The Studer A-827 is a GREAT machine...
The transport is killer, the audio electronics well designed
and overall it's perhaps the best machine Studer ever built.
Note that Studer sold the last of their 'Gold Edition' A-827's
in December of 2007 - with warrenty!
In theory the A-827 will be supported by "Audiohouse" in Switzerland....
Studer does NOT support any Studer Tape Recorder in any way now !!!
But we don't know how 'deep' that support will be from 'Audiohouse"....
will they sell component parts or just complete boards (at a tremendously high cost)??
so order spare parts for your A-827 NOW before it's too late !!!!
I believe there will be parts available for years to come, but go ahead and
get a couple transport switches, remote switches and such,
just so you have them on hand.
jump here to Audiohouse for Studer parts
Here are some helpful tips I've found over the past years working on Studer A-827 machines...
VERY FEW A-827 machines may have a capstan motor WHICH MUST BE LUBRICATED FREQUENTLY
with a very special - and expensive - oil
Almost ALL A-827 machines have ball bearing capstan motors and these do NOT require any oiling at all .
But I have seen A-827's with Sintered capstan bearings.....
likely the original A-827 capstan motor was swapped out with
one from an older A-820... so you need to check !!!
On the bottom of the capstan motor should be a colored tag which will
tell you IF you need to oil the capstan sintered bearing
and WHICH oil you must use.... or if the capstan has the ball bearings.
Again almost all A-827's will have the standard ball-bearing capstan,
which does NOT require any lubrication !!!
But If you have the sintered bearing capstan - which does require oiling, write down which
oil you need in your manual and order the CORRECT oil from either of the two places listed below
First off, there are a number of EPROMs inside the machine, and these
can and will go bad - causing a complete machine failure.
Somehow, there was a flaw in the Studer 'self-test' programming, so if one
particular EPROM fails, the 'self-test' can go through it's entire cycle
and finish up telling you that the machine is in perfect condition - even
though you can't get the transport to do anything....
So if this happens to you, it's likely one of the EPROMs.
It could be other things as well, but the first step is to swap out
the EPROMs so replace all of them... if you're lucky that will solve the problem.
Personally, if I owned a A-827, I'd have someone (me !!) copy the EPROMs in my
machine and make a back-up set, and have them around just in case.
Buying a new set of EPROMs is costly, but depending on which version of
software you have (the programs are stored in the EPROMs)
you may want to buy a new set of latest EPROMs and just replace them now.
Note that a upgrade of your EPROMs is dependent on the software version
you currently have AND the hardware...
EPROMs are not interchangable between the two basic versions of the A-827.
make a copy of your machine's EPROM set as a back-up...
We can make a back-up EPROM set of your machine's EPROMs for you...
Cost depends on how many EPROMs you send in to be copied.
Note there is one special EPROM inside the Autolocator but it CANNOT be easily copied!!!
It's a TBP28S42N chip which no Reader/Programer unit seems to work with.
Any A-827 owner MUST have a back-up set of EPROMS unless you have
a second machine available for card swapping to troubleshoot problems.
You can buy a NEW set of the latest EPROM's for your machine from AudioHouse.ch (very costly !!)
Replace your RAM Back-Up Battery EVERY 5 - 8 YEARS
If the battery goes dead, you will lose ALL stored prameters....
all Audio alignments, all Transport alignments, and possibly get wierd
WARNING: when you replace your batteries
ALL previously stored alignment data will be lost so you will have to realign your machine... transport AND audio !!
You MUST write down all the various stored parameters - both
transport alignment AND audio alignment data....
BEFORE you replace your existing battery
then re-enter the same data back into the machine
once you've finished replacing the batteries.
Note that the original Factory settings
- from the Date your machine was built - 1988 to 1998
will be loaded into the machine from the EPROMs
until you re-align the audio and transport !!!!
Do NOT replace your battery
unless you understand the FULL ALIGNMENT PROCEDURE
- and can do a complete audio and transport alignment yourself,
or have written down ALL the stored values in the alignment 'tree'
and know how to re-enter this data back into your machine !!!!
Best is to hire a good tech to come in, replace the batteries,
align up the audio and transport for you - and make sure to have
him or her WRITE DOWN ALL THE SETTINGS for you to have in the future
Next I gotta tell you that I'm seeing a lot of A-827 and A-820 machines
with power supplies that are now malfunctioning. All the power
supplies in these machines are 'switching' power supplies, meaning they are EXTREEMLY
DIFFICULT to repair. I've had to repair 4 power supplies in the last 12 months,
and these are pretty dang new machines. Often the failures are due to the Owners
leaving the machines on for 24 hours a day.... causing the caps to go bad, transistors and FETs
to fail, the MOSFETs to blow up... and so on...
If you own a A-827 or a A-820
DO NOT LEAVE THEM 'ON' 24 hours a day !!!
Plus saddly the Power Transformers in the Studer A-827 and A-820 machines seem to be
under-built, since I've seen a large number of failures where a power transformer shorts out
and blows fuses. These cost about $ 1,600 or more each, plus shipping....
yet another reason NOT to leave the machine 'On' 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If you will not be using the machine for a while, turn her 'Off'.
Next you want to make sure that you do NOT set the wind or play tensions too high...
use the basic specs for tension given in the manual and have the tensions checked
once in a while. Tensions set too high can force the machine into oscillation in the wind modes
Make sure you WRITE down the tension settings in the manual!! Engineers WILL change
the tension settings and they will not mention it to you... I've seen this happen too many times.
Also I've been seeing a bunch of A-820's and A-827's that have a huge amount of dirt, dust and so on
under the tranport. You should be cleaning this out at least once a Month!
From time to time - say once a Month -
Turn the machine OFF, wait 30 seconds,
lift the transport up and remove the connectors one at a time,
spray clean the sockets and press the connectors firmly back into their sockets....
Using a can of compressed NON-STATIC air, blow out the dirt and dust
from the reel sensors and lifter sensors under the transport.
Then after all the connectors have been cleaned,
you MUST test ALL the audio and transport functions!!!
by the way I use "LPS-1 Greasless Lubricant" as my spray-cleaner of choice
Next you need to learn the 'feel' of the transport control buttons -
they have a tendency to go bad now and then, and you need to know when one is about to fail...
there should be a good solid 'click' to the button, and it should bounce back after being pressed.
Note that the A-827 is a micro-processor controlled machine....
it's basically a computer, actually it's 4 CPUs as I recall, and it's getting OLD...
it's a 10 to 20 year old computer now,
and chips do fail, EPROMs loose their memory, and strange things can start to happen.
Make a list of the various chips in the control system, and make sure that
you have a couple chips of each kind sitting around... some you may find hard to find,
but it's better to try and find them now, then when the machine's not working...
some chips will take hours of searching to find, but do it now!!
Studer does NOT service the A-827 machine at all.... a company called "Audiohouse" in Switzerland does.
from now on it's hit or miss, so start getting parts right away!!!
click here for Service Maintenance Status (in pdf form) Note that the cost of Studer heads is high - WAY too high for most studios
to afford to replace heads once they're gone....
so make sure that the tape lifters are pushing the tape away from the heads in wind modes!!
Remember that in the 'auto-mute' mode, you will NOT hear the repro system in the fast-wind modes....
meaning that if the lifters were allowing the tape to touch the heads, you would never hear it !!!
So physically check the lifters, or undo the 'auto-mute' and listen in the wind modes.
Order at least 1 replacement transport switch for the main deck
and the Remote NOW before Audiohouse runs out of them!!!
Finally I just ran into a machine that was shutting down the transport in the WIND modes randomly.
This turned out to happen ONLY when the studio was using tape with leader in it - whenever the leader passed the guides and rollers it threw the machine's
tensions out of tolerance and the machine would coast to a stop.
The only way to re-start the transport was to turn the unit Off and back On...
This fault was caused by over-sized and poorly cut leader tape.
So if you have this happen to you, just remove the leader tape
on the reel you're working with - or find better quality leader tape.
The ERROR message caused by this was wierd -
Something like "Locator Range Error"
which goes to show you how 'good' the error detection is in the A-827..
The estimated head life before re-lapping is required on most Studer
A-827's is about 7,500 - 8,500 hours.
Total head life depends on tape tension (more tension = more wear),
but normally ranges between 20,000 and 25,000 hours of head wear
But your actual Head life can be much shorter or longer -
depending on many various factors...
If the wear pattern looks good and there isn't a large 'flat' area
around the gap, hold off on relapping your heads....
By the way the Studer A-827 VU Meter lamps are VERY difficult to find.
the only one's I have found that work are the
6.3 volt T1.5 .2 amp Sub-Miniature Wedge Base called 'E86' ( #E86 European Width Miniature Incandescent Light Bulb )
Note that you will have to increase the Current rating of the 5.6 volt fuse
that feeds the Audio Circuits (3 of them) to 2.75 or 3.15 amps....
these are NOT the exact same lamps that Studer used, but they are the
only ones I can find.... they draw more current than the Originals
but seem to work just fine once the current rating of the fuses is
increased to accomidate the extra current draw from the lamps....
I install a resistor in each lamp strip to lower the voltage to the lamps some,
as they are brighter than the Studer Original lamps: .6 ohms to 1 ohm, 3 Watt resistors.
Alas you CANNOT mix and match Original Studer lamps and E86 lamps...
the E86 lamps are much brighter, and your VU Meters will look strange
if some VUs are bright and others dim.
So you should change ALL of the lamps over to the E86 ones (with dropping resistors)
and change the 5.6 volt fuses to 2.75 - 3.15 amp fuses.
Also make SURE to buy a box of buses for EVERY fuse that's in the Machine !!