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Table Top Tape Machine Recommendations

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  • Table Top Tape Machine Recommendations

    Is there any way to get a decent 15 ips tape machine for around $5K. Preferably something that sits on a table. Any suggestions on models to consider.
    Pure Audio Project Trio 10/Voxativ, 811A Triode monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI, Custom TT with Vertere tone arm, Allnic H1201, RT Audio Ultra USB Orpheus EX, Mojo Audio Server with remote Illuminati power supply, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire. Inakustik Ref Air 2404 Speaker cable. Genesis Interconnects.

  • #2
    Sure, you can get quite decent decks for $5K. There have been a couple nice Studer A810’s that were fully serviced (with papers to prove it) that sold for around $5k on eBay recently. You can get a stock TASCAM BR-20 for much less, even, which will sound very good, and is a great transport. A Revox PR-99 MK III could also be a good choice if you find one that’s in good condition and has had the needed work done to it.

    The key in buying used tape decks is getting one that’s in good condition and has been properly/professionally serviced and aligned. Lots of project decks out there, but then you need a really good tech.
    TAPE: Studer A807, A810; Revox B77 MkII; Tascam BR-20; Technics RS-1700; Pioneer RT-707, RT-909
    VINYL: VPI ScoutMaster/Benz LP-S MR/EAR 834P; Denon DP59-L/Dynavector 20xH
    DIGITAL: Oppo BDP-95, MacMini > Oppo Sonica/Pioneer N-50
    SPEAKERS: B&W Nautilus 800, Pioneer DSS-9
    AMPS: Cary SLP-05/Sunfire Signature 600, Pioneer SX-1980

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree that $5K is plenty for a very nice used table top machine that plays 1/4" 15ips 2 track tapes. A good local tech who can service the machine is very useful, since almost all the machines on the market will be two to four decades old. In addition to the BR-20 and PR-99's that Skylab recommended, I would also suggest an Otari MX-5050 BIII, which is a pretty available pro/prosumer machine. Like the BR-20 they were used a lot by radio stations and can be found in nice shape for well under $5K. I would stay with the BIII, since it will be newer than the BII's which are also very common. A local tech can give you a sense of the condition and what it would cost to bring it up top notch working condition.

      For the best audio playback performance, I would look to an external tape prepro which any competent tech can install the bypass wiring to connect from the playback head of the tape recorder to the tape prepro. All of the old machines have transistor electronics, which especially for playback are not a strong point (think transistor electronics of the 1980's). On the used market, you may be able to get both the machine and a decent tape prepro for close to $5K together, probably with the tape prepro costing more than the tape recorder.

      Of course, the real cost of a taperecorder is getting a decent collection of tapes to play!

      Good luck, Larry
      Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0 BottleheadPhonoPre,Herron VTPH-2A
      Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,MykerinosCard,PacMicroModel2
      Dig Play-mch NADAC, Roon, HQPlayer, Oppo95
      Electronics-Herron 360Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
      Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
      Other-512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, ArtKelmGround1, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
      Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

      Comment


      • #4
        Awesome thanks gentleman. In reading past post, I was wondering about the external prepro. Sounds like I could focus on finding a good drive and heads. Electronics so to speak be damned. Who makes the prepro. Is that also a vintage piece or are they knew. In short is it a phono stage without riaa correction?
        Pure Audio Project Trio 10/Voxativ, 811A Triode monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI, Custom TT with Vertere tone arm, Allnic H1201, RT Audio Ultra USB Orpheus EX, Mojo Audio Server with remote Illuminati power supply, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire. Inakustik Ref Air 2404 Speaker cable. Genesis Interconnects.

        Comment


        • #5
          An external tape head preamp is like a phono preamp but has IEC and NAB tape EQ rather than RIAA EQ, yes. Really only makes sense to get modern ones of these...but they are mostly quite pricey. And they require the deck to be wired to use one, which almost no decks have as a stock option.
          TAPE: Studer A807, A810; Revox B77 MkII; Tascam BR-20; Technics RS-1700; Pioneer RT-707, RT-909
          VINYL: VPI ScoutMaster/Benz LP-S MR/EAR 834P; Denon DP59-L/Dynavector 20xH
          DIGITAL: Oppo BDP-95, MacMini > Oppo Sonica/Pioneer N-50
          SPEAKERS: B&W Nautilus 800, Pioneer DSS-9
          AMPS: Cary SLP-05/Sunfire Signature 600, Pioneer SX-1980

          Comment


          • #6
            For less than $3,000 you could easily be in the game. Studer sound is quite similar among all their decks up to the 810, except for tape handling. The PR 99 MKiii could be an excellent choice and even a top condition high speed B-77 sounds almost similar, BUT, the second tape damper added in the PR 99 for better tape handling makes a difference. The Otari MX 5050 is a workhorse, highly reliable and you can even play a 1/4 TK tape with just a flip of a switch. The BR 20 is what I call a "poor's man" A 810 (no offense intended). Of the 3, this Tascam's mechanism is the best. And yes: you can find a good one for under $3,000. All 3 mentioned falls into this price category. Good luck.
            Sketsoteric Audio: "Analog Sound, Digital Flexibility"
            http://mortechpr.wixsite.com/cassetteadventures
            http://mortechpr.wixsite.com/cgmasteringservices

            Comment


            • #7
              I bet the drives and heads of older units are fine. I'm just feeling a little uneasy of the built in output devices in older machines. Am I really getting anything that is going to do justice to the $150 to $450 investment in tapes, or did I just get a tape machine. If I put $3k into a machine, will I then put another $3k to really fix it, then get told to buy the basic Ballfinger if I want somerhing to sound good. Is that a reality or could one of these older machines really sing.
              Pure Audio Project Trio 10/Voxativ, 811A Triode monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI, Custom TT with Vertere tone arm, Allnic H1201, RT Audio Ultra USB Orpheus EX, Mojo Audio Server with remote Illuminati power supply, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire. Inakustik Ref Air 2404 Speaker cable. Genesis Interconnects.

              Comment


              • #8
                Well my personal opinion is that if you played a good 15 ips tape on a stock but aligned BR-20 you’d be shocked at how good the sound is
                TAPE: Studer A807, A810; Revox B77 MkII; Tascam BR-20; Technics RS-1700; Pioneer RT-707, RT-909
                VINYL: VPI ScoutMaster/Benz LP-S MR/EAR 834P; Denon DP59-L/Dynavector 20xH
                DIGITAL: Oppo BDP-95, MacMini > Oppo Sonica/Pioneer N-50
                SPEAKERS: B&W Nautilus 800, Pioneer DSS-9
                AMPS: Cary SLP-05/Sunfire Signature 600, Pioneer SX-1980

                Comment


                • El Magnifico
                  El Magnifico commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I agree, Sky. Even on a good aligned B-77 with 15ips the sound could be exquisite!

              • #9
                There seem to be a lot of decent albums in 7" x 3.3/4 ips reels. Most say 4 track. Are they any good or is this a case where a decent record is, shall I say, better or just the same. Can you even play a 4 track on a 2 track machine or do the heads overlap.
                Thanks
                Pure Audio Project Trio 10/Voxativ, 811A Triode monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI, Custom TT with Vertere tone arm, Allnic H1201, RT Audio Ultra USB Orpheus EX, Mojo Audio Server with remote Illuminati power supply, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire. Inakustik Ref Air 2404 Speaker cable. Genesis Interconnects.

                Comment


                • Skylab
                  Skylab commented
                  Editing a comment
                  You cannot play that kind of 4-track tape on a 2-track deck, no. And I don’t think the 3.75 ips tapes sound good enough to bother with, myself. Many of the commercial 7.5 ips 4-track tapes sound great, though, IMO.

              • #10
                Originally posted by Kingrex View Post
                There seem to be a lot of decent albums in 7" x 3.3/4 ips reels. Most say 4 track. Are they any good or is this a case where a decent record is, shall I say, better or just the same. Can you even play a 4 track on a 2 track machine or do the heads overlap.
                Thanks
                You best bang for the buck is an Otari MX 5050 BII or BIII it plays both 2 and 4 track tapes!!!

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by jcmusic View Post

                  You best bang for the buck is an Otari MX 5050 BII or BIII it plays both 2 and 4 track tapes!!!
                  The Otari comes with a headblock that has four heads. There are erase, record and playback 2 track heads, and a playback 4 track stereo head. On the headblock is a switch that changes between the two track and four track stereo playback heads. Electronics on the Otari are quite good, better than the Technics 1500 series. But not as good as the aftermarket tape prepros. The Otari has a switch in the back to go from NAB to IEC EQ. It is a nice way to progress. This may be the way other machines are set up.

                  BTW, when I bought my first (and only) Otari MX5050 BIII it had a 3 head headblock, so only played (and recorded) 2 track tapes. I went to the internet and found a nice four head headblock for about $100 or so. IIRC, it took 3 or 4 screws to switch the headblocks.

                  Larry
                  Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0 BottleheadPhonoPre,Herron VTPH-2A
                  Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,MykerinosCard,PacMicroModel2
                  Dig Play-mch NADAC, Roon, HQPlayer, Oppo95
                  Electronics-Herron 360Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
                  Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
                  Other-512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, ArtKelmGround1, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
                  Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Since you all seem fairly texhnical and hands on, maybe I can ask this here. If I had a Tascam BR20 can I do things such as head alignment myself to make sure it plays well. Does that require a measurement tool or is it done on the fly while listening.
                    Pure Audio Project Trio 10/Voxativ, 811A Triode monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI, Custom TT with Vertere tone arm, Allnic H1201, RT Audio Ultra USB Orpheus EX, Mojo Audio Server with remote Illuminati power supply, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire. Inakustik Ref Air 2404 Speaker cable. Genesis Interconnects.

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Originally posted by Kingrex View Post
                      Since you all seem fairly texhnical and hands on, maybe I can ask this here. If I had a Tascam BR20 can I do things such as head alignment myself to make sure it plays well. Does that require a measurement tool or is it done on the fly while listening.
                      You need a calibration tape and a dual trace oscilloscope and you have to know how to use both. Are you back to wanting a 2 track 15ips machine playing new tapes or are you still contemplating a 4 track machine playing old 7 1/2ips tapes?
                      SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, NOLA KO speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs, and a pair of JBL 4345 speakers.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        I don't think I was ever seeking out 4 track. I was looking for affordable material and 7.5 ips fits the bill. There seem to be many 2 and 4 track recordings available. I may have been asking a beginner questions such as can a 2 track machine play 4 track. Yes stupid question.
                        Pure Audio Project Trio 10/Voxativ, 811A Triode monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3SI, Custom TT with Vertere tone arm, Allnic H1201, RT Audio Ultra USB Orpheus EX, Mojo Audio Server with remote Illuminati power supply, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire. Inakustik Ref Air 2404 Speaker cable. Genesis Interconnects.

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by Kingrex View Post
                          I don't think I was ever seeking out 4 track. I was looking for affordable material and 7.5 ips fits the bill. There seem to be many 2 and 4 track recordings available. I may have been asking a beginner questions such as can a 2 track machine play 4 track. Yes stupid question.
                          As I said before; the Otari MX-5050 can with just a flip of a button.
                          Sketsoteric Audio: "Analog Sound, Digital Flexibility"
                          http://mortechpr.wixsite.com/cassetteadventures
                          http://mortechpr.wixsite.com/cgmasteringservices

                          Comment

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