Help me start off right in the reel to reel realm

I am ready to take the plunge. I want to get a good reel to reel system for playback only of pre-recorded tapes. Although I have 3 systems in which it could be used, it will go in the primary system which consists of an Ayre/DPS TT with EMT JSD5 cartridge, Audio Research CD7, Mac/Wavelength Cosecant server, Shindo Masseto, Luxman MQ-88 and Nagra PSA, and DeVore Fidelity Silverbacks. Most everything is tied into a Shunyata Hydra V-Ray or a dedicated outlet via Shunyata power cords. Interconnects are all Aud23. The speaker cable is currently Basis but I am probably going to switch to Chord's top of the line later this year. I listen to classical, opera, jazz, blues, folk, & vocals.

I know next to nothing about reel to reel aside from the fact that to my ears, it exceeds even the best vinyl playback system. Any and all guidance, recommended links, recommended brands/models, perspectives on price/value sweet spots, etc will be greatly appreciated. I want this decision to be well informed and well thought out. I know there are many on this forum who can help me with the former.

If possible, I would like to hit a home run with my decision, meaning the player I select is not only very compatible with my system, but is good enough that I will not want to do the upgrade thing anytime soon, if ever. That could be hoping for too much, but I would at least like to try.
You should definitely check out the Technics that are rebuilt to take advantage of the tape project series.

You may want to try to contact Myles Astor as I believe he owns a re-built technics and can give you more information.

You are probably not going to find a better offering short of getting a used professional deck and talking Tim deParavicini into going through it for you.

The only other route is to find a Tandberg, ReVox, Teac, or some other high quality consumer deck in good condition and have it brought up to spec. This is more difficult but will be more wallet friendly. I have a Teac X2000 and it is great that Teac still services these decks in California. It is a fine deck and although speculation I suspect a rebuilt Technics would kill it.

However, I have enjoyed reel to reel for decades having a Revox A77 up until I fell into the Teac a few years ago. Lot of fun to record and playback tapes. Have Fun!
Since you do not require large reels, but would like high-quality playback of pre-recorded 7" reels (and excellent-sounding recordings), have a strong look at a Tandberg 9000 series, rebuilt by a Tandberg specialist such as SoundSmith.

I have no affiliation with SoundSmith, but after owning many decks for precisely your purposes, I found the 9000-series Tandbergs easily beat Teacs for clarity and lack of 'solid-state' sound.

Other good-sounding, small-reel machines include the Philips 4502, the Sony TC-588 and the Dokorder 7700 or 8100. However, as with Akai, major parts for these are essentially unavailable.

Tandberg pix
Phillips reel
Dokorder 8100
Sony TC-558

There are a few good sellers on eBay for pre-recorded tapes-- send me a private message to find out if you like.

Best regards,
Teac X1000R or X2000R w/DBX noise reduction. Auto reverse, and much more. These are great decks.
You need to clarify what type of prerecorded tapes you plan on playing. Are we talking TP type tapes here or 7 1/2" 4 track tapes or both? The answer will have a profound effect on which machine you should buy.
Thank you all for the responses so far and the guidance. As I feared, I do not know enough (yet) to ask a question that is focused enough.

In example, Mepearson - You asked me about TP type tapes versus 7.5" 4 track tapes, or both. I don't even know what TP stands for. Guessing that 7.5" refers to the diameter of the reel. Guessing that "4 track" is an example of how much resolution the recording process affords . . . I suppose the capacity to play both types increases the chances of finding more high quality recordings. If so, that is appealing, but of course, that likely also increases the price.
Is anyone out there using the low end United Home Audio (UHA) HQ Decks for the Tape Project? These would be the entry $4000 and $5500 machines. Is it worth it to get into reel to reel music at this level or do you really need to go to the level 3 and level 4 machines at around $10K for it to be a noticeable improvement over good TT system?
The 7.5 is a speed, not reel diameter. Most pre-recorded commercial tapes are 7 inch reels. In the early days of pre recorded the format was two track, stereo. It quickly changed to four track, stereo. Most four track were issued in either 3.75 or 7.5 speed (double 3.75). Quality of re-recorded commercial tapes is all over the 'quality lot'. The best are the Barclay-Crocker 7.5 tapes with Dolby b coding, and they are also considered the best since they were produced in a duplication process that was not high speed. I actually watch there process, in person. There are also 'broadcast' pre recorded tapes, which came on 10 reels, were two track stereo. These are what most broadcast stations used until cd's came on the scene. Quality was very high as Bill Drake was a nut about quality, they ran at 7.5 speed and were encoded with automation signals that let four reel be mounted and played continuously. Drake-Chenault is the brand most people know when it comes to these broadcast tapes, there is a web site up on its history. Also, and very hard to come by, were broadcast tapes made by the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. These were 10 inch reel, four track, 3.75 speed. Each side had about 50 cuts and most of the auto reverse machines sensed the leaders to provide continuous play. These AFRTS tapes were very high quality, and they should have been seeing us tax payer's went for 'nothing but the best'.

I have about seven reel to reel machines, including Technics, Akai, Sony and Teac/Tascam. What one machine would be a good start? Akai GX-635D. As mentioned, Teac still does service and has parts. I use people that brought out Teac's service business on the East coast.

As you know, the downside of reel to reel is lack of machines in excellent shape. Just like turntables, pick up is a must. The UPS guy's love to crush these machines, original box or not.

Lastly, pre-recordered tapes are a crap shoot. Start slow.
4musica-I can't help you because you don't know what you are looking for yet. TP stands for the Tape Project and they are selling 15 ips 2 track tapes that are usually made from the master tape (but not always, the Linda R. came from a safety copy and they didn't tell the subscribers until it was shipping)albeit they are not made directly from the master tape. The TP copies the master tape onto a 1/2" tape recorded at 15 ips 2 track and then makes the copies they sell you from the 1/2" tape. I realize you don't understand 2 track from 4 track and IEC from NAB, but you need to understand these terms in order to figure out what you want to buy. In order to play back TP tapes (which will cost you $300 each if you buy a limited subscription for 6 tapes or $500 each if you just buy a single tape), you need a deck which will play the 10 1/2" reels at 15 ips 2 track with IEC equalization. If you want to buy used 4 track tapes from flea pay, you need a deck that will play back 4 track tapes with NAB equalization and will play at 3 3/4 and 7 1/2 ips. You will find damn few decks which will meet both criteria which is why some people have two decks. So, you need to choose your poison.

Sib-If I was going to drop at least $4K on a deck, it wouldn't be on a UHA deck. I would buy a Studer A80 or A820 and have it gone through by one of the Studer gurus. The UHA decks are not built to the same standards as a pro Studer deck. There is a reason the big Studers weigh a couple hundred pounds.
Mepearson et al,

Thank you for your thoughtful responses. It is clear that I need to become much more familiar with the technical aspects of this playback venue, then "choose my poison" (;->) as I do not want to go with 2 decks. I will study up and get back to this thread when I am more knowledgable.
Mepearson - Thanks for the advice on the Studer. Not sure I have room for such a beheamoth (just got done checking out a few on E-bay) but nice to know regardless.
Don't laugh but a year ago I started my quest into reel to reel. I found two people who actually had working ones they were willing to donate to me (I took the Teac X1000R from an audiophile buddy but could have had a working Akai fom a non-auiophile buddy as well). My point - bring it up in conversation to your friends and they may surprise you. Do you know how many people have a turntable in their attic? TT much more fragile so chances of them being in good condition is slim but reel to reels are built like tanks. I asked you not to laugh.

It was enough for me to see if I wanted to pursue R2R or not (and I do/have).
The Tandberg TD20 ASE is an analog masterpiece.
Getting one in good shape and working order is a little difficult. The piece has a natual musicality unmatched by most of the decks out there. I has some Jazz Piano tapes that were simply amazing. The Revox Decks are nice too.

If you can spend $ 600-800 for a nice one and a few hundred more for restoration You be set for the next decade or more.