About this time last year, founder Kostas Metaxas of Metaxas & Sins based in the Netherlands, unveiled his new Reel to Reel, recording tape deck in the T-RX Tourbillon. I had the pleasure of seeing and looking at the sumptuously designed deck during its North American launch at Innovative Audio in NYC, hosted by Jeff Garshon of Reel Sound Audio.
Kostas Metaxas is a passionate designer who simply is looking to develop high-end audio outside the box, literally and figuratively. His preamplifiers, amplifiers, and speakers resemble an organic sensibility, sensually curved and carved like sculptures in metal. The T-RX is consistent with that philosophy and Metaxas & Sins are one of very few designing new reel-to-reel decks. With the ever-growing pre-recorded material on tape now, the popularity of analog gear has skyrocketed recently with the vinyl resurgent leading the way.
What Kostas is trying to do is to build a simple, “plug-and-play” type device in this Tourbillon, spooling is all you need to learn. Taken from their own description, “In horology, a tourbillon (French for “whirlwind”) is an addition to the mechanics of a watch lever escapement to increase accuracy. It was developed around 1795 and patented by the French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet on June 26, 1801. The Metaxas & Sins T-RX Analog Tape Reproducer is the first to use the same concept to regulate the speed of the tape through the use of an ARM-CORTEX “controller” which synchronizes the 4 Maxon motors [2-reel motors and 2 capstan motors] with the 2 linear ACTUONIX motors which control the “Dual-Capstan” rollers on a fully retractable bar. It is an entirely new design.”
The T-RX is fully portable or transportable and even comes in a case meant for travel. We saw it stand-mounted, but it can be table-mounted. The body is CNC’d from a solid block of aluminum and the mechanisms are stainless steel. Although most reel-to-reel aficionados predominately listen, recording is available on this deck as an upgrade. You really have to be present looking at this piece of art to appreciate the design fully. Beautiful VU meters monitor the amplification from the external power supply while the only digital here is the stop/start, controls.
The price? Well after I tell you the room is filled with gear that approached a million dollars; the $49,000 Tourbillon might seem like a bargain.
The setup was powered by Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems and listened to through Wilson Audio’s massive Chronosonic XVX speakers. The playlist was predetermined and distributed before the event.
- Allison Wedding, BMW Edge Concert (Kostas Metaxas Recording)
- Bernaud Trio, Dvorak Piano Trio (Kostas Metaxas Recording)
- Steely Dan, Babylon Sister (MCA, Gary Katz)
- Elton John, Honkey Cat (Uni, Gus Dudgeon)
- Billy Joel, Piano Man (Columbia, Michael Stewart)
- Fleetwood Mac, Dreams (WEA, Ken Caillat)
- Michael Jackson, Thriller (Epic, Quincy Jones)
- Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (EMI, Roy Thomas Baker)
Needless to say, the sound was top-notch, even boarding on sublime. Yes, the system was world-class and out of this world financially for most people, but it shows the possibility of music at home. Kostas’ philosophy is that listening to music is best heard live, of course. But he believes this level of dedication in design can approach live performances. On that note, I was transported to a concert hall yesterday.