These are great decks and very, very cool, in the best of the late 70's Japanese high end tradition.
I have a fully restored RT-909 that I haven't even turned on in 5 years, but it is so beautiful that I keep it just to sit in my listening room as a decoration.
I think the uber Technics machine from the same era has a lot of fans, including Albert Porter who is obviously a stellar reference.
You might find some to believe the early Levinson era Studer machines are the benchmark to beat...
Whatever the case, I would have to think the best of the Pioneer machines delivered at least 85-90% of the performance, which for a few hundred bucks today should be a big bargain, not to mention a piece of audio history.
Get a 10.5 rtr, next thing better than to look at it as decor is to watch two big M's on 10.5 going round. It's a beautiful thing. I first bought a seven incher but quickly found it not very manly, a big 10 inch fixed everything.
I think the RT-707 is an excellent deck especially at their going rate. The look good, are built like tanks, sound very good, and operate quietly and smoothly.
One thing... I had to replace the counter belt on my deck. Now I have a high mechanical aptitude and must say that the amount of screws and parts you need to disassemble in order to get the belt in place is ridiculous. If it ever breaks again, I'm just leaving it broken.
What will you use this deck for? Most people use it as 'eye candy', especially the 10.5 capable units. The latter don't have a high WAF. If your interest is to play original pre-recorded tapes, a 7 inch only unit is a better value and buy. For those you will need a unit that does auto reverse. Original pre recorded tapes are fetching high prices now, especially the B&C Dolby, Living Presence units. Always go for the 7.5 speed tapes. Some approach $100 if mint, sealed. Don't buy a Pioneer, look for a Akai or Teac. Sony's are junk. Teac still does service on their units, very expensive but they know what they are doing. The Technics units, 1500 and 1700 series are great, if you buy from the Porter. Me? I have a Teak (x700), Akai (gx635) and Sony (580) which I have in three different systems, and play pre recorded tapes thru tube electonics. I have some 10.5 reels of pre-recorded music from Media General that supplied radio stations with music for on air play. The content is hit music, all kinds of artist. The latter are two track but play on 4 track units. I call it music by surprise.
I also have a Teac X700 and think it's a very good deck. It has a lot of features including auto-reverse. I believe the take up hubs are belt-driven and the belts can cause issues. The Pioneer has individual motors for tape drive, and both reel hubs so should be more reliable. I don't think the Teac sounds any better than the Pioneer.
I've also owned the Revox A77 machines and those sound quite good, maybe a touch better than the Teac and Pioneer units. They'll do 10.5" reels, but no auto reverse.
I kind of lust after the big Technics IsoLoop machines, but they can be pricey these days.
Hi _ Thanks for the responses so far. To clarify a bit, the reason I'm looking for a player is that I recently found a large quantity (about 80 or so) Living Stereo, Living Presence, and London Blueback reels at a garage sale. I couldn't resist, as I'd been meaning to try reel to reel out eventually anyway. As a starter, the Pioneer seems like it has excellent reliability, at least decent sonics, and the low profile of the 707 especially, would be very welcome for it's WAF.
If it turns out I/we are really think tape is significantly better/different than vinyl (we already have on LP almost anything available on tape) we'd probably move up to the Technics later on.
Judging from the comments
Oops - got cut off - to continue,
Judging from the comments so far it sounds like the Teac may sound a little better but be a bit less reliable. Unfortunately, even the X-700 isn't passing WAF at the moment. (And Buconero - she also says that 7.5" is plenty :)
So it probably has to be a Pioneer for now, unless something else comes along that we haven't considered.
So one question for Pioneer people - has anyone compared the RT-707 and the RT-909 sonically, or know of any important differences between the two to consider?
Hey, late getting in on this thread but have to say.. Pioneer made some wonderful open reel machines. My youngest son uses a 909 every single day... all day long. Pioneer was really committed to reel to reel in the late seventies. Here in Chicago, many radio stations used them, the RT 1050 half track was seen every where. Very robust machines, every bit as good and as well made as Revox (calm down guys I used to own a B77 for 10 years and thought my Teac 3300s and Sony TC 755 were as well made and much better with tape handling) Teac, Akai and Sony. I would have no problem living with a nice 1050 or 1020. For that matter, the 909 would do me fine too. Get a pioneer half track and you can enjoy tape project tapes. The 1020 and the 1050 have changeable plug in head block assemblies for 1/4 track and 1/2 track.
"...One thing... I had to replace the counter belt on my deck. Now I have a high mechanical aptitude and must say that the amount of screws and parts you need to disassemble in order to get the belt in place is ridiculous. If it ever breaks again, I'm just leaving it broken.
I know this is an old thread, but there may be other 707 owners that visit in the future... I'm in the process of restoring a 707 and have been doing some work on the inside. I decided to replace the counter belt as part of the process. There is an 'easier' way to replace the belt without removing too much. I replaced mine just yesterday and was stumped at first, but then came up with solution.
0) Remove the left tape base and brake strap guard.
1) Luckily the counter spindle pulley itself is open so the belt can slip over from the back. This is the first step. This step can be time-consuming, but this is the end you want to put on first. You should not have to remove any of the counter assembly to do this. It is a bit tricky, but can be done.
2) I was able to guide the belt back behind the counter mechanism from the front using my hand. Once I could see the belt from the back, I then took a long screwdriver, and gently slipped it over the counter pulley from the rear. This did involve my son holding a flashlight as my third hand.
3) Next, from the front of the deck bring the other end of the belt under the right lower side of the brake strap and proceed to stretch it up and around the left tape base between it and brake strap. You will have to stretch the belt a little, but you can work it around the tape base and strap, by having a third hand moving the brake level/mechanism to loosen the strap as you work the belt around the tape base.
4) Once the belt is behind the tape base spindle that last step is putting it into the small pulley. Voila!
Sorry I didn't take any pictures of this process, since both of hands were busy. :) My bad.
The only Pioneer Deck that I'd place at or above either the x0x decks are the RT-1050 or RT-2022/44's. Pioneer decks made after 1973 are sleepers in general. Parts are plentiful, might they might not always be.......but that having been said, they last nearly, virtually forever. I've been restoring them since the early '90's and I've only had two that had component failures and they were NOT well cared for.
The RT series was an economical alternative to most all other consumer decks of the day such as Tandberg and Revox. The spec wars were in full swing which spawned the big Technics. Solenoid operated transports were a boon to reliability.
There was another war in progress in those days. The over population of buttons, switches, lights, and tool accessible heads. The Japanese products were especially adorned.
I purchased a 909 to play the quarter inch dupes from the studios main board outputs. Unknowingly, the 909 became a great party mix devise when used at a slower speed and auto reverse is selected. People were far more frighted to touch a ten inch reel to reel compared to turntable in those days.