August 23, 2013

Let's Talk About Reel-To-Reel Decks...

by Chris Randall

I know this is a painful subject for the more modern amongst us, but feel free to step aside and let the old fogies go at it for a little while.

It is going to be a year or more before I can begin tilting at windmills in earnest, and in the meantime I'd like to do some experimenting and reminding myself of these techniques. While I know how to edit tape, make drum loops from tape, make "real" tape delay, all that jazz, it has been some years since I have exercised those particular muscles. While I already know what decks I'm getting for the Windmill (Otari MTR-10 with stereo 1/4" headstacks) I don't have the room in what will be my current space for those beasties, and I just want to have some fun.

So, in shopping about for smaller decks that might have the features that are necessary for What We Do, I landed on the Pioneer RT-701 as a possible candidate. These are readily available (there are several on eBay, and one on PHX Craigslist), reasonably priced, and appear to have the features we need in a very convenient form factor for the ultra-small studio I'll have for the next year. I have never seen one of these in real life, however, let alone used one.

My concern comes from the fact that these are direct drive. Nominally, in a situation where you'd be making tape loops and such-like, the pinch roller pulls the tape off the supply reel, and the take-up reel just has tension on it to ensure it, well, takes it up. So when you don't have a take-up reel (like when you're running tape loops) the device still operates correctly.

So, basically, can any AI readers verify that these will operate in the correct manner? That's the question. If not, suggestions as to another small form-factor (Gods forbid, even portable, aside from the too-spendy Nagra IV-S and its ilk) R2R that will fill the bill.

EDIT: It appears that deck does not have a cue mode, which makes it essentially useless for our needs. Back to the drawing board.


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Aug.23.2013 @ 10:01 PM
How big of a form factor is the Revox B77? Or A77?

Aug.23.2013 @ 10:10 PM
Chris Randall
16 1/4" W x 14 1/8" H x 8 1/2" D, so "chunky." I think the B77 (doesn't the "B" stand for "Broadcast?") is the more pro of the two machines. It's slightly bigger, too, and has built-in editing features (scissors and splice block). Obviously far better than that Panny thing. I think I'll just man up and get one of those, or if I want to save a few bucks, an Otari MX5050, which I'm more familiar with.


Aug.23.2013 @ 11:27 PM
I'm sure you've seen this, but it bears reposting: link []
When i first saw this I was thinking how cool it was and how much easier it might be to make a piece of software to do something similar. Then again, something tells me that would be missing the point.
What sorts of things are you planning to do with this machine...mainly loops?

Aug.24.2013 @ 5:14 AM

Aug.24.2013 @ 5:15 AM
^^ TEAC A-2300SX

Aug.24.2013 @ 12:34 PM
Those Pioneers are great little playback machines, but are all but useless in the studio. I have used several of the old Akai decks with the glass heads. The major issue with them is that they are so heavy. I have a 4 track machine that was a workhorse in my studio for years. The sound on sound function and a small mixer makes a nice delay line that mixes down onto itself. Real handy. Also, the thing has an amazingly warm distortion when you overdrive the inputs. It's better than any boutique fuzz pedal I've ever heard when I run my bass through it. I can't remember the model number off the top of my head. I can check on it in a few days when I get back home.


Aug.24.2013 @ 4:51 PM
According to the ebay listing for the A-2300SX:

"This is a great opportunity for you to get your Tape Deck Reel-to-Reel and remember those good times of his youth, with excellent sound quality."

I'm thinking that remembering those good times of his youth are reason enough to buy right there.

Aug.24.2013 @ 5:34 PM
Chris Randall
My grandfather, when he was in Viet Nam doing his three tours, would send my grandma 1/4" R2R tapes instead of letters; I used to love to listen to these when I was a kid. However, the good times of his youth [sic] they were not.


Aug.24.2013 @ 8:24 PM
Myself, I thought the "PLAY AND RECORD LIKE A CD!" was the best part. Just in case you didn't know this was an audio recording/playback device.

Are hipsters moving on from vinyl to r2r?

Aug.24.2013 @ 11:44 PM
Hell yes, bring back pre-recorded reel to reel releases.

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