View Full Version : open reel is staging a comeback!
06-12-2002, 04:09 PM
Is anyone a fan of collecting open reel tape recorders, or is anyone still listening to their pre-recorded open reel tapes? Believe it or not, some of them are incredible sounding, surpassing any other playback medium. Anyone have a Revox, Sony, Teac, Akai or Crown tape deck in their system?
06-12-2002, 04:51 PM
I have one but it will not record for some reason. There is just something about watching that reel go round. (I don't actually use it but I would if I could record)
06-12-2002, 10:34 PM
My dad has a Teac 6010 sitting in his stereo cabinet. Maybe I'll have to dig it out and give it a spin.
06-12-2002, 10:45 PM
Oh c'mon Aaron, isn't that Teac a little too old for your standards?
06-12-2002, 10:49 PM
Oh c'mon Aaron, isn't that Teac a little too old for your standards?
Well of course it is! But hey, there's no harm in trying it out.
06-13-2002, 10:09 AM
The Teac should be a fine sounding deck, built like a proverbial tank. What you should try and listen to are some of the early pre-recorded tapes. If you are an ebay buyer there is a section under "music" then "tapes" then "open reel" that has a great deal of selection. If you can find an RCA, Mercury, London (Decca), Columbia or Verve four track tape that is of interest musically try bidding on it. You might want to try and find something that is recorded in the early 60's, if possible. This is before the tape duplicating process began losing some of the transfer capabilities in order to make more tapes cheaper. There are some "in demand" tapes that can be expensive, the Miles Davis tapes, the Carnegie Hall concerts of Harry Belafonte and any of the RCA "Living Stereo" tapes are expensive. Make sure the tape is recorded in 7 1/2 IPS (inches per second) and maybe clean off the record and playback heads of the tape machine with some un-scented rubbing alcohol. Believe me they have tremendous dynamic range, superb transient detail and a dramatic sense of "being there". The Harry Belafonte, in fact any live concert recorded in Carnegie Hall (the Weavers Live!) is unbelievable. Good listening!
06-13-2002, 10:45 AM
Out of wild curiosity....could you give us a rundown of what you have for gear in your rig?
Also, would an open reel tape player have sufficient output (I would think it would) to be used with a passive preamp?
06-13-2002, 12:24 PM
Sure, the Teac can produce very high signal levels, easily driving your system to full output. Well, I have a pretty complex system so bear with me as I try and explain it. In the basement I use a pair of Spica TC50s powered by a classic Fisher 500C vacuum tube receiver connected to a California Audio Labs Tercet II CD player. The speakers are played on a pair of Chicago Speaker Stands and connected using a solid core speaker wire. This is an area where I work on my two main hobbies, building audio equipment and model trains. My wife also spends allot of time in this area working as a graphic artist, in fact this morning she was listening to a Robert Johnson CD.
The two channel system is where things get a little bit complicated. The electronics chain is a vacuum tube pre-amp that I built from the ground up about five or six years ago. It is in two separate chassis, the power supply is separate. It took me about two years to do the project, getting the parts together and working on all of the details. I tried to make everything myself, the volume controls are two separate Electroswitch frames with 1% metal Roederstein resistors making each of the stepped positions. The internal connecting wires were each one hand made using MIT connecting cable and Wonder Wire. All of the audio path resistors are Vishay bulk metal foil 1% or Roederstein. The inter stage coupling capacitors are triple bi-passed Wonder Caps for the audio stages and metal foil for the feedback. The separate power supply is triple regulated with a completely separate supply for the tube filaments and a second for the B+. I used military type Amphanol connectors to get the power supply energy to the main chassis. The power amplifier is a venerable Conrad Johnson MV-75a-1 that I have changed the RCA plugs, coupling capacitors and a few resistors. For record playing I have a Maplenoll Signature Ariedne air bearing turntable with the 65 lb platter. I have an air compressor, in the basement, that supplies compressed air to lift the platter and move the lateral tracking tonearm. I've added a 12 gallon storage tank and Schrader Bellows air and oil filters as well as laboratory grade regulator to stabilize the air flow. I've coated the tone arm tube inside and out with a resonance damping material to reduce ringing. For the phono cartridge a classic Decca MK IV and a Sumiko Blue Point Special are used. The AC power, to the turntable, is handled by a special power line conditioner just for the Hurst motor in the turntable.
For FM listening I took a Heathkit tuner completely apart and did a great deal of modification to just about everything I could find. It is a unique designed "front end" that I had a feeling could sound amazing if certain things were done to the following stages. Digital playback is a Rotel separate CD transport (given to me by Polk's car guru Kim Jasper, who also installed the roof top Channel Master FM antenna) and an Adcom DA converter. The other sources are a collection of classic open reel tape decks, a Crown CX824 in a beautiful solid padak wood cabinet, two Sony TC-850-2, two Revox A77 (one 1/4 track, 3 3/4 IPS the other 1/2 track 7 1/2 and 15 IPS) a Sony TC-666D that has amazed me as a real "sleeper" and a Tandberg with Dolby playback decoding. The speakers are Martin Logan CLSIIA full range electrostatics with a Janis W1 in rosewood. I became a convert to planar style speakers in the early 70's with the Audio Research Tympani 1B and went to the 1C and 1D and so on, through the classic KLH 9s. In the proper room, with the right associated electronics and with considerable room treatment this style of speaker can be amazing. I have made most of my own interconnects from twisted pairs of Kimber Kable and various RCA plugs (the British made ones are superb) and the speaker wire is based upon a data cable made by the Amphanol Company, it is a flat wire with 24 pairs of reverse twisted wires, one pair twisted clockwise and the neighbor twisted counter-clockwise, it kind of looks like a multi-color ribbon. I've made my own tube traps from heavy cardboard stuffed with crushed newspaper and covered by my wife to look acceptable. I'm a believe in the supporting structure of the equipment, the most rigid the better. I made a rigid equipment rack frame from custom made Bosch industrial aluminum support beams. They have a complete structure product that can be assembled to suit any custom requirement and it is incredible strong, braced to support over two thousand pounds. I then had four shelves made from a sandwich of carbon fiber and high density foam that are extremely rigid and light weight. I covered the bottom of them with the material the car audio guys use to deaden car door panels. Each shelf is only supported by Tip Toes on each corner, but can support over 600 pounds. I built my own AC power line conditioner and isolation transformer which I wrote a construction article in Audio Amateur, a real treat I'd always aspired to do.
The second floor system is a RMDS1 connected to an older NEC 26" television and a Canon VCR (great picture) and a Pioneer DVD player. I have nothing but the highest regards for this system, the decoding is right on the money, the sub-woofer is very powerful and dynamic and integrates beautifully with the satellites. My wife and I were some of the "test" subjects on making sure the "out-of-box" experience was satisfying and it was. I dazzled my Dad with Das Boot, he actually flinched when pipe fittings began popping across the room. Over the years I've had six paneled, tri-amplified Tympani speakers with breath taking sound staging and he's never reacted like he did with the RMDS1. But, he's been going to live music concerts with his friends,recently, so maybe I'll play the two channel system to see if he reacts?
Take care, Ken
06-13-2002, 12:29 PM
-I don't have anything to add, just wanted to say I am sitting here, mouth agape, speechless-
06-13-2002, 12:35 PM
Da-am Ken, got a digital camera? Post some pics.
06-13-2002, 12:59 PM
I am in complete awe.....
06-13-2002, 02:28 PM
Add me to the list. Please get a camera!
06-14-2002, 01:21 AM
WOW. Kenneth is very serious about this stuff. I had something to say about my Teac 4070G autoreverse, bi-directional record, reel. However after reading Kenneths description of his systems several times, I have no idea why I would want to follow that act. Hell he could charge admission to show off that stuff. Makes me wonder what his train set is like. I vote for the photos of the audio and trains.
06-14-2002, 03:56 AM
So Ken, what do you do for fun because that is a labor of love!
06-14-2002, 09:46 AM
Thanks for everyone's comments, keep in mind this has been a hobby of mine for along time. In the very early 70's two friends and myself started a basement company selling modified Dynaco Stereo 70 power amps, PAS 3X pre-amplifiers, Rabco SL-8E tonearm and Infinity 2000a speakers. We also began selling IMF speakers, a British design imported by the audio entrepreneur Irving "Bud" Fried. Who, while challenging to work with, definitely had a wealth of audio experience and a skilled "ear". Most of the things I've built are just wanting to own the really expensive gear, but not being able to afford it. So, I try and learn as much as I can about a particular subject and then see if I can build it.
There's enough knowledgeable people around who are generous with their information and magazines like Audio Amateur (now re-named AudioXpress) that can help. After all, this hobby began by "enthusiasts" working in their garages and basements tinkering with making "the better mousetrap". Let me tell you what I have not been able to build successfully, in case there's some reader who knows all about that particular subject. I'd love to build a really good quality, laboratory grade isolation platform. There are some extremely good quality shock mount table that electron microscopes use to isolate from any external vibrations. These things are self leveling and reduce external vibrations to a tremendous level. I'd love to have one for my turntable, I've tried using shock isolators and steel laminated support tables, I've read all of the information on these devices, but can't seem to make one that works. Anyone an expert on this?
06-14-2002, 11:07 AM
SHEESH....and here I was thinking I was cool weighting down and sticking mousepads under all my components and stuff.....
Big DUMB Troy
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