7 June 2005
I am a new member to your group, but an old member within the
open reel recorder business.
I've been an audio repair technician since 1978 and have serviced
many brands and models of open reel tape recorders.
From your criteria of "we'd like something that will have a long useful
life and won't be a huge maintenance headache" I'd suggest looking for
certain models from TEAC.
After servicing hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of different machines, I
have found many of the older TEAC products to be well built, reliable and
long-lived. Specifically the A-2300 series, the A -3300 , the A-4300 series of
2 channel decks and the A-2340 series , A-3340 series of 4 channel
decks are quite good candidates for reliable restoration. They have a
robust tape transport, they share many common parts and the three
head configuration allows some interesting options for your
As one other gentleman mentioned ( I believe in reference to
Studer-Canada ?) it is useful to modify the heads arrangement for
versatility in playback.
Specifically, what I do is, modify the tape deck for playback
purposes only. On some models this involves removal of the record head and
with a second playback head. Original playback head is a quarter track.
The second playback head is a half-track. A simple switch allows choice
of either head to be fed to the playback amplifiers.
Some decks have a quarter-track , 4 channel head which allows
even more versatility with multi-track recordings.
Since these decks are modified for playback, I also "amputate"
the record/erase functionality to prevent accidental erasing. This
also has a great benefit in that I can "wire around" some of the switches
in the audio path which are no longer necessary, such as the 3 -head
source/tape switch. This leaves a "cleaner" electrical circuit path and
eliminates the problem of not having a particular switch in the "correct"
Final end result of a modified TEAC deck is a reliable transport
machine with both quarter-track and half-track playback capability
with individual channel playback volume control and stereo headphone
monitor system. So on the 4 channel quarter track model you could adjust
playback volume on any one or all (individually) tracks and have the
option of moving the head switch to listen to a half track tape using
only two of the playback amplifiers.
After the Teac deck is serviced correctly there's no reason not to
expect to get 10 more years of useful service. The thick rubber belts
last a long time. It is best to run them a couple of times a month just like
any other machine. Eventually the grease will harden again and will
need to be cleaned and re-lubed, but that should last 10 years. This is
based my experience with return customers or their sons/daughters.
Some "newer" model Teac decks produced in the 1980's drifted away from
their better built models of the 70's. Some extra features were added
which were cool, but they also changed the tape transport dramatically
and I saw a lot more problems with those models. Specifically the X -series
went to DC capstan motors (for pitch control) and some models were
"over-engineered" so that they had intermittent problems with tape
tension which led to random stoppage.
For a non-technical customer looking for performance and reliability
the A-series is a great choice.
Prices, from my shop, for a modified and restored TEAC A-series run from
$ 850. depending on reel sizes and some other features.
I'd be interested in hearing feedback or questions, suggestions or
comments from other group members. I have about 80 decks currently
awaiting restoration. I'm trying to gauge how much interest people
would have for the playback only decks. Or how much demand there
would be for completely restored recording decks with new heads and
calibrated for Quantegy 456 tapes.