A New Reel to Reel Tape Deck?

They mean Studer is back? Or is it Nagra?

I wouldn't do anything until MQA is widely available.

It may be the "Holy Grail" we've been waiting for.

I'd rather go forward than backward. Just sayin'.


That's what I was thinking.  I sent the link to our audio friend 'thuchan' hoping he would be able to find out or maybe has heard something.  He regularly attends the Munich high end show.

Studer is in the best position for this I think.  As part of of Harman International, they are fully backed finically, and have extensive manufacturing sources of their own.  A 'new' Studer or ReVox would be incredible!  I would be in line for one for sure.

It would likewise be amazing if NAGRA built a new machine, though I am thinking it would probably be way more expensive then something from ReVox.

The linked article is more than 18 months old and claims that the un-named Swiss company will begin producing decks "next year." It looks like that isn't going to happen.
I am WAY too lazy to thread tape and wait for tape to rewind, but, I have heard The Tape Project copies and other high quality dubs and the sound is quite superior to vinyl and any digital sources I have heard--open and detailed sounding while managing to sound relaxed, smooth and natural.  

The United Home Audio people who recondition reel to reel machines and equip them with superior parts also like to dub their records on to tape.  I have been to their showroom and heard a comparison of the record being played to the tape made using the same record playing gear.  I can see why they like the sound of the tape copy of their records (actually smoother and less edgy), but in some respects I liked the records more (slightly better dynamics).

The BIG problem is the lack of decent pre-recorded tapes being available.  The stuff you can buy from e-bay varies greatly in quality and the really good duplicates, made by the likes of The Tape Project are extremely limited in number and in the size of the catalog.  I doubt that there will be much of a resurgence of reel tape.
You just need to hear one tape project tape and all will make sense.  It's not going backwards, it's going towards the master...the holy grail.  Digital or analogue does not matter as much as generations removed from the master.  
cleeds -

Yes I see that.  But you and I know that product launches are often delayed.  Being a Stereophile related link (Analog Planet), I figured there must be some credibility to the source.  Still waiting, and wondering if anyone else had heard of anything.
It does seem possible though, and Reel to Reel is now being used quite regularly at CES for some of the finest systems.


There is actually quite a bit now being offered.  United Home Audio has a page with links to many selling quality master copies.  A Google search will show you even more.  I believe this is just going to grow as it has with LP production and turntable production over the last 15 years or so. That and there are now several companies reconditioning quality machines to like new condition.

Makes me smile.
Let's hope you are right about the comeback of tape.
I think, besides other things, that people just got tired of digital and of computers in general, they want something more authentic.
If you haven't had a look at this you should,

So he wants $5k for a refurbished Technics. If you are patient you could find Studer 810 for $4k, add $2-$3k to make it perfect. And Otari would be much less expensive. I would see no reason to get anything other than these two within this price range.
Well J-corder is entitled to his opinion. I used to do studio work I the late 70's early 80's. I've seen Pioneer, Ampex, Sony, Studer, Scully, TEAC, Tascam, Otari and Crown. Most machines were Sony's/MCI  mixing down to Studers or Ampex. Older studios were Ampex's and Scully's mixing down to Crown. I've never seen a Technics deck in a professional application ever. 
Some Chicago stations used Pioneers, but those and Teacs were the only Prosumer machines I can recall. I think that's crazy money for a Technics. 
I agree with inna!  I would much rather have a serviced Studer than a modded Technics. But that's just me. I'm sure they are really nice. 
The big thing is to get a decent machine so that you can experience the sound and if you shop right it won't break the bank. 
If you think about it this way - perfect Studer for the price of phono cartridge ! Not to mention Otari and Pioneer.
Ampex, was it an American company? Is it equal to Studer? Do they sound different?
Ampex made incredible machines. For years they were the defacto studio machines in use.  Popularity declined with stiff competition coming from Sony and Studer in the studios.  Ampex studio machine were over built, similar to Crown 822's and all Scully machines.  Excellent electronis and very flexible. Today they are a coveted by those who have keep them in working order. They are every bit as good as a Studer machine.  Now the bad. Parts no longer exist, machines in good working order are extremely difficult to find and they rarely updated their designs so the machines are not as modern or comtemporary as Studer.  The last half track Ampex machines were built by Teac/Tascam. 
Today, unless one finds one in top condition, purchasing a Studer or an Otari makes much better sense.  

Larryi -I am WAY too lazy to thread tape and wait for tape to rewind, but, I have heard The Tape Project copies and other high quality dubs and the sound is quite superior to vinyl and any digital sources I have heard--open and detailed sounding while managing to sound relaxed, smooth and natural.

Hi Larryi, et al - Just thinking out loud here this morning with my coffee.
There is indeed a set of tape rituals involved; but someone that is already performing "vinyl rituals" should not have a problem if they want to learn. However for someone fully into digital.... I can’t see this happening. Unless the spinning tape reels have some kind of hypnotizing effect on them. I have come across individuals that only want upright tape decks so they can better see the tapes spinning under special lights. My tape deck is not even in the same room as my music room when playing.

From my experiences Good 15 IPS tape recordings are indeed very very good. But here is the added benefit not usually discussed. For the audiophile (not music lover) looking to upgrade his vinyl rig setup, it provides an excellent reference source in ones own room. It teaches one that vinyl has huge potential. There is nothing like starting the lp, with the tape started 10 seconds behind. Switch between the two, adjusting for levels before the switch. It teaches you about your vinyl rig and its potential. If your turntable, and tonearm design allow for tuning and modifications, and if the cartridge wiring is modified to a straight shot of unshielded wiring (if tonearm allows for this), new levels of vinyl play can be achieved. What kind of levels ?

It still comes down to the recording. I have some good but not great, 15 IPS tape master dubs. I have managed with my personal vinyl setup, to make myself not even think of putting these tapes on anymore. Do I regret this? no. Because I learned for myself. Now the tape guys will say..."Well, its time to hotrod the tape deck next." Sure.......but where does it stop? This can be a lot like running quarter miles at the track and trying to get faster and faster. Hopefully the music lover in all of us comes to the rescue and puts an end to the insanity at some point for each of us at whatever level that is, for each of us. Remember, the higher you go, the more it hurts when you fall and break. I am only looking in the mirror when I say it. Let me explain this better.

Larryi - The BIG problem is the lack of decent pre-recorded tapes being available.

This is not the biggest problem imo.
The BIG problem. Who is going to service your deck when it fails - and it will fail. These are complex machines and many moving parts. Among the top 3 or 4 audiophile withdrawal moments for me- two of them happened when my Studer went down. I am very lucky as the Studer Rep / tech for Canada lives a 40 minute drive from me.


Vitali Chaconne - the 27 second mark has a particular effect on me...8^0

Regarding tape availability. There are a number of individual sources like the one referenced. I am a customer. Blank tapes are expensive - $50 a reel and you need two reels for a single 15 IPS album. So you will see prices of $200 and up. What’s never discussed on forums is that anyone acquiring a good tape deck (not just asking on a public chat forum) but going out and doing the actual deed. Once this happens hunting techniques are developed .....to find tape. This all happens naturally. I will just say there is an tape undergound system, and their are individuals out there that have libraries of 15 IPS tape masters. various generations. All one needs to do is search and contact individual tape owners personally for more information.

Just some personal thoughts for those considering RTR. Consider the above.

Larryi - I doubt that there will be much of a resurgence of reel tape.

Imo - as long as there is passion for music, there will always be a niche business within this already very small audio business. The person that is associated with the recordings I referenced above is not in this to become rich. It is about this passion for music and spreading it.



Thanks for your thoughtful comments.  I think that we are pretty much in agreement, but you certainly fleshed out the issues more completely.  Yes, tape will remain a niche business and I would certainly hope that the niche remains healthy enough so that support in the form of parts, service and blank tape will always be available.  Tape might not be for me, personally, but, I do recognize that under ideal conditions, it remains the very best medium out there.

I read not too long ago about a discussion among current recording engineers. They were remarkably consistent in their agreement about the merits of various forms of recording.  They all agreed that high resolution digital is closest to sounding like the microphone feed, but, they also agreed that analogue tape actually sounded the best, even though it was not the most accurate.

Servicing these complex machines IS a big issue.  A very good friend of mine actually does this as a side line.  He fixes and reconditions machines for a local Washington DC area audio store.  He said that, from a purely mechanical perspective, the Otari machines are the best built.  I believe that he has managed to find the parts necessary to service most of the common brands--Technics, Otari, Akai, Studer/Revox, etc.-- but I believe he has had some trouble with certain parts for Tanberg machines.

As to speculation on the original posting, I would guess that Nagra, which continues to make consumer goods, is the mystery company planning on making new consumer machines, with Studer/Revox as my second guess.
I have looked over what is available on 1/4 inch pre-recorded (high-def)
tapes and the selection is (still) very very small.  Plus when i collected a few
tapes from the 60's and 70's off of EBAY like Columbia for ex. and had
to throw several of them away- the backing was too dried out, the edges
were feathered and didn't pass over the heads correctly, etc. It isn't the
money spent as much ($10-$25 each) but the aggravation this caused (plus having to clean the tape path thoroughly to make sure there was no tape
residue left behind).  If you want a good machine you can get one for $1K or so, but you have to either make tapes from your vinyl collection or spend hundreds of dollars on a tiny selection of tape project titles or similar.  I DO have a few decks that could be modified with better electronics, etc. but i need someone to make available a whole bunch of HD tapes for, let's say $100-$150/ea. to make it all worthwhile. 
     Maybe a modern-day Rudy Van Gelder will open a studio, assemble some jazz musicians, make a whole bunch of masters, and sell copies
at something like affordable prices.  Until then, we wait...
Reference Recordings could "probably" embark on this kind of a project...
     I had a Concord-220 when i was 12 years old and have had a R-to-Reel of some kind ever since- i am over 60 now. I made hundreds of tapes, compilations of
music i liked- off of FM radio, and then later off of vinyl.  But that 
ain't what we're talking about here, is it?
ct0517, larryi,

I haven't had a problem with any reel to reel machine I've ever owned.  I play them regularly and all of them are over 35 years of age.  That and a quick Google check shows that here in the Chicago land area there are several quality shops that will do a full service on your machine.  I honestly think that with most all machines, parts are still available from some source.

The most common concern is that of head wear.  If you're using a Sony, or an Akai (they only made one half track machine) then head wear isn't a concern with their ferrite heads.  I was worried about this and bought a couple of NOS head stacks for the Pioneer that I use most.  But now after years of use the heads look tremendous.  I realize that I am probably never going to wear out the original stack.  Maintenance and using quality tape helps a lot in this regard.

If there were NO available master tape copies I would still own a reel to reel machine to tape LP's that I enjoy most.  I can edit out the songs I don't like, put them in the order I do like and at then listen for 45 min at at time without having to get up and flip the LP.  

larryi, I listen to tapes that I made back in the early 70's.  Only those I made using Scotch 206 and Ampex 468 having given me issues.  Maxells, BASF, AGFA, Memorex (believe it or not), and TDK's play beautifully without issue.


1. I believe that only with R2R tape you can get close to vinyl quality or sometimes better.
2. Just like vinyl rejuvenation the next step will be R2R

Get ready for new components folks.
I believe that it's going to be Revox-Studer. The Horch Music R2R titles shown (e.g. the 6 album Oscar Peterson) are being sold under the Revox brand.

I wasn't aware of that.  Very encouraging and that would make complete sense.  Let's hope it will be something that is affordable.  Fat chance on that last one.. huh?

Normansizemore - I haven’t had a problem with any reel to reel machine I’ve ever owned. I play them regularly and all of them are over 35 years of age.

NSM - I wish you continued good success with them. One day my Studer powered up fine but when I loaded up a tape tails out, right side, threaded it up and hit rewind, nothing except.... a sinking feeling...
I called Roger Ginsley my tech.

Here is a shot of him I found on the internet


and here is a web gallery of pics . Some of the pics give a good indicator of what can be involved with servicing these machines if anyone here DIY feels he can tackle them.


Over the phone he said it was a high probability of the power supply capacitors. Huge coke bottle size buggers.
He had new capacitors in stock we arranged for a visit. I went to see him this time. After diagnostics he found the original West Germany made capacitors in the machine showing full voltage ! No leakage, or bulging. Still looked new he said. How is this possible? Now he needed to start probing. After X hours he found a bad resistor if I remember.
Well personally, I would have felt much better leaving there, if I had paid for X hours labor and brand new capacitors.

Larryi - I read not too long ago about a discussion among current recording engineers. They were remarkably consistent in their agreement about the merits of various forms of recording. They all agreed that high resolution digital is closest to sounding like the microphone feed, but, they also agreed that analogue tape actually sounded the best, even though it was not the most accurate.

Larryi - Yes, I have heard this too from talking with a few engineers and also from Roger who as worked with so many recording engineers. And digital music sourced from Analog tape can be great. The CD available from that site I linked sounds really really good.

....but i need someone to make available a whole bunch of HD tapes for, let’s say $100-$150/ea. to make it all worthwhile.

but the current cost for two blank tape reels needed for one 40 min 15 IPS album is $100. that cost would need to come down.
Hello, i would just like to add that IMO there is nothing wrong with
producing tapes that run at 7.5 IPS, and possibly even 1/4 track as opposed to
half-track (i have both).  Now we're talking about ONE reel of tape, and
it could in some cases even be a plastic 7 inch reel, instead of two 10 inch metal reels,
and (also IMO) a slipcase (really just a cardboard box (deluxe packaging?).  I have two Tape Project tapes, and they sound very good, but the metal reels are out-of-round, the tape on the boxes was peeling off all over the place (i spent quite a bit of time repairing them), and
the Sonny Rollins tape has 4 songs per reel- no sooner do you sit down when it's time to get up again, rewind reel #2, and listen to that one for another 15 minutes. Luckily i bought these used, and i would like to buy more of them, especially the Linda Rondstat, But at $450 plus shipping i can suffer the 8-9 quality of the sound from the redbook CD. 

I agree!  I see no reason why they can't spool up a 3600' of good back coated tape.  If they did, it would take ONE reel at 15ips to get 45 min of music.  I tape full LP's all the time on ONE reel in 1/2 track format.  Using such a heavy mil and short spool of tape is silly and expensive.

I used to have several 1/4 track tapes that sounded excellent.  There is a difference in sound between 1/4 track and 1/2 track, but in some instances it is soooo very close.  


I hear all this, but as an archiving media, hasn't vinyl well outlasted tape? I have original late 60's early 70's vinyl that is still sounding good. Would a R2R tape have lasted that long without severe degradation? And I'm not talking about temperature controlled vault storage, but you average house/garage storage?

I am sorry to say, but I don't think there will ever be much of a market for tape. Vinyl is a PITA to listen to, tape is 2X the PITA. I had a Tanberg R2R back in the day (not those nice servo controlled ones, but the manual mechanical joystick) and I don't really miss it.

I am finding digital is not all that bad if recorded and played back through class A analog circuitry with no IC opamps. I'm afraid anything produced today by Studer or Revox or Tascam will be chuck full of IC opamps, like most prosumer gear, and will sound like crap, even at 15 ips.
dhl93449, I think you got lost in Audiogon wilderness and chose a wrong thread to paticipate in.
As for archiving, vinyl could and theoretically should be better, though tape will last for decades. And in 200 years all of that will probably be gone, at least outside of climate controlled vaults.

In a word... No.  One must remember that no tape can sound 'better' than the machine it was created on (assuming all is functioning as it should).  Any idea how many IC opamps were in the recording chain at the studio?  Me neither, but we can safely assume that in most instances there were plenty and yet  many treasured recordings were made using them. 
For example, I smile a little at those that spend $$$$$ on cables.  Yes they can make a difference, but to me it seems that most use them as tone controls.. And yet they never consider the miles and miles  of 'run of the mill'  patch cords and cables that are in 90% of todays recording studios. (yesterdays too) 

I have an extensive tape collection, and several reel to reel masters that were made in the late 50's (purchased from a local studio)  They sound wonderful.  I don't have any special storage system other than the box they came in.
The condition of the tape seems to depend a lot on the quality of its manufacturing, and we all know there was a ton of crummy tapes made over the years but studios usually stayed away from lesser brands.  Sould I find that one of them is drying out, I can always dub it onto a new tape and still have an excellent sounding master copy good for another 50 years.

Most all of our treasured LP's are derived from tape, and like photographic film you can still make an excellent print today from a decades old negative.. Just saying.  Tape is an excellent archival medium. 

With regard to prosummer machines, I would happily pit my Pioneer, ReVox, Crown and Sony playing a 15ips master copy against any digital source.  To me it just sounds better and for me that's what's most important.

I have a load of vintage (late 50's) Capitol 1/2 track reel to reels at 7.5 ips that blow away everyone who listens to them, including tape collectors. They were made in real time, on good tape, and they still work perfectly.

In the end, nothing sounds like RTR, it is better than vinyl and much better than digital , it deserves a comeback.


A collection like that is worth getting a second machine and making safety copies.  (I need to do the same)

I love your final thought.  RTR does deserve a comeback, and I believe that is what is happening.  I remember not too long ago when I couldn't walk into any shop and browse new LP's.  Now when I go, there are always others doing the same thing.

The more who realize what a wonderful medium RTR and then take a plunge by purchasing a second hand deck will of course increase demand for product, parts, and tapes.  The recent audio shows in the last years have really been displaying RTR as a source for speakers, amps, preamps etc, as well as for new tapes.  

This link is from a blog I enjoy and a fellow Agon member.  https://audio16.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/impressions-from-munich-high-end-iii/
That's encouraging.


I suspect all your "pro-sumer" decks are old enough to still be using discrete analog circuitry in the amplification stages. I doubt if a newly designed 2015 R/R deck would use them however. That is simply because the availability of the discrete transistor is going the way of the dinosaur (or the costs are so high the economics don't add up). It is the reason Parasound management told John Curl he could not have his favorite discrete jFETs in the JC-3 pre-amp design. Their cost was out of bounds and the availability uncertain. The JC-3 now uses IC op-amps.

I think the closer you are to the source of music, the more you can get away with some degradation that goes less noticed. The further down the chain to the final product, the more noticeable any degradation will be. That is why I think recording studios can get away with IC opamps in mixing panels but an audiophile at home will hear their effects immediately. And of course, we don't know how much better any commercial recording could have been if the recording engineers did use all class A discrete components in mixing panels and mic pre-amps.

I am surprised about what you say for tape longevity, particularly in light of (admittedly) anecdotal evidence that recent re-masters are suffering in AQ due to the age of the mastering tapes. But I defer to your judgement here...

I was thinking that about my machines after I replied to you. A check of the schemeatics yesterday confirmed you're correct. My machines don't have any IC opamps.

You make a valid point with regard to recording studios however.  There are so few  who give this type of consideration.  Sear Sound Recording is one such studio that does. Using tube boards and tube Studer and Ampex reel to reels.  Still, the IC oppamp has become so common these days with so many modern recording related devices using them.  

I was surprised about your John Curl story.  I had always heard he was a stubborn "no comprises" type of guy.

If you read a few posts above, you will see that others have vintage tapes as well.  It is a shame because I think the Scotch/Ampex sticky shread syndrome really caused many to feel that tape isn't reliable. I have had problems with Scotch 206 and Ampex 456.  But these were the only tapes I've ever had issue with. Several I have restored with excellent results..

Let's hope that if a new machine does materialize that it is a good one.   Analog tape is the basis of the sound we all love.


For those complaining about the paucity of reel-to-reel tapes. Currently there are now 21 companies releasing reel-to-reel tapes. You can see a few of my reviews about the tapes on PF.


Thank you for the link!  Makes me smile.

I think it would be great to see RTR make a comeback, but, I would expect that its appeal will always be limited to a small group of truly dedicated connoisseurs.  I don't think the price can ever come down enough for tape to have mass appeal, certainly, not without major compromise in quality.  To do a really nice job, the dub would have to be at normal speed, not something where the production master is playing at twice (or more) regular playback speed.  Both the machine playing the production master and the machine producing the dubbed tape would have to be of high quality; even if there is enough demand to run several machines doing the dubbing per run of the production master, the cost would still be high.

I recently saw a new release of an album on RTR that I think would be worth owning--"Garcia and Grisman"--and the asking price for that reissue was $450. 

Back in the late 70's early 80's when I was working in a studio we would have to run second generation masters.  The mixed down master was almost always done at 15ips.  To save time, we would take the 15ips tape and then play it back at 30ips.  The machine making the recording was also running at 30ips.  Honestly, there was no loss of information whatsoever.  We did this regularly using either Scully's or Ampex machines.  

I am pretty certain that many of those companies making second generation masters are doing the exact same thing as we did.  Running and recording at 30 and playing back at 15.

This would certainly be necessary to play into the economics of mass producing second generation master tapes.  I don't know of any machine capable of 30ips that is less than stellar in performance.  

Studer, Sony, MCI, Telefunken, Scully, Ampex were all common place in various studios and dubbing banks.

When we think about the cost of two metal reels, tape, packaging, and the labor to record and package the item, $450.00 is still a bit on the high side.  If they could cut that cost to just under $200.00 per title, I think they would have a hard time keeping them on the shelf.

We should also consider some master dubs at 7.5 ips  I have heard some of these and I must say in most instances that I absolutely cannot tell the difference between a 15ips half track and it's 7.5ips half track copy. If we were talking quarter track then it would be very obvious, but half track is a different story.  Just think what that would do to the cost of second generation masters?



Thanks for your interesting description of your personal experience.  I agree that 7.5 ips can sound very good and I take your word for it that 2x copying can be essentially perfect.  The issue there is whether the hyper-critical audiophile market would accept anything that appears to be a compromise.  Several of the premium reissue labels claim that they do regular speed one-to-one dubbing (i.e., only one slave) which means that, if volume increases, some cost savings could be achieved by making more than one copy per pass of the production master (save wear on the master too).  Given how much some people are willing to pay for nice rare vinyl discs, I think you are right about $200 being a cost point that may attract some interest.  But, it still would probably be a niche market, certainly much smaller than the market for $50 premium 45 rpm vinyl reissues.

"The issue there is whether the hyper-critical audiophile market would accept anything that appears to be a compromise."

What hyper-critical audiophiles don't understand is that everything is a compromise!  Compromises are made every time a recording is created. Every component, cable, speaker etc., they are all compromises.  

I have never heard anything that sounds 'live'.  Ever.  I've heard close, but never live.  One can always distinguish a live performance from a recording.  It's the same in a studio as well.  Step into the live room then step into the sound booth.  You'd be deaf not to hear the difference.

These hyper-critical purist audiophiles would upchuck if they knew what processes took place in the recording loop. However, when it comes to playing back that same recording, they treat it as a ceremonial  experience that 'can't be altered'.  Yet they alter it anyway, using room treatments, esoteric cables, LOMC cartridges with a tipped high end curve, and any sonic enhancing tweak they can come up with.  

When we prefer one component over another we are altering what we hear, and there is nothing wrong with that.  It has however become ridiculous when I go to a friends house and he is auditioning power cables, and A/C receptacles.  Really?

But I do suppose your are correct, they would never accept a 7.5ips half track recording regardless of how good it sounded.  I would welcome them however, as for me it's the music that matters.  




I’ve mixed live shows as a "small venue sound man" (rarely record them these days, although I have had things that I simply "dumped" from the board mix on to media come out fine), mostly jazz and acoustic "folkie" (current meaning: singer songwriters) performers, often and for many years…last weekend even. I find that live musicians (other than myself, since I’m already wherever I am all the time) are harder to rewind, tend to play whatever they want, and unless I had them living at my house it’s way harder to simply dial them up instantly to play something. They do sound more live though…

And so the need to record them!  =)  I mix some small venues as well.  Mostly jazz trio's.  Tapes sound amazing, even just using a couple of well placed mic's does pretty good.

Nothing like hearing a solo acoustic guitar or piano though.  It seems that the solo instruments are harder to record somehow.  For me, these are the easiest ones to detect when it comes to telling the difference between recorded music and live. 


No significant difference in many cases between 7.5 ips and 15 ips two track?  How would you explain it?  When the recording is really bad I can understand it. 

Here is my quote: "We should also consider some master dubs at 7.5 ips I have heard some of these and I must say in most instances that I absolutely cannot tell the difference between a 15ips half track and it's 7.5ips half track copy."
Easy to explain.  Note that I said we should consider 'some'  and in 'most' instances.

If you are making a half track master copy from 15ips to a second generation master half track at 7.5ips, and your machine is properly calibrated you really won't hear a difference on most material.  Look at a machines spec at 7.5ips and compare it to the spec at 15ips.  I personally can't think of even one machine that specs better at 15 than it does at 7.5ips

15ips became the defecto setting in the 1950's, because it allowed high end frequency extremes.  As machines electronics, more importantly head design improved along with the quality of tape, 7.5ips half track can easily match the performance of most material recorded at 15ips.

The other reason that material is recorded at 15ips and 30ips in the studio is headroom.  Here, when recording live these speeds have an advantage.  This however does not translate into making a dub.  The dynamics of recording a drum set live is completely different that dubbing a recording of a drum set.  

At the slower speed, nearly every machine will give you more bottom end, and all of them will easily spec to 20,000hz +/- 1db.

The source material matters as well.  If you are listening to classic rock, and the machine is running at spec, you won't hear a difference.  This is also true of complex classical.  With solo instruments, piano and guitar it's much more difficult because of the frequency limits of the solo instrument itself.  Your not going to hear a 35hz note from a Martin D-45 for example.

If we are talking about quarter track, then there is not contest whatsoever.  But with half track, 7.5ips the sonics can be outstanding.

I have several half track 7.5ips second generation studio master that will make your jaw drop.  

And my point was not to create a debate as to tape speeds, but to provide an option for those wanting to purchase prerecorded tapes at a more reasonable cost. And keep in mind that, and a second generation half track master at 7.5ips will blow the pants off of its vinyl brother every time.


The other reason that material is recorded at 15ips and 30ips in the studio is headroom.  Here, when recording live these speeds have an advantage.  This however does not translate into making a dub.  The dynamics of recording a drum set live is completely different that dubbing a recording of a drum set.  
...a second generation half track master at 7.5ips will blow the pants off of its vinyl brother...
I guess I'd better get my decks lined up for CCIR and NAB @ 7.5 in/s! ;-)

I believe your Studer is already factory aligned for those settings. It's a near perfect machine!

+1 Norman, that's been my experience too. Most of the tape recordings and dups I made from those days and under normal (indoor) storage conditions seem to have held up well. Even though my Pioneer 909 was freshened up a few years back I can't imagine there isn't some level tape of degradation over time. It always blew me away just how much of my instruments fidelity was lost in post. 

Last I looked the cost of those prerecorded 10 inch reels was over a grand? 


Here is a link shared by miles_b_astor recently. http://avshowroomsforums.com/showthread.php?5-Companies-Currently-Producing-15ips-Reel-to-Reel-tapes...!

You can get them for a little less that half that amount.  Also, if there are any local studio's in your area, they too will sell off safety copies and masters of older recordings.  

My son has my old Pioneer 909.  This was my wife's favorite machine. She loved the quarter track format (don't have to rewind to play) and the auto reverse.  It's also an excellent sounding machine, with superb build quality.  I seen one once modded with half track heads and high speed.  
I wish that were an option for us all, as that was a very popular machine.

I recommend to all those that have a 900 series machine to loosen the tension a little on the tape tensioners.  It really saves on head wear and doesn't need to be so tight with the dual capstans.

I find that analog tape is really the best storage method for archiving recordings.  There are tape formulas that have held up well for over 50 years.  Of course, having a safety copy with a newer formula is always safe measure.

Since you mentioned the 909 and it's quarter track, you should check out some of the old releases in that format from the 60's and 70's.  If you are a Beatles fan it will knock your socks off.  Those old Capitol tapes are outstanding!


Thanks Norman. I saw a release from The Tape Project that was expensive a few years back and never looked any further so thanks for all the links. While still pricy it would be worthwhile to have a copy of something in all formats to show off.

My first reel to reel was a used 7" Ampex deck. It just blew away my Benjamin Miracord / Shure turntable.

To me Pioneer has been a unique electronic company over the years designing and producing some real gems among their mass of consumer fare. The Laserdisc, the 909 and 707 series, I've suggested those Brian Jones designed speakers to more than a few friends, and my Elite 60" Kuro still blows me away.    

I love the old Ampex and Crown machines.  Pioneer is a unique company.  Many don't realize the commitment they made to the open reel format.  Before doing studio work in the late 70s, I did some time in the Chicago area radio stations.  Several used Pioneer half track machines.  Before that, I never even considered them, but seeing those decks run a literal 24/7 blew me away.  That and the plug in head assemblies.  They were built to last and are super easy to maintain.  Been using them since.  I like my Pioneers 1050, much better than my ReVox B77 series I.

I also agree about Pioneer speakers.  Even back to the HPM series.  Always wanted a good set of HPM 100's

So, has anyone ever heard of this company?  They appear to be in the game.  Make me smile.


Hi Norman,

Your post, 1/13/126: I have a suite of MRL cal tapes and have my Studer tech complete a thorough and proper deck and audio alignment.  It's not unusual to arrive at values different than the stock, default Studer figures.

I've only heard of Horch House for their analog master tape catalog.
Sorry that I'm somewhat tardy with replies, perhaps I don't have my notifications setup, properly?

Have a great Sunday!  :-)


I  still thinking that there is another company that will display a new reel to reel as well.  I am basing that on Michael Fremers report. It seems like someone who has produced them in the past is gearing up for it once more. Almost certainly has to be Studer, or NAGRA. Both have strong financial backing and could pull this off pretty easy. I know Studer has kept all their tooling for servicing their professional machines.

I don't have the tapes but do have a set of CD's with the necessary calibration test tones. I use them to set the Bias and of course check head alignment.

Fun indeed!