The vintage pre-recorded reel to reel tape thread

Jan 20, 2019
New Jersey (U.S.)
A lot of people whom, I suppose, didn't have the "luxury" of having grown up with reel to reel (because of: either being the wrong age or...because their present access to it is limited by the -now- insane "collector" pricing market Ebay created) tend to disregard the 8,000-or-so consumer reel titles produced during the format's heyday (in my book; roughly between 1956-1974)...especially, if they're vinyl obsessives or are unfamiliar with all the vintage hardware and thus (ignorantly) assume it was all midfi garbage back in the day.

Well, the earliest memories of my life are of: always being mesmerized by the movements of the Panasonic RS-736 deck my father had bought in 1972. It was a fairly simple deck (7" reel, 1 motor and pressure pad heads; however, it did have a 15ips capstan adaptor as well as a dedicated 15ips of the few single motor machines to do so).

Anyhow, the absolute "gamechanger" which forever sold me on the superiority of (properly done quality controlled) reel to reel was; how: whenever there was an instance of my father having a pre-recorded reel and the vinyl counterpart of the same album (and these tapes were all 7 1/2 from the '60s before any of the 3 3/4 Record Club junk of the '70s), I immediately would notice the soundstage "solidity" and stereo separation of the tape distinctively being (at least) twice as better; not to forget as well: I'd notice the dynamic sound quality of the tape was uniform from start to finish (while the record would always become more muddied and shrill toward the end of a side...even on the Garrard Zero 100 TT and Empire MM-cart setup my father had at the time).

Forty years and as many reclamation-project decks later (which I've given my own brew of Paravinci/Berron/Jacobs/etc. tweaks to!), I will personally attest to the fact of: two and quarter-track 7 1/2 was considered audiophile-grade when mass-produced records cost under $5 (by comparison) and, on an all-out rebuilt deck, it EASILY beats the corresponding vintage vinyl.

Oldest tape I have (1956): 20190501_004019.jpg
Staple of the '60s(!): 20190501_005135.jpg

Who needs the 2015 remaster(!): 20190501_004136.jpg
Best album by the closest thing to a Beatles' "spin-off" band(!): 20190501_005247.jpg One of the earliest, "greatest hits" comps of the '60s made by a band while at the height of their prime. Legendary Tom Dowd hot mastering in all its glory (and no HAECO/CSG artificial mono processing here like on every other reissued format of this album has had): 20190501_005956.jpg
Original "narrow" mix: 20190501_004956.jpg
You can clear a lot of people and things out if you dare to crank-up side 2(!) 20190501_002711.jpg
My favorite era of Bond as well as one of my favorite film composers: 20190501_004611.jpg
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May 25, 2010
SF Bay Area
Thanks, Dexter. Very nice post and start to this thread. I started with tape in the '60's when I was in college. Prerecorded tapes in those days were multiple times as expensive as vinyl, so I and many others didn't buy prerecorded tapes when you could buy two or three or even four records for the price of one tape. However, as time went on and I was working, I started buying 7.5ips 4 track stereo tapes new, particulary the Barclay-Crocker tapes and some of Bob Sellman's DTR (did I get that correct?) by mail order in the early '80's. I didn't realize then that a top notch dolby B decoder would make these tapes sound really fine - much better than the cheap Teac dolby B decoders I did buy. As time went on, many tapes began to appear in used record shops and else where, and I scooped them up (mostly classical since that is my main interest). Usually bought them by the box load, paying a couple of bucks a reel - prerecorded 7.5.ips 4 track stereo, with the occasional 2 track tape (yeh!) and the occasional 3 3/4ips tape (boo!). Then came the 15ips 2 track tapes starting with Tape Project about 11 years ago and life changed for the tape world for me. Still have about 500 reels of 7.5ips 4 track stereo tapes (and a handful of 7.5ips 2 track tapes).



May 25, 2010
SF Bay Area
Again, nice post. I'll reference your classical tapes. I've never had a Mercury 2 track, although I have seen a few advertised. I have a few RCA 2 tracks and IIRC one or two Capitol 2 tracks. A few years ago, a fellow in the industry I know, emailed me that he knew a person who owned a used record shop and had several boxes (a hundred or more) classical 4 track tapes that no one seems to be interested in. The fellow sent me his list and they were mostly Columbia and some DGG (no Londons which I have many, many). I offered him around $5 a reel and ended up with the tapes. My experience with Columbia and DGG in general with vinyl has not been that good, but to my surprise, the Columbia and DGG tapes (including many by Bernstein) were very fine sonically. And the tapes were in quite nice condition. Thanks, again for jogging my memory.

Jan 18, 2012
Drobak Norway
so you have a separate 4T audio card cage on A80R?
I shipped my headblock to MTRSL and got a 4T head installed with a switch...replaced the record head...
repromachine only anyway...have another for dubbing
my eq card on reproboard is resoldered for CCIR 15ips and NAB 7,5ips


Active Member
May 3, 2010
To avoid the damage done by a switch at millivolt levels. Dedicated cards for IEC 15 and NAB 7.5 but mainly because my Tech refused to compromise with switches. It was either direct wired second cage or nothing.

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