Mara MCI Hi-Fi / Transport

J!m

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#1
Attention high rollers:

Chris Mara is restoring MCI (1/4") two-track machines. (MCI JH110)

$14,000 including reproduce head
$12,500 without reproduce head

$10,000 playback only machine
7.5, 15 and 30 IPS; NAB and IEC

Optional 1/2" headstack and roller guides available

Look like absolute tanks.
 

Elite-ist

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#2
Wow! Perhaps, Bob B. can share his near-purchase experience with such a beast. And knock off a couple of zeroes in that asking price when Bob was interested in it.

Nando.
 

Bob Boyer

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#3
Actually they can be had for quite a bit less if you're willing to eschew the walnut panels and Acoustic Sounds pricing.

Here's the quarter-inch two track for $5000: https://vintageking.com/mara-machines-mci-jh110c-1-4-two-track

And the half-inch two-track for $7250: https://vintageking.com/mara-machines-mci-jh110-1-2-two-track

Chris Mara is a great guy, a talented recording engineer, equipment restoration guy, and most of all, a savvy entrepreneur. I've attended one of his "tape camp" weekends and enjoyed it immensely while learning a lot. He knows his stuff. His most famous build is a 2-inch, 8 track MCI for Pete Townsend, using a set of John French's "Ultimate Analog" 2-inch, 8 channel heads. You can read about those, here: https://www.jrfmagnetics.com/ John lived in Nashville for quite a long time before moving to New Jersey.

As Nando alludes, my own coulda-shoulda-woulda MCI moment came when he alerted me to a quarter-inch stereo MCI that the good folks at Innovative Audio took in. This was what, eight or ten years ago or so before prices for pro gear had gone crazy? Anyway, IIRC, Gordon wasn't quite sure what to do with this beast, I was in the middle of trying to prove to UTC that a joint music technology/oral history academic program with a recording studio was viable, and Nando alerted me to what I seem to remember as a $100-ish price (correct me if I'm wrong here, Nando) for this deck. And it was, as usual for the gang at IA, in pristine shape. I didn't have a truck at the time and couldn't muster the funds to get a friend with a truck to drive out to BC with me and drag this thing back home. I continue to regret that decision almost as much as the one to sell my Counterpoint SA-5000 preamp and SA-220 power amp.
 

Elite-ist

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#4
Yup, $100. That deck was sold, worked on, then resold.

Nando.
 

J!m

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#5
Wait- you sold an SA-5000 and an SA-220?!?!

I love my 220's. No intent to EVER sell them. I had a much lower line premp- SA-3 maybe? though I am happy with the Perreaux preamp I have now, it does not have the SA-5000 phono stage...
 

Bob Boyer

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#6
Wait- you sold an SA-5000 and an SA-220?!?!

I love my 220's. No intent to EVER sell them. I had a much lower line premp- SA-3 maybe? though I am happy with the Perreaux preamp I have now, it does not have the SA-5000 phono stage...
The SA-5000 was amazing, but expensive to maintain, Jim. At least for me. I like things really quiet and I don't know why but I could hear the phono section tubes getting noisier than I liked about every 18 months or so. Buying AAA grade 6922s or 6DJ8s from Mike Elliott every 18 months started adding up and about that time the photo bidness was crashing and I needed to make the house payments. Sold the 220 and the 5000 to some guy in upstate NY. The 220 never made it - UPS wrecked it so bad they couldn't even deny the claim. Mike managed to salvage a transformer out of it after UPS sent it to him. I refunded the money to the purchaser and took the 220 money and did the level II upgrades with Mike. Kept it another year or so and sold it. Just wasn't the same driving a Parasound HCA-750.

Took the money, made a house payment and bought the Exposure 2010S I currently have. I love the Exposure - lots of PRaT and great build - but I'd love to have those two pieces back. <moment of silence, please>
 

J!m

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#8
I was a Sovtek dealer when I was making guitars so I got the same tubes Mike did, for quite a bit less.

I think I have an email from Mike going into tube rolling in the 220. He preferred the Russian tubes in there (stock). When I got my second amp I re-tubes them both. That was 2009 or so and I haven’t changed them since. They have sat in the basement for the last four years anyway.
 

Bob Boyer

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#9
Yeah, I'd always put the newest tubes in the phono circuit and move the old phone tubes over to the line level circuit. They were fine there; I guess it's just the added amplification needed for a phono cartridge (a Talisman low-output MC at the time) that caused me to notice things. I can't really explain it but I could hear it.
 

J!m

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#11
JESUS Bob! That was the last hurrah for Mike and counterpoint. The “natural progression”

About the only thing I’d consider as replacement for my amps would be a pair of those.
 

J!m

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#13
Well, I "survived" a few decades with only one SA-220. You don't realize you "need" it until you try it.

I'm probably using (or, WAS using, when it was up and running) about 1/10 of the average available power, but the overall sound quality took a giant leap forward. everything was just better- more "correct" sounding. A ludicrous amount of head room makes such a difference in the presentation of even quiet passages. I think if you could hear it, you'd agree. Even with a CD.
 

Bob Boyer

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#15
Agreed. Could tell the difference with the lack of the Parasound HCA-1000 (as wimpy as that is compared to the NPS-400) driving my LSA-1's bottom end. And the Exposure has a big-ass transformer in it...

I'd love to have that Counterpoint combo back, even in this 12 x 14 room I'm in.
 
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