Arian Jansen, the force behind Sonorus Audio, holds more than twenty patents in power electronics and audio. He's led development and R&D at several global firms, with his inventions spanning everyday items like the iPhone wall charger to systems within the Microsoft Xbox.
We recently sat down with Arian to delve into his latest innovation, the ATR10 mkII tape deck—a distinctive deck, uniquely enriched with one of the most compelling feature sets on today's market.
Tracing back to 2008, Arian chose to pursue his true passion and launched Sonorus Audio, initially specializing in electrostatic speakers and amplifiers. As the modern reel-to-reel tape revival took form, he noticed companies, such as the Tape Project, introducing master tape copies. Recognizing an opportunity, Arian felt these high-quality tapes warranted a contemporary deck to enhance their playback value.
This vision birthed his latest offering, the ATR10 mkII. Arian describes it as a “no-compromises in audio” piece, engineered from the ground up. While the mkII incorporates certain elements from the Revox B77/PR99 series, specifically the diecast chassis, head block, heads, and motors, most components and all electronic designs are brand new. It's essential to note that the mkII isn't merely a rebuilt Revox. Arian aspired to craft a high-end, yet compact deck, drawing from the esteemed Studer machines but tailored for home use.
Want to learn more about R2R Decks? Read our Ultimate Guide To Reel To Reel Tape Players
The ATR10 mkII masterfully marries modern circuit design with classic analog to produce a playback performance with a minimum of electronic coloration. To ensure the deck remained true to original recordings, Arian integrated a novel amplifier control system. Four new old stock Philips manufactured ECC88 tubes, expected to last more than 10,000 hours, work in tandem with the DC Coupled Stabilized Loop Gain Technology. This blend results in dynamic bass impact, combined with enhanced mid-range clarity and the rich transparency typical of vacuum tube systems.
"The deck doesn't have a super-tubey sound, but the deck does have the ability to reproduce with a type of delicate nature the other decks do not have" says John Berg, owner of several decks including an ATR10 mkII, "there might be a tad more "air" and that is a really nice feature - it's lovely - but not obvious."
While this is a feature shared by many pro-decks, few approach it by the way Arian has. Arian’s goal was to exceed the tape regulation of the Studer A810. He used that as the reference to improve upon. To avoid using mechanical tape tension arms or tension gauges along the tape path, he opted to regulate the tape tension by measuring the speed of rotation of each spool to ensure consistency of tape over the heads is the same at the beginning of the tape as it is at the end. This ensures a consistently low wow & flutter over the entire tape. This also simplifies the deck's mechanics.
Arian's aim was a deck that not only sounded superior initially but maintained its quality sound a decade down the line. Using insights from his early career, he fashioned circuitry to perpetually gauge head wear and automatically compensate for it, ensuring consistent sound performance over time.
Decks with this design, even after 12 years, have shown to remain within 95% of their original spec—a testament to Arian's 30+ years of expertise in electronic circuitry simulations. As Arian remarks, “while simulations don't inherently enhance sound, they do bolster reliability and predictability.”
The mkII proudly features genuine, new old stock Studer heads. These are not new heads based on the Studer design, these are actual new Studer heads. Over time, Arian built up a stockpile of these, and as long as the stock lasts, every mkII sold will include a new, original Studer head.
Proper storage of prized tapes is facilitated by the library winding feature, which gently winds the tape under optimal tension. Motor-assisted braking results in very fast braking times and streamlines fast-forwarding and rewinding.
Users can bid farewell to concerns about perfectly matching hub adapters. The ATR10 mkII comes equipped with built-in ones, ensuring tape balance and centered positioning.
The ATR10 mkII incorporates a feature that in combination with SHI tapes halts the tape at the start of the music program after rewinding—an undoubtedly handy addition.
Sonorus offers a unique analog remastering service. Most existing stereo or multi-channel albums can be remastered to a master tape format in a fully analog process designed to unpack the sonics that are typically lost in the commercial record-making process. The result is expanded soundstage and increased dynamics typically found in live performance miking.
Learn more about the Sonorus Holographic Imaging service here.
ATR10 mkII customer John Berg said it best "...it's a complex playback machine with a simple design. The tape path is easy and it's really quiet mechanically. Most important is the sound quality- it's stunning. It's lush, but not overly bloomy. It's accurate, but not offensive. It's warm, but not colored. It's lively, but not aggressive. It's silky, but not frail or weak. I think, in many ways, it's the best "all-around" deck I own."
ATR10 mkII retail price: $32,500
Each ATR10 mkII carries a full one-year warranty, and a subsequent five-year limited warranty, all overseen in California, USA.
In the market for a R2R Player? Read our guide on The Best Websites To Buy New, Refurbished, & Used Decks
View our ATR10 mk II product page for detailed technical specs & dimensions.
This post delves into the topic of making enhancements to the actual recorded media on reel-to-reel tape. Numerous vinyl albums have been remastered, and indeed, several hundred tapes have undergone remastering from the master or near-master. These offer notable improvements in sound quality compared to the original recordings. Sonorus Audio offers a Holographic Imaging tape remastering service explored here.
Analog Audio Design's first product, the TP-1000 is wholly constructed from new components, utilizing technologies such as computer-aided design and advanced testing tools to augment tape transport and minimize distortion.
The all important heads are from AM Belgium, the same company that inherited the head technical specs directly from Studer / ReVox when they shut down.
The TP-1000 stands out as a three-motor machine using DC motors, all uniquely coupled by a belt and a flywheel to a modern design. Why? To reducing the cogging and flutter commonly associated with DC motors.
For decades, audiophiles have debated the merits of vinyl versus digital music. But another format has been reemerging in recent years: reel-to-reel magnetic tape. And why is reel-to-reel making a comeback? Because modern reel-to-reel audio recording produces superior sound quality.