Reel to Reel Tape

I have an analogue setup. Although I have a CD player in the system. But everything else is an analogue. I am listening to Reel to Reel tape decks, I have a few of them, and I also have DBX 224X-DS attached. Does anyone else have similar setup? I find the DBX to be quite awesome. What's your opinion?
Almandog, I use a Sony APR5003 and it blows away my VPI scoutmaster w grado sonata.  Tables are good until you
hear a reel to reel with good tapes
I have 5 R2R decks - Studer A820 1/2 inch; rest 1/4 inch Studer A807; 2 x Sony APR 5000 series; Otari MTR 12 plus 2 x Dolby 363 Dolby SR modules
About 100 1/4 inch production masters or copies
Blows my Platine Verdier out of the water :)
One can get carried away with these decks. I have 12 decks. Driving my wife crazy so I am in the process of slimming down to about three. I almost bought a Studer A810 this weekend. Had to pass on it. I have Revox, Tascam, Tandberg, Pioneer, and Akai. I like the DBX 224X setup in my system, just with the tape deck. I also have some Dbx records. 
Almandog, I (unfortunately) can relate.  I have lost count of all the decks (including several cassettes).  Teac, Tascam, Otari, Studer, 
Sony, Stellavox).  I like looking at them..!  Nostalgia I guess- my 1st machine was a Concord 220 and I wore it out recording material (including live with the dinky microphone).  I loved it and it loved me back. But this does border on insanity, no doubt. I just enjoyed inviting friends over to jam and make a tape- it was a lot of fun, but those days are in the past.  But I still wonder what a good Elcaset deck would sound like...
Speaking of cassette: I have Teac dual deck cassette with remote. I bought it 1985 brand new in New York while I was in college. I still have it and it still work perfectly. I have never even changed the belt which lead me to believe it's a direct drive deck. Dont know for sure.
I have the Teac A3340s and a 1/4in 2 channels Otari Mtr 10. How do the Otari compare with Studer regarding to sound quality in your system?
I do not have a Studer machine. I said I was going to purchase a A810 but I had to pass.
These type of threads are really bad for my financial health.
Every time I think I am over the r2r urge I read a thread like this......

I know, I have 4 cassette (2 x Tandberg 3014A, 1 x Tandberg 911 and a Nak 1000zxl) decks and 2 RtRs (Both Tandberg TD20A SEHigh speed, one is a 2 Trk and the other 4Trk)
In the 70s when R2R was alive and well, most audiophiles  worshiped at the foot of Revox although certainly amperex and studer were the choice of professional s.  I notice, now that it there is a Renaissance of R2R, not many people are reverting to the use of the revox A77s and similar related models. For example, none of you guys has mentioned Revox .Why is that?
Akai GX-747 DBX. As I stated earlier, I am slimming down on my reel to reel stick. A friend of mine want this one badly, so I will let it go to him. Others are  Revox A700, A77, B77, PR 99 (multiple of these), Pioneer RT909 (multiple of this one), Tandberg TD 20A, Technics 1500, Teac 1000x. It's crazy so I have to stop this collection practice and get rid of most of them. It will take time.
I will send you a message as I would rather purchase a unit from an enthusiast than a random buy from say eBay.
Thank you
Newbie here, I am smitten by recent resurgence of R2R tape decks. I went through few listening sessions at AXPONA and RMAF this year and came away quite impressed. 


I am interested in exploring R2R tape deck. Can i send you a PM to see what you may have available to sell? 
IME the Studer is one of the best sounding solid state machines. They look clunky (I have the A-80) but they deliver. The Ampex 351 electronics is more musical, but also can be noisier. To deal with some of the tape handling issues, I set the 351 electronics up with the AG-440 transport. But I find that the Studer gets more use- probably because its just so much easier to use.
would agree with topoxforddoc and RUSSE41. Good LP is better than digital and tape blows away both LP and digital.

The big problem with tape is its an addictive drug... . once you start listening to it, you want more and more of it. Its very tough to listen to tape, then revert back to digital and even LP. Digital becomes akin to a transistor AM radio. All you will want is more and more of that tape sound.

I have both 15 and 30 ips masters, and many copies. Also do live to 2 track recording on the weekends.

If you want to do a simple test, have a few friends over, set up set of mics and record to both digital and tape. Even the conversation in the room will work.

Then play back both copies, you can A-B. You will be shocked at how good the tape is at reproducing what you experienced live.


Do you think that digital omits more than the tape or adds more than the tape or both ? Whatever that might be. 
DBX type II noise reduction is the magic that made tape almost the perfect medium. Sadly, manufacturers couldn’t get it into the cassette format early enough, and confusion between DBX, Dolby B, Dolby C and Dolby HX Pro made things worse while at same time CD was coming out with great promises. Excepting for the wear and tear factor and lack of random access, R2R at 15ips with DBX can’t be beat, not even by DSD. 
Dear friends: The R2R is in reality a today vintage " fashion " and nothing else. Specs of those type of recorders are really poor against today standards, here an example of that in the Studer A-80:

Fru ,~ ncy response ." riu,’P 30 ips 50 Hz . . 20 kHz ± 2 dB, 15 ips 30 Hz . . 18 kHz ± 2 dB and 7.5 ips 60 Hz .. 12 kHz±1 dB --------’’"’’

wow&flutter: 0.04% at 30ips distortion at 1khz: 1%

signal to noise ratio at 30ips: 76db

and all depends not only on the velocity recording set up but the ty pe of tape.
The recorded information in the tape is magnetic and the masters " suffer " through the time a heavy degradation loosing information and is almost imposible for any R2R unit to re-read exactly with out lost any single information during playback due that’s a mechanic item where the magnetic action and unit heads readers just can’t do it no matter what.

It’s very easy to looklisten the signal degradation that makes any R2R macine when you compare a D2D LP against the same LP in the same recording session using the R2R.
The differences in quality in favor of the D2D recording is not enormous but way huge. Even if the R2R could had better specs the best R2R is no R2R as proved a D2D recordings.

As I said only a well regarded vintage " fashion " with no true advantages/facts against today digital recordings or yesterday D2D recordings.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

This does not tell the whole story;

Track system: 2-track, 2-channel, stereo/monaural system

Motor: 2 x reel, 1 x capstan

Reel size: 5 to 10.5 inch reel

Equalization: NAB

Tape speeds: 3 3⁄4 7 1⁄2 15 ips

Wow and flutter: 0.018% (15 ips)

Frequency response: 30Hz to 30kHz (15 ips)

Signal to Noise Ratio: 60dB

Total harmonic distortion: 0.8%

Input: 60mV (line), 0.25mV (mic)

Output: 0.775V (line)

Dimensions: 446 x 456 x 258mm

Weight: 25kg

2 track is always better than 1/4 track; that's when you only record in one direction, but it uses twice as much tape.

EE tape is the most incredible result I've ever heard; the dynamic range and resolution is like live.

I only use blank tape to record my records. The playback is better than the original recording. That's because the signal has been magnified as a result of the large 2 track heads; they make the signal larger, and hence the music is larger on playback; it's as if your speakers are larger as well.

While I enjoy this everyday, nobody seems to believe it; such is life.
Dear @orpheus10 : " The playback is better than the original.."""

well that’s what you like to think that just can’t happens no matter what because the LP signal must be " proccessed "/pass through something to your R2R and that pass though something only can degrades the LP signal. or explain why is not signal degradation is this is what you think. Maybe I'm missing something or it needs a wider explanation from your part.


Raul, in one word it's "bigger"; the signal is bigger on playback because the 2 track tape heads are bigger, that translates to "apparent" larger speakers, and more powerful and more forceful power amp.

The music has not been altered in any way shape form or fashion; it's just bigger, which means you can hear more detail.

The size of the heads make for a larger more forceful signal on playback.

In addition, my deck has all "Black Gate" electrolytic capacitors, plus new original transistors. No, that doesn't make it better, but enables precise duplication of the original signal.

Maybe, the link I provided will convey what I'm talking about.
well that’s what you like to think that just can’t happens no matter what because the LP signal must be " proccessed "/pass through something to your R2R and that pass though something only can degrades the LP signal. or explain why is not signal degradation is this is what you think. Maybe I'm missing something or it needs a wider explanation from your part.
The reason this can happen is if the audio is down when the recording is made and so there is no vibration affecting the turntable. The better the turntable isolation, the less this phenomena can occur.
Dear @orpheus10: Please let me know how you make the transfer of the LP recorded signal to your R2R machine. Thank's in advance.

@orpheus10 : I think that at least the LP information pass trhough a IC cable to that R2R, is that pass trough " something " is that IC cable and no matter what that signal is degraded and you, me or any one can't listen any improvement of quality sound in the R2R  reproduction. This is a fact and additional to it I already pointed out all the R2R disadvantages about quality.


"Logic ain't worth a squat in high end audio"; and flawed logic ain't even worth that.

In regard to recording: my TT and reel are in the basement on a concrete floor; records are recorded to reel, (2 track 7 1/2, 15 is for live) and this is transported upstairs to the listening room where it is played back.

Raul, when the signal from a TT goes through a top of the line ARC phono, is it degraded?

When a line signal goes through a CAT preamp, is it degraded?

As I stated previously, all electrolytic capacitors have been replaced with "Black Gates"; these were the best and most expensive capacitors that are no longer available. All of the transistors have been replaced with new ones from Panasonic.

Raul, your tape disadvantages are fictitious: not that what you printed was false, but those are very good specifications.

In RE to recording: the line level signal goes to tape in, through RR circuitry and on to the recording head, that imprints a magnetic signal on tape. This is played back by the playback head, and goes to line out.

I can not count the times when I heard superior audio that defied logic; logic in the high end ain't worth two cents.



orpheus, don't waste your breath in debating. some folks are mainly spec driven and some can really hear.

all a person needs to do is listen to a live mic feed, then A-B to tape and A-B to digital. The digital always sounds like a copy. The tape always sounds so close to the mic feed, its tough to tell which is which. 

But recording to digital is much easier and lighter on the back than lugging around a bunch of analog gear.

as for tape suppliers and sources, splicit and tape tape dot com.
tape tape sells single pass reels, which are really good.

for another easy test, go to any audiophile meeting where they are playing hi rez digital files. people will be chatting away. 

step in with a high speed analog machine and play a tape. All side conversation stops instantly.

happy spinning

Thanks for that "heads up" John; I am out of everything, and I was just wondering where to re-supply.

I enjoy happy spinning daily, and now, thanks to you, I'll get supplies and take care of overdue maintenance.
Dear @orpheus10 : ARC phono/CAT preamp degrades the cartridge signal even more than SS units. As more/additional links in the signal as more degradation to that audio signal.

Your machine is frequency response limited and with higher noise level as is desirable  and no I'm not driven by specs as that gentleman posted. Facts are facts and some like those are important.

Anyway, that's the way you are satisfied and it's what in really counts for you. My comments are only that just: comments.


The commonly stated range of human hearing is 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Under ideal laboratory conditions, humans can hear sound as low as 12 Hz and as high as 28 kHz, though the threshold increases sharply at 15 kHz in adults, corresponding to the last auditory channel of the cochlea.

Frequency response: 30Hz to 30kHz (15 ips); That's 10K above audibility.

But the bottom line can not be stated by specifications; it's all about the musical quality of the sound.

Frequency response: 30Hz to 30kHz (15 ips); That's 10K above audibility.
FWIW, LPs can do 15Hz to 45KHz; the lower limit described by tone arm mechanical resonance and the upper end by the intentional frequency limitation found in the circuitry of the cutter amplifiers.

Both LP and R2R have more high frequency response than digital at least so far...
Dont forget freq response is not the only answer. Need to ask how much data is coming through at a given frequency? sure hi rez digital has an upper freq of 40k or more, but how many samples are used to make that curve? 4 samples?

Also forgot to mention, for tape sources there is also a seller on ebay that sells NOS (new old stock) Ampex 632 in pancakes. If a person is trying to buy new tape and save a few bucks its an option. its a bit cheaper than 911, 900 or one pass 996. i tried a few of them and they were true NOS tape and were fresh. 

Not sure what his inventory is now, but the seller used to have cases of it. 632 is pretty trouble free, no sticky shed issues. Not quite as quiet or as much headroom space as some of the higher bias backcoated tapes, but sounds quite good if you are spinning at 15 or 30. If you do a search on ampex 632 you should be able to find him. 

Right before Quantegy ended tape production, they claimed they had fixed the binder issue, so I bought 4 cases of the brand new 456 with the binder fix in place. Was good for about a year, then the same old problems started to re-appear. At that point I had used 1 case out of the 4. Threw out the remaining 3 cases of tape. By that time, Quantegy had exited the tape biz completely, so really had no recourse. I still have 6 masters on that "fixed" 456 tape that I have not transferred over yet. so have to bake them just like the 1970s ampex tapes in order to play them.

and if you are doing any tape baking, forget the oven. one of the larger food dehydrators works very well, and has good temp control.

Dear @johnss : No, frequency response is not the only answer but part of a whole answer as could be: noise levels, any kind ditortion levels, etc, etc.
The main subject is what is truer to the recording/what microphones pick-up: analog or digital? The overall and very wide explanation for some other time.

""" for another easy test, go to any audiophile meeting where they are playing hi rez digital files. people will be chatting away.

step in with a high speed analog machine and play a tape. All side conversation stops instantly. """

I know you are a wise/intelligent gentleman and then you will understand my opinion about:

that’s or could be true for a very " easy " reason: if for 40+ years your ears/brain/body is accustommed to listen only analog in home system is obvious that listen it to a wide radical different MUSIC presentation as digital the brain does not tooks very seriously as is something " new " and something that must be assimilated/understan to its advantages can have a meaning for the brain a true superiority meaning.

The subject is: how many time takes the brain to assimilates the top today digital MUSIC home system presentation in favor of it in favor to analog?

As we are more and more exposed to that today digital MUSIC preesentation as more we like it. Yes, is different to analog presentation because is a way different technology that between other things has a clear advantage: almost each day is improving it as technology when analog has several years that just stoppedto achieve true improvements and that’s why so many audiophiles are buying vintage analog audio items.

The overall digital/analog subject is not very complex to speak about but that we analog lovers likes to make it " controversial ". Is human been nature.

In the other side and returning to R2R issue: did you test a Sheffield D2D recording against the same Sheffield recording that was made it through a first first rate tape machine?. 

That's a true easy way to any one can detect the damage made it by that top R2R machine. Btw, digital is superior medium, yes different.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

After all is said and done, the "quality" of the sound of an LP that has been recorded on my 2 track reel, when played back, is better, and this even goes for CD's.

This "high end" thing is not about frequency extremes that are inaudible; it's about music that is audible, and that's where the reel is still "el numeral uno".
Dear @orpheus10 : As johnss and other gentlemans you insist in something with out facts real facts: not the common " I like it ".

Here I posted ( twice ) if both of you or any other of the gentlemans that supports R2R as number one that certainly it’s not this:

Did you already listen the Sheffield Lab D2D Dave Grusin recording against the same session recording of that Sheffield but where the signal passed trough a top top R2R machine?

If not, then all the ones that think the R2R is the " holly grail " just have no idea of what all are talking about. Facts are the prove not that " I like it ".

Do it a favor try to make that tests evaluation and the come back here ( any one of you ) and share the facts. You will see that the damage made it by the R2R machine is way audible even for a " deaf " person.

With out that experience your opinion about is really useless as the opinion of any one else with out that first hand experiences.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Hello rauliruegas,

No problem on the fdbk and thanks for the input.
I am out 2-3x per month to attend or record live acoustical concerts, so while I may have become accustomed to analog sounds, I also have listened to countless hours of live music, so have a pretty good perception of what real music sounds like.

The other piece of the recording pie that has not been mentioned is what happens after music has been captured (either in the analog domain or digital domain). It always gets edited, and processed.

On digital recordings its dumped into a work station. here the data bits are transformed, compressed, and smoothed.

On analog recordings it gets processed with added effects, compression, a bit of reverb, etc.

I have spent a lot of hours in studios listening to session masters and then listening to edited masters (both analog and digital). sometimes the final product (post editing) is nothing like the original. all depends on how much additional processing was done to it.

What comes out the other end is usually a distant relative of what went in.

Depending what type of music you listen to, some is highly compressed, and other types are not as much compressed.

for those interested in digital playback, if you can find would suggest you pick up a copy of the resolution project. Its a DVD- Audio disc created for the pro audio industry a few years ago.  the disc contains live mic tracks recorded at different bit depth and sampling frequencies. Will also allow you test how good your DAC is and see if you can tell 24/96 apart from 24/192.
best to all.

Raul, I don't have the resources to make the comparisons you suggest; consequently, I have to be satisfied with the results in my own little laboratory.

I began my "high end" journey in 1990 when there were two excellent high end salons that I spent an excessive amount of time in; that's where I learned most of what I know.

My search has ended, and now I'm quite content with my present rig; the bottom line is what combination of components reproduce the music you like best.

Digital is the only "affordable" high end. Once digital has been recorded on a high quality reel, it is no longer digital; the playback is pure "analog".
Dear @johnss : As I posted several times in this forum I attend at least one time a week to live MUSIC event.

Unfortunatelly for all of us ( digital or analog ) during the whole recording proccess exist a little or to much signal manipulation that degrades the signal it self and you and me can't do nothing about.

At the end of the day learned to enjoy MUSIC, it does not matters the kind of medium to listen it.

three items I forgot to mention,

1. the heads make a huge difference. If JRF has heads for your deck, send him the head block and get at least their top end playback head.
2. Athan ball bearing rollers and guides.
will lower the wow and flutter and give smoother running of the tape acorss the heads.  They also sell on ebay for more common units.

Head load resistors - Use Vishay VSR foil resistors to load the head. Also works wonders on MM/MC cartridge loading positions too. You will never hear your MC cart be so quiet.

best to all.

I’ve been using a dbx 224 and dbx 3bx with a Teac X-10R for about 35 years.  I love the sound.  I’ve had the heads replaced twice and have tried to maintain it in near mint condition.

Unfortunately, I had about 30 Ampex reels go bad from age before I new to convert them to digital.  I lost years of 70’s and 80’s era album recordings and custom mixed songs. I still have about 15 Maxell reels of that era so all was not lost.  
I’ve used a dbx 224 noise reduction unit and dbx 3bx range expander with a Teac X10R reel-to-reel for about 35 years.  Recording vinyl through the 224 makes the playback tape hiss free and to my ears the reel sounds better than the original.  

When I purchased a keeper album back in the day, the first thing I’d do is record it.  Trust me, there’s nothing like it.  If you’ve never heard a good reel recording, you are missing a real treat.
This "debate" is kinda silly. Tape decks do NOT sound better than the source material. That is not the issue for me. The whole reason for RTR
is that they are enjoyable to use and versatile if you have some microphones available.  Of course then you need mic preamps on semi to professional machines since they only have line level inputs, and typically only balanced ones. Additionally they need to be cleaned and lubricated, and for the fussy amongst us CALIBRATED to each tape formulation. But if you have a Studer A820 then you can just forget I reminded you of all these concerns...because they are so damn cool then who cares? Just where to put a 200lb tape deck??
A local vendor Just Audio sells refurbed vintage gear on reverb site. Look them up. I’ve noticed a handful of R2R decks on their site recently at affordable prices especially as high end audio these days goes. They had a lot of their stuff on display at Capital Audiofest in the atrium last two years.