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Vintage Tape (Audio), Cassette, Wire and Magnetic Disc Recorders and Players Open-reel tape recorders, cassette recorders, 8-track players etc.

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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 5:08 pm   #1
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK.
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Default Advice on Reel to Reel

I have quite a few reels of tape I'd really like to listen to and possibly transfer to CD at some point. I have an Alba R17 which is no longer working and I have come to the conclusion that it is beyond my capabilities to fix it.
My question is what type of reel to reel recorder will play the tapes I have?

I have been looking on ebay and quite fancy buying a Revox A77, Sony TC-366 or Akai 4000D but was unsure whether they will play the tapes I have. I would really appreciate some buying advice from people who understand these things more than I do.

Cheers Rob (greenman).
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 7:21 pm   #2
Courtney Louise
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Default Re: Advice on Reel to Reel

The alba was probably a 3 1/2 ips half track mono machine. The Akai can do this as it has the right speed and a 3-2 / 1-4 switch to allow you to play mono recordings.

Akai's are very common and relatively easy to get parts for and don't usually give too much trouble. The Revox machines are expensive if all you want to do is preserve the tapes themselves.

Alternatively, I am sure there are a number of people on the forum, me included that can transfer the tapes for you at a reasonable cost if you don't want to do it yourself.


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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 7:40 pm   #3
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Default Re: Advice on Reel to Reel

Hi Rob,

The Alba R17 is a 4 track mono machine, playing at 3 3/4 ips. If you play tapes made on the Alba on some stereo machines you you will need to take the output from just one channel ( left or right depending on which track you want to listen to ) or you will hear both tracks at once or even one of the tracks backwards.

As far as the Ebay option goes unless you buy a serviced machine you might find yourself in the same boat again needing some repairs or servicing before you can use it.

Some Akais have a problem with some of the metal parts of the deck mechanism making it unusable without replacement so need to be checked. The A77 was available with different track and speed configurations which you would need to check before buying. The Sonys will probably need belts by now as could any machine.

Another option is to borrow a known good 4 track mono machine or get the tapes copied to CD or MP3 etc, several members on this forum could help with this myself included, you might find a member closer to you than me to save postage costs and risk.

Cheers Mark
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Old 6th Feb 2014, 3:39 pm   #4
Welsh Anorak
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Default Re: Advice on Reel to Reel

Although the Revox is a great machine they aren't too keen on playing small diameter tapes and the characteristic 'snatch' is more suitable for semi-pro tapes. You don't make clear - or maybe you don't know - whether the tapes in question were actually made on the Alba. If so, the recordings you have will be of, er, adequate quality. If they weren't you might need to find out their speed and track layout.
The Akai is good as is the Sony, though both have their own problems as Mark points out. Tandbergs are also worth a look. The main thing is to get the cleanest audio into your PC, edit and tweak with a suitable program such as Audacity, then burn onto CD. Of course it's always nice to have the proper reel-to-reel machine to play the old tapes, but be warned one leads to another...
PS Just a thought - the Alba is quite a basic machine and none the worse for that. I'm sure one of us would be more than happy to bring it back to health for you - this could be your cheapest option and you'd have a good working machine. Unfortunately I'm a distance away or I'd volunteer to help.
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Old 6th Feb 2014, 11:22 pm   #5
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Default Re: Advice on Reel to Reel

What is it about the Alba R17 that's suddenly made it so popular on this board?
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