E-Bay. Yes, pre recorded R2R tapes are hard to find, but e-bay has a vast selection. While most are 4 track, 3.75 speed, the treasurers are 2 track, 7.5 speed. A while back a Miles/Blue of the latter vintage went for almost $2K. Barcley Crooker tapes, perhaps the highest quality of pre recorded tapes also are sought out. Some of the latter go for $50 plus, however most are classical titles. Another area of pre recorded tapes are 'broadcast' masters. Most come on 10 inch reels, and are 2 track. The best of these are AFRTS tapes produced by the government for the military broadcast system. I have a few hundred of the latter and quality is very high, our government produced nothing but the very best, after all it was using taxpayer funds. I have about 6000 tapes in my collection and enjoy them everyday. I have about ten working tape machines.
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it all depends which quality you get. For 1st copies or even 2nd copies you pay quite an amount. I was able to get some very good copies. Also got the 1st series of The Tape Project, some among them are good. I use the Tapes on my A820 and C37. You should connect the Speaking Machines to a good sounding system - and voila, now you know why well recorded tapes sound superior to vinyl. No question about that!
Most older prerecorded reel to reel tapes were actually dubbed high speed, which we all know created a poor quality copy. Factor also that they were dubbed to a slow playback speed, its not hard to understand why they never really had a fan base. I had a Revox high speed B77 mk2 and it was terrific. It would not however have been optimized for the tape project stuff since some of it is 1/2" rather than 1/4". Lastly the tape project software is WAAAAY overpriced.
Here are some Reel-to-Reel tapes from International Phonograph Inc.
I have no affiliation with the company. Just passing some information along that I found on the net.
Buconeer, you might note that all Barclay-Crocker tapes were Dolby-encoded (except the few that were dbx-encoded), so you need a Dolby deck or a way to cut the highs if you play them back on a standard deck.
That 2-track "Kind of Blue" has only 3 of the original 5 tracks, which works out to $36 minute!
Pretty much the only reason to get into reel-to-reel today is that the great tapes sound so awesome :-)
I am old enough to remember the r2r craze of the 70s...our neighbors worked for an FM station...so we had access to a vast array of tapes at cost prices...vintage sansui receiver, dual turntable, advent speakers, akai reel...my memories are not as fond as others...tape machines are notoriously finicky....with many moving parts...kind of like owning a vintage Jaguar...it was always in need of something...that being said...the fidelity wad very good...moved on to cassette tapes in the 80s...huge downgrade!
I just bought a 4 track stereo TEAC A-3300SX, and am starting to assemble a collection of pre-recorded tapes. With the first, “Best of Cream” at 3-3/4 IPS I was thrilled to hear those favourites like “Badge”, “White Room”, “I Feel Free” and “SWLABR” with bigger, fuller and richer sound for the first time all over again. “Days of Future Passed” at 3-3/4 is on its way, and I can’t wait. Looking for other landmark classic Rock pre-recorded releases like “Strange Days” and Zeppelin IV. Also looking for some recommendations.