There are lots of intricate details involved in playing reel-to-reel
tapes--more than two or three speeds. Which three speeds? 15/16,
1-7/8, 3-3/4, 7-1/2, 15, 30 inches per second? How many tracks? Was
Dolby, dbx, or Telcom noise reduction used? Were some of the tapes
recorded on "rim drive" machines that need continuous speed adjustment?
Your website states that you are a visual person...while I have no
doubt that you could learn how to do this well, I would like to
suggest that perhaps outsourcing this to one of the "audio people" on
this list might perhaps better serve your quality goals and free you
up to persue your areas of interest and expertise. Tape transfer is
less of a creative process than an intricate technical craft.
Most of us who undertake tape transfers have now been doing it for a
decade or more and have been involved with tape for multiple decades
(in my case approaching five--but I'll admit to buying my first tape
recorder in grade four or five).
Just yesterday, I received a "grab bag" of formats that will require
two, perhaps three different tape machines to play properly. One of
the machines had sat idle for a while, and I had to open it up and
find what lubricant had gone gummy and replace it. For reference,
this was a Sony 3402 two-channel, reel-to-reel DIGITAL (DASH) tape recorder.
Top-of-the-line tape machines haven't really been made for fifteen
years, so you're starting off with a 15-year-old (or older), very
complex machine with limited to no parts availability and few people
who know how to service and rebuild them.
Many of us who do this also do our own maintenance and have acquired
our own parts store (often in the form of "organ donor"
machines--last summer, one of my sons carefully deconstructed 12 of
one model and sorted the parts so if I need part X, all the versions
I have of it will be in one box).
There are three machines that are still attracting high prices
because they are considered to be the best machines ever made. There
are plusses and minuses to these machines, not the least of which is
Studer A820 2CH
If you are prepared to spend $3500-$5000 for a used, as-is Nagra
T-Audio, I may know of one that is available.
Since I have a frugal streak, I've settled on the following machines
for most of my work:
Sony APR-5000 and Sony APR-16 (for multitrack)
We also have in-depth the Studer A810 which is an excellent machine
as well, but I slightly prefer the sound of the above two to the
A810, but the A810 runs rings around most other tape machines out there.
I do most of my album work on the A80s and most of the oral history
work on the Sony APR-5000. I have multiple head assemblies for each.
There are also tools that you'll need and many different things
you'll need to learn. I'd like to suggest my blog as a good place to
start, and here are a few specific pages.
And a resource for calibration tapes
Don't be fooled by people selling tape machines with DIN (wide track)
play heads. While they work most of the time, they may be a real
challenge in recovering some tapes from an archive.
Finally, tape treatment becomes a major issue. Almost all tapes are
degrading, and in different ways. I wrote an article for the recent
ARSC Journal which you can find on my website, here:
If you have any questions, I'd be happy to help you, but I'm sorry, I
don't have any tape recorders for sale (I'm sort of like the "roach
motel" for tape recorders -- they check in, but they don't check out).
At 11:38 AM 2009-01-29, VICTORIA wrote:
>I am in the market for a high end reel to reel player. ideally three speed
>but two speed ok. Need for playback and transfer of audio collection. Your
>help towards good models and or dealers is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.