so much. :)

So where am I now? ...I have a bunch of old thrift shop reels, a degausser is on the way, a Stanton 881s with an original D81s stylus, and excited to start doing some recording.

Another learning curve - I thought I had more “quad” records in my stash but alas...Epic “radial” sound and other Colombia “360” sound records are something different. I seem to have a bunch of those...so you see...I was ready to give up all hope and decided to put on Brahms in SQ. I thought it was a long shot thinking the Sansui only really did QS...oh, BTW...nice way to really mix up some of dyslexic inclined types with that labeling folks :)

On goes Brahms and Hallelujah...Brahms showed me the light. It sounded BITCHEN! I felt I was right in the middle of the orchestra with hearing different instruments from different speakers. Loved it. I was grinning. Not to mention it’s a SQ too. So that little Sansui, from my understanding one of the much lesser models, sounded fantastic. I get it now...it’s in me.

Learning curve number “Big One” ...Quad reels are EXPENSIVE. I’ve bid on a few but it looks like it may be sometime before I own real pre-recorded Quad Reel. I didn’t think that it was going to be an issue like that. Holy Moly.

Learning curve QS and SQ - I thought they were more accessible too...I seem to recollect seeing that label on lots of my records...nope.

Didn’t his guy say something about questions...Oh yes..

1) I noticed that I’m hearing some snap, crackle and pops primarly in the rear speakers on some records. Does that mean my much beloved Stanton 881s is worn down on the rear speaker stereohedron part of the tip. It still plays beautifully on my main regular systems. Is it’s time coming to an end and playing it in a quad system is the first red flag of its getting ready to give up the ghost?

2) Reel to Reel question - there’s no instruction manual anywhere including Vinyl Engine, etc...so this machine has a 2 track selector and a 4 track selector. So I’m assuming if I try and record in 2 track, it’s not going to record 2 tracks across the whole tape width. Just two of the four? Should I even deal with recording in 2 track then?

3) When recording in 4 track...with a QS or SQ record (I don’t ever plan to deal with CD-4 at this point), does the reel to reel machine get the material to record before or after the processing? So does it matter if it is in QS synth, hall?

4) What is the discrete setting? Can I record on that setting? I tried switching to it while playing a reel to reel track and it was giberish.

Thanks for your help...
 

LuvMyQuad

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1) I noticed that I’m hearing some snap, crackle and pops primarly in the rear speakers on some records. Does that mean my much beloved Stanton 881s is worn down on the rear speaker stereohedron part of the tip. It still plays beautifully on my main regular systems. Is it’s time coming to an end and playing it in a quad system is the first red flag of its getting ready to give up the ghost?

2) Reel to Reel question - there’s no instruction manual anywhere including Vinyl Engine, etc...so this machine has a 2 track selector and a 4 track selector. So I’m assuming if I try and record in 2 track, it’s not going to record 2 tracks across the whole tape width. Just two of the four? Should I even deal with recording in 2 track then?

3) When recording in 4 track...with a QS or SQ record (I don’t ever plan to deal with CD-4 at this point), does the reel to reel machine get the material to record before or after the processing? So does it matter if it is in QS synth, hall?

4) What is the discrete setting? Can I record on that setting? I tried switching to it while playing a reel to reel track and it was giberish.

Thanks for your help...
Since no one else has responded yet, I'll try to provide some answers... Other, more experienced folks will likely jump in with more detailed info.

1) Its probably not the cartridge. SQ and QS are matrix based systems where the rear channel information is encoded into a stereo signal on the LP. On playback the decoder uses balance and phase differences (as embedded into the stereo signal by the encoder) to separate the stereo signal into an approximation of the original 4 channels that fed the encoder to begin with. Its not a discrete decode, as there is always some front to rear bleed that occurs, the degree of which it highly influenced by the specific logic of the decoder used. What you are probably hearing is an artifact of the decoding process, The stylus tip has no "rear speaker part".

Indecently, there are many digital quad conversions "out there" that offer better fidelity and separation than what you are likely to achieve with your present equipment. By digitizing, it opens possibilities for judicious use of modern EQ and de-click software to render, what is for me, a better overall quad experience, Even many of the Q8 conversions can sound quite good.

2) I could be wrong here, but the deck either has separate 2 track and 4 track heads or a combo head that can facilitate both. I believe the full tape width is used whether playing stereo or quad. The wider track generally yields better audio performance. With some decks (4 track, Quad) there may even be a way to record two stereo programs in quad format, thereby doubling the effective tape length. Theoretically, taking the above idea one step further, you could also record your Quad LPs as stereo tracks and decode those on playback. The thing that may stop you is the receiver not switching in the proper decoder when a stereo line level signal (ie: not a phono source) is selected as an input. But it would certainly help out with your archiving goals.

3) Using the 4 channel monitor loop, the deck will get the signal after the processor. I believe if you record synthesized quad in 4 channel mode it will record 2 channels each of primary and synthesized signal. What comes out of the tape loop should mirror what come out of the decoder at the time of playback without any tonal, balance or loudness adjustments. But you could just as easily do this by synthesizing the stereo signal on playback.

4) You would use the discrete setting on the receiver if you were playing or recording a discrete source. So if you were to dub from a Q8 or Q4 reel to another Q4 reel, or when playing a back a Q4 or Q8. The decoder is switched out of the signal path completely when in discrete mode. Quad inputs are routed to quad outputs.
 
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SurfRinsed

Member
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Messages
15
Location
Sandiego
Stellar...Thanks for the reply and info.

I know this is opening a can of worms but I’m not familiar with the digital realm. Are you referring to copying my records to a computer with Audacity (I’ve never used before) and then burning them to a dvd? Or getting a Universal Blue-ray/SACD player like an Oppo, or Both?

If the Oppo is the case, then the Oppo would still go into the Sansui aux? Or at that point it doesn’t matter, any modern A/V system will provide the separation to the speakers from the disk/Oppo style player.

I just realized how green I am.
 

SurfRinsed

Member
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Aug 3, 2019
Messages
15
Location
Sandiego
:) I recognize you... I have two quad reels from you on the way. Concrete Brunette and Gerry From Scottland. They will be my first quad reels. Looking forward to them.
 

par4ken

500 Club - QQ All-Star
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Messages
581
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NW Ontario
Although 4-track could be Quad, it simply means that the tape carries four tracks, usually Stereo {two in one direction and two in the other). Quad decks play all four tracks in one direction. On a two track machine the tape carries only two 1/2 tracks rather than four 1/4 tracks. I have several reel decks most are Quad. Back in the day I used to archive and also make mixed tapes from my records, but today why not just use the computer? If your source are SQ and QS records you just need a decent sound card. I believe that most modern equipment can handle stereo at 96KHz and 24 bit. If you want to record discreet Quad you'll need a card with at least four inputs. I was using the Delta 44 and Delta 66 cards until recently, I now have a Digigram VX882HR 8 Channel Card, which does 192Khz 24bit. When you copy your records you can burn them to DVD or CD, but what's wrong with simply playing them from your computer? It's a good idea to back them up to another harddrive as well. And yes connect your player or computer outputs to the Aux amplifiers inputs.
 

SurfRinsed

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Aug 3, 2019
Messages
15
Location
Sandiego
I really like the soundcard idea too in conjunction with the reel and even the “compact cassette.” I still have a car with a tape deck and it sounds great.

I’m one of those who thinks a cd sounds a bit lifeless, whether it be I prefer more background noise, or my registers in the nogging are just wired that way.
 

SurfRinsed

Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Messages
15
Location
Sandiego
Well this segue is going to be tabled for a bit.

My reel to reel bit the dust.

Just bad luck.

I know its not your fault, but one of plastic reels had a hard time going on and then it was impossible to get it off. Had to fast forward to an empty reel then break the plastic reel to get it off. Clear plastic one that only had a SCI around the hub and made in the USA. The tri pin openings that secures the reel was just too of an exact fit. I had plastic reel pieces flying. The reel axel is a bit tweaked now from me pulling. The rewind motor is now also gone.

I shoulda just took it in for service once I got it. I'm sure it was already on it's last leg anyway. Got it at Goodwill for $150 so no big woop. The tech's in town are really good, just backlogged for 6 weeks plus. It's a Toshiba PT -884. They'll give me a headups if its worth it, ...I think it should be, it sounded great the for the first handful of reels I played on it.

Record players are easy after this.

BTW one last question till I return a few months from now....

How come Side B always seems ready to run first? Is it a customerary thing once you get a tape to have your machine rewind it first? Still trying to get my head wrapped around that one.
 

Tim Casey

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Apr 26, 2019
Messages
17
Location
Boston
How come Side B always seems ready to run first? Is it a customerary thing once you get a tape to have your machine rewind it first? Still trying to get my head wrapped around that one.
It's best to store reel-to-reel tapes "tails out", which means when you're done listening to the tape, let it run out and then put it back into storage without rewinding. That way the tension is constant throughout the reel and the edges of the tape aren't sticking out all over the place, where they can be damaged - that's what the reel looks like after you've rewinded it.

So the best thing to do for longevity is to pull the "tails out" tape from your library, pop it on the deck, rewind it, play it through, and then put it back.

I learned this the hard way, decades ago, when I used to use tape.
 

par4ken

500 Club - QQ All-Star
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Messages
581
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NW Ontario
It's best to store reel-to-reel tapes "tails out", which means when you're done listening to the tape, let it run out and then put it back into storage without rewinding. That way the tension is constant throughout the reel and the edges of the tape aren't sticking out all over the place, where they can be damaged - that's what the reel looks like after you've rewinded it.

So the best thing to do for longevity is to pull the "tails out" tape from your library, pop it on the deck, rewind it, play it through, and then put it back.

I learned this the hard way, decades ago, when I used to use tape.
Yes Quad tapes should be stored tails out, rewind before playing. This would not apply to stereo tapes, you play side A then flip it over and play the other two tracks on side B that are recorded in the other direction. Plastic reels can cause problems, I had one that I had a hard time getting on and off, others warped and had to be replaced. Metal reels are the best but after looking for some myself I found that sellers wanted ridiculous prices for them.
 

SurfRinsed

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I haven't decided to take my reel to reel in just yet. The Fast Forward still works so I decided to make sure everything is tails out (Thanks for the clarification and reasoning behind it) and just use fast forward, and listen to some of these new tapes.

So another plastic reel was tight going on and I thought, Oh No, and halted all progress trying to get it to sit deep enough. Gentle pulled it off and then busted out the drill bits. My thoughts was to ream it out just like new records in which the spindle whole is too small with the paper still not reamed out completely.

The drill bit to use is a 5/16 th's. I just did it by hand a few times, blew off the tiny bits of plastic that came off with it, then presto, Good as Gold.

BTW, MLRocker - your tapes are great and especially dig the cut out art in and outside the boxes...cool stuff, plus and added track or two. Very Happy Customer.
 

SurfRinsed

Member
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Messages
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Location
Sandiego
Another question, how often do you use Isopropyl Alcohol on the mechanisms with Qtips?

I have been using dry qtips before each reel, not sure on when or if I should use the Isopropyl.
 

par4ken

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When you see brown coloured oxide on the heads or guides you may need the isopropyl and Qtip to clean it off.
 

audiomaster

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Jul 14, 2019
Messages
13
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SC
Another question, how often do you use Isopropyl Alcohol on the mechanisms with Qtips?

I have been using dry qtips before each reel, not sure on when or if I should use the Isopropyl.
You should use a q tip moistened with alcohol as pure as you can find before every listening session. Scrub the heads gently up and down to get any dirt out of the gap. Also clean all the tape guides and pinch roller till you are not getting any dirt on the q tip.

You also need to get a head demagnetizer to remove the residual magnetism from the heads and guides that can gradually build up and erase your tapes over time. Be sure you use it as directed as, if not, you can make the problem worse, rather than better! In the studio, we did this every day but for home, maybe every ten hours or so.

You should also get an alignment tape for your machine that has test tones to check that it is playing back properly.

I was a professional recording engineer for 30 years and that's the way the pros do it!
 

proufo

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
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You should use a q tip moistened with alcohol as pure as you can find before every listening session.
I am very paranoid about water and tape heads. I suggest you use ethanol and not isopropyl. I do not trust commercial isopropyl alcohol has no water at all, no matter what the vendor says.

Pure ethanol was easy to find and inexpensive in Venezuela at the time (I have a few small bottles from long ago, that will last the rest of my lifetime), but it could be expensive at places such as Amazon.

I recently switched to anhydrous isopropyl for CD cleaning. It is a waste to use ethanol for that. Very inexpensive at Amazon.

An alignment tape can be very expensive. I suggest you pick your favorite tape and align the heads for it (by ear); all others will fall where they may. The coolest option would be to use Allmans at Fillmore East, but that's just me.
 
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Circular Vibes

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Proufo, could I ask why you are paranoid of water near the heads? I have used 99% isopropyl acohol all my life without known issues. I have never used pure water or lower percentage isopropyl as it has other additives.
 

proufo

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Proufo, could I ask why you are paranoid of water near the heads? I have used 99% isopropyl acohol all my life without known issues. I have never used pure water or lower percentage isopropyl as it has other additives.
:unsure::unsure::unsure:

"Paranoid" doesn't follow reason!

In my saner moments I understand that there is no way that water in 99% isopropyl would get into the gap and the windings of a recording head and stay long enough before evaporating to cause damage. But once the horrible image of that gets into your mind, pure ethanol is the only way forward.

They're coming to take me away. See you later.
 

Circular Vibes

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Thanks Proufo. I have seen heads on 1950's vintage reel to reel machines that had open gaps and could corrode easily and now that I think about it, I can see why you distrust water near heads. I do think newer heads are much better made than the old ones I had on Webcor reel players.
 

SurfRinsed

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Sandiego
Good insights!

I’ve been using “PureTonics, Technical Grade” 99.9 percent pure anhydrous alcohol that I picked up at Fry’s Electronics. I have a stash of q-tips right next to the reel.

Instead of taking the reel to reel in. I decided to open up the machine on my own and see what makes it tick. The Toshiba is all mechanical in the mechanisms. I did use some cork from a wine bottle to re-shoe the breaks, and cleaned and lubed everything.

It worked great but was still having problems with the rewind function. After being perplex for awhile I figured it out. It had nothing to do with the rubber capstain like gears connected to the motor to make it rewind. It was the hubs themselves. The hubs are actually two hubs sandwiched together with a fibrous washer in between. The left one lost it orignal properties that gave it any grip, it was soft and fluffy like felt and thus the one part of the hub spun from the motor and the outerhub that connects with the reel would barely spin. Not enough friction. I assumed the washer part is no longer in existence so I coated the outside of the washers with a thin coat of Shoe Goo. :) The Goo did the trick, friction once again. Put it back together and the rewind worked great.

Big problem though, the main capstain now was eating tape. Actually spitting it out. I must have loosed the wrong screw trying to figure out the rewind problem. I guess I hit the screw that makes the fine adjustments for just the right amount of pressure on the capstan. I gave up at that point. I was done at that point.

So I upgraded.

I picked up a Sansui 4 channel reel to reel and a Sansui QRX 8001. Oh my! These two sound so good. The Sansui reel to reel sounds 100 times better than the Toshiba did and the QRX 8001 made my jaw drop after listening to a few records.

I finally picked up four discrete quad studio recording that were way under those crazy prices I see on the auction site for them. Mostly just older Boston Pop stuff but still sounds amazing. I’ve also picked up enough used Maxell reels that should hold me over for a bit. Even bought a bulk eraser :)

I have a demagnetizer wand but a little scared to use that. I need to do more research before I plug that in. And I need to make sure to use it only on the play head and not the erase or recoding head. (Do I have that right?) also not sure about the metal on the tape guides and do I demag any metal tape reels? I sure I need to get the actual tape off them before doing that.

I’m a fan for life.

I still haven’t even looked at the digital side to all of this. I want to get a good handle on the analog side first.

Thanks for your help.
 
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