Advent 201 tapedeck: Is good for a modern setup?

I just came across an Advent 201 in good working condition. It's famous for being the first true Hi-Fi tapedeck (an ancestor of the Nakamichi Dragon somehow), and some people even say that it "blows away" modern tape decks.

While it has a good reputation, I have doubts that it's suitable for my non-vintage setup. I do not have a tube amp, so having the sought-after Hi-Fi analog sound is probably not possible.

The #1 use of this deck will be to transfer my collection of old demo cassettes to digital archives. I want maximum playback quality, even if the tapes were dubbed on bad equipment or pro-duplicated at a cheap factory. It's possible that vintage equipment might not be right for the source or destination material. Any thoughts on this?

How would the playback quality compare to a modern tapedeck? This is the original 1971 design. While it supposedly has high-quality heads and a great drive mechanism, how might it compare to a 3-head Nakamichi for example? I expect that I will only need the included Dolby-B noise reduction since C tends to screw up DIY recordings in my experience.

(Stupid question: On multi-head tape decks, how many heads are used for playback?)

Either way, I think I'm gonna buy a copied manual to calibrate it properly. Before this, I was seeking out a Nakamichi and I'm really wondering if I'd be any better off. I like to learn as much as I can about audio, so I'd appreciate any input.
In its day, the 201 was excellent. I have one of the originals. It was a "2 head" and compared to more current recorders, well, it just doesn't measure up. It was rolled at both ends and has a fairly high amount of flutter and distortion. I never thought the Dolby B tracked that well and the head wore fairly rapidly.
I personally think the Nak is a better choice. Sony did make a 3 head ES deck that was excellent and I'm sure there others. I would use something a little more modern.
Someone else had basically the same deck as the 201 but I can't remember at the moment who it was(brand.) Wollensak used the same transport on one of their decks.
Anyway, Nak had some great decks at one point. I have an old BX model that isn't bad but not as good as the higher priced ones.
The 3 head deck uses separate play and record heads where the 2 head uses one that serves both functions. I also liked the 2 capston decks better. They kept the tape more evenly tensioned. The Advent was a single capston (roller.)
Thanks for the info, bigtee.

I don't know what other company built from the 201, but Advent did make a 201A. Nakamichi's name is brought up a lot when people talk about the 201's design, but I don't know if they really made a deck that was based on it. I did notice that those old Wollensak tape decks that come with film projectors look almost the same.

This one has actually been sitting in storage for almost a decade. I "upgraded" to a junky dual Sony deck that I'll never be able to get rid of now. It's a good thing that I didn't copy any good music with it.

I'm sure I can find a good home for this if I get a 3-head Nakamichi. The controls haven't snapped off, the head works and the the roller actually held up pretty well.
Nak is great, Tandberg too but tapedeck for modern setup??
Yea, stay away from dual decks. Most are crap! The Naks probably your best bet.
The Sony I refered to was about $1000 new. Pretty decent deck and was more for commercial use.
The Wollensak (from 3M) and the Advent used the same drive system, though I'm not sure who borrowed from whom. I had a Wollensak 4765 cassette deck in the late 70's and it sounded fantastic.
Try a used Nak BX-300. Great deck, can be had for under $300, although sooner or later you must have the "gear-drive" upgrade performed, and these may not be available in the future.
for a good outline on choosing a tape deck.

To transfer your old tapes ideally you'd want whatever was used to record them originally. Nakamichi decks may not suit you because their head gaps are different than other decks and Naks use a lifter to displace the tape's pressure pad. Tape traders (dead heads) talk lots about compatibility. Search a little and you'll find more than you ever wanted to know about vintage taping and reproduction.
You make a good point, but it's impossible to know what equipment any of them was duplicated with. However, this web site has some very useful information, and I would have saved hours of research if I knew about it sooner. It's such a useful link.
The Advent 201 is a Nakamichi everyone, they made it for Advent (Henry Klos) before they started selling in the USA.
It sounds basicly the same as any 2 head Nak with Dolby B. A rep told me that it was one of the best decks they ever made, they no longer make casset decks. Anyone have a dust cover for mine, I broke it when I moved.
OK, I have to correct some misinformation about the lineage of the Advent 201.

The Advent 201 was NOT made by Nakamichi. Advent's first deck, the deck that introduced Dolby + Cr02 tape, was the model 200. This was a Nakamichi-made deck with Advent-specified modifications to the basic Nakamichi electronics. The 200 was very compact. Another version was sold as the "Concord-Naka Z" and then as just "Concord" at the time. That Nakamichi transport had horrendous flutter, and wow wasn't so shy about showing itself either. Plus like all early Naka decks, reliability was all but absent.

Kloss took a beating from Model 200 customers, then went shopping for a more robust design on which to base his deck. He found it in the most rugged cassette recorder transport of the day -- Wollensak's manually-actuated 4000 series. It had a very robust, torquey motor, a strong frame, and very fine speed stability. Advent put low-noise electronics in it, including Dolby B + Cr02 tape and notwithstanding the misfire of the Model 200, the first true high-fidelity cassette deck was born. The Advent 201.

There's really no reason you can't use a 201 for cassette-to-digital transfer. A well-maintained 201 will have very competitive wow & flutter characteristics and the electronics are quite musical. With standard iron-oxide tapes, high end response rolls off rapidly above 13kHz. With Chromium Dioxide tape, performance can usably extend to 16kHz and then it fades fast.

Nakamichi decks, landmark designs as some are, generally are only really great when playing material recorded on Nakamichi decks. So if you're recording on Nak for Nak playback, fine. Otherwise, you're better off with a Tandberg TCD440A or 420A as an upgrade to the Advent. A Tandberg 300 series will be very similar to the 201, in sonics (including limitations).

The Pioneer CTF9500 and CTF1000 are great alternatives for what you want, and there were some very fine Denon, JVC and Aiwa (6900) top range decks in the early '80s before plastic content went up and everything went to hell in mechanicals. Also the ReVox cassette deck was quite good, but reliability wasn't what it should have been.

There was an Advent 201A, for which the major difference was , if I remember correctly, a Sendust head. If I recall correctly, the original head was Permalloy.

I came across this ancinet post.  You are spot  on with everything you said. Especially the Advent history.  
I still have a 201 and a Nak 500 that I can't seem to part with.  

They still really sound good!


Interesting that you resurrect this old post Norm.

I have a good quality Pioneer deck (settled on after owning HK, Tandburg, Nak, and Akai models) and at least 100 carefully made cassettes.  It needs a belt replacement (for the auto door, not an easy task with this model) which I should do so I could access that music again.

I was never impressed with prerecorded tapes, ones I made sounded much better.  Problems with hi-speed duplication I suspect.  Advent had the reputation for quality prerecorded cassettes but I didn't have experience with those.

Anyway, I've read there is somewhat of a renewed interest in cassettes, but I doubt it will parallel the resurgence of vinyl.
I've been an audio nut now for at least 45 years. I feel like I have owned every cassette deck worth having. Nak, ReVox, Tandberg, JVC, TEAC, TASCAM, Pioneer, any many others..  I alway seem to come back to and can't part with the Nakamichi 500 and Advent 201. The 201 sounds better than the 201A.  In fact I am listening to the 201 right now. It's an amazing piece and what I can say about its massive flywheel idler drive system is that is is rock steady and reliable.  I have had and personally maintained this machine for 40+ years. Other favorites are Pioneer decks.  Cassette and reel to reel.  They are robust and sound wonderful. They don't get the respect they deserve which surprises me a little.  Pioneer was huge into tape machines, building their own electronics, motors and heads.. My RT-1050 out performs my ReVox B77 handily.  I found that true of my Pioneer CTF-1250 when compared to my ReVox B-215.