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"tuning" a Space Echo

Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:56 am
by drawtippy
So my RE-201 has been to two repair shops and has had $300 bucks worth of "repairs" etc. by pretty qualified guys. Motor working fine, everything cleaned, de-maged and new tape. After several hours of playing at home, I'm just not getting what I want out of it. I know there is a lot of wow, flutter and organic noise with these and I get that HOWEVER, the repeats on mine seem to drift out of tune that it's not really musical.

I'm running a "delicate" XOXbox pattern into it, hoping to get some layered harmonies and trippy atmospheres but it keeps drifting. Any thoughts? My rubber pinch roller is even pretty good. It just seems like it could use a 1/2 turn of screwdriver somewhere. Sometimes it gets better if I turn it off and back on again but I shouldn't have to do that. Thanks for your help!

Re: "tuning" a Space Echo

Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:51 pm
by silikon
drawtippy wrote:the repeats on mine seem to drift out of tune that it's not really musical
If it's not the dry sound that's out of tune, then I would almost suspect the motor having an abnormal amount of rotational speed variance to cause it to drift far out of tune. Could be the motor itself, and if it's repetitious enough it could be something causing the speed to slow down substantially due to a change in friction somewhere along the tape path (or somewhere else that is impeding the free movement of the motor...

Run a 440hz sine through the thing for a few minutes with a tuner on the output of the SE, with varying degrees of effect and see what happens. if it's random, perhaps a voltage fluctuation, motor issue, something else -- if it's repetitive within a reasonable range then perhaps the drive path or tape path is impeded by something rotational
that would only cause the drift at certain intervals...

Re: "tuning" a Space Echo

Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:42 am
by Stab Frenzy
That's what space echoes do, if you want something to keep from drifting then look for a Timefactor or El Capistan where you can dial in exactly the amount of tapeyness you want.

Also if I were you I'd take it back to the dudes who serviced it to have them do any tweaks to it rather than asking random people on the internet what to do. :idea:

Re: "tuning" a Space Echo

Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:49 pm
by snod_donkey
Many of these old tape machine will give that sort of problem. Maybe you could post a sound clip to see how bad it is

To get a good idea record a 1 k test tone through it and see how much it drifts out. Also make sure the tape tension spring with the felt pad is ok as the tape may be getting a bit slack as it leaves the tape case to go over the heads

Do you know what tape you are using as i found various brands were worse than others. I ended up using BASF LGR-50 as it was much better sounding than some of the other loops and good for head wear too

Re: "tuning" a Space Echo

Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:47 pm
by cgren72
Stab Frenzy wrote: Also if I were you I'd take it back to the dudes who serviced it to have them do any tweaks to it rather than asking random people on the internet what to do. :idea:
Grump

Re: "tuning" a Space Echo

Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:29 pm
by madtheory
It's been 10 years since I used one, but I am very strict about tuning. The one we had did not drift so much it was out of tune, although there was some wow and flutter. It did if you put the wrong type of tape in it though! What type of tape is in it now? It needs to be lubricated low bias tape- i.e. not cut off a reel (Ampex 456 or WHY). The best source is actually 8 track cartridges. Ask your dudes what they put in...

Re: "tuning" a Space Echo

Posted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:45 pm
by drawtippy
Thanks for all the responses. I'm guessing the machine is in the zone, so I'll just have to decide if I want to keep it.

About the tape: the first place blamed the tape I had in there so they made a new one. However they made it out of mastering tape which is too brittle for the Space Echo. According to the second guy this place should have known better!

The second guy made his own tape too but this was more like what should be used and he explained/showed me the differences.

BTW, if any New Yorkers want the names of these places PM me. I don't want to bad mouth any place (except maybe Armen's)

Re: "tuning" a Space Echo

Posted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:06 pm
by Don T
drawtippy wrote:Thanks for all the responses. I'm guessing the machine is in the zone, so I'll just have to decide if I want to keep it.

About the tape: the first place blamed the tape I had in there so they made a new one. However they made it out of mastering tape which is too brittle for the Space Echo. According to the second guy this place should have known better!

The second guy made his own tape too but this was more like what should be used and he explained/showed me the differences.

BTW, if any New Yorkers want the names of these places PM me. I don't want to bad mouth any place (except maybe Armen's)
I'm wondering if any of those places bothered to clean/treat the belt (assuming it was still good) and the pinch roller with Rubber Renue. Residue from the tape builds up on the surface of the pinch roller after a few years, which can make the thing do all kinds of crazy (mostly undesirable) stuff. Plus, the rubber itself will harden a bit with age, compounding the problem. Rubber Renue will clean it, and then after the gunk is gone, apply more and let it soak in. The surface will become pliable again. If there are any visible cracks in the pinch roller, try to find a new one.

In the motor circuit, there is a thermistor (TH 201) to provide thermal compensation for Q39, which is directly controlled by the repeat rate knob. There is also a 5.6V zener diode in this circuit. Any of those three components that are getting old and tired could be allowing the pitch to drift as it gets warmer. Might be worth checking out.

Don T