Considering Reel-To-Reel

skrolskrol Posts: 2,782
Since I was a kid I've had a liking of magnetic recorders. I still have a collection of cassette decks but I've always wanted to get a reel-to-reel. I had a portable 3M Wollensak for a while but the heads were well worn and I think my parents gave it away after I moved out.

Anyway I have a chance to get an Akai GX-265D. The guy doesn't know if it works but it looks to be in good condition. He only wants $50 so it isn't much loss of it is a dud.

Not knowing much about this unit, is it worth the while and $$ to fix it up?

He also has a GX-280D and a TEAC A-4010 that are known not working for the same price.

Thanks
Stan

jcmaba7bjfa7.jpg
Stan

Main 2ch:
Polk LSi15 (DB840 upgrade), Parasound: P/LD-1100, HCA-1000A; Denon: DVD-2910, DRM-800A; Monster HTS3600-MKII, Grado SR-225i

HT:
Marantz SR7010, Polk: RTA11TL (RDO198-1, XO and Damping Upgrades), S4, CS250, PSW10 (DXi104 upgrade), Marantz UD5005, Pioneer PL-530, Panasonic TC-P42S60

Other stuff:
Denon: DRA-835R, AVR-888, DCD-660, DRM-700A, DRR-780; Polk: S8, Monitor 5A, 5B, TSi100, RM7; Pioneer: CT-6R; Onkyo CP-1046F; Ortofon OM5E, Marantz: PM5004, CD5004, CDR-615; Parasound C/PT-600, HCA-800ii, Sony CDP-, Technics SA 5070, B&W DM601
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Comments

  • NightfallNightfall Posts: 7,995
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • tratlifftratliff Posts: 805
    edited August 26
    They can sound great but tapes are difficult to come by. It depends on what your planned usage will be. I purchased a technics 1500 last year and it is a great machine but I don't get much use out of it because I want high end prerecorded tapes. Those are rather expensive. You can pick up blanks on the internet for reasonable prices.

    My dad has 4 different machines. Otari, Teac, Pioneer and Tascam. He gets more use because he likes to record and then playback. He has had 3 of those 4 reconditioned and that can get costly also.

    I purchased a couple of blanks and recorded vinyl, SACD and CD to see how they would sound. The playback is great.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Here is a picture of the one I purchased.

    lkgjoz19fvnm.bmp
    2 Channel
    Legacy Focus SE, 2 REL Carbon Limited, McIntosh C50, McIntosh MC601's, VPI Prime w/SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC, Parasound Halo JC3, Marantz SA-14s1, Oppo BDP-105, Technics RS-1500, Furman Elite 15PFi, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Interconnects, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Speaker Cables, Pangea Power Cables

    Theater
    Yamaha RX-Z9, Legacy Focus SE (same as 2 Channel system), Def Tech C/L/R 2500, Def Tech BP-2X, Def Tech Pro-Monitors, Vizio M-75

    Office
    Teac NP-H750, Parasound Ztuner, Audio Engine P4N, Grado SR80, Grado iGrado, Audio-Technica ATH-M50, PC running High Rez files

    Living Room
    Yamaha YSP-4100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 60"

    Bed Room
    Yamaha YSP-5100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 70"

  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 42,448
    I gave serious consideration to one, bought a turntable instead.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,585
    edited August 26
    So I have it on pretty good authority (comments from Charles "Stellavox" King, one of the US's big-time tape deck gurus) that the above-mentioned Technics (the RS-1500 family) is probably the best all-around practical choice for a serious, committed amateur/hobbyist. Parts are available (not trivially easily, but available) and the tape path and tape handling is way, way better than average.

    Most of the really good decks that are anything like practical and affordable are so-called "prosumer" products, and are really meant to be used as tools by folks who know what they're doing -- practically, this means that the responsibility not to snap tapes when operating the deck lies with the operator, not the deck! :#

    I have an Otari MX-5050 and a ReVox A77. These are both pretty good decks, capable of pretty good audio performance with a little TLC and capable of superb audio performance with some real work :p -- but both can be a little tough on tapes -- the A77 in particular, famously so. :(

    The other 1/4 inch tape options that are even better are even more stratospheric in price and/or need lots of work.

    Since these were machines used by pros in deadline-driven, for profit environments (studios and radio stations), 'affordable' examples are typically of the rode hard and put away wet kind. :p

    The tape handling 'issue' I mentioned above is a non-trivial consideration, because... the big problem with tape is the "software" -- unless you want to make your own, be prepared to spend a lot of money. Truth be told, one will never "get" tape as an analog reproduction medium without listening to low generation masters, e.g., safety two-track copies of masters used as the origin of records in the old analog reproduction chain, or direct copies of master tapes that were sent out to pressing plants to produce LPs for sale. Such tapes aren't terribly hard to find -- but demand is high and the market for 'em is rife with folks with deep pockets!

    The other choice are current production, real-time duplicated tapes such as those from Doc Bottlehead's Tape Project. These are great, but quite pricey, and the selection's fairly limited. https://tapeproject.com/

    There are, of course, more affordable tape deck options -- most would be truly consumer-oriented, 'quarter-track' (two-sided stereo tape) format decks that aren't particularly rugged (especially after 40 or 50 years of use, storage, or neglect) that won't be compatible with the high-quality two-track media mentioned above. Many commercial quarter-track stereo tapes -- especially pop/rock music -- were high speed duplicated, on meh-quality tape, and sometimes at the inferior playback speed of 3-3/4 ips... and they're still not very inexpensive in 2019 if they're anything like desirable titles (e.g., storebought Beatles tapes!).

    :p

    How much do you want to know, @Skrol? are you interested in rank-and file decks (Pioneer, AKAI, Sony, TEAC/TASCAM etc.)? I can pontificate about those, too B)

    There are some good ones, but they're old -- and parts can be hard to find, and a properly restored/repaired deck can end up being pretty expensive.
    Here, for example, is the canonical restoration guide for the Pioneer RT-909 from R. Pustelniak at AK (who is an expert on these decks and many other things Pioneer).
    https://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php?threads/restoring-a-pioneer-rt-909-reel-to-reel.93227/

    I have an RT-909 that's due a pretty comprehensive rehab -- I've yet to work up the gumption to tackle it, though.
  • la2vegasla2vegas Posts: 3,594
    tratliff wrote: »
    They can sound great but tapes are difficult to come by. It depends on what your planned usage will be. I purchased a technics 1500 last year and it is a great machine but I don't get much use out of it because I want high end prerecorded tapes. Those are rather expensive. You can pick up blanks on the internet for reasonable prices.

    My dad has 4 different machines. Otari, Teac, Pioneer and Tascam. He gets more use because he likes to record and then playback. He has had 3 of those 4 reconditioned and that can get costly also.

    I purchased a couple of blanks and recorded vinyl, SACD and CD to see how they would sound. The playback is great.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Here is a picture of the one I purchased.

    lkgjoz19fvnm.bmp

    Saw this 1506 in my local craigslist, no where near 50 dollars. :'(
    d23btmlysyfq.jpg
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,585
    edited August 26
    Oh, the AKAI for 50 smackers might not be a bad choice as a deck to play with :)
    https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/akai/gx-265d.shtml

    On the up side, it's a solenoid-controlled deck.
    On the down side, it's an auto-reverse deck, somewhat offset by being "direct drive". and having two separate sets of heads for the two directions :)

    The AKAI GX heads are, to the best of my knowledge, pretty long-lasting.

    To get good high frequency response, the tape contact with the coil in the tape playback head must be very intimate (as in "you'd better buy me dinner, too!" intimate ;) ), and the linear tape speed is fairly high (optimally, either 7-1/2 or 15 inches per second) -- so frictional wear on the tape heads is a big problem. Many older "as found" decks will exhibit considerable head wear. The heads can be relapped if not too bad, but if they're too far gone, they'd need to be replaced (which may be difficult to nigh-on impossible, depending on the deck, in 2019).

    At any rate, the AKAI is likely to still have heads in OK condition.

    The rubber parts are, perhaps, the other big unknown with an old/used deck. The deck may work, but may exhibit unacceptable wow and/or flutter.

    Sometimes a good ol' cleanin' of the 'drivetrain' can improve things considerably, though.

    Electrolytic capacitors in a 40 year old deck are also -- how to put this delicately? -- not at their best.

    :#

    Is this helping any? I don't mind typing! ;)

  • motorstereomotorstereo Posts: 1,291
    My best bud in this hobby sadly passed away 4 years ago and left me with over a dozen rtr's and over 100 tapes. They're not for everyone and it didn't take me long to realize that the care and feeding they require isn't my cup of tea either.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,585
    Oh.
    xvc830pkg9cz.png

    'blank' tapes (and/or someone else's home-made tapes)...

    The good stuff's good stuff (Maxell, TDK, BASF, and some specific tape formulations from other vendors) -- and prices reflect it (even for used tape). On the bright side, 40 year-old Maxell UD-35-90 is, typically, as good as new, even if played many times.
    It's good stuff.

    But... beware the myriad tape formulations -- mostly from Ampex -- that suffer the dreaded sticky shed syndrome. Avoid 'em like the plague, or plan to spend plenty of extra time cleaning tape paths or baking tapes. B)

    https://psap.library.illinois.edu/collection-id-guide/softbindersyn
    http://richardhess.com/notes/formats/magnetic-media/magnetic-tapes/analog-audio/degrading-tapes/

  • oldrockeroldrocker Posts: 2,211
    I have some Akai decks that still work quite well. Nothing really fancy and yes they are old, I just got lucky when I found them.

    Got a bunch of sealed blank tapes in one purchase.

    I enjoy watching the reels go round and round and the meters bouncing

    Good luck and enjoy.
  • Viking64Viking64 Posts: 4,108
    My scroll finger just slipped into a coma. :'(
  • tratlifftratliff Posts: 805
    la2vegas wrote: »
    tratliff wrote: »
    They can sound great but tapes are difficult to come by. It depends on what your planned usage will be. I purchased a technics 1500 last year and it is a great machine but I don't get much use out of it because I want high end prerecorded tapes. Those are rather expensive. You can pick up blanks on the internet for reasonable prices.

    My dad has 4 different machines. Otari, Teac, Pioneer and Tascam. He gets more use because he likes to record and then playback. He has had 3 of those 4 reconditioned and that can get costly also.

    I purchased a couple of blanks and recorded vinyl, SACD and CD to see how they would sound. The playback is great.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Here is a picture of the one I purchased.

    lkgjoz19fvnm.bmp

    Saw this 1506 in my local craigslist, no where near 50 dollars. :'(
    d23btmlysyfq.jpg

    That’s an awesome machine. I might have broke down and bought it. Just to have a different model.
    2 Channel
    Legacy Focus SE, 2 REL Carbon Limited, McIntosh C50, McIntosh MC601's, VPI Prime w/SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC, Parasound Halo JC3, Marantz SA-14s1, Oppo BDP-105, Technics RS-1500, Furman Elite 15PFi, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Interconnects, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Speaker Cables, Pangea Power Cables

    Theater
    Yamaha RX-Z9, Legacy Focus SE (same as 2 Channel system), Def Tech C/L/R 2500, Def Tech BP-2X, Def Tech Pro-Monitors, Vizio M-75

    Office
    Teac NP-H750, Parasound Ztuner, Audio Engine P4N, Grado SR80, Grado iGrado, Audio-Technica ATH-M50, PC running High Rez files

    Living Room
    Yamaha YSP-4100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 60"

    Bed Room
    Yamaha YSP-5100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 70"

  • la2vegasla2vegas Posts: 3,594
    tratliff wrote: »
    la2vegas wrote: »
    tratliff wrote: »
    They can sound great but tapes are difficult to come by. It depends on what your planned usage will be. I purchased a technics 1500 last year and it is a great machine but I don't get much use out of it because I want high end prerecorded tapes. Those are rather expensive. You can pick up blanks on the internet for reasonable prices.

    My dad has 4 different machines. Otari, Teac, Pioneer and Tascam. He gets more use because he likes to record and then playback. He has had 3 of those 4 reconditioned and that can get costly also.

    I purchased a couple of blanks and recorded vinyl, SACD and CD to see how they would sound. The playback is great.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

    Here is a picture of the one I purchased.

    lkgjoz19fvnm.bmp

    Saw this 1506 in my local craigslist, no where near 50 dollars. :'(
    d23btmlysyfq.jpg

    That’s an awesome machine. I might have broke down and bought it. Just to have a different model.

    You high roller you. :)
  • verbverb Posts: 7,324
    I always love seeing the mechanisms of R2R in action! :)
    Basement: Polk SDA SRS, Cary SLP-05 Pre, Enlightened Audio Designs CD Transport, Northstar Designs Excelsio DAC, Silnote Morpheus Ref2 Digital Cable, Marantz SA-14 SACD, McIntosh MC300 Amp, Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner, Pangea Power Cables, Wireworld Oasis 8 RCA IC's, MIT Shotgun S3 IC's, MIT Shotgun S1 Bi-Wire speaker cables
    Office: PC, EAR Acute CD Player, EAR 834L Pre, PASS ACA Monoblocks, Denon UDR-F10 Cassette, Acoustic Technologies Classic FR Speakers, SVS SB12 Plus sub, MIT AVt2 speaker cables, IFI Purifier2, AQ Cinnamon USB cable, Groneberg Quatro Reference IC's
    Spare Room: , Antique Sound Labs Wave AV-8 Monoblocks, Tisbury Mini Passive Pre, Tjoeb 99 tube CD player (modified Marantz CD-38), Analysis Plus Oval 9's, Zu Jumpers, AudioEngine B1 Streamer, Klipsch RB-61 v2, SVS PB1000 sub, Blue Jeans RCA IC's
    Living Room: Peachtree Nova Integrated, Cambridge CXN v2 Streamer, Furman 15PFi Power Conditioner, Polk RT265 In Wall Speakers, Polk DSW Pro 660wi sub
  • delkaldelkal Posts: 559
    edited August 26
    Reel to reel? You are about 40-50 years too late!

    Unless you have some rare hi-fidelity recordings in a box somewhere what are you going to do with it? Just use your computer and get a good DAC. Or even better get a turntable.

    I have seen companies selling newly recorded reels that are supposedly good but they also have astronomical prices for just one album.

  • Jetmaker737Jetmaker737 Posts: 873
    I have a TEAC A-6100 2 and 4 track machine. There are basically two main uses for a RtR. First is to play pre-recorded tapes. Second is to record your own tapes. When I bought my machine my intention was to record stuff. But I quickly found that in this day of streaming, recording tapes was just extra work (to me). So unless you really just like the process of recording (or have a band), there's not much point. But it can be done fairly cheaply (not including the cost of the deck).

    What surprised me though was that I found I really liked to collect and play pre-recorded tapes. I've now accumulated a pretty decent collection of mostly 2-track and some 4-track tapes. But here's the thing. There is not much to be had in the rock category. I have a few, even a couple of Beatles releases but they don't get a lot of air time for what they cost ($100 bucks and up). What I've collected mostly is classical stuff. I'd never ever listened to classical before I got my RtR. All my classical tapes are from the 50's and early '60's. In most cases they are truly great sounding, and opened up a new world of music for this lifetime rock and roller. These tapes will cost you from $25 to $100 each and higher in certain cases. Not cheap.

    So if you want to dip into recording, you could take a risk on the Akai. But if you want to go pre-recorded prepare to open your wallet. And in that case you should also be prepared to spend bucks on a deck. In my case I did a ton of research on decks and then lucked into my TEAC that was owned by a guy who was a TEAC technician for 40 something years and this was his favorite personal deck. Well maintained obviously, and priced accordingly.

    My TEAC A-6100:

    rl4k17b7g386.jpg
    System
    Yamaha A-S3000 Integrated Amplifier
    Sonus Faber Cremona Loudspeakers
    PS Audio Directream Jr| Jolida JD-100A CDP | Sansui TU-9900 Tuner|TEAC A-6100 RtR
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,585
    edited August 26
    delkal wrote: »
    Reel to reel? You are about 40-50 years too late!

    Unless you have some rare hi-fidelity recordings in a box somewhere what are you going to do with it? Just use your computer and get a good DAC. Or even better get a turntable.

    Why? That's easy. The Cult of the Arcane.
    Same reason folks buy, oh, I dunno -- 1970 Dodge Challengers.
    Get a nice new Camry -- an utterly superior automobile in all respects, at a fraction of the price.
    Or why the heck buy a 1963 Ferrari GTO when you can get a Tesla S that will leave it in the dust?
    I have seen companies selling newly recorded reels that are supposedly good but they also have astronomical prices for just one album.

    https://store.acousticsounds.com/s/462
    https://tapeproject.com/catalog/


    i477azztnqdr.jpg
    rphajv5g0mop.jpg

  • tratlifftratliff Posts: 805
    delkal wrote: »
    Reel to reel? You are about 40-50 years too late!

    Unless you have some rare hi-fidelity recordings in a box somewhere what are you going to do with it? Just use your computer and get a good DAC. Or even better get a turntable.

    I have seen companies selling newly recorded reels that are supposedly good but they also have astronomical prices for just one album.

    Not sure I agree. You might should have a listen to a properly setup R2R with a good quality recording.

    I don’t disagree, digital is great. But why not give other sources a try. I’m guessing you don’t prefer vinyl either.
    2 Channel
    Legacy Focus SE, 2 REL Carbon Limited, McIntosh C50, McIntosh MC601's, VPI Prime w/SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC, Parasound Halo JC3, Marantz SA-14s1, Oppo BDP-105, Technics RS-1500, Furman Elite 15PFi, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Interconnects, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Speaker Cables, Pangea Power Cables

    Theater
    Yamaha RX-Z9, Legacy Focus SE (same as 2 Channel system), Def Tech C/L/R 2500, Def Tech BP-2X, Def Tech Pro-Monitors, Vizio M-75

    Office
    Teac NP-H750, Parasound Ztuner, Audio Engine P4N, Grado SR80, Grado iGrado, Audio-Technica ATH-M50, PC running High Rez files

    Living Room
    Yamaha YSP-4100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 60"

    Bed Room
    Yamaha YSP-5100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 70"

  • skrolskrol Posts: 2,782
    Thanks for all the advise. I tend to agree what was said about modern streaming of music. I have some nice Denon cassette decks and a collection of pre-recorded and self recorded tapes. I also have some really nice blanks but I never use them. They are there in case I get the itch. From a practical sense it probably isn't worth it.

    There is something elegant about the R2R, same with TT and cassette to a degree. I think I'm mostly looking for a project and to satisfy a long time curiosity for R2R. I'll probably buy it unless the guy changes his mind about the price. I just don't want to throw a bunch of money into something that is mediocre or that I can't get parts for. Worse case, I could buy and part it out if it turns out to be a dud.
    Stan

    Main 2ch:
    Polk LSi15 (DB840 upgrade), Parasound: P/LD-1100, HCA-1000A; Denon: DVD-2910, DRM-800A; Monster HTS3600-MKII, Grado SR-225i

    HT:
    Marantz SR7010, Polk: RTA11TL (RDO198-1, XO and Damping Upgrades), S4, CS250, PSW10 (DXi104 upgrade), Marantz UD5005, Pioneer PL-530, Panasonic TC-P42S60

    Other stuff:
    Denon: DRA-835R, AVR-888, DCD-660, DRM-700A, DRR-780; Polk: S8, Monitor 5A, 5B, TSi100, RM7; Pioneer: CT-6R; Onkyo CP-1046F; Ortofon OM5E, Marantz: PM5004, CD5004, CDR-615; Parasound C/PT-600, HCA-800ii, Sony CDP-, Technics SA 5070, B&W DM601
  • Jetmaker737Jetmaker737 Posts: 873
    For 50 bucks you can't go wrong. And there are lots of 4 track tapes you can get fairly cheap. If the deck works you will have fun.
    System
    Yamaha A-S3000 Integrated Amplifier
    Sonus Faber Cremona Loudspeakers
    PS Audio Directream Jr| Jolida JD-100A CDP | Sansui TU-9900 Tuner|TEAC A-6100 RtR
  • motorstereomotorstereo Posts: 1,291
    [quote="tratliff;
    [/quote]

    Not sure I agree. You might should have a listen to a properly setup R2R with a good quality recording.

    I don’t disagree, digital is great. But why not give other sources a try. I’m guessing you don’t prefer vinyl either. [/quote]

    In my case I found rtr's very noisy; between their mechanical noise and the tape hiss. Leaving the room and coming back in to find tape spilled out on the floor didn't sit too well with me either. But to some people those problems, limitations, and nostalgia are part of the attraction.

  • tratlifftratliff Posts: 805

    Motor - I think you may be overlooking key components of my statement.

    You might should have a listen to a properly setup R2R with a good quality recording.
    2 Channel
    Legacy Focus SE, 2 REL Carbon Limited, McIntosh C50, McIntosh MC601's, VPI Prime w/SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC, Parasound Halo JC3, Marantz SA-14s1, Oppo BDP-105, Technics RS-1500, Furman Elite 15PFi, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Interconnects, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Speaker Cables, Pangea Power Cables

    Theater
    Yamaha RX-Z9, Legacy Focus SE (same as 2 Channel system), Def Tech C/L/R 2500, Def Tech BP-2X, Def Tech Pro-Monitors, Vizio M-75

    Office
    Teac NP-H750, Parasound Ztuner, Audio Engine P4N, Grado SR80, Grado iGrado, Audio-Technica ATH-M50, PC running High Rez files

    Living Room
    Yamaha YSP-4100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 60"

    Bed Room
    Yamaha YSP-5100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 70"

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,585
    edited August 27
    Good (and well maintained) tape transports are mechanically quiet; the biggest issue with mechanical noise, IME/IMO, is usually due to a warped tape reel (typically the take-up reel -- I dunno why, but that usually seems to be the case when it happens).

    As to hiss -- well, yeah, it's inevitable, but not bad with good quality tape, clean and demagnetized heads/tape path) and superb electronics. half-track stereo helps (I think 3dB better s/n than quarter-track, all else being equal), as does 15 ips (although 7-1/2 ips ain't bad at all).

    Superb electronics: :)

    w7dkgfo8rrgi.jpg
    (the heads on that Studer A80 pictured above were feedin' this bespoke preamp built by the aforementioned Mr. King)

    In terms of using NR (Dolby) or other companders (dBx) to improve s/n -- the cure's worse than the disease, as far as I am concerned.. :/



  • BDTBDT Posts: 189
    F1nut wrote: »
    I gave serious consideration to one, bought a turntable instead.

    HUH??

    I've heard a couple of great r2r demos....most notably Ken S's

    The sound can be phenomenal.....but it's a labor intensive endeavor and source material can be hard to come by. The garbage in/garbage out rule definately applies.....more on the equipment side it seems. But, if the price of admission isn't too bad, what's really to lose?

    I've thought about it over the years and have just stuck with vinyl.

    BDT

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,585
    edited August 27
    I will say that the vinyl system visible to the right of the A80 in the photo I posted above sounded better to me -- but the hardware is in the realm of as good as it ever was, is, or will be and I've never heard the same album in both formats on the same system back to back :p

    Come to think of it, that would be an interesting thing to do.

    The (very new) Ortofon SPU model currently attached to that long Thomas Schick arm installed on the Fairchild 750-2 (two speed version of the 750) is just astonishingly good sounding.

    2nrfkf99bt2a.jpg

    That's a 16 inch "transcription" platter, just to give a sense of scale to that photo :)


  • motorstereomotorstereo Posts: 1,291
    tratliff wrote: »
    Motor - I think you may be overlooking key components of my statement.

    You might should have a listen to a properly setup R2R with a good quality recording.

    Well I had 3 Otari 5050's to choose from, 2 Crowns, a Tandberg, several Akais and Teacs and my late friend knew how to make great recordings with quality tape. Sadly not one of those machines and tapes sounded good on either my main or secondary rigs. When auditioning them for prospective buyers I used to set up a receiver based rig which was what they seemed to work best with.
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,585
    edited August 27
    The laundry list above helps to understand/explain @motorstereo's observations. None of the above-mentioned decks is in the same league as, e.g., a Studer A80 or a good Ampex or Scully deck, nor even as good, stock, as were/are the aforementioned Technics RS-1500 family of decks.

    The MX5050 (II or III) is good 'as is' but not great (and, mind you, I say this as the owner of one); to get one to great requires a fair amount of work. It can be done,though. The Otaris weren't really meant to be studio decks; they were radio station decks, built to take a poundin' at the hands of radio station personnel -- not to mix down two-track masters of Joni Mitchell's Blue. They were very much fit-for-purpose decks. I know someone in MA who is in the process of developing an 'upgrade' package for Otaris -- mine might be one of his beta tests (he's currently working on three of his own, including one I passed along to him).

    Crowns were noted for their ruggedness ('built missionary tough' - by missionaries!), not really for their sound quality. They're beautiful, though.

    Tandbergs could sound very good, but they were not well made,age poorly, and they're incredibly finicky (worse, IMO, even than the Nakamichi cassette decks in that latter regard). I got rid of the one I had (and y'all know I don't get rid of much). Actually, come to think of it, there are still a couple of old, vacuum tube Tandbergs tucked away here someplace :p

    A TEAC in good tune should be pretty decent, but, again, not in the realm of a pro deck -- and there were TEACs and there were TEACs, you know? ;) The few that have passed through here (I still have a TASCAM 4-track deck) sounded pretty good; the "prosumer" TEACs were decent sounding and also rugged.

    Never thought much of any of the AKAI decks, personally. There were some pretty sexy ones, though, especially towards the end of the consumer reel to reel tape era (late 1970s). The mechanical control AKAIs are pretty mediocre (actually, not even mediocre, especially at this late date).


    Remember, also, "for best results" that the condition of the heads is critical, as is head alignment. It is also very important that the deck be set up (bias and EQ) for the tape formulation one plans to use as the primary medium. This is the kind of thing @BDT was referring to, I reckon.

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,585
    here, e.g., is a nice, good sounding Ampex deck.

    7hnp95fu1755.jpg

    This is the kind of thing used for mastering in small studios (1/4 inch, two track), or that a record pressing plant in, say, Europe, would use to transcribe a 2-track master tape copy of a new record album, ultimately, to stampers to be used to press rekkids for sale in their territory.
  • tratlifftratliff Posts: 805
    edited August 27
    Well I had 3 Otari 5050's to choose from, 2 Crowns, a Tandberg, several Akais and Teacs and my late friend knew how to make great recordings with quality tape. Sadly not one of those machines and tapes sounded good on either my main or secondary rigs. When auditioning them for prospective buyers I used to set up a receiver based rig which was what they seemed to work best with.

    I use the 1500 in my main rig. Not a receiver based system - take a look at my signature for details. I have 2 prerecorded tapes from the tape project. One is CCR and the other is John Lee Hooker. I think you might have a different opinion if you heard them.

    And as many have said the effort it takes is rather extensive. Its not for everyone.
    2 Channel
    Legacy Focus SE, 2 REL Carbon Limited, McIntosh C50, McIntosh MC601's, VPI Prime w/SoundSmith Zephyr MIMC, Parasound Halo JC3, Marantz SA-14s1, Oppo BDP-105, Technics RS-1500, Furman Elite 15PFi, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Interconnects, Douglas Connection (Furutech) Alpha Speaker Cables, Pangea Power Cables

    Theater
    Yamaha RX-Z9, Legacy Focus SE (same as 2 Channel system), Def Tech C/L/R 2500, Def Tech BP-2X, Def Tech Pro-Monitors, Vizio M-75

    Office
    Teac NP-H750, Parasound Ztuner, Audio Engine P4N, Grado SR80, Grado iGrado, Audio-Technica ATH-M50, PC running High Rez files

    Living Room
    Yamaha YSP-4100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 60"

    Bed Room
    Yamaha YSP-5100 digital sound projector, Sharp Aquos 70"

  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 22,585
    edited August 27
  • motorstereomotorstereo Posts: 1,291
    The laundry list above helps to understand/explain @motorstereo's observations. None of the above-mentioned decks is in the same league as, e.g., a Studer A80 or a good Ampex or Scully deck, nor even as good, stock, as were/are the aforementioned Technics RS-1500 family of decks.

    Thank you Mark for confirming what I had heard. Apparently one has to go fairly high up in the rtr world for a quiet sounding machine on par with today's quiet electronics. I thought both Crowns were the worst sounding of the bunch although they were the nicest looking and best built machines of them all. The version 2 of the 5050 was the best sounding one of them all I thought. It was obvious that machine had seen LOTS of use over the years but it still sounded better than the brand new looking version 1 of the 5050. The rest of them worked and hopefully I got them all to good homes as they were all headed straight for a 30 yard dumpster. A few old Roberts tube jobs did end up there as did a few old Miracords and a couple Studer carcasses. Thankfully there were no Ampex or Scullys at least none that I saw. My bud was a lifelong audio collector who came to the end of his journey at 73 and I tried to save as much as I possibly could of his collection. I think his personal favorite was the monsterous 4 channel 800 series Crown as that was the only one covered up in his smallish living room which also had another 5 or 6 rtr's set up. I did learn though from dealing with all those rtr's that the rtr world is not for me.
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