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 Post subject: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:02 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 4:58 pm
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Location: Vancouver Island, BC, CA
I have always wanted a decent reel to reel tape machine. I think they are incredibly cool. In the 70s my older brother's friend had one and it was amazing how it worked and looked. I do not know the model but I believe it was manufactured by Teac.

Does anyone still use these things and are they still relevant in today's hobby? I was thinking of buying a used r2r but have no idea where to start - where to buy, best makes and models, fmv, etc...

I would love to hear your thoughts.


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:34 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 12:29 pm
Posts: 664
Location: SW, ON, CA
Hi Audioroom,

There is a long answer and a short answer to your question...the short answer is yes, and it seems to be growing. Audiophiles always seem to be looking for the best sound they can achieve in a reproduced medium. I have spent my share of time and cash with vinyl as I thought this was the epitome of sound. Until I discovered analogue tape! Be forewarned...it is a pretty deep rabbit hole if you go all in. If you think the machines are sexy and want one with spinning reels in your set up, you can get in pretty cheap. Do you want to record your own music to tape to be replayed or do you want to purchase pre-recorded music on tape. I doubt there is any 1/4 track music being produced today, so you need to buy 1/2 track material. It is generally very high quality sound and fairly expensive. I think the last tape I purchased used was around $500.00...for one album. The sound is phenomenal though. Better than vinyl in my opinion (and I have a decent vinyl setup).

There aren't any new R2R decks being manufactured currently. Used decks are fairly common but they are electromechanical devices. There are few parts available for the majority of machines. Something that has been in someones basement or garage for years will be a nightmare. A lot of 1/2 decks available in Canada came out of a CBC studio when they went digital. These are high-milers so to speak, but generally have been well maintained. I would advise you to find a good tech with experience repairing R2R decks...he/she will become your friend. Visit a site like http://www.tapeheads.net and read some of the forums before you make the leap. You can learn by spending money or by reading...I spent money. My first deck was an Akai 1/4 track...then I learned about 1/2 track, so I picked up a couple of Revox PR99's. I now own an additional 2 Revox machines (that the wife says need to go). The last machine I purchased was manufactured in 1966. The newest machine I have was made in 1976. There were some decks manufactured into the eighties before they lost their market share to other formats. These machines are all more than thirty years old and will need service. Generally the replacement of electrolytic capacitors that age poorly. Plan on spending 250-500 refurbishing a deck if it doesn't need any major parts. Learn what a worn out playback head looks like...and price your purchase accordingly.
Media will be the big stretch...visit the [url]tapeproject.com[/url] for some idea of whats available. Avoid the scammers on ePay. Tape is like virginity...everyone is selling a copy of a master or a radio station master or 'safety tape'. There is a business selling tapes that are beyond first, second, or third generation copies of a copy...or they are copies of a SACD. Proceed carefully on this front. If you can find someone with a direct copy of a master on a good system, buy them a bottle of their fav and invite yourself over so you know what tape is capable of....and then you will be hooked. A tape project collection went up for sale recently and it was 30 or so volumes and the asking was about 13K USD. Not a bad price as most are out of print now. 1/4 track collections come up for sale on occasion, but I've never seen much rock or folk music...mostly easy listening like Mel Torme or Lawrence Welk...it is source material, but probably not what you are looking for. There are some experienced tapeheads on this forum. Check out the others and get comfortable with the genre before diving in. The rabbit hole goes deeper....look up Doshi Tapehead preamp...
PM me if you have specific questions or would like to chat further.

cheers,

Paul

_________________
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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:41 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 10:24 pm
Posts: 886
Location: pincourt, QC, CA
Reel to Reel decks have been gaining popularity over the last few years as have cassette decks. I know this statement will draw some ire but if you are set on using tape, then a Reel to Reel deck is the way to go if you're looking for the best sound quality. I owned many Reel to Reel and Cassette decks from 1971 to 1983 and R2R vs. Cassette was no contest. There are numerous excellent Reel to Reel decks out there i.e.. Sony, Akai, Pioneer, Otari, Technics, Revox, and my vote for the best Tandberg.


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:40 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 4:58 pm
Posts: 279
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, CA
My main use for a reel to reel would be recording and playing back my vinyl albums. Also, I would like to try purchasing recorded tapes and playing these on a reel to reel. Do most of these tapes come in 4-track or 2-track? I know there are not many sources for these but half the fun is searching.

Based on this I am unsure what specs I should be looking for. There are many choices such as 2 or 4 channel, 2 track, 4 track, 7.5 IPS or 15 IPS etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:51 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:47 pm
Posts: 1220
Location: Oakville, ON, CA
pollypocket wrote:
Hi Audioroom,

There is a long answer and a short answer to your question...the short answer is yes, and it seems to be growing. Audiophiles always seem to be looking for the best sound they can achieve in a reproduced medium. I have spent my share of time and cash with vinyl as I thought this was the epitome of sound. Until I discovered analogue tape! Be forewarned...it is a pretty deep rabbit hole if you go all in. If you think the machines are sexy and want one with spinning reels in your set up, you can get in pretty cheap. Do you want to record your own music to tape to be replayed or do you want to purchase pre-recorded music on tape. I doubt there is any 1/4 track music being produced today, so you need to buy 1/2 track material. It is generally very high quality sound and fairly expensive. I think the last tape I purchased used was around $500.00...for one album. The sound is phenomenal though. Better than vinyl in my opinion (and I have a decent vinyl setup).

There aren't any new R2R decks being manufactured currently. Used decks are fairly common but they are electromechanical devices. There are few parts available for the majority of machines. Something that has been in someones basement or garage for years will be a nightmare. A lot of 1/2 decks available in Canada came out of a CBC studio when they went digital. These are high-milers so to speak, but generally have been well maintained. I would advise you to find a good tech with experience repairing R2R decks...he/she will become your friend. Visit a site like http://www.tapeheads.net and read some of the forums before you make the leap. You can learn by spending money or by reading...I spent money. My first deck was an Akai 1/4 track...then I learned about 1/2 track, so I picked up a couple of Revox PR99's. I now own an additional 2 Revox machines (that the wife says need to go). The last machine I purchased was manufactured in 1966. The newest machine I have was made in 1976. There were some decks manufactured into the eighties before they lost their market share to other formats. These machines are all more than thirty years old and will need service. Generally the replacement of electrolytic capacitors that age poorly. Plan on spending 250-500 refurbishing a deck if it doesn't need any major parts. Learn what a worn out playback head looks like...and price your purchase accordingly.
Media will be the big stretch...visit the [url]tapeproject.com[/url] for some idea of whats available. Avoid the scammers on ePay. Tape is like virginity...everyone is selling a copy of a master or a radio station master or 'safety tape'. There is a business selling tapes that are beyond first, second, or third generation copies of a copy...or they are copies of a SACD. Proceed carefully on this front. If you can find someone with a direct copy of a master on a good system, buy them a bottle of their fav and invite yourself over so you know what tape is capable of....and then you will be hooked. A tape project collection went up for sale recently and it was 30 or so volumes and the asking was about 13K USD. Not a bad price as most are out of print now. 1/4 track collections come up for sale on occasion, but I've never seen much rock or folk music...mostly easy listening like Mel Torme or Lawrence Welk...it is source material, but probably not what you are looking for. There are some experienced tapeheads on this forum. Check out the others and get comfortable with the genre before diving in. The rabbit hole goes deeper....look up Doshi Tapehead preamp...
PM me if you have specific questions or would like to chat further.

cheers,

Paul


Super informative post! I will never whine about the inconvenience of vinyl ever again.


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:32 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:50 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Sherwood Park, AB, CA
Hello ; yes they are making a comeback. I recently brought my teac x20 r back to life with the help of Curt at reeltoreeltech.com . I will be taking him my Akai for service as well. He works out of Surrey BC and his phone is 604 514 1751 . He has about 35 years experience with sound equipment , extremely knowledgeable , has access to all sorts as well as restores reel to reels all the time . He was fair & his prices for his work were awesome. Go visit his website as he has about 800 + followers. Contact me if questions. Regards Ken


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 4:58 pm
Posts: 279
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, CA
ken1956 wrote:
Hello ; yes they are making a comeback. I recently brought my teac x20 r back to life with the help of Curt at reeltoreeltech.com . I will be taking him my Akai for service as well. He works out of Surrey BC and his phone is 604 514 1751 . He has about 35 years experience with sound equipment , extremely knowledgeable , has access to all sorts as well as restores reel to reels all the time . He was fair & his prices for his work were awesome. Go visit his website as he has about 800 + followers. Contact me if questions. Regards Ken

Thanks Ken. I have been in contact with Curt and he recommended an Akai GX635 which I am considering. He also has a Pioneer RT-909 which looks very nice. I need to do some research but both of them look like great players. Plus, he is only a ferry ride away from me.


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:33 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 12:29 pm
Posts: 664
Location: SW, ON, CA
audioroom wrote:
ken1956 wrote:
Hello ; yes they are making a comeback. I recently brought my teac x20 r back to life with the help of Curt at reeltoreeltech.com . I will be taking him my Akai for service as well. He works out of Surrey BC and his phone is 604 514 1751 . He has about 35 years experience with sound equipment , extremely knowledgeable , has access to all sorts as well as restores reel to reels all the time . He was fair & his prices for his work were awesome. Go visit his website as he has about 800 + followers. Contact me if questions. Regards Ken

Thanks Ken. I have been in contact with Curt and he recommended an Akai GX635 which I am considering. He also has a Pioneer RT-909 which looks very nice. I need to do some research but both of them look like great players. Plus, he is only a ferry ride away from me.


Both the Akai and the Pioneer you mention are 1/4 track machines. If you are recording for yourself, they should work fine. If you plan to get into Tape Project level music, you will need a 1/2 track. Some decks (Technics, Otari) can play both 1/2 and 1/4 track tape. Here is an informative article called 'Buying a Tape Machine, An 11 Point Checklist' https://sonicscoop.com/2013/08/05/buying-a-tape-machine-an-11-point-checklist-from-midnight-bob-shuster/?fb_action_ids=10201458808009618&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B706271146066187%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22og.li

Further, here is a list of sources for 1/2 track tape https://www.audionirvana.org/forum/music/music-on-15-ips-reel-to-reel-tape-aa

Good luck with your search.

cheers,

Paul

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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:18 am
Posts: 4399
Location: Surrey , BC, CA
there are a couple of new deck on the marked, like Revox and Ballfinger...
but do a search and read more...https://www.theverge.com/2015/10/5/9409 ... udio-trend


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:18 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:01 pm
Posts: 978
Location: Calgary, AB, CA
pollypocket wrote:
Hi Audioroom,

There is a long answer and a short answer to your question...the short answer is yes, and it seems to be growing. Audiophiles always seem to be looking for the best sound they can achieve in a reproduced medium. I have spent my share of time and cash with vinyl as I thought this was the epitome of sound. Until I discovered analogue tape! Be forewarned...it is a pretty deep rabbit hole if you go all in. If you think the machines are sexy and want one with spinning reels in your set up, you can get in pretty cheap. Do you want to record your own music to tape to be replayed or do you want to purchase pre-recorded music on tape. I doubt there is any 1/4 track music being produced today, so you need to buy 1/2 track material. It is generally very high quality sound and fairly expensive. I think the last tape I purchased used was around $500.00...for one album. The sound is phenomenal though. Better than vinyl in my opinion (and I have a decent vinyl setup).

There aren't any new R2R decks being manufactured currently. Used decks are fairly common but they are electromechanical devices. There are few parts available for the majority of machines. Something that has been in someones basement or garage for years will be a nightmare. A lot of 1/2 decks available in Canada came out of a CBC studio when they went digital. These are high-milers so to speak, but generally have been well maintained. I would advise you to find a good tech with experience repairing R2R decks...he/she will become your friend. Visit a site like http://www.tapeheads.net and read some of the forums before you make the leap. You can learn by spending money or by reading...I spent money. My first deck was an Akai 1/4 track...then I learned about 1/2 track, so I picked up a couple of Revox PR99's. I now own an additional 2 Revox machines (that the wife says need to go). The last machine I purchased was manufactured in 1966. The newest machine I have was made in 1976. There were some decks manufactured into the eighties before they lost their market share to other formats. These machines are all more than thirty years old and will need service. Generally the replacement of electrolytic capacitors that age poorly. Plan on spending 250-500 refurbishing a deck if it doesn't need any major parts. Learn what a worn out playback head looks like...and price your purchase accordingly.
Media will be the big stretch...visit the [url]tapeproject.com[/url] for some idea of whats available. Avoid the scammers on ePay. Tape is like virginity...everyone is selling a copy of a master or a radio station master or 'safety tape'. There is a business selling tapes that are beyond first, second, or third generation copies of a copy...or they are copies of a SACD. Proceed carefully on this front. If you can find someone with a direct copy of a master on a good system, buy them a bottle of their fav and invite yourself over so you know what tape is capable of....and then you will be hooked. A tape project collection went up for sale recently and it was 30 or so volumes and the asking was about 13K USD. Not a bad price as most are out of print now. 1/4 track collections come up for sale on occasion, but I've never seen much rock or folk music...mostly easy listening like Mel Torme or Lawrence Welk...it is source material, but probably not what you are looking for. There are some experienced tapeheads on this forum. Check out the others and get comfortable with the genre before diving in. The rabbit hole goes deeper....look up Doshi Tapehead preamp...
PM me if you have specific questions or would like to chat further.

cheers,

Paul


Yes there is http://1001hifi.blogspot.ca/2016/05/the-new-2017-revox.html Image.
Agreed that some of the used pro RTR comes from CBC, however, they're not well maintained as most people think. Cosmetically they looked brand new, but don't let that fooled you because underneath it all it will need recapping and heads relapping. In my case, I don't buy the pre-recorded tapes as most of them don't sound good even if they're 2-track 7 IPS recording speed tapes. As you've mentioned of which I also fully agree the best ones are from Tape Projects of which it comes with 2-Track 15 IPS recording speed, however it also comes with a steep price.


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:20 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 8:18 am
Posts: 289
Location: Etobicoke, ON, CA
I'm glad someone mentioned the "steep price." Typically recordings cost $250.00 usd and up for two track, third generation masters at 15 IPS. These are for the very affluent audiophile with $200K plus rigs.

These recording are about as close to actual event as you will ever get and eclipse all digital and most vinyl.

J.


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:55 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:04 am
Posts: 24
Location: Mississauga, ON, CA
Go for it!
As an owner of over 1500 pre-recorded reel tapes, (a little over 200 2 tracks) you will find in the majority of cases that the tape version has the higher quality when it comes to playback over LPs. The 4 track pre-recorded tapes were not equalized with the RIAA curve that was used to manufacture records, so there is no bass summing on tapes to reduce low bass output that afflicts phono cartridges. Tapes such as Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" and The Beatles "Abbey Road" have incredible bass. Tape playback is not afflicted by the issues of cartridge/ tonearm issues like tracking error. You will get the benefits of superior sound on your current system. No need to spend $200K. Unless you can or want to. ;-)
The web site of reeltoreeltech.com has a lot of good info on the site. I would suggest that you upgrade the input and output jacks with premium jacks because the majority of the factory installed female jacks are cheaply made having poor sound quality. You will get the best sound from an external tape preamplifier that bypasses the internal electronics for playback. There is no need to get a state of the art Doshi unit as there are much less expensive options available such as a tube based Bottlehead kit. Your tech should be able to install a tape pre-amp to allow for recording.
The best advice from the earlier posts is to do your homework and research the machines. The best place to start would be to make a list of your needs not those who think the only way to proceed is to get the most expensive gear or to get a dedicated two track deck. Once you have your priorities in place it will make finding the right tape deck easier.


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:03 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:25 am
Posts: 169
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
I currently have a 2-track, 15IPS Tandberg TD 20A SE for doing my own recording and playing back those expensive 2-track 15IPS super tapes and it sounds very good.

But I've been thinking of picking up a 4-track 7 1/2 IPS deck strictly for playing back pre-recorded tapes if I start collecting them. Since this is exclusively 7" reels, I can stick to models that don't play 10.5" reels. I was thinking the Akai GX-77 or Pioneer RT-707 as they are plentiful and better priced. Not sure what sort of downgrade in sound quality to expect though over the better machines.

Any suggestions?


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:33 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:18 am
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Location: Surrey , BC, CA
or you can have the switchable decks (2 and 4 track replay heads) like Technics and Teac 2000......


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 Post subject: Re: Reel to Reel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:58 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 4:18 pm
Posts: 2470
Location: GTA, ON, CA
I too also contemplated adding a R2R deck, but after considering the following, I decided to abandon my quest.

1) Initial outlay for a top end R2R deck
2) Having a qualified R2R technician go through a restoration/upgrade
3) The cost of per-recorded tapes
4) Limited artist
5) Do I really want to duplicate my music library with a 3rd medium i.e. CD, vinyl and now tape
6) Inconvenience and space required
7) Is the R2R expenditure better used to upgrade other components?

I do admit, I love the sound of a R2R deck and nothing looks cooler!


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