A 10 inch reel holds more tape than a 7.5 inch reel, therefore longer playing time and more music per reel (playing time will vary depending on the recording speed that you use). I'm a fan of reel to reel and have two Revox A 77's, but personally, with all I've seen in the last few years, a digital music server (or even a laptop with files recorded as WAV or Apple lossless) is probably what I would reccomend now.
Some open reel decks only use 7.5" reels,10" decks can use both sizes.I owned a Dokorder 10" deck in the 70's,wish I still had it!I have seen open reel decks here on Audiogon for well under $1000.00.You would be pleasantly suprised at the quality of recording you can get with a good source and good tape.
With RtR I always thought the best advice if your serious is to find a good tech that rebuilds pro decks. Ampex and studer. For about 2k you can get a machine that is perfect and will last a long time with some PM.
On the other hand you can buy the crap du jour on ebay and take your chances.
IME, your best bet is an Otari MX-5050 BII2. Plenty of them available for well under $1,000. This model will have 2-track record/play and SHOULD have 4-track playback. It plays small and large tapes at 3 3/4, 7 1/2 and 15 inches per second. It is a professional deck used by the thousands in radio stations and studios. It is rugged and sounds better than consumer decks. A brand new one (Model BIII) is available at something like $5,500 but will not play 4-track tapes unless specially equipped with a 4-track head. Otari makes an outstanding machine. I had a well-respected Teac X1000R and it couldn't hold a sonic candle to my Otari.
Many or most of these decks have been played to death, and look it. Replacement heads are not cheap. Repairs are not inexpensive. Finding a great one is not easy. But they're out there. Good luck, Dave
Note: Otari called many of their models the MX-5050. The nomenclature is confusing, but the one I cite is the most commonly available and your best bet. Again, though, you must be sure it has a 4-track playback head. Most of them do, but not all.
playback only must mean you already can get tapes? the nice thing about a r-to-r is IF you can get some good vinyl to record, the results are very good even with a teac. or you can have some fun with microphones and a guitar et.al. teacs are not the best machines, but parts are still available (or you can buy 2 and use the second one for parts). or you need to find a 1st class repair/refurbish facility and fine-tune an otari or a studer/revox.
Otari MX-5050 BII2 is the way to go. The only thing it lacks is a reverse play feature, which is a must for 4 track use. I second the idea of an extra deck, after you have one that is completely overhauled and reconditioned including having the heads 'relapped'. Yes, some parts for the Otari are avaialble but very expensive. If you will only be playing commerically available pre-recorded tapes, a Teac x700 should be considered.
I thought I would miss the bidirectional play of my Teac, but I really don't. It's more than offset by the superior sound quality of the Otari.
Curious. How much do original used prerecorded tapes cost? i.e.-Led Zeppelin, Jim Brown, Santana, etc.
It's a total crapshoot, depending on the auction vibes at the moment. Then, when you get the tape you won, you learn whether it's in reasonable condition, totally trashed, has the beginning track lopped off, etc. Since many of the sellers find the tapes at estate sales and have no way to play them, they're sold "as is." It's all part of the game. Sure you want to play?
I've actually never listened to a reel to reel. Someone I know has CCR,James Brown,Chicago,Santana,Joe Cocker,Led Zeppelin III,Mitch Ryder,Aretha Franklin on factory recorded reels. He would sell them for $50.
I use 2 machines one is a Akai GX-646 and in MINT condition and the other is a Pioneer RT-909 in Museum condition and both are AWESOME, both play 7 1/2 and 10 inch reels, I still record and play tapes and listen to and record Albums to tape all the time, even though I have a about 20,000 MP3's, I still prefer albums and tapes (reel to reel and cassette both)just my opinion though..Thanks, Don
I have 3 decks a Sony TC-765, an Otari MX5050 BII-2, and my pride and joy a Studer A810. The Otari is for sure the best bang for the buck, hard to beat it they sound great.
I have been into reel to reel since 75. My huge vinyl collection was the reason for reel to reel.
I had a Teac X1000R. I now own an Otari Mx-5050 and a Technics 2 track 1500. In comparison, the playback on the Otari sounds as good as the recorded CD; while the Technics 2 track sounds better than the recorded CD.
This high sound quality comes at a price; the Technics uses twice as much tape.
The enjoyment you will reap from your vinyl collection is worth a substantial investment.
I would recomend a 10 inch Revox with warranty.