There’s quite a growing buzz about reel-to-reel tape decks these days. Is it a trend or just a fad?

Look on eBay and you’ll see a few thousand reel-to-reel tape decks for sale, mostly decks that were made in the 70’s and 80’s. So, what’s going on here? Didn’t reel-to- reel enthusiasm die when digital took over?

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I’ve considered the trend, and even bought a vintage tape deck myself to play some of my remaining collection of reel-to-reel tapes. I’ll tell you what’s available, who is buying them and what they are doing with them. I’ll also profile some newly produced high-end decks that are selling as fast as they can be made.

Remember, the conventional wisdom was that the LP was dead, and now turntables and new pressings of classic recordings are flying off the shelves. Will reel-to-reel have a similar rebirth?

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I’m anxious to share my findings, let you know about the available software and newly manufactured blank tape, and what you might be getting into if you decide to jump in to the reel to reel world.

Look for my exploration of the surprising interest as reel-to-reel becomes a high-end object of desire.

  • mp

    As the one time owner of a Teac X-10R (and Revox B77; Pioneer RT 707 and 901; Akai 646, and Teac X-1000) I suggest that this is going nowhere. The expense of keeping these things going, compared to the sound you will get, is probably in the same category (relationally) as trying to keep a Testarossa running strong, compared to almost any new 4 or 6 cyl performance car. Of course you won’t look as cool driving a Golf R as a Ferrari, and your hi-fi system won’t look as cool without an open reel in it. So if looking cool is important, then open reel is the ticket.

    PS: suggest you go with half track for best performance. Nothing less than 7 ips, either. Slower speeds on open reel just never cut it. Quarter track at 7 ips with no Dolby is, however, better than any cassette deck you’ll ever own (with the possible exception of the very few made with Dolby S–good luck finding one of them, but then you’ll need metal tape, which is almost impossible to find.). PSS: if you really want something massively cool, try and find one of the old Crown machines with the big knobs from the late ’50s through mid ’70s. Even if you never use it, nothing else will come close in wow factor, short of a deck with Studer written on the front.