Gorgeously restored reel-to-reel tape decks

There's scarce reason to own a reel-to-reel deck these days, although I have long nursed a deep longing to bolt one to the wall as a 50's era answering machine... shades of the interior design choices of a dame-smacking Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly. Technologically practical they may not be, but as reel-to-reel objets d'art, Jeff Jacobs sells just stunningly restored vintage Technics, Sonys, Piuoneers and Marantzes. He is not necessarily selling these for this function, but I think any one of his pieces would look great in a geek's apartment. Retro technology as the flourished design encrustations of a modern home... I think that look has legs. Gallery of Custom Decks [Jeff Jacobs via Retro Thing]
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17 Responses to Gorgeously restored reel-to-reel tape decks

  1. Ernunnos says:

    I’ve got an AKAI on my stereo rack. It looks great, it reminds me of a time when people spent $2-3,000 (adjusted for inflation) just to be able to make their own mix tapes. And making mix tapes on it is a hoot.

  2. ZoopyFunk says:

    Damn these are sexy. Dick Latvala would be proud.

  3. vetnoir says:

    These are beautiful, and I’d love to have one if for no other reason that it would look cool next to my other stuff. But for that kind of money I had better actually use it. I think I’d be better off finding one in decent condition at a yard sale or on CL and fixing it up myself…

  4. jimkirk says:

    Re: Anonymous, the standard for home reel to reel was quarter inch tape. The 10 1/2 inch reels just make it look thinner. More common was 7 inch reels.

    I just digitized & cleaned up a tape for a friend recorded in 1951 using my old Tandberg 10XD. It could use some work, but it still plays fine. Dunno if I want to pour hundreds of dollars into a full restoration of it, but get rid of it? Never.

  5. userw014 says:

    I thought that production of magnetic tape was ceasing a few years ago.

  6. strider_mt2k says:

    What fake TV surveillance setup would be complete without one of these running in the background?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Lots of people still use these to record music. I’d wager that you could find a nice reel to reel in just about any recording studio in Minneapolis.

  8. farrellmcgovern says:

    Well, a know someone who had the 4 head version of that model…didn’t look as nice, as Technics used a brown on brown two tone colour scheme on their decks. Nice repaint job!


  9. Anonymous says:

    Otari? Tascam? Are you kidding? If you guys are going to get all nostalgic for open reel recorders, you should be talking about Ampex. . Berlant. . even 3M would be better than some — dare I say it? — imported machine. Buy American! and all that.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Impractical? Why I’d never be able to rescue these Firesign Theatre airchecks without one!

    Dear Sid Fudd,
    Please post these airchecks somewhere when you’re done!!

  11. philipb says:

    Check out the RetroThing site, the 1st comment sums it all up perfectly.

  12. Downpressor says:

    I just came in my pants a little. As much as I love tape decks though, I dont miss editing tape. Edit rule #1, dont bleed on client’s master tape.

  13. beneditor says:

    No TEACs? Philistine…

  14. Anonymous says:

    These are overpriced two tracks. That said, the right reel-to-reel machines are far from obsolete. However, for five grand you could get a used 2 inch machine. Analog two tracks are the best thing out there for mastering, but you’d want a half inch reel and heads to match. The model above looks like eighth-inch tape. Analog tape is the best sounding medium to record on for drums and bass guitar. Vocals and guitarws can go straight to digital, but the compression that happens when signal hits tape gives you about an extra 6 db of apparent volume.

  15. ethanol says:

    You know, I kinda do miss editing with tape. Obviously digital is faster and easier and better in every measurable way, and this is like pining away for doing laundry with washboards and rocks, but dammit, there was something about those aluminum blocks and razor blades and sticky tape that was satisfying to 20-year-old me in a way that no digital sound-editing tool ever has been since.

    I do hope someone is keeping the craft alive, like modern-day blacksmiths and such.

  16. SidFudd says:

    Impractical? Why I’d never be able to rescue these Firesign Theatre airchecks without one!

    If I had to trick out my Otari MX5050, somehow I think all red and black would suit it best. Ladybug samurai.

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