Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Things to Look for When Buying a Reel to Reel Player

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Posts
    25
    Thanks
    13
    Thanked 56 Times in 1 Post

    Post Things to Look for When Buying a Reel to Reel Player

    I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I was hoping some of the sound gurus here might have some perspective on what to look for when buying a R2R player. I've started to get into Reels as of late, and one of them I purchased I feel may be worth sharing here, so I'd like to invest in a decent player to at least provide samples with, if not provide a decent raw.

    What kind of aspects should I look for when purchasing one? Are there specific brands which are generally better than others? Are there ones that work better for transferring than others? Is there a way to easily tell which reels might have cheap heads instead of quality ones? Really the only thing I know is that players of the era are almost always better than newer ones, so I'd assume looking for ones from the late 70's to mid 80's would be best.

    Any info is greatly appreciated. Sound equipment is not my forte.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    4,648
    Thanks
    590
    Thanked 35,748 Times in 430 Posts

    Default

    In my opinion the best entry level player / recorder is the Sony TC-377. It's easy to operate and sounds really good for its price point and if you become hooked, it will continue to be useful when you move up to a better performer because it plays 1 ⅞ reels. You might find some interesting old spoken-word recordings at this very low speed, along with a few radio programmes. The only point against the TC-377 is that it doesn't play full size reels but the interesting recording you have bought is on 7-inch reels, so that doesn't matter. Playing your recording on a TC-377 will not reveal its full potential but it will take you close enough.

    If you want to go further, you could end up spending a lot more money and there are a few of us who regularly visit the forum who can advise, in particular beechwoods. Spending more was worthwhile to somebody like me because I have some really important, unique recordings on reel. I settled on a Revox A-77 MKIV. It's a delight to use but a pain to clean and I have spent a lot of money on getting it working properly.

    Bear in mind that most players require servicing, so I recommend that you check whether there is somebody reasonably local who can assist. If you are purchasing on eBay, I suggest that you let yourself be drawn to the players that have already been serviced. Tapeheads is a good place to look if you want to study alternatives.
    Last edited by neonknight; 2021-09-13 at 08:04 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Posts
    25
    Thanks
    13
    Thanked 56 Times in 1 Post

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by neonknight View Post
    In my opinion the best entry level player / recorder is the Sony TC-377. It's easy to operate and sounds really good for its price point and if you become hooked, it will continue to be useful when you move up to a better performer because it plays 1 ⅞ reels. You might find some interesting old spoken-word recordings at this very low speed, along with a few radio programmes. The only point against the TC-377 is that it doesn't play full size reels but the interesting recording you have bought is on 7-inch reels, so that doesn't matter. Playing your recording on a TC-377 will not reveal its full potential but it will take you close enough.

    If you want to go further, you could end up spending a lot more money and there are a few of us who regularly visit the forum who can advise, in particular beechwoods. Spending more was worthwhile to somebody like me because I have some really important, unique recordings on reel. I settled on a Revox A-77 MKIV. It's a delight to use but a pain to clean and I have spent a lot of money on getting it working properly.

    Bear in mind that most players require servicing, so I recommend that you check whether there is somebody reasonably local who can assist. If you are purchasing on eBay, I suggest that you let yourself be drawn to the players that have already been serviced. Tapeheads is a good place to look if you want to study alternatives.
    Thank you for the advice Neon. That seemed like a pretty comprehensive description of everything I'd need to know, so I very much appreciate the detail as well. In that case I will look into getting a Sony TC-377 that has been restored, and I will also take a look at Tapeheads to check if any local ones I find are up to snuff. I recall seeing an Akai R2R player at a store a while back that looked decent, but now that you've given a resource that can provide accurate information about these players I can actually see whether or not it would be a positive investment.

    On a side note, that reel I mentioned is not the May 9th Oakland one, but it is from the same year. I'll hopefully have better information about it in a couple of months when I can listen to it in full. Thank you again for the help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Bristol, UK
    Posts
    1,099
    Thanks
    624
    Thanked 2,393 Times in 43 Posts

    Default

    One thing you need to consider is that few consumer machines will be able to handle every format of ¼” tape so you have to pick the one you think you’re most likely to come across.

    Most consumer machines and most tapes recorded at home in the 70’s will be quarter-track Stereo. 60’s tapes were often recorded on half-track machines either stereo in one direction only, or mono in two directions. Some machines were mono…

    Neon’s TC-377 recommendation is a really good one. It handles the common quarter-track stereo format and does the common 3¾ips and 7½ips speeds as well as the slower 1 ⅞ips speed.

    The Technics RS1500 is way more expensive but has switchable heads so you can play both half-track and quarter-track stereo tapes. It does 15 ips speed as well as 3¾ and 7½

    This is a useful resource:
    http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/ta...k-formats/4083

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Posts
    25
    Thanks
    13
    Thanked 56 Times in 1 Post

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Beechwoods View Post
    One thing you need to consider is that few consumer machines will be able to handle every format of ¼” tape so you have to pick the one you think you’re most likely to come across.

    Most consumer machines and most tapes recorded at home in the 70’s will be quarter-track Stereo. 60’s tapes were often recorded on half-track machines either stereo in one direction only, or mono in two directions. Some machines were mono…

    Neon’s TC-377 recommendation is a really good one. It handles the common quarter-track stereo format and does the common 3¾ips and 7½ips speeds as well as the slower 1 ⅞ips speed.

    The Technics RS1500 is way more expensive but has switchable heads so you can play both half-track and quarter-track stereo tapes. It does 15 ips speed as well as 3¾ and 7½

    This is a useful resource:
    http://www.muzines.co.uk/articles/ta...k-formats/4083
    Thank you Beechwoods for the source regarding tape sizes and the warning about mono heads. If I look for an alternate player I'll keep those factors in mind. The last thing I want is something nice looking that only produces mono and doesn't have the correct speeds to play the reels. The TC-377 still seems like the optimal choice, so I'll very likely attempt to just snag one of those. Thank you for your advice regarding these machines, I really do appreciate how nice you and Neon are explaining these things.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •