You can find a used B77MKII at lower pricing and in very good condition.
What very good condition means, very good heads, very good motors and brakes, and a good cosmetic condition.
A deck of this vintage would need new caps, new bearings, new trimmer pots, good cleaning of contacts, new roller, and calibration for a specific tape you like.
So check first the tech who will be able to do the work.
Still parts for these decks are quite economical, apart from new heads, so you can bring it to new looking status, plus they are easy to maintain and have a great sound.
Of course with the refurbished ones you do not have to worry for any of the above extra work.
Perhaps considered a step down from those brands, but I have had very good results with Teac's.
Last Prosumer Deck, x2000r (cobalt heads). X1000r is prior model, also very good results. Insides are the same, heads and meters different.
I do the mechanical adjustments myself, clean, lube, belts, resistor adjustments for tension, ff/rev speeds, brakes, align the reel decks, that keeps the expense way down, no need to get to/from a technician.
Electrical problem, I cannot handle it, remarkably, none of the Teac's have had electrical problems. I had a 4 forward track Tascam, gave it to a musician friend of mine. Same with a 4 forward track Teac I had. I play, I don't record anymore. Innards essentially the same.
2 X2000r's active here, 2 X1000r's for my sons, 3rd X2000r in a box waiting for the day ..., some heads, some meters, rollers ... I'm not living without R2R.
2 1/2 track B-77 both bought at the low end of status but functioning and brought up to date and hot Rod as needed. Check out Bottlehead forum for tips and help
proximity to good tech is valuable if you are not so inclined
If you want really high end, the Decware ZP3 phono stage is designed to also be used with tape decks. The signal is then taken directly off the heads, bypassing the deck, and that may well be a lot higher quality, depending on the deck of course.
Something industrially built (pro-use) and something with a warranty.
The peace of mind will be more than worth it.
Too bad you can't first transfer those tapes to HR 24/192hz digital recording using a Tascam recorder such as the Tascam DA 3000, just in case...
You said it yourself. You have a high end system so buy a completely refurbished/rebuilt deck for $5,000.
why not look at an Otari with 15ips capability? Balanced outputs and inputs, 10" reels, awesome deck
As you know, a R2R deck is the best sound and biggest upkeep.
Either get your Teac rebuilt or get a fully refurbished one. Revox is, IMO, very high quality but others will give you excellent performance.
Thank you one and all for your generous and helpful input. I've been on other forums that are filled with insults, one upsmanship, and the dreaded politics. This one is focussed on the topic, and genial in nature.
PS This almost makes me look forward to my next "dilemma" :)
Assuming your tapes are 2 channel 4 track (1/4 track) 7-1/2 ips recordings, you might also consider a ReVox A77 MkIV. These machines are quite good and in some instances a little easier to service in that the record amps and reproduce amps are on separate PCB's which can aid in trouble shooting. I have refurbed a number of these machines with good success. Of course in addition to replacing all the aluminum electrolytics, tantalum electrolytics, motor caps and suppression caps, the trim pots should be replaced as well as these get heavily oxidized over time and become difficult, if not impossible to readjust. The transport control relays should be checked as well and replaced if finicky.
Once all that is done, the mechanics should be gone over thoroughly. Motor bearings, guides, pinch roller and brakes need to be inspected and replaced or refurbed to insure reliability. I worked for ReVox back in the early 70's and have high regard for the design of this machine. Once refurbed, you should get another 30 years of service from it (assuming heads are not severely worn). They will cost much less than a B77. OTOH, if you are looking for a machine with balanced i/O, I would recommend a PR-99MkIII.
You don't say how your machine failed. Motor capacitor problems are common and easy to fix. Has it been lubed in the last few years? The arm that swings the pinch roller against the capstan can stick and cause trouble. Do the reels move when you hit PLAY? Often the old grease turns to peanut butter!
If your music is on 7 inch reels, I can copy them to CDs or whatever digital form you prefer and "de-hiss" them with computer software. Are you in Southern California? I snoop thrift stores for old tape decks. There are lots (comparatively) of old Sonys and Teacs around. The Panasonics are really rebranded Sonys. So far, I've gotten four out of five running again.