How many People own Working Reel to Reel Decks?

I just bought a very nice condition Revox A-77 on Ebay and I have to say I love the sound of tape. I wish I had done this years ago when it made more sense. I see that good quality reel to reel decks are getting snapped up on Ebay and I am wondering who is buying them and what they plan on listening to (prerecorded music or tapes they make). How many people here on audiogon actually own a reel to reel that works and they use it regularly? Thanks.
I have one in the attic, but haven't used it in years. A cousin has just offered us a collection of prerecorded reel tapes and we're wondering if we should take them.
I run an Ampex AG-440 transport with 351 electronics.
I run two Sony 580's on a regular basis. No recording, just play original label pre-recorded tapes. Over the years I have built up a collection of about 500 tapes, some the famed Barclay & Crocker tapes. The latter are now going on e-bay for about $75 each. These B&C tapes were duplicated at 1 to 1 mastering, often from 60/30ips source, and also all have dolbyB, except some were done with dbx. B&C did business, sales and production out of the NYC financial district, which I visited once and was amazed at the passion these fellows had. Needless to say, sometimes the sound beats vinyl, other times it is a diaster, same quality issues vinyl always had. All payback is via tubes, pre and main. Tape has a lot of preservation issues, so current buys can be a crap shoot. One in every two I purchased is a throw away due to brittle and flaking of the tape or being too tightly pack on the reel. In summary, tape is part of the glory of the analogue days.
Great question Mark - I have a Nagra D that we have had for a few years and we are going to sell it, but just don't know what it will bring as there are fewer and fewer folks using reels now. That being said, those that use them, love them and know quite a bit about them.
They sell fairly often for good prices (for the buyer) on eBay, so congratulations on yours. Enjoy!

Thanks for the responses so far. I have heard of the famed Barclay and Crocker tapes. I even bought a Teac outboard Dolby unit (cool looking VU meters on it too)for use with the Dolby encoded tapes. I haven't bought any dolby tapes yet, but I am sure I will.

My very limited experience with tapes so far has led me to rethink my belief system in LPs. I have collected records my whole life and I have always thought that they were the best source material a person could get at home. I have a VPI TNT MKIII with an ET 2 tonearm with surge tank and dual pumps, Denon 103R cartridge, Counterpoint SA-2 pre-preamp, and upgraded Counterpoint SA-5.1 preamp. As we all know, we are always at the mercy of the engineers who record the master tape. If the master tape sucks, no matter how good the cutting and pressing of the LP is, it will still sound terrible. Fortunately, most LPs sound really good and of course some are outstanding. I am now starting to think that given an equal quality job mastering to LP and mastering to tape, and given a good master tape to begin with, a 71/2ips tape will sound better than the LP. It just seems that the tape adds another dimension to the sound and the dimension that it adds is reality. Music just seems to snap to life in a way that escapes LP. My brother calls it the "wormhole" effect whereby you get transported back through time so you are there as the recording is unfolding in front of you. Mind you, not all tapes do this, just like not all LPs sound great as we already said. If you are lucky enough to own Blood, Sweat, and Tears greatest hits on 71/2ips tape, this is a wormhole tape. It will blow you down it is so good. I have two copies of this on LP, but both are noisy. Even through the noise, I have always loved this LP because of the music and how well it is recorded. The tape is even better, and not by a small bit. I am still scratching my head and thinking about the choices I made and wondering...
Pre-recorded tapes also have better channel seperation than do LPs.I have a Laura Nyro with Labelle "Gonna take A Miracle" that is fantastic on tape,but there are so many quiet spots that it is difficult to locate it's equal on LP.I have several hundred tapes as well and enjoy them immensely.
Funny, because topics like this comes about just as over the past week or two I've been looking at eBay and seeing the reel to reel. It is something I have never owned but am curious in. I think one day in the foreseeable future I may spring for a good reel to reel. I just need to read up more on models and quality etc. But I find this an interesting thread because of its timing for me. Three weeks ago reel to reel would not have crossed my mind. Within the last two weeks it's been lurking in my head and bang now a thread on reel to reel here... Strange?
mercy of the engineers? Add to that the mercy of all others in the production chain. I have Miles/Blue in all media, reel, lp, cassette, cd, sacd, sacd hybird. I know no eight track, but hey some has to be missing.

It never amazes me that all can sound so different. I give the edge to the sacd hybrid since it is not mixed, but rather a three channel production from the original mono, not mixed but corrected for the original tape speed problem. Here is an instance of a great master which leaves any short comings in the final product to others.
Sad to say, I've owned some great reel decks and, for various reasons, parted with them. Teac 6300, Akai GX-747 and a Pioneer RT-909. Wonderful sound but as tapes get more scarce, harder to maintain much less build a collection.
Les-I was reading your mind! You need to be very careful when buying a reel to reel. Any ad that states the seller has no way to test it can be translated to say that the deck is broken. In fact, unless the deck is coming from someone who has just gone through it and cleaned it, lubed it, put on new belts, adjusted the brakes, etc., it probably won't work correctly (if at all) when you get it. Better to pay more for a deck that is in good shape and ready to roll than a "bargain" that needs a bunch of money dumped into it.
And Tiger, you are correct, there are many chances to make a bad master tape. I have the Sony ES-9000 SACD/DVD player and I could never get worked up over the sound of SACD. In fact, I have hundreds of CDs and I basically never listen to them. I guess I am just an analog/tubes kind of guy because that is what sounds the most real for me. I have two copies of Miles Davis Kind of Blue. One is the original mono and the other is stereo pressing from Canada. They both sound real good other than the speed issue. The master tape was a 30ips tape I do believe.

I hear ya! I believe the same. Reel to reel like cassette decks have lots of moving parts and it is likely not a typical to have some not operate properly. I suggest that those selling machines that may not work just be upfront. To dump your junk on another buyer is just not right. I know, I know all about caveat emptor, but that still does not make dumping junk onto others correct. Sellers should be honest and they still may sell it to a person who is into fixing things, no not as much as they may hope but so be it. I agree to be prepared to spend a little more to buy a deck that has been tested and maybe reconditioned.
Kmulkey-we have all been through the "wish I never got rid of that piece of gear" remorse. And you did have some really good decks. The Akai GX-747 is a really cool looking deck and brings big bucks on Ebay. Lots of people love the Pioneer RT-909 and they usually bring over $600 on Ebay. Did you make all of your own tapes or did you also collect prerecorded reel to reel tapes? I am really curious to know what people who are buying RTR decks now are doing with them. I know some people like to copy CDs over to tape because they swear they sound better and others like to copy their LPs over to tape. Looking at auctions of prerecorded tapes on Ebay, it is obvious that people are willing to pay high prices for tapes they want. I know that my brother has spent over $2000 in the last couple of months since he bought his Revox buying tapes on Ebay. The 71/2ips Beatles reel to reel tapes all seem to bring big bucks and he is collecting those. I have two copies of the EMI/Parlaphone BC-13 Beatles collection on LP and I think they are great. Having said that, when I heard "Fixing a Hole" from Sgt. Pepper at my brother's house on reel to reel, I heard things from a new perspective. I have heard that song and that album a thousand times if I have heard it once and it was a new experience on tape-and one for the better.
Casey-You bring up an interesting point. One of the things that tape also has going it for in comparison to LPs is that LPs can't sustain the same level of bass and treble information across the entire disc. You start off with a 12" diameter at 33 1/3 rpm and after the second song on the LP, the diamter has shrunk and continues to shrink. Kevin Gray wrote a good article on how mastering engineers have to take these physics into account when they are mastering LPs. They always try and cut the most dynamic songs at the beginnings of both sides of the LPs. Tapes don't suffer from that problem. The last song on the tape can and will sound as good as the first song on the tape. RCA engineers knew back in 1958 that two track stereo 71/2ips tapes were better than their LP counterpoints. In fact, it is too bad that 2 track tapes lost out to 4 track tapes as they don't have the problem of two tracks always going backwards over the playback head while the two tracks you are listening to are going forwards. Sometimes you can hear this. Also, with two track tapes, the two tracks are wider than they are on 1/4 track tapes as are the gaps on the tape head which should translate into more information in a given space on the tape. 2 track tapes lost out to convienance which is how so many things were dumbed down in audio. Consumers choose convienance over sound quality or at least the marketeers tell us so. Now people want 1 million songs crammed onto a device the size of a matchbook and they don't care what it really sounds like as long as it is digital.
I have 3 decks, Revox B77 MKII, Sony TC 765, and an Otari MX 5050 BII-2. I mostly listen to pre-recorded tapes and will make my own recordings as well.
Currently own a Technics RS1500U, Otari MX5050IIB, and a Teac x700R. The Teac needs repair. Also have a Akai 1800SS reel to reel/8 track tape quad unit on the way. I use them for transfering tapes to cd/digital formats.

Timely question for myself, as I have recently put my TEAC X-10 reel to reel back into service after about ten years, along with my turntable. Finishing up on my basement music room the reason. It could use a little work, but still works and sounds great. I have always loved reel to reels. My Teac has been the most enjoyable single piece of gear I have owned. Now I just play back tapes I recorded many years ago. My plan is to dub the tapes into the computer, as I do not know how my longer even my mighty Teac can last. Parts and the folks who know how to work on them I fear are getting scarce. Nothing beats the look of reels goin round and round.
After trying out most of the good digital sources and LPs, the idea of finding a way to get closer to the ultimate master tapes that were used to make the those nice CDs and LPs, triggered my interests in tapes. There are significant developments along with finding decent pre-recorded tapes on ebay: The Tape Project may have been one of the most influential thing to happen.

I've collected few hardware within last few months mostly Otaris and Studers... I will tacle the software next.
i've been getting into RTR since last summer.....when i subscribed to 'The Tape Project'.

so far i have a stock Technics RS-1500 and a refurbed Ampex ATR-102 in my room. I have also purchased a Studer A-820, which is being updated and 'gone thru' by a Studer expert.

regarding software; so far i have 5 of 'The Tape Project' 15ips 1/4" tapes, a few more 15ips 'master dubs' of questionable source; and about 150 various ebay 7 1/2ips commercial tapes of various qualities.

i think RTR decks are way cool......i cannot yet say exactly how good they can sound.....but i'm working on that.
Jsman, which tape deck do you like the best? How does the Revox sound compared to the Otari?
I own an Akai 4000DS MKII that I bought new over 30 years ago! I haven't used it for quite some time, but have some great original studio recordings on reel which I recorded straight from master tape at a time when I worked in a recording studio. This thread gives me the itch to hook her up again!
Mike-Wow!! You own some awesome decks! If your Technics RS-1500 deck is stock, which deck are you using to play back the tape project tapes? The technics doesn't have the IEC playback equalization that was used to make the tape projects's tapes. Please tell us how the tape project tapes sound, specially compared to commerical 71/2ips reel to reel tapes.
Please keep us informed of your findings. I would love to know what you think of the Otari decks vs. the Studers and what you think of tape vice LP. I find all of this highly exciting.
Kichoi just made me think of something I could do if anyone is interested. I have Cat Stevens Teaser and the Firecat on LP, CD, and 71/2ips 4 track tapes. We could select a couple of cuts and I could record all 3 formats to a Sony CD recorder that is connected to my Counterpoint SA-5.1 and burn a CD and make it available to those on this thread that would be interested to hear the differences of the 3 formats. I am not going to make a copy of the entire album because this is for educational purposes only and I don't want to get into any type of copy right B.S. If you are interested, send me an email at Let me know what two songs you would prefer to compare from Teaser and the Firecat.
Years ago in the mid 60s I owned an Ampex F44 r-r and got rid of it in the early 70s for a ReVox A77 deck. Recently I remembered that I had a box full of pre-recorded tapes and also tapes of concerts of live performances of two symphony orchestras that I was playing in at the time while they were being recorded. I wondered how these tapes sounded after so many years so I bought a used Teac R 40S open reel to reel.As a result, I found out how much I had missed in the last25-30 years.
Now I regret that I ever sold either the Ampex or ReVox. Sometimes in this hobby we do not learn how good we have got it until it is too late.
It is great to see how many more of you are listening to R-R tapes.
Good Listening
I feel the Revox is a little warmer sounding than the Otari, but I also feel the Otari is more accurate.

Tonight Sue and I went to the first Presbyterian church in Richmond Va. to record the James River Singers. We took my Ampex 351-2 tape machine I bought new in 1958 and a pair of Peluso 2247 SE condenser mikes. The result was glorious. It all started because of The Tape Project.

I wasn't the only one recording tonight. A university music student had a pair of Neumann KM 84's, a Toshiba lap top, and a pair of Bose QC headphones. I'm sure the gear was provided by the university. He came over to see why I had so much gear. My words fell on deaf ears, --- the next generation of Best buy customers!

Until you hear what pure unadulterated music sounds like, no compressors , limiters, eq's or any of the other deleterious artifacts needed to make the MUSIC sound good on Ipods or ?????? you'll never experience what the engineer hears when the music is first recorded. The Tape Project will give you that experience.

Since I've enjoyed the sonic experience of listening to the first release from The Tape Project, a few tape machines have found their way into my shop. Four Scully 280 B's Two Studer A 810's, one A 80 VU, a pair of Technics 1500's, Four Ampex 440 B and C's both 1/4 and 1/2 inch machines. An ATR 102 on the way, and a collection of some of the cleanest RTR machines that are being GIVEN away on ebay. Sue thinks I have about 10 machines to play with when I retire,>*}{**

My cd player is collecting dust. Between Vinyl and RTR tape, there's nothing better than live music---- capture it on an analog RTR machine. They're still out there and good mikes are cheap. Spend a few bucks, take your wife out to hear live music and bring it back home, listen to it on whatever gear you have. It will amaze you how good music can sound.

Late to this party, but I love my reel to reel. I have a Technics 1520 with balanced and RCA out. I have a few tapes, maybe 200?
Well, let me join the club. I have a couple of Otaris and Revox hanging around and have been collecting prerecorded r2rs since the late 1970s. Don't know how many I got and am much too lazy to count. At the moment I am waiting for a Technics 1520, modded by the Tape Project folks together with the
Bottlehead dedicated tube electronics and can't wait to try them out.
I also have an old Revox A-77 mk??. I used it to record all my doo-wop oldies but I also have some master tapes of concerts from Carnegie Hall. He used to have a reel to reel in the basement (he was a stage crew member)and he recored concerts and events for some artists. Boy, got yo hunt for them!

Rick (RWD)
I use my Ampex for recording on location, recording as a mix-down deck from 8 channel to 2 channel, and playing the masters and pre-recorded tapes.

When doing direct recording I use a set of Neumann U-67s direct-in. I like to bypass my preamp when using the Ampex for playback- it has balanced outputs and drives long cables and the amps effortlessly. The results are really quite spectacular.

I used to have a pile of Magnacord machines, which were 10.5" capable and all-tube electronics. They worked beautifully. I had two that I had rebuilt- one for 1/4" tape and one for 1/2" tape. BTW, 1/2" master tapes are really something to hear... anyway, Magnacords are not as well-known as Ampex, so you can get them cheaper, and they are quite sturdy and competent.

I also have an Otari and a Studer. Between the two, although the Studer is older and somewhat more clunky in appearance, it is a better sounding machine overall. Recently I've also been using a professional grade Sony made about 15 years ago. It has a lot of nice features, but the Studer takes it to task also. Of course, sound-wise the Ampex is still the best I've heard, but its also the trickiest to use.

i use a Pioneer 909 r and it serves me on an almost daily basis!
Quite a coincidence this thread comes up now. For some odd reason I recently got the bug to try r2r, in doing some research I found The Tape Project site which really got me interested.
From my research I decided that either a Revox A77 or Technics 1500 would suit me. I recently ended up purchasing a Revox A77 Mk.IV off fleabay for $131. I have yet to receive the deck, and don't know what to expect, it may work perfectly or not at all. I bought this with the expectation I may have to rebuild and refurbish, to this end I have downloaded the service manual. If it runs perfectly that would be great, if not, it will be fun to get into the guts of that thing and go through it part for part (which I will be doing irregardless of condition).
Eventually, I would like to get a head preamp custom made by bottlehead or someone else, I am also planning other mods. I think it would be interesting to see how far one can go with these things.
I have a 707 pioneer that I use mostly for playing back a bunch of recordings make from vinyl years ago. Still sounds sweet and relaxing...I enjoy it very much.
For $131.00 for a Revox A-77, I would be doubtful of the working condition. Please let us know how it works out. Is this the 1/4 track 3 3/4 ips-7 1/2ips version?
I received the A77 the other day, at first glance the front panel was essentially brand new, the wood cabinet had a few small spots where the veneer had lifted.
I took the cabinet off for repairing and couldn't believe my eyes, this thing was essentially as new, even smelled new!
Over the past day I've gone over every part with bright light and magnifying glass, looking for burnt resistors and any other signs of damage. There is absolutely nothing that doesn't look as new! I have noted the problematic capacitors and have replacements which I will install later.
The deck didn't come with a power cord, and I found there was no main fuse. I replaced the 2 prong IEC receptacle with a 3 pronger so I can have my choice of power cords, and installed a 1 amp fuse.
Today I fired up the old deck and every function works perfectly, absolutely amazing! This deck is a time capsule, basically as new condition and everything works, it even has the original tags still attached to the handle (serial nos. matching)! Not a scratch on the front panels or knobs! All the tape heads look new as well, no wear marks at all, the guide pins and rollers look as new, just the slightest bit of oxide. With the bit of work I'm doing on the casework this thing will be almost mint, I would say a 9 out of 10.
Now, this is only my initial analysis, I could have problems down the road, with something this old one has to be cautious. Still, I would have to say this was one lucky buy for me, I will just enjoy for now, more mods may come later.
By the way, Mepearson, this is the 1/4 track, 3 3/4-7 1/2ips version. It is a Mk. IV., serial number G199624. I actually wish it were the two track version so I could do "The Tape Project" mods, I don't think you can do them with the 4 track machines.
Very interesting thread, nice to read that there's a bit of a resurgence in open reel interest. I have refurbished a Revox A77, a second A77HS version, Revox PR99 MKI, Sony TC-850, Sony TC-666D, Tandberg 64, Tandberg TD20A, Stellavox SP7, Ampex 351-2 (partially done), Scully 280 (less done on this one), Tapesonic TR80 and a Teac I can't remember the model number of, off hand. I've tried to make each of these machines sound as good as I can and have learned a lot about each one's potential.
Great fun!
Sns, any 'quarter track' machine can play 'half track' tapes. You won't get the full signal-to-noise ratio, but you *will* get everything else.

It can always be converted by changing the heads, which will likely cost you a lot more than the machine itself did :)
i own two studers and two ampex decks as ell as some quarter track machines. I don't play pre-recorded tapes that often but it's a habit i might change.
I own a Techics RS-1500 w/ Seduction output amp, and a Pioneer RT-707. Both are in constant use at Casa johnbrown.

I record compilation tapes from CDs on the Technics (2 track, 7.5ips). For whatever reason, the CDs don't sound as 'clinical' once processed through the tape.

I use the Pioneer strictly to playback 7 1/2" pre-recorded tapes. The auto-reverse makes for a nice analogue 'background' source without the need to jump up and turn a record over.
I have 2 Crown decks...CX824 and a CX844 both are 4 track. The 844 is a 4 channel. The Crown's have pull out PCB's so I had the caps replaced using Nichicon's. They both sound great and are beautiful examples of American made tape machines.
I recently started adding Ampex's to my collection...I have a 440C with the servo motor and B electronics. This deck is currently being restored...should sound great when I get it. I also have a 350-4 and a 354 with 2 MX-10 mixers. The 350 is a real beauty and will be updated soon. The 354 has the blue CB and I am currently restoring that.
Talk about being hooked on reel to reels but there is nothing like the sound and they look great.
akai gx77 from 1983. works well. looking into the tape project to update the techniques 1700 i also have. bottlehead preamp and upgrades nice but expensive and they are also making 10" NEW prerecorded 2 track 15ips tapes that played back on this setup. look at CES reviews and the tape project website. yes, reel to reel in 2008 along with LP. digital is dead for 2 channel stereo.
I have 2 technics rs1500 (good machine for mods), 2 revox a77, one teac a3340s, one pioneer rt 1011L and a few smaller 7 inches reel player,and collecting more?,for what i own, i love the revox a77 alot, they are easy to fix, schematic is available on the internet and once it's completely restored, it's a one heck of a machine in term of reliability and sound quality,love the technics for its capable of playing 15ips speed and rigid transport.It's good to see more and more people starting to get into R2R machine,IMHO these machine if perfectly calibrated with good and clean tape heads, they will smoke all the CD recorder out there and aslo expensive 3 head cassette deck ( cassette dont have the dynamic range that R2R offers)a down side is that it's hard to get prerecorded tapes, also blank tapes,and it's expensive.My 2cents.
Well, I use a Teac 3300s (in my main system), a Sony TC-755 and a Revox B-77 in secondary systems. Been using reel to reel since about 1975. My Revox is half track, so I use it primarly for live recording. The Teac (my absoulte favorite machine) is so quite that noise reduction of any type is unecessary. Truthfully, I have had Akai, Sony, Teac, Revox, Phillips, Ampex and Pioneer reel to reels over the years. They are all very well made, and built to last. I favor the Teac because of the smoothness of the transport, and the overall solidity of the machine. It is also very quite. I like the Sony because you'll never wear out the Ferite heads. (Akai glass heads a little noisy for me) The Revox is nice, but I hate the charcoal grey plastic. Any how, enjoy. Oh, Guitar Center is a great source for open reel tape. You have to have them order it.
I still use reel decks. These inlcude; Studer 807, two Otari MTR-10's, Otari MTR-15; Tascam 42, Tascam 52, Magnecord 1022, Teac X-1000RBL.
Yes -- 25 feet of wire to the remote from the deck.
i have a akai 630dss 10" 4 track/four channel that i bought new in '78. works ok but getting a little w&f @ 3.75 ips. i'm afraid it may have a slightly bent capstan from a few falls back in the mid '80s.
it sat in storage for 17 years; set it up again about 2 months ago.
7.5 ips seems ok.
i've put a 'shim' between the panel where the capstan sticks out and the panel under it. w&f is reduced but still needs a little more work.
For the guys with 2track 15ips ability the Tape Project Tapes are a sound to be heard.
Otari and Revox over here.
The Otari are MX-5050 BII-2 ( a pair. One near mint, the other not so mint but sounds good making it a good source of parts)

The Revox is the A77. Original model. Nice wood veneer exterior. But the metal work is not so minty. Fortunately, this model was cheap at the moment when I bought it.

I'm looking for a skilled repair tech for my 1976 Sony TC-645.

Any help would be appreciated.

I used to own a Teac X1000R. It had DBX noise reduction. Now it's back to vinal. I wish there was a way to record onto blank vinal discs.