You might try the "Tape Trails" forum over at Audio Asylum.
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So wha' kinda baby toy you'd like?
Something that plays 1/4" stereo(4trk) with two heads and two sides or something professional 1/2" or even 1" that plays only on one side?
The thicker the tape and the less tracks the better the recording and playback quality is.
If you want a true high-end one, you should take 2trk(one-way stereo) with 1" tapes...
Thanks for all the responses so far.
Marakanetz, I had planned on a pro or semi-pro 1/2" 15ips capable deck. I like the idea of a Nagra IV-S (or similarly-sized Stellavox) because of its size. I like the idea of an Otari MX5050 for its flexibility. I like the idea of one of the semi-pro Studer A/B77s because they are cheaper. I want to experiment with a truly high quality deck but probably want to start at the less expensive end of the spectrum.
I must admit, I did not know one could buy 1" tape decks. If possible, please give me a guide of where to start digging up info on these.
Otaris are very good RR machines and 1/2" 2trk(one-way stereo) will be great enough for recording and playback.
Nowdays they're all vintage "toys" replaced by much more versatile digital hard disk units such as Alesis.
As to 1" machines you can also find them among Otari but they are too large and getting the bobins for such machine will definitely be a hassle while 1/2" you can still find in music stores such as Sam Ash Agfa or Basf.
The latest Otari is MX5050-BIII which comes either 1/2" or 1/4" 1, 2, 4 and multi-track.
I have one each Teac X-1000r and X-2000r. Love them both and on my system they sound identical. Bought the 1000 from Detroit Audio on 6 mile rd. in Detroit (duh!)which I'm probably sure is long gone and got the 2000 while stationed in Germany. Sounds best when ran thru my outboard DBX unit. Seen a Akai 747 for sale on ebay (lovely machine!!!) you might wanna look into it. Good luck.
If you want to dabble in it, start with 1/4", Technics are all great, 1500, 1506 and the 1700 are great decks, the difference is 2 vs. 4 track and auto reverse, a Tandberg in good condition you cannot go wrong with, Otari makes a good deck, but I would not start with that deck unless you know that you r2r is want you want to get into. They do make plenty of 1" decks, but they are not 2 track, they are all multi track and unless you plan on doing mixing, etc, are way beyond what you need. As previously suggested, I would look on the vingage r2r site from Texas, he is very knowledgable and helpful. You can ask him questions directly, he monitors the r2r forum on audiokarmha forums.
Another forum site with a good deal of Reel to Reel threads is over at AudioKarma.org. One knowledgeable fellow is a guy named Goldear - track down his threads - and they'll lead to others.
I've been playing RtRs for 40 years, and many 2-track pre-records have stunning sound. Just this year a company has revived operations in an old BASF plant in New Jersey and is producing top quality Reel to Reel media stock - ostensibly for for non-digital, archival purposes, but great news form the rest of us.