The Beatles German LP, a resurrected NAD tape deck, analogue verse digital

Discussion in 'Music' started by Nelson Au, Aug 8, 2010.

  1. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Okay, sort of a hodge podge title for a topic. Bear with me.


    I have a 20 year old NAD cassette tape deck. It's the NAD 6100 Monitor Series. My first real "higher end" tape deck that I got along with the NAD Monitor series receiver 7400 and 5100 CD player back in 1990.


    I still use the receiver and CD player today in my home office. Still sounds great! I mostly send audio from the iPod and DVD player through it. But the tape deck I had not used for a very long time, at least 5 years, probably more. I had placed a tape in there about a year ago and it got stuck, the play head would not fully retract and the tape was stuck. I finally managed to free it this morning and it seems to be okay now!


    The tape in the deck was a recording I made of the German LP release of The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour back in the day. I decided to let it play after I got the deck reconnected and going again for fun. The capstan and pinch roller assembly would not retract quickly, it took several seconds to clear the cassette, I thought the spring was tired. Over time, it seems to have freed itself now after I played the tape for about 10 minutes. So it seems the tape deck could be okay. I'll have to see about cleaning the heads and demagnetizing it if necessary. Not sure what else to do to it. Still looks new though! And fun to watch the LED VU meters bouncing!


    Here's where the interesting part is, while playing that tape, i thought it sounded pretty good! The tape is a TDK SA-90 High Bias with no Dolby enabled during the recording as far as I can tell. I thought the recording sounded very rich with a brightness and fullness I had not expected. So I played the MP3 I had ripped from the original Magical Mystery Tour CD back before the new remasters came out. Of course the recording has pops and hiss. But it did sound a tad fuller then the MP3. The MP3 was ripped at 192. Not the highest, I plan to re-rip at a higher level. And I am suspecting that the dynamic range of the LP is higher then the CD from which the rip came from.


    Though after lunch I played the tape again and it seems to lost all the highend in Penny Lane. The tape is probably 20 years old. The play heads may need cleaning and demagnetizing. I'm playing another part of the tape that I only played once earlier today and it does sound rich and full with the high end still there! I hope the tape maybe was just out of alignment with the head. After rewinding the tape it does sound better, the highend is back! (Rewinding tape, how crude!)


    So it reminded me of the old days in 1988 or so when my boss was looking into a CD player. He wasn't convinced it would have the rich full sound of LP's. My test today wasn't fair. I compared a 20 year old tape of an LP recording to a MP3! I always listen to CD's for critical listening on my HT set-up, but being my home office, I don't care as much.


    Also, this recording of Magical Mystery Tour is the German LP release. At the time, I understood it was the best sounding LP available of it. The end of Penny Lane sounds a tad different. Some warbling that then sounds like a sonar sound effect you hear often in early James Bond films. That's why I played it so many times. I'm hearing other subtle things I haven't heard in a while. I blame that on a possible loss of dynamic range on the CD verses the LP.


    I played both the American CD from the 1980's and the new mono Magical Mystery Tour from last year. Both don't have this sonar sound. I can only attribute it to the tape possibly varying in speed during playback or the LP playback wasn't good at the time I recorded it. I don't have a turntable anymore so I can't compare now. I can hear some slight drops and flutter in the tape.


    So I wonder if the source for the German LP is any different for the newer or older CD's. The tape of this LP does sound good! Baby You're a Rich Man is so bassy!


    I'm embarrassed to say I have still not opened the remastered black box of The Beatles set of the same issue time as the Mono box.


    But it was an interesting thing to accidentally remind myself of the early days of CD's and my old record collection that I recorded on tape. I'm sure there are those who still prefer LP's. They do have a warmth. I've not listened to an SACD yet, but I'd like to get a player!


    Hope it's not bad of me to post this here, I know it sort of applies to the Receivers/Separates/Amps section. I figure The Beatles guys here might get a chuckle. I just might have to open that remastered set for a listen.


    Edit: I just had a memory flash and I think this tape is older then 20 years! Closer to 1985. That would mean it was made on a basic Sony tape deck with a Sony linear turntable. Regardless, it does still sound pretty darn rich!
     

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