Reel to reel deck -Talk me in or out of buying

I can't help myself. I feel like an addict. I really, REALLY want to buy a reel to reel tape deck. But why? I don't own any reels. Can a case be made for buying a deck in this digital age? I'm salivating over a Revox g36 tube unit.

I'm tearing myself to pieces over here. HELP!
My buddy just scored a MINT Technics r2r on eBay because his step-dad who is a retired recording engineer said analog tape is the end of the movie.

The problem is, the movie ended about 30 years ago -- and tape doesn't age well like vinyl can. Plus, there was never that much pre-recorded r2r because cassettes flooded the market with the advent of car players and Walkmen.

Maybe you or your kid has a band and want to do analog recordings? Go fo it, if you can find tape at a decent price. But if you just want to sit, and watch the reels go 'round and 'round . . . . . . .

I don't think so!
While I don't know the particular Revox you are salivating over...

R2R can be a bit cumbersome, and as noted above-- tape does not age as well as vinyl, but I sure love my Technics, @ 15 ips with DBX 1, it really sounds sweet.

US Recording is a supplier for fresh supplies of Quantegy tape, a quick google and you will see them:
US Recording Media
Kubla, you can make an offer on my Technics 1520 (balanced), open reel when my Ampex 351 arrives :^).

Looking at Ebay tonight I see 1693, reel to reel tapes for sale.

Several are masters or master dubs and many are 7.5 IPS prerecorded, including three Beatles albums STILL SEALED.

I've purchased about 100 used tapes on Ebay in the last year or so. I got some dogs, just like I do when I buy old LP's at the thrift shop. Some because the material is not good and some because the recordings are not good.

However, mix in the great and (some) rare recordings I've scored, many of which I have never seen on LP or CD, and the price of the deck is a bargain, in fact less money than many audiophile power cords.

I recently bought a 15 IPS half track of a never released James Brown tune that is KILLER sound. When my audio group gets restless, I throw it on, crank the volume and watch everyone do their imitation of "The Godfather of Soul."

(They can't stop, somebody help them !)
I have a Magnachord and a few old reels of pre-recorded tapes.
the hiss is God awful but it's a blast to operate (better than a glass front washer) and it is built for posterity. Like the old horn speakers, there is something right going on here amongst the many wrongs. I play it about once a month and it always brings a grin. Buy it and have fun! Leave it to your grandchildren!
P.S. Careful not to drop it on your toes!
Funny you should respond Albert, I was going to email you about your technics v. a tubed revox g36. Isn't the Ampex 351 tubed? Maybe you can email me a comparison between the ampex and technics when it comes in.

15 IPS tapes are hard to find. Tape, even with the hiss, sounds better to me than digital.

I still don't understand all of the pros and cons. I mean, we're all a little loopy here, but is buying a reel to reel deck at the top or at the bottom of the loop - i guess that's my question.
The best way to pick up tunes with an instrument is to use slower speed on the faster recordings to find out the details to repeat which you can't certainly do with any CD device or even DAT...
Reel-to-reel tape is the ultimate hair shirt medium. You can't find any particular track in the middle of the tape, the tape can break or shriek or has had the treble shaved off by being played via magnetized heads. As a mechanical device, a tape deck needs regular maintenance by someone who really understands these beasts. Parts are rare or nonexistent. And you want to compound all this by buying a TUBED unit, and you don't even have any tapes.

I say go for it.
I also say go for it.
Fulfull your dream.
So what if it sits or not!
If you LIKE IT, then a whole new aspect of "Audiophilia" opens up to you.
If you don't like it after awhile, sell the thing to these other "Reel to Reel" nutjobs!
I have spoken!
I have had various reel to reel decks in my system for almost 40 years and still play one frequently. Blank tape are still available but the choices are quite limited compared to the past. If you are interested in pre-recorded tapes they are still relatively easy to find but can be expensive. I purchased a DAT recorder about 10 years ago to copy some of my lp collection. While the sound was very good I still preferred the warmer analog sound from reel to reel. I agree with one of the posters about R/R they are not convenient to play, maintain and store but by all means go for it.
Dopogue - LMAO!!!!!!
I cannot agree with the opinion tape would not last. I have 300+ TDK, REVOX, BASF and other tapes, all on heavy 26" metal reels - along with 2 STUDER studio machines: no prob whatsoever! What do you think radio stations and record companies store most of their stuff on?!
I can sympathise with you, Kublakhan - RTR has its own charm. The fact that you can't find certain spots on the tape in decent time is no argument, because you want to play the whole tape from beginning to end anyway. You can cut and paste in the real world, not only on a computer screen and after all it can sound pretty good! The only argument I can see against is that you don't have any tapes. There are no prerecorded tapes around so you would have to make your own archive first - and that can last a life long! Good luck!
I can't improve much on what Dopogue said:
*Reel-to-reel tape is the ultimate hair shirt medium.*

Except to say, ALL tape decks break. Repeat that about 100 times: ALL TAPE DECKS BREAK. Even cassette decks. If you like the idea of schlepping a 50-100 lb. 20-30 y.o. RTR deck every so often for repairs (to where?), you'll love an old Revox or Tandberg, or Tascam.

On the other hand, I've also found that "all CD players break". I just spent 2 hours packing up my 36 lb. $3000 CD player to ship for a minor repair, & for today I've almost sworn off CD players for TT's.

Ever seen the scenes in Pulp Fiction with the great pad with Uma Thurman working the cool looking RTR deck? Tarrentino doesn't put ANYTHING in a movie unless for a reason.

Even if the Revox breaks, or doesn't work out, there will probably be an even more crazed audio nutcase out there to sell it to.....
Having had several, I long ago realized that someone could make some serious money by offering a great looking front panel with lights. The rest of the electronic stuff could be eliminated to save weight and cost. The delux model could even have motors to wind and rewind. I know of no one who seriously uses a r to r after the first few times. That said, why not if you can afford it used since you can than resell it when it gathers enough dust. It probably has something to do with "stereo envy" because our mother listened to eight track.
I'm enjoying all the comments here, but makes it more difficult, waiting for my fully restored Ampex 351 to be completed.

Mine will have a custom CNC machined head block to accommodate both half and quarter track playback. Also interchangeable to half track record / play.

YES, it is all tube circuit :^).

cool images of Ampex

Scroll down to 7th and 8th images for great shots of some restored 351's. This is not the guy restoring mine but both he and this guy are at the top of the heap for this type of work.

Every time someone shows up at CES or THE Show with an Ampex 351 as source, visitors break out into big grins and I've witnessed spontaneous dancing (I'm not kidding). There is something magic about the old Ampex tube machines.
@Steveaudio: A word of wisdom as George Harrison said: ALL things must pass - so you aren't the first to have this found out.
Kkurtis, I would suspect that lots of us use R-R decks on a regular basis. Otherwise, why are all those tapes -- the good ones at least, not the junk -- snapped up at increasingly higher prices on Ebay? I have two Teacs, one with a Dolby capability, and can assure you that they see a lot of service. Dave
RTR was dear to my heart at one point as it was my main source for many years. I have a Tandberg 9200XD that is out of service due to the heads being worn out.

As long as we have a few RTR folks here...anyone know my options to get it back into service? I checked on a repair maybe ten years back and it was near the original purchase price(1976). Anyone know a better way?


You might try giving JRF Magnetic Sciences a call.

I would be tickled pink to hear that you are able to get your Tandberg up and running!

This is what scares me: A 7 1/2 IPS reel to reel tape of the Beatles Revolver on Ebay (link below) going for $113 and the bidding isn't over yet. Sheesh.

You guys are no help. I want a deck, then I don't want a deck. I want a deck, now I don't want a deck. I have no idea. I'm going to try to hold on until this passes or I break down and buy something in the middle of the night when no one can see me.
How about an 8 track unit? {OK, OK, don't barf! I'm just kidding!}
Kubla, A RtoR Deck can be a very nice item to have.
I have two, a bought new mint TEAC A3340S, and a mint TEAC A2340R. Both are 4 track, 4 channel decks, but either can be used for stereo playback-recording.

I've yet to hear a cassette deck to compare to a good reel deck. Nice decks would be a mint Revox A77, Tandberg, Fostex, and TEAC/ Something like a TEAC 3300 series with both 7-1/2, and 15 ips would be sweet.

There is a two track version in this 3300 series, but the downside will be it won't play 4-track tapes.
Many of these units had auto-reversing, using a piece of foil tape applied at the end, so it would reverse, and play the other side, without havinbg to get up.

At the slower speeds (7-1/2ips) with a 10" reel, they're great for parties, putting a mix of music on them (remember Pulp Fiction?) and also great for recording LPs. After you record LP's onto them, don't matter how loud you play them, or people dancing around jumping up, and down on the floor, you won't have to worry about acoustic feedback, or transmitted vibratrions. Mark
I too enjoy "obsolete" media. I have a Technics 1500 R2R. It makes awesome sounding recordings. A Wollensack 8075 8 track recorder. You have not heard the full potential of the 8 track cartrdige until you've made recordings on one of these. An Akai CR80DSS quad 8 track recorder for playing my Pink Floyd quad 8's. Wish You Were Here in discrete Quad on 8 track is simply amazing and the quad mix is a different edit on many songs as well. Tascam DA302 dual dat deck for my live tape trading. A Nakamichi Cassette 1 for cassette tape playback.

My video gear for "obsolete" media:

Betacam SP
Betamax Hi Fi

Still need to hunt down a CED player :)

Some tapes go for crazy money, it's the function of ego's and the bidding wars at EBAY.

However, during the last 48 hours the following reels closed at reasonable prices and long term searching will reward you.

Gershwin on Mercury Living Presence $9.00
Ella Fitzgerald "Sings Broadway" $7.01
Dave Brubeck "Time Changes" $11.51
Bob Dylan "Greatest Hits" $12.99
Mozart "Horn Concerto" London Blueback recording $17.00
Simon and Garfunkel $5.50
Rolling Stones "Greatest Hits" $8.99
Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd "Jazz Samba" $8.90
Jack Teagarden $1.77

Some of these may appeal and some may not. The point is, there are thousands of new items every week and many at affordable prices. If your a software junkie and enjoy the sound of analog, this is another source.
How about a Nagra reel to reel digital which was reviewed in Stereophile some time ago?
Go-4-it. And Go-2-it. I’ve been playing Reel-to-Reel tapes for 40 years. My playing time is 5% cd, 45% vinyl and 50% RtR tape. I buy decks, fix ‘em and get my friends reeling. TEAC as a company actually still supports its decks in the field. I have 50-year-old tapes that are in excellent shape. I’ve had 20-year-old (acetate) tapes fall apart in my hands. There’s a huge base of RtR users on Audio Karma.

Years before vinyl went stereo, studios were producing what some say were the pinnacle of analog – the two-track stereo tape. These gems were recorded at playing speed (no high speed duping) directly from masters to banks of recorders on an excellent media base. They are luxuriant in their richness. You hear everything in all frequency ranges. If you’re a patient buyer you can snag ‘em occasionally for under $15. (2-track King & I went for $207 two weeks ago – sheeesh!)
I say go for it, too.
I bought my first reel to reel deck, an Akai GX4000d, in a thrift store about a year ago for 10 bucks. Several months later I found a virtually unused Revox A77 in another thrift store for $15.00. Ever since that I've been buying reels on ebay. Some are gems, some aren't. Now I'm screwed as I'm really getting into this. I just bought a Technics that I'm going to modify by adding tube electronics.

Reel to reel is a doorway to another way of experiencing music that I think every audiophile should try. Not only does it sound different, but it feels different. Listening to music on reels becomes more of a "special event," and I don't think the price to performance ration can be touched.

By the way, I just heard that Doc of Bottlehead is going to start a label. I don't know what kind of music he will be recording, but the releases will 1/2 track, 10.5" reels @ 15ips.
The word is that they're trying to release some of the early analog Reference Recordings along with whatever else they have planned.
I'm a r to r junkie and have 3 decks.I have a Teac 4010SL that has been fully restored made back in 1969,But is not tube like Albert is getting.
I just love doing live recordings on my deck.The sweet sound of Analog is magic to my ears.
I have a live recording of a gospel southern song that would send chills up and down you and bring you to tears.
I just haven't had that type of response from CD playback,or SACD.