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Studer A820 24-Track vs. A80/A827
Old 11th August 2015
  #1
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🎧 10 years
Studer A820 24-Track vs. A80/A827

I'm considering a Studer A827 24-track with Dolby SR. The price tag is pretty hefty, $12.5k, but the thing is practically new...only 1,000 hours and fantastic physical condition and it has the SR noise reduction system.

The reason why I'm considering this machine is that it's pretty reliable and the transport is excellent and it punches fast. I've used it before, but I don't have enough experience to know how it compares to other Studer machines.

My favorite records are from the early 80s, when most studios were using A80s still.

How does the A820 stack up against the A80 and A827, both sonically and functionally?
Old 11th August 2015
  #2
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
I have 2 80's 1 2 inch 16 and 1 1/2 2 track
Transports are very slow.
If you are working with artist that can't play or sing well it will be a pain to deal with.
The newer machines solved this issue as they got newer 827 being the fastest.
I record to the 16 til it's a punch issue or run out if tracks . Then dump to pt to edit.
I do all major tracks on the 2". Dump to pt Then use the API 2488 to get out of the box, then to the 1/2.

I'm after the sound of the tape machine not a quick transport
Old 11th August 2015
  #3
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Old 11th August 2015
  #4
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Old 11th August 2015 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1975api2488 ➑️
I have 2 80's 1 2 inch 16 and 1 1/2 2 track
Transports are very slow.
If you are working with artist that can't play or sing well it will be a pain to deal with.
The newer machines solved this issue as they got newer 827 being the fastest.
I record to the 16 til it's a punch issue or run out if tracks . Then dump to pt to edit.
I do all major tracks on the 2". Dump to pt Then use the API 2488 to get out of the box, then to the 1/2.

I'm after the sound of the tape machine not a quick transport
whoops, double bump. is there a big sonic difference between the 80 and the 827?
Old 11th August 2015
  #6
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
The 827 sounds better. The the only A80's that sound good (and really good) are the R/RC two tracks, completely different electronics. The VU's are over stuffed IC designs and have lots of phase shift, and sound dull and 'grey'.. not even like an upfront low slew, just audio with a haze over it and the bass is floppy. You may not care until you hear an 827 or A800 and thats the moment you realise what you were missing the whole time.
Get the A827, they sound good and are probably the most reliable machine on earth, I mean apart from audio alignments you may have to service it once in the next 10 years, and for a multitrack machine that is incredible. Thats a fair price if its in top shape, maybe a little steep I don't think it would be uinreasonable to make an offer after you've seen it, and for the that kind of money you should definately have a head report.
Old 11th August 2015
  #7
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I second this that PartHunter mentions. The 820 was the flagship 'bells n whitles' model' but the 827 is a class machine period and more were built as I'm lead to believe.

800's are the ROCK machines of the Studer family and have the great transport that was the basis for the 820/827.

If the talent can't play then you're farked cos no machine can save skill,passion and imagination on that front!

Do get a qualified tech to do the full checkout beforehand as it's a wise investment given the scarcity of both parts and knowledge and building up the relationship with one now will pay future dividends beyond belief.

Cheers
Wiggy
Old 11th August 2015
  #8
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I was always more into the 800 than the 80 and especially the 827..we had an 827 for a while..reliable but kinda boring sound by comparison.
12k is a pretty large investment.
My buddy got the Stampex 16 track rig from ATR services .
827 transport w/ ampex electronics..used it on Neil Young's new record this past year.
sounds great.
Old 11th August 2015
  #9
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From what I've heard, the 800 is basically impossible to maintain these days and the parts are unobtainable.

Is there a sonic difference between the 820/827?
Old 11th August 2015 | Show parent
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge ➑️
My buddy got the Stampex 16 track rig from ATR services .
827 transport w/ ampex electronics..used it on Neil Young's new record this past year.
sounds great.
You can order these "new"?
Old 11th August 2015 | Show parent
  #11
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RoundBadge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 ➑️
You can order these "new"?
Don't think so.I think Mike maybe assembled a couple machines before he passed.
its an awesome tape machine.
Old 11th August 2015
  #12
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you're serious about it.. This might be blashpemy, but buy an MTR 90 and spend the rest of the dosh on quality pre's/mics/eq etc that will make more of a difference.

Like em or hate em, the MTR 90 will work for a long long time, with parts being still relatively abundant and affordable by comparison. Ebay is flush with parts, theyre also well known by techs too.

As RB suggests, i have no doubt the ATR 16 tr would be an EARGASM of sorts.

Wiggy
Old 11th August 2015 | Show parent
  #13
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superburtm's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Agreed! I actually prefer my Mtr90 over the 827 anyways!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy Neve Slut ➑️
If you're serious about it.. This might be blashpemy, but buy an MTR 90 and spend the rest of the dosh on quality pre's/mics/eq etc that will make more of a difference.

Like em or hate em, the MTR 90 will work for a long long time, with parts being still relatively abundant and affordable by comparison. Ebay is flush with parts, theyre also well known by techs too.

As RB suggests, i have no doubt the ATR 16 tr would be an EARGASM of sorts.

Wiggy
Old 11th August 2015 | Show parent
  #14
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy Neve Slut ➑️
If you're serious about it.. This might be blashpemy, but buy an MTR 90 and spend the rest of the dosh on quality pre's/mics/eq etc that will make more of a difference.

Like em or hate em, the MTR 90 will work for a long long time, with parts being still relatively abundant and affordable by comparison. Ebay is flush with parts, theyre also well known by techs too.

As RB suggests, i have no doubt the ATR 16 tr would be an EARGASM of sorts.

Wiggy
I'm not opposed. How's the punch time on the MTRs?
Old 11th August 2015
  #15
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The few I've used were fine... not as fast as the JH 24 I was used to but lets find out exactly why you want a 24 tr and tape in the first place?

Have you used tape much before?

Are you electronically minded and care enough to do and or learn maintenance?

Is it for you or commercial purposes. This should be a big reason that drives your purchase. If commercial DO YOU HAVE CLIENTS THAT WILL PAY for tapes tock? Do not assume!!!!! If it's for you can you afford tape stock... I assume so.

Do you have a space for a 2"?? Can you get it in and out of the studio easily?

Just a few pertinent questions to ask before you go off with a massive woody in search of the dream machine.

Don't get me wrong but I've used/bought and or sold many machines over the years and as much as I love them, they should be owned by people that can afford/use and care for them. Kinda like those that have a lust for Jaguar E-Types.

Not to put a downer on the dream, but it's a nice chunk of cash you'll be outlaying if you've not thought it all through before. Just a word of advice as I've seen many before come to the shattering realisiation that there is more to the equation than simple ownership with a 2".

Cheers
Wiggy
Old 11th August 2015 | Show parent
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy Neve Slut ➑️
The few I've used were fine... not as fast as the JH 24 I was used to but lets find out exactly why you want a 24 tr and tape in the first place?

Have you used tape much before?
Yes. A fair amount.

Are you electronically minded and care enough to do and or learn maintenance?
Not electronically minded, but willing to learn basic maintenance.

Is it for you or commercial purposes. This should be a big reason that drives your purchase. If commercial DO YOU HAVE CLIENTS THAT WILL PAY for tapes tock? Do not assume!!!!! If it's for you can you afford tape stock... I assume so.
For personal use only.

Do you have a space for a 2"?? Can you get it in and out of the studio easily?
I have room.

Just a few pertinent questions to ask before you go off with a massive woody in search of the dream machine.

Don't get me wrong but I've used/bought and or sold many machines over the years and as much as I love them, they should be owned by people that can afford/use and care for them. Kinda like those that have a lust for Jaguar E-Types.

Not to put a downer on the dream, but it's a nice chunk of cash you'll be outlaying if you've not thought it all through before. Just a word of advice as I've seen many before come to the shattering realisiation that there is more to the equation than simple ownership with a 2".

Cheers
Wiggy
I need decently fast punch times for vocals. I like to comp.
Old 12th August 2015 | Show parent
  #17
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🎧 15 years
pice of cake. I run my mtr90 at 15ips IEC and punch acoustic guitars and drums ...vocals are easier. @ 30ips even easier
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 ➑️
I need decently fast punch times for vocals. I like to comp.
Old 12th August 2015 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superburtm ➑️
pice of cake. I run my mtr90 at 15ips IEC and punch acoustic guitars and drums ...vocals are easier. @ 30ips even easier
Good to know. Is the MK III the best revision?
Old 12th August 2015
  #19
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
I have owned 4 tape machines mci sounded good pos, break all the time stay away.
A mtr90 great machine never broke ,punched fast.
2 a80 they sound great to me and never break. Slow punches etc.
Why does one want a tape machine ?
For me , it's the 1970's sound not 1986
Punching really doesn't matter all that much to me. It can be done on older machines with good timing. But really it's the old sound I seek in a tape machine.
Old 12th August 2015 | Show parent
  #20
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1975api2488 ➑️
I have owned 4 tape machines mci sounded good pos, break all the time stay away.
A mtr90 great machine never broke ,punched fast.
2 a80 they sound great to me and never break. Slow punches etc.
Why does one want a tape machine ?
For me , it's the 1970's sound not 1986
Punching really doesn't matter all that much to me. It can be done on older machines with good timing. But really it's the old sound I seek in a tape machine.
so I take it you liked the sound of the studer a80 better than the MTR 90?
Old 12th August 2015
  #21
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
dude just buy the r2r cdsoundmaster for nebula3! they sampled a studer a820 if i'm not mistaken.
Old 12th August 2015 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Addict
 
Philip S Bova's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Does this Stampex machine use Ag440 electronics? I have an Ampex mm1000 16 track with those and although the transport is primitive, it's sonically fantastic. I could only imagine how great it would be with a Studer transport.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge ➑️
I was always more into the 800 than the 80 and especially the 827..we had an 827 for a while..reliable but kinda boring sound by comparison.
12k is a pretty large investment.
My buddy got the Stampex 16 track rig from ATR services .
827 transport w/ ampex electronics..used it on Neil Young's new record this past year.
sounds great.
Old 12th August 2015 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip S Bova ➑️
Does this Stampex machine use Ag440 electronics? I have an Ampex mm1000 16 track with those and although the transport is primitive, it's sonically fantastic. I could only imagine how great it would be with a Studer transport.
MM1200 I Believe.
Old 12th August 2015
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'd get the 827. I haven't tried them all but I did use an 827 for a project I did about two years ago and it does have the big tape mojo, especially at 15ips.

I had a bunch of seasoned pros playing that hadn't used tape in a long time and they were all stunned by how huge everything sounded compared to Pro Tools. But the real smiles were listening back to the drums at 15 ips! The difference over 30 ips was not small. We had to work a little harder to get all the noise out of the picture (no noise reduction) but pulled it off. The sound was glorious.

I still don't think it matched the power of my Scully 16 track, but I'm recalling that by memory from a long time ago. And my then 22 year old ears.

An 827 with 1000 hours is like new and they were 30 grand or more. And from what I've heard, and witnessed, it is the most solid and reliable 24 track ever built.

Try it with with a roll of this:
Attached Thumbnails
Studer A820 24-Track vs. A80/A827-sam_0472.jpg  

Last edited by Sounds Great; 12th August 2015 at 04:44 AM..
Old 12th August 2015 | Show parent
  #25
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great ➑️
I'd get the 827. I haven't tried them all but I did use an 827 for a project I did about two years ago and it does have the big tape mojo, especially at 15ips.

I had a bunch of seasoned pros playing that hadn't used tape in a long time and they were all stunned by how huge everything sounded compared to Pro Tools. But the real smiles were listening back to the drums at 15 ips! The difference over 30 ips was not small. We had to work a little harder to get all the noise out of the picture (no noise reduction) but pulled it off. The sound was glorious.

I still don't think it matched the power of my Scully 16 track, but I'm recalling that by memory from a long time ago. And my then 22 year old ears.

An 827 with 1000 hours is like new and they were 30 grand or more. And from what I've heard, and witnessed, it is the most solid and reliable 24 track ever built.

Try it with with a roll of this:
It's an A820, actually, not an 827
Old 12th August 2015
  #26
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MIKEHARRIS's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Was not the A820 the auto-aligning, Dolby cards built-in, all singing and dancing large studio heater that pulled tape ?
Old 12th August 2015 | Show parent
  #27
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MIKEHARRIS ➑️
Was not the A820 the auto-aligning, Dolby cards built-in, all singing and dancing large studio heater that pulled tape ?
Very much so... LEDS/PPM bar graphs instead of VU.

Think it stored 3 tape settings.

If your after another tape deck that can do the same and more look for a SONY APR 24.


Otari had the MTR 100 which was it's flag shi machine but i get the feeling that not many were made.

DO NOT get a MTR90 mk 1... as much as they sounds lightly better as they had transformers the transport had issues and was known to snap tension arms.

Not sure on the sonics side of things but they are cheap and do all that the 820 can do and more.

I'm sure if you search you can read all about it.
Old 12th August 2015 | Show parent
  #28
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andreaeffe's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 ➑️
It's an A820, actually, not an 827


Both the A827 and the A820 are great, I'd say legendary (in status, sound & quality) tape machines.

I did years of work on an A820, and sonically & in terms of operation/punch ins it was always flawless - so that is a non issue. Only spot erase was a bitch on that machine, compared to others.
If the one U're looking at has indeed such low hours, it might have a lonnnnng time to go, happily & merrily, before anything ever goes wrong - Studer was Swiss engineering at it's orgA(820)smic best.


However - it is true that particular machine generates a LOT of heat, especially with the SR cards installed - we used to open the drawers and extend them all the way out and have it running like that, as over superlong & intense sessions it sometimes (but not when it was spanking new) caused some of the electronics to go crazy - tape speed control issues.
Also, the particular rubber formulation that Studer used for that machine's pinch roller (against the capstan) is a scifi-alien-timebomb... amazingly, it will melt in a little Star Trek deep green pool of sticky mess, somewhere in time - I'm talking a lonnnng time, but still. And I get the feeling this is not dependent on how much use it gets, just a matter of time/air/rubber interaction & chemical reaction.
That too can be solved, of course, but parts are not easy to be found these days.

So it definitely IS a great purchase of a world class legendary piece of truly pro audio gear - but do make sure U can give it proper luv & attention, and, in time at least, maintenance.
For less money and R&R tank solidity, I second the suggestion of the Otari MTRs - luv those machines. And yes, the Studer sounds that little extra bit better, more refined & hifi.

All of the above in my opinion & experience.


Happy shopping,

A
F
Old 12th August 2015
  #29
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Sounds like too much money for an A820 to me.
Old 12th August 2015 | Show parent
  #30
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superburtm's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
either of those decks mentioned are gonna sound great. The Otari is seriously about as low fuss as it comes. SO unless you are an electrical engineer or have deep pockets or married to a tech I would recommend the Otari. I have a mark2 and also the optional sync card so I can lock it to Pro tools. Pretty rad machine and at 15ips IEC it has tons of vibe and will run forever.


Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 ➑️
so I take it you liked the sound of the studer a80 better than the MTR 90?
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