Reel to Reel decks

Is anyone out there using reel to reels anymore? I remember at one time(30 years ago), they were probably some of the best analog reproduction equipment out there. Of course, it doesn't matter much if you can't buy good prerecorded tapes. I've googled prerecorded tapes, but haven't found much out there. Anyone have a good source? Also, can anyone recommend a good deck?
Tony, just saw your schematic and will follow that thread to read comments from other studer owner's, I watch with interest, external playback electronics is expensive (bottlehead is the most accessible with eros kit) so to see diy is very exciting and inspiring. I know many upgrade existing circuits and for me that is my diy level although I have not tried yet. Thank you Tony for sharing with us on this thread and elsewhere, it is very much appreciated (all input is appreciated, I thank all of you for sharing your experiences with your machines)

I'm not sure if I missed anyone saying it but there is a beauty and coolness to RTR decks. Its the same sort of thing that makes someone buy one piece of gear over another. You cannot rule out how the gear looks.

Its been a lot of years since I owned a RTR deck and I miss it. I just like threading the tape and the excellent sound quality to a decent RTR deck. I believe the Tape Project started out charging $200 per release when the site was first put up. I guess they found more than a few customers.

I agree with MikeL that the only way to get the best from any media is the original. To that end a high speed dup of a 2 track stereo master should be the best us mortals could do. If properly done it should be superior to any LP (considering the multiple steps a LP goes through before vinyl is pressed).

Of course that presumes that the same care is taken at each step of production for both the RTR dup and the LP.

I thought about starting a new thread, but I don't think there's enough interest to warrant it. Anyway, my dad showed up at Easter with a reel-to-reel for me. I'd asked him awhile back if he still had any around. We ran a community theater in the 80's and 90's, and we used reel-to-reel to run sound before switching to digital. I told him I wasn't picky--I just wanted one if he was looking to get rid of them anyway. I assumed he would unload plastic Teac that they bought somewhere around 1990. Turns out he gave that one and others away to community theaters over the years.

There was one left, apparently. He showed up with this massive box that weighs a ton. It's old and rather messy, but way cooler than anything I recall. Which is to say, I don't remember this thing at all. It's an Akai Cross-Field X-355D. He said they bought it used rather expensively when they first opened the theater and then replaced it fairly quickly--I doubt it's seen action since 1985 (much like his 1978 Peugot 103 moped, which is in similar condition and currently decorating my front porch). The sealed Maxell 35-90 recording tape is a nice bonus, only one reel though.

How should I proceed? It turns on, but I hear stuff turning inside. Should I open this thing up and give it a going over with Deoxit? Should cease all further action and have it properly serviced? I caught the link at the beginning of this thread for the Project, so I'll check it out. I'm just accustomed to coming here for audio advice first, since I already know I like the environment. :) Curious how this thing will do with my passive pre . . .
Akai was I think a rebranded Roberts. Man, that's going BACK.

If it turned on without smoking, give the mechanism a try.

If it is a '3-motor' the mechanicals will be somewhat less complex than Tandberg 3000x which is a single motor drive that has no pressure pads. The feed reel gets a little 'backspin' from the motor. The mechanism looks like a giant watch.
It'd cost 300 or 400$ to get it back in shape.

If the Akai surges or has any signs of rust or decay, get it serviced. Any rubber parts can decay, too. Pulleys and drive belts.

I have no idea about parts or service, but it is probably available to the person with deep pockets. I found a site which has a selection of serviced R-2-R and will work on your machine.

Want a DBX compressor / expander? Pretty much the DBX version of an external Dolby. I don't know if it works, but free is free!

Hello Poprhetor,

Congrats :-) Community theatre...very hip. It might be a fun project to restore your R2R as well as a genuine challenge. Either way, I think you'll benefit and enjoy the journey.