Skip to main content

2-track reel-to-reel recorders. Teac, Tascam, Otari...

i keep seeing these for sale for under $300 all over the place, and I am wondering if anyone has ever used these for music/rock recording? it is almost tempting to pick one up to track some vocals or snare/kicks on them. but it is a waste of time? or are these valuable elements in a studio? i know the whole debacle on tape companies is uncertain as well...but I'm tempted...
on my bands new album, we recorded all the drums to tape, then did all the overdubs on my PT system. so far, sounds great...


TeddyG Fri, 03/18/2005 - 08:34

Sure, why not. If you can call it an "investment", meaning you have the money to lose if it doesn't "pay off".

These days the worst part of the things is getting them in good working order, finding the knowledge to calbrate them and then keeping them so. Any(Now probably older) engineer could help you do so, assuming needed parts are available.

If at all possible, looking for an Ampex machine might be best? They were more professional(Basically, a lot more rugged) than the others and parts "might" be easier to find??? Of course they may be considerably more costly, though right up until they stopped using them, many, many radio stations had several. I'll bet some(Maybe now retired) radio station engineers have a "stash"(Maybe at the transmitter site, or even in their home basements?) if you could just find the guys... A local newspaper add(Instead of EBay) might find something? Calling your local radio stations and asking for the engineer, might give you some leads on even "the good stuff", for cheap?

Tape does sound like it may be a problem. Maybe you should find out if you can get a stock in before you pick up a machine? Those same radio station engineers just may have.....?

Watch old tape though! Older tape, particularly if improperly stored, can be bad right out of the box. Some brands were BROOTB, even when new! Whatever you find, try to, somehow, check it first before you drop any serious money on it. With an anticipated "pinch" in supply, there may now be folks selling tape for unreasonable prices and/or of dubious quality.

You didn't mention how many tracks, but, some producers just do everything digital, mix it THEN run the whole shebang to 2-track, THEN back to digital. Believing, I guess, that this can "add" some of the mysterious "sound" of tape? Might be worth a try... ATR, York, PA, has made a lucative business of selling older, restored and heavily modified Ampex machines(Like 1/2", 1", maybe even 2" two tracks!!!), just for this purpose.

Teddy G.

anonymous Fri, 03/18/2005 - 08:58


thanks Teddy. Lots of cool info.

yea, I just did an ebay search and say a million for sale from $200-400...they all claimed to be solid. many were 1"-2", 2-track machines.
I defintely hear the "mysterious tape sound" on my band's drum tracks. that, with a high-end sony condenser snagging the HUGE room we did it in, John Bonham sounds all the way. (i have a ROUGH mix sample online - would be super cool to grab a good working one to lay down the afformentioned instruments...i firmly believe in analog, though I hypocritcally use all digital. haha...
i love both worlds...and nabbing one of these might be a cool, non-backbreaking investment...