How often do you have to service your Studer or Otari deck ? Home not pro environment.

I guess, there are still places where you can be confident that they know what they do.
The weak point of vintage tape gear is the OEM caps. One moment I was enjoying Heart Like a Wheel, the next there was a sharp crack and a cloud of acrid smoke. The dead cap will be split open like the Alien making it easy to spot. You have to be somewhat careful with replacing. Can't just use any cap with the same rating. 

A80 VU II about 500 hours. It ain't the hours,  it's the years. Eventually electolytic caps fail but it takes years so not often.

The A80 is an amazing machine. Flat frequency response 20 to 20 khz. Once set up it doesn't drift. Just don't move it. A joy to use. You will love the solid ker chunk when you press the play button.

I like Agfa 468 tape. You can still get it from Recording the Masters.  Ampex 456 sounds bright to my ears.  No experience with 3M. 1/4 inch 15ips use CCIR equalization. Get calibration tape from Magnetic Reference Labs.

It ain't the servicing. It's the cleaning. You clean everything that contacts the tape before every play. 

American Recorder sells tape head cleaner to clean all metal parts.Use 409 for the pinch wheel. Yeah that 409 from the market.

@inna , no offense but your question is too generic. akin to what sounds better; tubes or solid state;  which solid state amp vs. which tube units.

If you take the plunge into mastering decks, it quite a deep dive. These are not the portable MX5050 series or Technics 1500  series, or Tascam series.

these are near washing machine sized machines built into a cabinet. but are very serviceable since that was a requirement by the end user.

you can buy a studer 812 or an A80 or otari MTR machine and use as is, they will sound very good.

but you will quickly find many who are deep into open reel get the audio cards modified with better parts, and if you go further you can get into custom built tube playback electronics, which are usually a huge step up from the playback electronics in the decks.

These decks were designed and built to run 24/7 in a studio environment. so for home use, once cleaned lubed and in some cases, recapped. they will out last you.

also don't forget the Sony APR 5000 series; excellent working and sounding decks
I will admit, I am addicted to analogue sound. Have an 812, two MTR-10s, an MTR-12 and an MTR-15. All are really nice machines are gentle tape handlers and sound good.

If you are going to record, the 15 is really nice since it has auto-alignment, where the deck will auto bias to any tape at any speed within a few minutes,  then gives the user the option of storing those settings or using them temporarily.

And as some of the other posters have noted, unless you were able to pick up 15 and 30 ips dubs that were being dumped in the early days when studios were switching over the digital, buying true analogue copies of tapes adds up really fast.

But once you hear a 15 or 30 ips master, its really tough to go back to LP let alone 16 bit or 24 bit digital.

hope this helps.


Nice to see a thread on reel to reel, I've posted a few times in support of the R2R format.
Isn't this thread over a year old, wonder if the OP is still looking.