What is the best Reel To Reel machine ever built?

Everyone who has listened to master tapes or dubs knows about the well balanced sound they provide. But it is also important to have a fine tape recorder or playing machine to enjoy the tapes' qualities in a good system.
Maybe my question was raised once before but the relevance of the topic is now greater as the tapes are back to more and more audiophile friends, especially those who are owning excellent phono chains.

I have seen many big & professional machines being recently offered and sold on e-bay, Audiogon and other platforms and I am discussing within a small group which machine is really the "holy grail" among the R2Rs. So why not here. I am interested in findings.
Atmasphere, since you have some very good R2R's have you ever tried to contact a major orchestra like say the Cleveland Orchestra, one of the worlds greatest to capture them on tape?  I am sure the records would sell as audiophiles know who the Cleveland Orchestra is all over the world.
They have a contract :)
Studer made the best solid state stuff IME.
ALRIGHT! What mics, pres, and mixer are you using for your location gigs?

Best regards,


NP, I use a pair of 414xls or C-12s direct into a pair of 737 preamps.if digital then into rosetta 200, if analog straight into analog inputs on tape deck
I have heard Studer C37, heard Studer 820, never heard Ampex or ATR. 
It was on different occasions , with different gear so it is hard to compare.
But by far the biggest impression made on me UHA-Tascam phase 11. No other R2R have even come close to this shattering bass, dynamics, color micro-details. Curious if anybody had a chance to compare Ampex, ATR, STuder to UHA-Tascam on the some gear. I'm talking about honest R2R shootout.
with 30-50 year old RTR decks there is such a wide variance of condition it is very challenging to be able to compare and draw any conclusive conclusions. and further you need to separate transport and tape handling performance from heads and output electronics. heads and output electronics can and typically these days are upgraded or modified to better the original limitations.

the UHA-Tascam has the output electronics and head part very up to date and refined. yet while it’s transport is good, and certainly optimized, it’s ultimately limited by it’s heritage from ultimate master recorder level transport. it can’t do 1/2" or 30ips.

i believe that the UHA-Tascam is the best plug and play current choice for tape decks. however; any shootout would be likely won by a master recorder like the A-820 or ATR-102 fully optimized by the right heads and output electronics. transport performance would push it farther. and if you go 1/2" then it would not be close.

i’ve heard a hot rodded ATR-102 with optimized heads and ATR Services Aria output electronics on 1/2" that was fantastic. don’t think that the UHA-Tascam gets into that league. but when you consider the value of that particular ATR deck likely exceeds $40k the UHA looks like a bargain even at top spec.