There’s a review at Wired written by Rene Chun titled “Review: J-Corder – Sub Title: Tale of the Tape.” You can read it by clicking here. I’m not a regular reader of Wired magazine these days but I have enjoyed many of their articles in the past. However, I’m not sure what to make of this review. It’s full of the usual audiophile “high-end” nonsense and goes on to rave about a re-tweaked prosumer analog reel to reel deck called a J-Corder.
If you’ve followed this site for any length of time you know that analog tape recorders can do a wonderful job of capturing sound and has been used as the master format for thousands of classic albums. I own a couple of professional analog reel to reel machines and acknowledge that they are able to produce “great recorded sound”. But I disagree with AVShowroom’s Myles Astor when he says, “It’s a pride of ownership thing. R2Rs are expensive, need to be regularly maintained, and there’s not that many of them around. It’s like buying a Ferrari. Once you have one, you’re part of an exclusive club.”
A R2R machine is more like a Ford Mustang or Chevy Camero, great muscle cars that can impress the ladies and can leave with tires squealing but they aren’t in the same class as a Ferrari or Maserati. And they’re not high-resolution capable, period.
The cost of owning and operating a R2R machine can be quite expensive…and I assume that’s part of the appeal. A top of the line United Home Audio UHA Phase 12 will set you back $24,000…and this for a prosumer deck with custom paint and tricked out electronics. A Sonurus ATR10, another high cost deck claims, “Acoustic 3-D and Holographic Imaging Technology.” LOL These are not professional machines and despite an endorsement from none other than mastering guru Steve Hoffman, you won’t find these decks in professional studios or mastering facilities.
The gentleman behind the J-Corder is named Jeff Jacobs. And I can agree with him on at least one thing. According to the Wired article, “Jeff Jacobs doesn’t believe in buying $450 master tape dubs from The Tape Project or other online sources. Instead, Jacobs makes his own tapes, recorded straight from a ‘crappy’ ’90s Panasonic DVD player, patched into the J-Corder with $5 Radio Shack cables. He claims these digital-to-analog recordings sound just as good as the pure analog master dubs that some audiophiles splurge on.” They probably do.
Wow! Imagine a strong advocate for analog tapes coming out and saying that a dub from a standard-resolution PCM digital format (a compact disc) sounds better than a second or third generation analog dub. But he’s right! If he were to use a high-resolution, 96 kHz/24-bit PCM source and a great analog to digital converter to copy music to analog tape, he’d get even better results. But the snob appeal of analog to analog dubs over better quality sound is just too strong.
Jeff attitude and design approach is based on the ability of new tapes and his tweaked electronics to record at what we used to call elevated level. Why bother recording at 0 VU when you can push the deck and tape to well over 9 dB…hotter signals equal less noise and more punch.
To be continued…