Reel to Reel tape decks

Reel to reel tape decks; I recall going with my wife, in the early 70's, in search for a new washer and dryer. This was when "Tipton", a major appliance store sold everything, including reel to reel tape decks. They were just flat out beautiful; I could picture one in my luxurious listen room done up in mahogany; tables, chairs, woodwork, everything. (in my dreams)


As a matter of fact, there was a Pioneer deck just like the one you see pictured on this link, at that time; presently I have a Technics 2track RS 1500.

I noticed they mentioned a Teac X-2000R. Sorry folks, I don't recommend that one. I bought mine new, and it lasted for a good while, but it was not repair friendly. Even if you get a new deck, it has to be repair friendly; it's not like the old days when you could find a tech to put your specs back in harmony.

I also owned an Akai; it took months to get parts when it was new. How long do you think it would take now?

Technics people were a dream to work with; after I bought my used reel, I called them for new parts, no problem; I bought everything I could replace, that's why mine is still up to snuff. Plus it's repair friendly; I worked on mine a time or two. I'm a tech, not specifically a reel tech, but I do have the repair manual.

Inna, you evidently did your homework; I wouldn't consider anything other than a 2 track, Otari, or Technics like the one in the picture, and Studer with out a doubt, but if you can not get it repaired don't buy it, what ever it is.

That Tascam sure looks pretty; I would buy it new, if the price was right. That $200, pre recorded tape is no good if your machine is not 100% up to specs.

You can record, and playback on your own machine, and get results that are 100% good, but you're taking a chance when you get outside tape that's prerecorded.

For sure, a reel to reel can top any turntable; good luck, have fun; and as I always say;

Enjoy the music.

i had a tandberg in the late 80s

Parts for the Revox A77 cost a small fortune.

Oleschool, that Tandberg was one of the decks I lusted for, but couldn't afford it at that time; now, when you consider the cost of the best TT and cartridge, a reel is not so expensive when your aim is ultimate audio.

Happy listening.

Bdp24, I guess I just got lucky when I found the Technics. They're good people to deal with; at least they were 10 years ago. So many things have changed I'm not sure about now. I'm glad you tipped me off about Revox. CJ was good people awhile back, but now they've gone crazy with the price for parts, and will not sell electrical parts.

Before now, I would have considered Revox. Will they still repair them?

Unless there is recent bad news about Technics, I recommend them.

Enjoy the music.
Yes, you can still get most of the tape decks repaired by techs on the tapeheads forum, most of them just need cleaning and lubing.
I have a Tascam BR-20 pictured in that article, modified Studer-Revox PR-99, and an Otari MX5050. All running great and sounding fantastic! I know I paid a lot more for my vinyl rig than all of my reel decks put together, they are just so affordable and fun to get into.

With Acoustic Sounds now joining in and offering master tape duplicates, things will be exciting in the upcoming months.

Scar972, your post jibes with bdp24's post; he said Revox parts cost a fortune; I guess they figure to cash in on the popularity. Do you have a favorite deck?

Happy listening.
I play my R2R deck more than my vinyl front end (Platine Verdier Schroeder Model2/Allaerts MC1B & Hadcock 228 Decca C4E fed into a TRON Seven Reference Phono Stage).

I have three 2 track 1/4 inch machines - 2 x Sony APR 5000 machines (an APR5003v and an APR5002) plus a Studer A807/II - all 15 IPS capable. I have about 45-50 15IPS "master tapes" - some original distribution masters, some proper studio safety masters, some Tape Project and some other carefully selected "safety copies" purchased from Florida.

It's very hard going back from R2R masters to vinyl, even when my record player is pretty high end. It's just rather expensive :)
I had Otari MX5050 deck with 2 kits: 2-track and 4-track and with 15ips speed.
I miss selling it indeed

Topoxforddoc, I imagine after listening to 15 IPS master tapes, everything else sounds dull. All of us go as far as we can in regard to expense; some are even so accustomed to live, that everything else sounds dull.

It's for sure you can't get any thing better at home than what you're listening to.

Happy listening.
No, I don't have a favorite but if I were to recommend just one deck for someone just getting into reel to reel it would be the Otari MX-5050 BII.
This machine is built like a tank, has many speed, track, equalization options, plenty of available parts, affordable, and best of all it sounds terrific.
If you're after reference level sound, 2-track, 15ips, IEC equalization is where the magic happens. I only wish I have as many tapes as Topoxforddoc to listen to. The master tape duplicates are awefully expensive.

We, "people who love tape decks" are the true music lovers. There are people who like to watch records spin around on the worlds best turntable; while some even like to go shopping for records. Tape deck people just want to listen to their favorite record, minus that cut they can't stand; all that record playing is just work that goes along with the process of transferring it to the tape deck.

Now that all that disagreeable work is done, it's time for a glass of (whatever floats your boat) and watch those hypnotic reels turn so very silently, while becoming immersed in the world of music, where today's dreams of long lost loves can be relived as though it was yesterday.

All of our wins and none of our loses are allowed to intrude on the perfect mood created by those silent hypnotic reels that produce the most realistic music available from one's rig.

Enjoy the music.

Scar972, thank you very much for that recommendation; it's cheaper to buy one than repair one.

I'll get the manual for that, and peruse the advantages.

Could you give me some tips on determining the age of that deck by the serial numbers?

Happy listening.
Orpheus---I had my A77 restored years ago (mid-90's), at the then location of Studer/Revox USA in Nashville. I bought it new in '73, so the cost involved was worth it to me. The longer you own a piece, the lower the year-to-year maintenance costs work out to be! When a quad of A77's appeared in a local Los Angeles sell/trade paper (The Recycler) a few years later for a hundred bucks, I snapped them up. None were working, but I bought them for any future parts I may need. 
No ones mentioned the "King of the Hill" namely the mighty Sony TC880-2  I owned  three of them! I'm sorry I let them go. Joe
Orpheus10, yes Ive also read that you can determine the year it was made by the 2nd and 3rd number of the serial, 1985 would be 185xxxxx.
The Technics RS-1500 you have is a really nice deck, I twice made attempts to buy but lost out. The only thing missing for me on that deck is the lack of IEC equalization which has become the standard on these master copies.

jnovak - I know Sony made some nice ones back then but I just haven’t come across many. Studer and Ampex are still regarded as the best out there.

Revox announces a new reel deck due Q1 of 2017!

Scar972, after I discovered how easy this deck was to work on, I called Panasonic and found that I could get any parts I wanted. The only Ckt boards I've seen of this quality were in industrial equipment; they built this deck to last, and be repaired if it didn't last.

I replaced all the transistors and the capacitors with "Black Gates"; they were expensive and meant to last, but you can't get them anymore. Although I want another deck, I'll never part with this one. I'm not familiar with IEC equalization?

I had a Teac that had a tape position for EE tape, and I really miss that tape. I still have one or two reels left, that are mixed up with the rest of the tapes, and I can no longer tell it by sight, but when I hear it, I know it by sound; it's spectacular. What I didn't know is the fact that you don't have to have a deck with that EE position. I wish I had bought it by the case when it was available.

I'll make sure the next deck has that IEC equalization.

Happy listening.

I must be some kind of reel to reel freak; they all look so beautiful that I want everyone I see. Now I understand why some people have so many. For sure, now is the time to buy, and it's going to take the masses forever to catch on and run the prices up.

Enjoy the music.

I think prices have already gone up on decks.  Moreover, the prices on tapes -- some of unknown or dubious provenance -- has gone up...unquestionably.
There are quite a few r2r tapes of the RCA golden age albums, but not many of the Mercury’s. At least that I’ve seen. Wonder how they sound compared to the LP’s?

Presently, I'm enjoying a new tape I just made, and recalling a story about a well heeled audiophile who could afford just about anything he wanted. This was some time ago when audiophiles were bad mouthing computer audio.

Him and his club got together every week. If I remember correctly, he had "Joule Electra" amp and pre; at that time he was comparing his vinyl collection he had recently archived to the PC library, to direct from the TT. Once he discovered that he couldn't tell the difference between playing a record and listening to the computer playback, he quit spinning vinyl; instead, he selected the evening listening session from the PC library, and settled back into his listening chair to enjoy.

At the next club meeting; "Well John, how did your audition with the XYZ cartridge go"? Rather than tell everyone he'd been listening to computer playback, and had not taken the time to audition "XYZ" cartridge, he faked it.

I'm listening to the reel that I selected, and recorded from the PC library; it's so much easier than the old way of running back and forth from the TT to the deck. I don't think I can tell the difference between CD and LP, much less the difference between spinning a record and hearing it from the TT direct. while most of what was selected is vinyl, there are also some CD's in the mix.

Just recently I posted a thread asking if others could tell the difference between TT direct, and PC playback; they answered they couldn't, and neither can I.

Sometime ago, we went round and round on the PC forum about the best way to archive LP's; and "Stereophile" had articles on the subject, plus, they even selected the best computer cards for interfacing the transition from LP to PC library.

There is absolutely no doubt, that if done right, you can not distinguish between listening to a record from your PC or TT.

BTW, appreciate recommendations for blank tape.

Enjoy the music.


For me it was a two track, high speed (7.5/15.0 ips) Revox B77 MKII. Selling this piece of HiFi legend was the most stupid thing I have ever done. Not only did it look superb in my living room, it also solicited a lot of questions/interest, performed flawlessly and sounded great. Really wish I had kept it!

mgattmch, I know you do; I've never heard nothing but good things about that deck. But it's good that you can get another one, and blank tape is no problem, like it was for a couple of minutes; I just ordered some.

Good luck.
I sold Tandberg at a brick and mortor in the 80-90s there gear was slamming ,i sold my dragon and had there cassette deck also . Sold off over the yrs ,😓

Oleschool, that "Tandberg" was one beautiful deck; are many of them still around? I used cassettes until they put CD players in the cars, I had the top of the line Sony. Still got it, but I gave away boxes of cassettes because I no longer have use for them.

Oleschool, which model was the last one they made?

Honestly its been a longggg time ,i do believe it was a td20a .This was around 89' i also had a 3014a cassette at the time it was serious i sold my dragon for it salesmen discount 40% off lol . I was like 18-19 when i got it : )

I looked on ebay for kicks ,there were some td20a for 1k`-2k

I have my boxed reels stacked on shelves like records; but unlike most people, I just grab one down without even knowing what's on it. Today, the reel I pulled down had songs on it like "Ling Ting Tong" , "Barbara Ann", and "In The Still of The Night". This is music that was popular when I was in Jr. High, and High School. I was in no mood for reminiscing, but the music just drew me in.

That's when I got up and checked the reel; it was "Maxell" tape, that's what made the big difference. Maybe if these reels get popular again, we'll be able to get our favorite tape. How many different brands of tape are available now, does anybody know?

Happy listening.

I thought this was very interesting for guys like us who really like reel to reel. There is a reel to reel museum in Texas; I didn't know they had anything in Texas beside the biggest rattlesnakes you ever saw. (ha ha)

This link brings back a lot of memories for those who became acquainted with many different decks in years past.

Happy listening.
I've never had a problem with parts when restoring any machine.  That includes SONY, Otari,Pioneer, TEAC,Studer or Akai.  I didn't even have problems restoring my Crown 822.  It resides in Vietnam now.  Wish I'd kept that one.

I love em all.  If you have one tune it up. Simply amazing listening experience. 


Norman, I recall a beautiful 10 inch Crown, that was on display at the store I went to in the beginning. That was when most of the reels were the 7 inch kind; my first reel was a small Akai.

Here's a big Crown that reminds me of the one that was on display. BTW, I just discovered that a 2 track will correct some room anomalies; the playback from the head is so forceful, that it corrects a left right imbalance caused by room acoustics. I get a perfect sound stage on playback from the reel with the same CD that gets a heavy to the right imbalance.

I spent years trying to find the cause of that problem, until I finally decided it was the room, because everything else that could cause that problem checked out good.

Happy listening.
There are 2 manufacturers of new R2R tape - ATR and RMG/Pyral (now known as Recording the Masters RTM). A new US tape made by Capture has been mooted as well.

Essentially, the ATR tapes are similar to the old Ampex and Quantegy, whilst the RTM are the old Agfa PEM468, BASF SM911 and SM900 tape formulations (with long play variants LPR35 and LPR90 respectively for the SM911 and 900). I use the RTM tapes all the time (LPR35, SM911 and SM900); I have not had any SSS problems and the quality has been excellent.

If you are in the US, you may find that ATR is cheaper. However, I have heard reports of occasional SSS, although I have not experienced this myself.

Topoxforddoc, thank you very much for that information. Since I started this thread, I've been listening exclusively to the reel, and enjoying the music more everyday.

"Nina Simone" sounds so much more "Simonish"; she's in a class all by herself, and she can also play the piano.

No matter who the artist is, you get so much more involved when you hear them from the reel. I quit trying to distinguish whether or not I'm listening to LP or CD because I can't tell the difference; my LP's get so little play, because I record them on PC or reel, that they have almost no record noise, and when you think about it, CD's are now "analog".

We "music lovers" always need something to put new life in our hobby, and this is it.

Enjoy the music.

Here are the facts on 2017 Revox Reel soon to be out;

Those  are the links on what I could find. If they're coming up with a new reel, I'm sure there will be new tape, or even some of the same old tape that's good as any.

I still have some EE Maxel, and listening to the playback on that at 7 1/2 IPS is entering a whole new world of playback. Originally I purchased it because it delivered high speed tape sound at low speed play; thereby giving you twice the time per reel without sacrificing any quality in regard to high end audio. Since it was for a Teac with a position for EE Tape, I didn't know it would work on any machine.

Presently I use the little I have left on my Technics, and it's out of this world; I believe it could even beat the new Revox if it used old tape.

Happy listening.

Interesting that nobody talks about tape life/management/degaussing/erasure/printhrough....

I worked at a major studio in Chicago for a little while when I was a kid. It was all a BIG DEAL there. I remember degaussing an old Ampex 1/2" mastering deck and having the engineer yell at me: "what are you doing! You MUST do that properly or you'll ruin our master tapes!"

Maintenance of the decks and rolling the master tapes was 1/2 of what I did there.

Life span of tape is quite finite, along with the gradual degradation over time from stray fields. How do tape head audiophiles deal with that? The studio had a climate/humidity controlled room for storage!

The Ampex and Studer machines they had there were quite amazing machines.

I am religious in regard to degaussing; after every recording I degauss the tape heads. Recorded reels must be far enough away not to be affected. I clean tape heads with a cotton swab after every use. I have rubber cleaner for the pinch rollers; it not only cleans them, but it also keeps them new.

If you only play tapes without recording, there is no need to degauss as far as I know, but you still have to clean the heads; which is also very easy.

For reasons I'm unaware of, I never had an aging problem; maybe it's because I record over what's already been recorded; and the way I do this, is to first record with no signal, that erases whatever was previously on the tape; then it's like a new tape.

If I failed to mention anything else that should be done, you can "Enliten" me.

Enjoy the music.

Jnovak,My best friend owned a Sony 10 inch reel to reel, when I see that reel, I think of the times we had at the parties he gave with music from the reel. Sometime we just listened to the reel; he's no longer with us and I miss him.

I've got a Technichs RS 1500 2 Track, and there's a thread on reels that will put you back into the game; I'll dial it up; in the meantime, check this out;

This is the RS 1500

Enjoy the music.