Thinking of taking the plunge into reel to reel... advice?

nobody

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#1
Well, those damn reel to reel players just look so fun I may need to have one for my very own. I'm starting to get seriously interested in getting something to start out with and was hoping to lay out what I'm thinking now and get any sort of advice anyone wants to throw out there.

Basically, there are a couple places in town that sell vintage gear and I'm planning on going to go have a look around and see what they have. If they have anything I like, seems like buying local and not having to pay for and worry about damage caused with shipping would be a good move. Plus, I get to check the thing out live first hand and I have someone to call on for problems. I've also seen a guy who fixes and sells on Craigslist at pretty good prices, and was considering checking out one of his machines, but right now he's only got 7" capable available.

Which leads me into my next issue. What features to look for? Basically, I am thinking I do want something that can handle 10" reels, just because let's face it, reel to reel isn't looking like the most convenient format, so I'd like to get a long play time once I load up the thing. If the sound quality at lower speeds isn't bad, I may well like to make things like a several hours long mix for background music with friends and that sort of thing. Any opinions as to how long you can stretch playtime and still have acceptable quality would be appreciated as would advice and suggestions on what other capabilities/features I should be looking for.

I don't know enough about reel players to go the fixer upper route, especially at first. I'd rather have something I can use and enjoy, learn about over time and maybe down the road I will want to mess with more technical things or fixing up what I come across. But for now, I want to stay within a reasonable budget, thinking 400 or under, preferably far under depending if it comes with reels, hubs, etc... And I want something I can start using right away and also something I will not get an urge to upgrade so soon that it's just money wasted in the long haul.

So yeah, I'm hoping to take a day off soon and go hunting around the places in town I know to have reel players and my initial thought is to just look for whatever catches my fancy that plays 10" reels, is low priced and is in solid playing condition. But as someone who knows close to nothing about reel to reel players, I am guessing some of you may have some good advice as to what to look for and what I'm not thinking about.

Also, by the way, I blame Nick Danger's sneaky mailing me his latest mix on a very tempting looking reel for spurring this sudden surge of motivation. Be careful around that guy.
 

BubbaH

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#2
Well, those damn reel to reel players just look so fun I may need to have one for my very own. I'm starting to get seriously interested in getting something to start out with and was hoping to lay out what I'm thinking now and get any sort of advice anyone wants to throw out there.

Basically, there are a couple places in town that sell vintage gear and I'm planning on going to go have a look around and see what they have. If they have anything I like, seems like buying local and not having to pay for and worry about damage caused with shipping would be a good move. Plus, I get to check the thing out live first hand and I have someone to call on for problems. I've also seen a guy who fixes and sells on Craigslist at pretty good prices, and was considering checking out one of his machines, but right now he's only got 7" capable available.

Which leads me into my next issue. What features to look for? Basically, I am thinking I do want something that can handle 10" reels, just because let's face it, reel to reel isn't looking like the most convenient format, so I'd like to get a long play time once I load up the thing. If the sound quality at lower speeds isn't bad, I may well like to make things like a several hours long mix for background music with friends and that sort of thing. Any opinions as to how long you can stretch playtime and still have acceptable quality would be appreciated as would advice and suggestions on what other capabilities/features I should be looking for.

I don't know enough about reel players to go the fixer upper route, especially at first. I'd rather have something I can use and enjoy, learn about over time and maybe down the road I will want to mess with more technical things or fixing up what I come across. But for now, I want to stay within a reasonable budget, thinking 400 or under, preferably far under depending if it comes with reels, hubs, etc... And I want something I can start using right away and also something I will not get an urge to upgrade so soon that it's just money wasted in the long haul.

So yeah, I'm hoping to take a day off soon and go hunting around the places in town I know to have reel players and my initial thought is to just look for whatever catches my fancy that plays 10" reels, is low priced and is in solid playing condition. But as someone who knows close to nothing about reel to reel players, I am guessing some of you may have some good advice as to what to look for and what I'm not thinking about.

Also, by the way, I blame Nick Danger's sneaky mailing me his latest mix on a very tempting looking reel for spurring this sudden surge of motivation. Be careful around that guy.
I would advise to bring that reel with you and a pair of phones, so you can test any deck you decide to look at. It may go without saying but test all functions and observe that it operates the way it should. 3.75 ips is ok, but I personally never use that speed. I opt for the 7.5 ips as sound quality is better and you still get 90 mins (roughly) per side on a 3600' roll. Pioneer and Teac, would probably be your best bet. A 1011L/1020L or a Teac A series or X series would be fine too. Make sure to check the heads as well. Another thing to keep in mind is track layout. Im going to assume you want to be looking for a 1/4 track deck. Avoid 1/2 track decks unless you only want to use one side of the tape.
 

nobody

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#3
I had not thought about the 1/2 vs 1/4 track so thanks for that.

And yeah, bringing the tape is probably a good idea as well, although they should have tapes around where I will look.
 

BubbaH

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#4
A tape made on a deck that doesnt operate right might sound fine played back on that deck. Bringing a tape made on a known functioning deck will show any playback issues, as well as possibly alignment.
 
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#6
Get a Pioneer deck. That's my advice. 7" reels are much easier to find and work with, but if you must have the 10" reels, I'd still say go with Pioneer.

For 7 inchers, go with the RT-701 or RT-707. Buy it in good condition, and then immediately send it out to Thomas Brander (tbrander@alvarezandmarsal.com) in NY for alignment, recapping, op-amp replacement, adjustment, and cleaning. It will work like a brand new unit. The repair is very reasonable. The shipping is ridiculous. Still worth it for a unit that plays and records like new. Also he has a SLICK LED conversion for the UV meters and forward/reverse buttons, which are notorious for burning out. (Any color LED, I got blue LEDs for the UV meters, to match my Pioneer receiver face)

Now, the 707 is nice because it has automatic reverse. But, owning two 707s and one 701.... if you see a 701 grab it. They're rarer but also cheaper because everyone wants auto-reverse. Auto reverse is nice, but the 701 has been mechanically significantly more reliable than my 707s. There's less to adjust on the 701, and so less that goes wrong after 30-odd years.

The RT-901/909 are the 10" versions of the above, and though I have no experience with them, I assume they're the same high quality, 70+ pounds of aluminum and steel, lovely-sounding machines. They do go for quite a bit more money than the 701/707 series, just so you know.

Charles.
 

nobody

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#7
I keep hearing good things about the Pioneers. One of those comes across my path I'm going to have to give it real consideration.
 

Elite-ist

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#8
Your budget will dictate what deck you may find in good working order. Dave, check out these open-reel decks for sale at Innovative Audio. They are all serviced with a warranty. The Pioneer RT-707 is a 7 incher, however. http://www.iavscanada.com/product-category/reel-to-reel/ This is only meant as a guide of what to expect for pricing.

We all have our pet brand of decks. The Pioneer RT-10XX series decks are great and within your price range. And the decks with auto-reverse are worth the extra cost.

Nando.
 
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eminence1963

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I would go with a TEAC A6300 for a long play 10 inch auto reverse deck. If you come across that deck I would definitely give that one a listen. Its built like a tank and if it was serviced correctly will last a long time. Pioneers are too expensive and not in your price range. There out of your network:evil4::mrgreen:
 
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Nick Danger

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Well, those damn reel to reel players just look so fun I may need to have one for my very own. I'm starting to get seriously interested in getting something to start out with and was hoping to lay out what I'm thinking now and get any sort of advice anyone wants to throw out there......

Also, by the way, I blame Nick Danger's sneaky mailing me his latest mix on a very tempting looking reel for spurring this sudden surge of motivation. Be careful around that guy.
Lots of nice decks to choose from, Dave. I am excited to see what deck you come home with tomorrow! I have a terrible addiction to open reel decks and hope the same thing happens to you. Be fun to do some more trades with ya on this format.
 

nobody

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#11
I like the suggestions and Teac and Pioneer keep coming up. If I come home tomorrow with a deck is still a mystery. I'm not gonna just jump on the first thing I see and would rather wait and be patient and get something I'll want to keep around for years. I'm not a big gear switcher and prefer to find things I really want and keep them. But if they have what I'm looking for, I'm ready to pull the trigger. I'll report back with what I find.

And yeah, that Innovative Audio link is interesting. Definitely something to keep in mind and a good way to have some decent idea of pricing.
 
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BubbaH

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Pioneer 10xx series decks are probably the cheaper units to find. I would stay away from the 90x series, unless its been completely rebuilt, then youll be looking at an 800 to 1000 dollar price tag. If not, it will be headaches, and will most likely need restoration. Very beautiful decks, but need servicing. Again, an A or lower model X series deck from Teac would be fine as well.
 

Elite-ist

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Dave, in the off-chance you come across an Akai GX-635D for an excellent deal, that would be worth considering. I had an Akai GX-747, but the 635D would be less money to buy with the same quality.

Nando.
 
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nobody

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First stop down. They had one of that akai model actually, but for twice the price of the leading contender. Teac a3300sx, fully servicedreels, hubs two metal take up reels, couple of tapes, under my budget. Have one more place to look, butt that is a strong contender, only lacks auto reverse.
 

eminence1963

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First stop down. They had one of that akai model actually, but for twice the price of the leading contender. Teac a3300sx, fully servicedreels, hubs two metal take up reels, couple of tapes, under my budget. Have one more place to look, butt that is a strong contender, only lacks auto reverse.
That 3300Sx is no slouch of a deck. If I was looking for a TEAC that would defiantly be one contender for me.:evil3:
 

nobody

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Well, here it is, well under budget, 10" metal reel and hubs came with it. Also a 7" plastic take up reel. Refurbished, 90 day warranty and all. Not knowing what I'm talking about I asked about the head condition a couple times with concern in my eyes and he looked a bit exasperated and then laid out a few decks and "educated" me as to what to look for and showed me how shiny and fresh these were, showed me some with wear and such. He was quite patient and seemed to really want me to buy the right machine. If you're in St. Louis, go by Alpha Tech and get a gander at a repair shop on one floor and a second floor you have to be led up to filled with goodies of all eras.



The other place I did not buy from as they only had unserviced studio pulled machines out of my budget did have 10" and 7 " sealed blank reels at good prices, so I have 4 10" reels of Quantegy 456 and 4 7" reels of the same, although it will likely take me some time to get the hang of recording so no trades just yet. But here it is, playing Nick's jazz mix and sounding quite wonderful indeed.

 

BubbaH

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Nice deck bro. Looks you found a good buy. Especially with warranty. Its cool that you managed to find some tapes too. Enjoy the new deck. And don't worry you'll be familiar with the recording process before long. You'll also love that juicy reel to reel sound I'm sure.
 

Nick Danger

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Well, here it is, well under budget, 10" metal reel and hubs came with it. Also a 7" plastic take up reel. Refurbished, 90 day warranty and all. Not knowing what I'm talking about I asked about the head condition a couple times with concern in my eyes and he looked a bit exasperated and then laid out a few decks and "educated" me as to what to look for and showed me how shiny and fresh these were, showed me some with wear and such. He was quite patient and seemed to really want me to buy the right machine. If you're in St. Louis, go by Alpha Tech and get a gander at a repair shop on one floor and a second floor you have to be led up to filled with goodies of all eras.



The other place I did not buy from as they only had unserviced studio pulled machines out of my budget did have 10" and 7 " sealed blank reels at good prices, so I have 4 10" reels of Quantegy 456 and 4 7" reels of the same, although it will likely take me some time to get the hang of recording so no trades just yet. But here it is, playing Nick's jazz mix and sounding quite wonderful indeed.

Sooooo very sweet, Dave. You chose what I feel to be a great deck and would certainly not mind having one of those in my kit. Tape sounds okay on it?
 

Nick Danger

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I would be careful of the 456 series tape as it is a known sticky shed offender. Lots of great tape options out there, maybe a new thread for open reel tape is in order....
 

Nick Danger

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Dave, in the off-chance you come across an Akai GX-635D for an excellent deal, that would be worth considering. I had an Akai GX-747, but the 635D would be less money to buy with the same quality.

Nando.
Nando, I may have one or two of these on the way to my home shortly as my friend just picked up a 747(w/ original packaging) and needs to thin his collection to make space for it. He asked if I would be interested in auditioning a 635D for a few and I couldn't resist.
 
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