space echo hell

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joninc
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space echo hell

Post by joninc » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:01 pm

hey all - i have a 201 which was running great up until a few months back where somehow the tape inside got all garbled up. tried to repair it and cut the bad part out. no dice. too stretched and glitchy.

fast foward - ordered some new tape from mytapeecho.com and tried to replace the bad one today. this new one sounds glitchy (like bad oscillation on the repeats? almost like a ring mod) and when the splice passes over the first head i hear a whip like sound.... tried a second tape and has the same issue.

is my tape bad or does this sound like a problem with the space echo?

i am not a long time owner (a year and a half) but the unit i got had just been serviced my roland and was seemingly working well. and yes i cleaned the heads. they were totally clean, no gunk.

help!
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Post by The Scum » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:18 pm

Since the tape has changed, it's a likely culprit.

Can you find an old 8-track cartridge, and make a test loop out of it? Preferably the ruddy-brown type tape, rather than the gray type.

The splice might not pass the heads smoothly, but it will hopefully sound OK.

If recycled 8-track sounds garbly, it could be problems in the electronics. Ringmod kinda sounds gives me a gut-level feeling that the bias oscillator isn't happy...but that's my gut, not brain.

Does the rindmoddiness change with tape speed?
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Post by joninc » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:22 pm

thanks for the reply. i'll see if i can find some other tape to try.

i should mention - the echoes are loud and strong - just very warbly sounding. not smooth and clear.
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:59 pm

The Scum wrote:SNIP
Preferably the ruddy-brown type tape, rather than the gray type.
ruddy-brown = acetate backed tape.
gray tape = newer polyfilm of some sort.
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Gregg Juke
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Post by Gregg Juke » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:12 pm

I am not a Space Echo owner myself (still hoping to be someday), but I assume the heads need alignment/azimuth/yadda yadda like any tape machine? And you're saying that was already done? Was it set-up for a particular type of tape?

GJ

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Post by Darlington Pair » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:36 am

1. Did you clean the heads? If the old binder deteriorated and got all over the heads it could be causing issues for you now.

2. What's the humidity like where you are? Some tape REALLY hates humidity, when I lived in Florida and my beloved tape stockpile went bad, my other guitar player and we broke down and bought that Robert L stuff, got it, put it in, and then spent the next couple of hours cleaning our machines and putting the old tape back in until I could find suitable tape to splice and use.

3. Has the lubricant in your pinch roller dried up? When I worked in audio repair, I was the tape echo guy, you wouldn't believe how many echoes I fixed by cleaning out the old grease, cleaning the rubber with soap and water, and reinstalling with fresh lubricant, (these days I'm fond of Remington gun oil)

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Post by joninc » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:36 pm

yep, cleaned the heads.

also ordered different tape from 201loop - we'll see how it goes.

my pinch roller seems to spin fine - it was dirty, i cleaned it. i think this new tape is crap - my old tape, although a bit garbled in spots, sounds much better overall.
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Post by joninc » Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:56 pm

also - this newer tape was much greyer than the distinct brown/black of my previous tape (from roland i believe)
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Post by Gregg Juke » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:12 pm

Did you throw out the old tape? Could you bulk-erase it, re-splice it, and try it again?

GJ

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Post by joninc » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:21 pm

the old tape is back in the machine until a new one arrives but it's pretty bent up so bulk erase isn't gonna fix that :(
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Post by The Scum » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:50 pm

I thought I'd hit the motherlode when I found some NOS blank 8-tracks at a local thrift shop.

So I opened one up, spliced up a new loop, and loaded it. Results were similar to what you describe. The repeats were garbled.

I reloaded the original loop, and it was much better.

These 8-tracks had the greyish tape inside. My original loop was the rusty brown tape.

So I grabbed a couple of old, prerecorded 8 tacks tapes, and tried again. I made sure to get tapes with "normal" brown colored tape inside.

They were fine.

I assume that the color difference isn't the binder, but of the iron oxide, also perhaps corresponding to normal & low bias formulations.

A couple things learned in the process:
-If you're unloading and reloading a bunch of loops in a row, the backtension pad will probably get bent out of shape, and need some adjustment afterwards.
-If you're just experimenting with a new tape formulation, make a loop just long enough to go through the transport. A short loop is much easier than a long one to keep tidy as you work, thus easier to load. You can make a longer loop when you're confident in the performance of the tape.
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Post by Gregg Juke » Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:46 pm

If that's the case, and you can't find any cheap 8-tracks, let me know. One record shop I'm in fairly frequently has a handful in there, and I'm sure some "brown tape" 8-tracks in the bunch.

I'd donate my KC "Starless & Bible Black" 8-track (which I'm unlikely to ever listen to again on that format!), but I'm just not ready to part with it. Too soon, y'know? :wink:

GJ

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Post by Darlington Pair » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:05 am

Did you try re-biasing for the new tape? I forgot about that one, I've have several different tape formulations that work well in my machine all requiring different bias points. There is a pot marked Bias on the motor board, I've stopped using the service manual on mine for that and just do it by ear.

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Post by joninc » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:36 pm

how do you re-bias the EP3?
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Post by Darlington Pair » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:52 pm

joninc wrote:how do you re-bias the EP3?
A quick look at the schematic says there is a 220k pot connected to the bias trap and erase head. It's been six years since I've been inside an ep3, but just like a space echo they're pretty forgiving on the adjustment and can be done by ear. If you wanna do it right, you need a signal generator and scope.

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