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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 16th Jan 2023, 11:46 pm   #1
8bit Barry
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Default Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Hi there everyone,

I am wanting to get a high quality R2R for music-studio mastering with the delights of tape. I love the sound of tape so I was looking at an 'affordable' £1000 unit (around that limit) that could do the job.

I have been looking at the PR99 and the B77mk2 High Speed 2 track 15ips players, for their frequency response for mastering music. So my use of the player will not be for prerecorded tapes / recording vinyl etc.

Research has uncovered that although they share similar concept, parts are quite different. It's this statement that concerns me the most - 'While the design was similar in several respects, the B77 and PR99 share very few interchangeable parts, as the electronics were different in many ways.'

There are lots of B77's out there but I am not sure of the numbers of PR99's.

That digital tape counter really looks delightful, also I don't need Mic inputs and the XLR outs of the PR99 would be a bonus... but I don't want to buy something that is going to be expensive to fix with hard to source parts.

Can anyone give me any information on the PR99 and advise me about this decision?

Thanks in advance

Barry
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Old 17th Jan 2023, 12:24 am   #2
Michael Maurice
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

The most important parts and the expensive parts are the same for the B77 and PR99.

That includes the power transformer, both spooling motors motors, capstan motor, brakes, pinch roller, guide roller bearing, tape and of course the heads.

The electronics can always be repaired using everyday available components, save for any processors for the PR99's tape counter.

The PR99 is easier to get to the heads and for editing. It also has a roller bearing for the RH guide.

So now its up to you.
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Old 17th Jan 2023, 12:33 am   #3
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

For studio use, the PR99 is the better choice. However, a PR99 is more likely to have been heavily used in a professional environment, so check any potential purchase carefully, especially for head wear.
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Old 17th Jan 2023, 5:14 am   #4
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

As you're looking specifically for a 15ips machine, beware that there are Revoxes around which have been converted from the normal speed versions. As this involves buying a new capstan motor from Revox to do properly, some machines have been bodged and suffer errors in the alignment of the tape path.

There have been threads on this, so having a search should show you what to look for.

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Old 17th Jan 2023, 9:07 am   #5
Restoration73
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

I am only aware of PR99 and PR99BV (Broadcast version - no record and replay adjust
controls) of being made in 7.5/15 ips versions.

The A-locate and Z-locate functions with the real time counter are handy for editing.
Worn heads can be reprofiled, but replacement heads are available at cost.
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Old 17th Jan 2023, 11:01 am   #6
8bit Barry
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Maurice View Post
The most important parts and the expensive parts are the same for the B77 and PR99.

That includes the power transformer, both spooling motors motors, capstan motor, brakes, pinch roller, guide roller bearing, tape and of course the heads.

The electronics can always be repaired using everyday available components, save for any processors for the PR99's tape counter.

The PR99 is easier to get to the heads and for editing. It also has a roller bearing for the RH guide.

So now its up to you.
Thatís all very encouraging. Having a digital counter would very much help. Thanks Michael.
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Old 17th Jan 2023, 11:04 am   #7
8bit Barry
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Kendall View Post
For studio use, the PR99 is the better choice. However, a PR99 is more likely to have been heavily used in a professional environment, so check any potential purchase carefully, especially for head wear.
I am going to buy something from a repair servicing company so I have a limited warrantee rather than a eBay seller. Your points are much appreciated.
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Old 17th Jan 2023, 11:06 am   #8
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

I thought I would mention - I have some nice analogue hifi too (Sondek / Leak Stereo 20) , so I will probably use it for both listening and mastering reasons. The idea of making a mix and then playing it downstairs on a different system is quite appealing, so the B77 with handle seems like a good idea.

Itís not a professional music studio (but does contain some wonderful analogue gear) so going any higher than around £1000 just isnít practical. I have made music for 35 years, but Iím relatively new to R2R despite being 52 - I have an Akai 4000DSmk2 which is fun, but sonically doesnít have the frequency response. My digital mastering skills are competent, but I fancy a different aesthetic and putting some money towards a high quality tape mastering system as I often record guitars too. This year Iím going to do it right and spend more time with the overall process.
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Old 18th Jan 2023, 1:00 am   #9
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Lots of smaller studios used the B77 for mastering. They were available in a high speed version right from the start so, unlike the A77, you are unlikely to find one that is a third party conversion. You will need to choose which eq standard you want to use because on the B77 there is no IEC/NAB switch (there is on the A77). As a general rule, recording studios tended to use NAB eq while broadcasters used IEC eq but there were several studios that were an exception to this rule (Spaceward in Cambridge being one that comes to mind).
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Old 18th Jan 2023, 1:36 am   #10
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Why not a Tascam 32 or BR20? The former was produced for several years after the B77 and the latter after the PR99 so you're more likely to find a newer version. They also seem more common, over on this side of the world at least.

I've got both, but my 32 needs the pinch roller re-rubbered.
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Old 18th Jan 2023, 10:44 am   #11
8bit Barry
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjoll View Post
Why not a Tascam 32 or BR20? The former was produced for several years after the B77 and the latter after the PR99 so you're more likely to find a newer version. They also seem more common, over on this side of the world at least.

I've got both, but my 32 needs the pinch roller re-rubbered.
It's all going over budget as I have about £1000. I am not sure how readily available parts are here in the UK, but there are a lot of people repairing Revox so I am hedging my bets should something happen.
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Old 18th Jan 2023, 10:59 am   #12
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

I've used both the B77/PR99 and the 32, and in my view the Revox is the better bet. Studer put the money into things that directly affect performance and serviceability - cast chassis, superb motors, plug-in circuit boards and so on, whilst the 32 has a smart-looking exterior clothing some rather ordinary gubbins.
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Old 18th Jan 2023, 7:12 pm   #13
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

I was discussing the same with another user, The build quality of the Revox is far far better than any of the Japanese machines.

Most parts are easily accessible, plug in boards can be exchanged, everything else is very easily serviced, save the power supply which needs the main transformer removing to get at it.
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Old 20th Jan 2023, 2:55 pm   #14
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Agreed - I'm working on a Pioneer RT-1011 at the moment which I assume was a Revox competitor. Nice, but accessing the boards is difficult as they're all hard wired. Also it doesn't have the 'feel' (or sound) of a well set up Revox.

Just watch out for the ASC versions of the PR99. Uusally EX-BBC, they have often been used to death and lack some of the features you might expect. If editing isn't a concern, then you may well find a privately owned B77HS that's been well looked after within your budget, or one from a studio that's spent much of its life sitting on a shelf, rarely used.
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Old 20th Jan 2023, 4:27 pm   #15
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

I recall the conclusion of a review of the Revox 736, as it was then known. I paraphrase slightly, but "it has many good and a few bad points in terms of operation and facilities. In this respect it is no better or worse than any of the other "semi-professional" designs. In terms of performance, however, it is superior to such an extent that it makes the rest seem like toys."

And this was before the A77 sold the first of around 300,000 units.
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Old 20th Jan 2023, 5:52 pm   #16
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Have a look at the Revox A700, which shares a few components with the B67 and is three speed. I have an early one which probably had a hard life before I got it, but it's still fairly good.
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Old 20th Jan 2023, 6:20 pm   #17
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Agreed, it's a superb performer on the whole, and superior to the B77 in some respects, but its complexity increases the maintenance overhead.
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Old 21st Jan 2023, 12:01 am   #18
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

I too have an A700 half track, mine is a mark 1 but shows no sign of wear and is quite superb, I also have an A77 mark 4 high speed half track which is good but not as good as the A700. Just to add a bit to the mix here though, I also have a Ferrograph SP7 half track which now that it has its rubber sorted is superior to the other two by strides in sound quality but of course these machines do not lift the tape from the heads on winding and hence head wear can be a problem. In my case I have a couple of bits of aluminium rod which I place between the heads prior to winding the tape to hold the tape clear.
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Old 21st Jan 2023, 12:41 am   #19
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

If an SP7 is better than either Revox I'd be checking the Revoxes' state of adjustment...
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Old 21st Jan 2023, 1:39 pm   #20
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Default Re: Revox PR99 or a B77mk2 High Speed?

Later Ferrographs weren't terribly kind to tape. We had some Logic 7s around the place, mostly for office listening purposes. There's a little spring-loaded tape guide (might be a tension or EoT sensor), which sends the tape through quite a tight radius, and thick-backed professional tape didn't like that. It also caused the colour coating to shed from some leader tapes (red and yellow). This may have been poor maintenance, but Studers and the few Revoxes we had were much kinder.

The slow-speed SP7s were also sold for logging purposes a lot (I think they made variants for exactly that), but I remember them as being pretty noisy (tape hiss). The ASC Revoxes largely replaced them. I didn't have a lot of experience of either type, however as logging was mostly in local radio, and I didn't work there. By the mid-1980s, our "office copies" were usually made on Revox (B710) cassette decks, which were fairly bomb-proof, even though my boss bought the cheapest, nastiest tape stock imagineable.

We did have one SP7 at church though, for recording services (@ 3 3/4 or 1 7/8 IPS) and even from new it wasn't awfully reliable - had electronic issues - but old stone churches are damp and not great places to keep electronic kit. So I ought to cut it some slack, I suppose.

Last edited by Simondm; 21st Jan 2023 at 1:45 pm.
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