Peter, you have to watch out for all those tape people. They're all crazy!
But they're crazy for a reason! When you hear tape done right, it's really like nothing else. There's a reason master tapes have been a reference for decades. Not the least of which is that LPs are made from master tapes (except for direct to disc LPs of course). I'm not a tape head because at this point in my life, I'm not enthusiastic about paying $400 and up for a good tape and then collect only a limited number that I would likely play with limited frequency. But when it's done right, it really has the potential to deliver music reproduction unlike anything else. I've been fortunate to first hear that magic years ago at Mike Kay's Lyric Hi-Fi with a master tape of Itzhak Perlman on some Infinity IRS speakers that left me drooling. This was followed by similarly wonderful tape sessions at Mike's, Steve's and Myles Astor's homes. When the stars line up for great tape playback, you know it immediately and comparisons to the best vinyl, as tempting as they are to make, are rendered moot.
Thank you Marty. I keep hearing and reading this exact thing which is why I remain very open minded. I did hear tape at Myles' house. It was excellent, but so was his vinyl. In all other cases, the tape must not have been "done right". I even visited some homes where the host never even offered to play his R2R for visitors. In the few cases where I did hear both vinyl and tape, I preferred the vinyl, and at Myles' place, I liked both.
I remember one instance where the owner had Altec VOTT, Kondo electronics, a couple of nice turntables, a top tubed DAC, and his tape. He played all three. He told my friend and me that the tape would blow us away. It just didn't happen. We both preferred his vinyl. In another case, I heard tape vs. the AF1. About the same. The next time I visited, we compared his AF1 to his new AS2000. The AS2000 was the best sound I heard from his system, regardless of arm/cartridge combination.
I guess my expectation, based on what people have been saying for years, is that the tape would blow me away. That has not been the case so far, but I have yet to hear a lot of tape installations. I also think I did read somewhere that some people may prefer direct to disk vinyl to tape in some instances. MikeL may have written that, but I can't remember. If he did, he would certainly have tape "done right".
My only point is that people hold up tape as clearly the best format for sonics. Digital folks seem to prefer digital to vinyl, and vinyl folks seem to prefer vinyl to digital, usually consistently. But tape folks espouse the superiority of tape to everything. The handful of times I've heard tape, I was not convinced. That's all. I hope to someday hear such a superior demonstration to understand what people are talking about.