otacon14112 wrote: ⤴
Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:54 am
I'm not familiar with open-reel. And now, having just googled it, the geek in me is intrigued. Apparently, according to stereo nerds in the search results, R2R owns vinyl in sound quality. One question, though: if the original source is vinyl, how would R2R sound better?
R2R doesn't sound better than the original source, but it does a good job of capturing the sound of vinyl, and doesn't degrade as fast as vinyl does. So, I would record to R2R on first play, then just listen to the tape. If I ever wore the tape out, I'd still have the once-played vinyl and could record it to R2R, or cassette, or now I suppose I would record it to the computer. I still have an R2R deck, and about a hundred albums on tape. Commercially recorded R2R tapes are (were) inferior to my own R2R recordings of vinyl, mostly because they didn't care much what it sounded like. They just wanted product to sell. The same is true for the most part of commercially recorded cassette tapes. They didn't care much what it sounded like, they just wanted to have something to sell. A typical home cassette deck was capable of making much better quality recordings than the typical commercially recorded cassette tape.
When CDs first came out, they sounded grainy to me, like somebody had broke the music up into small chunks and just gave you the chunks. Which is, in fact, exactly the situation. I used to own an electronics repair shop, and somebody brought in a R2R deck for repair. They didn't bring any tapes in with it, so I had to go through the boxes and dig out some of my R2R tapes to test it. (Vinyl recorded to R2R on first playing.) At that point, I was listening mostly to CDs, and when I played one of those tapes, I was struck by how smooth it sounded. Not the grainy, cut up into chunks sound of CDs. And my employees were also surprised how good it sounded. These days, everything has been digitized, and for the most part, we've all gotten used to that digital sound. I am even able to tolerate MP3s now, just because I hear them so much. A few decades ago, a tavern I used to hang out in got music piped in from satellite in some early digital format. I found that I got irritable after listening to it for a while. It took some time to figure out what it was that was bothering me, but I finally concluded it was the digitized music. It just didn't sound right, and it annoyed me. A half hour or so was all I could stand.
Some years ago (late 80s, early 90s, maybe), my brother and I were playing music at a party, and a friend brought his DAT (Digital Audio Tape) deck and a pair of microphones to record us. He also brought a pair of headphones, and several people listened through the headphones while we were being recorded. One woman commented that it sounded even better through the headphones than it sounded direct. Well, no, it didn't. It sounded like it had been picked up by a couple of microphones and ran through a few stages of audio amplification. Which is, of course, what most people are hearing when they listen to music: music that has been electronically processed/recorded/reproduced/whatever. It sounded "better" to her because electronically processed music was what she was used to hearing. But to me, it didn't sound right because I was used to the sound of my acoustic guitar straight to my ears with no electronics in between, and also listening to others playing unamplified.
I have about 600 cassette tapes, some commercially recorded, some live recordings, some dubs of vinyl. The live recordings and the vinyl dubs are invariably better quality than the commercially recorded cassettes. TDK used to be one of the largest manufacturers of cassette tapes. When CDs came out, and everybody was raving about how good they sounded, TDK used to record CDs to their best quality cassette tapes and take them to the music/audio equipment shows where all the "golden ears" could be found. They would simultaneously play the CD and the cassette copy of the CD, and people could listen on headphones and switch back and forth between the CD and the cassette copy. Even in a room full of "golden ears" there were very few people who could tell which was which. I guess one of the advantages of CDs is its harder to screw them up and produce recordings of considerably less quality than the best possible recording.