Studer vs Otari

What are the main differences that translate into sound quality differences ? I heard that Studer transport is incomparable. I am talking about Studer A810 and A807. As for Otari, I don't know which one is best. The price difference is big, a few thousand dollars. Yes, I know that Studer A80 is even better but that will always be out of reach. Not going to buy anything right now, just thinking that maybe Otari would be enough for not the highest resolution system.
What do you in the know think ? I am a tape guy not really a vinyl guy so of course I want the best, but I may not need the best.

Interesting thread, I was looking to get into R2R's last year. I read quite a bit and the one place that seemed to have good modern info was the Tape Project. from what I have read the Studers are fantastic rigs but they also say the Otari is no slowch mostly it seems to be a where you live and what's available to buy and get serviced. Also to add another that seems to get a lot of praise is the technic RS 1500-1506 series. I would recommend you look into bypassing the internal electronics (audio section) and have your heads wired to a dedicated pre-amp. bottle head has a rather nice one from what I have read for not to much money as an example. Then its down to what has the best transport and heads available. NAB, speed's  are other things to consider.

I don't think Studer plays back quater track pre-recorded tapes but Otari does. Unless of course you have a custom headblock for Studer. Yes, outboard playback head pre-amp. That would be another project. I would probably start this by asking Ralph of Atmashere or Vladimir of Lamm to make me a tube one. Technics is excellent too. I would ship the deck for service if I had to, no problem.

I own a Technics RS-1500 and an Otari 4 track MX 5050 that comes in two pieces. Since I've owned a number of reel to reel decks, I see things a lot of people don't see; like tape handling for example; the more expensive Otari is a beauty to behold, the tape moves silently without a sound as do all of the most expensive decks, but it's extremely complex because it's a "professional" machine.

The Technics is reliable and easy to work on, I replaced all the capacitors in mine with "Black Gates", and I also replaced all of the transistors; quite naturally I get superior audio.

Since the Otari is "quarter track" and the Technics is half track, comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges; the half track naturally sounds superior.

I don't care what brand I got, I wouldn't want anything less than a half track.

In regard to your question, although I've never owned a Studer, from what I know, that's the one to get, but I'm more than satisfied with my Technics.
Both Studer and Otari have only XLR balanced connections, something that would give me a headache and additional expenses. Neither my phono stage nor my amp has XLRs. Using even the best adapters, like Purist Audio, is not so good, Jensen transformers should be better but still would degrade the sound. I would not have this problem with Technics, it certainly would be the least expensive way to get into this. I would both seek out master dubs and record myself from vinyl, and even from cd player from time to time. Most of the time I listen to compilations with some notable exceptions and I don't enjoy moving the needle every 5-10 minutes.

Inna, I've had my Technics 1500 for 20 years, and it's never been to the shop, plus you get good support from Panasonic when it comes to parts. Since you already know someone who can make it like new, I don't know why you don't have one?
orpheus10, thank you for the link, yes I remember that you have had your Technics for many years.
No, I don't know any open reel decks master technician, but I am sure I would find one. Theoretically, I could even ship to Germany or Switzerland.
Why do I not have one yet ? Sometimes longing is better than having. Is this the case of it ? Only partly. Big expenses - thousands - including tapes. Another source of hesitation - after hearing good master tape dub my turntable will sound like a clock radio by comparison. In addition, I really want to upgrade my Redgum integrated amp to Gryphon integrated within a few years. Again, thousands of dollars and even more of Danish krones. There are also complicated issues of family politics.and whether or not I am willing to finance these projects. I really dislike debts but I also dislike smaller savings. And finally, I cannot choose yet - Studer, Otari or perhaps Technics. My heart says Studer, my head says..Studer. What in me says Otari or Technics then ? Just the wallet, I guess.
I think in the US it is a very good option to purchase the Technics, since access to spare parts and clever tweaks are available afaic (if you already didnt, check
In Europe it has achieved an enormous reputation for playback - for decades it´s been the reference deck for playback of master tapes for the Swedish recording studio Opus3, e.g.
I may have missed this but is the intent to use the tape deck’s internal output section and run it into a preamp, or to bypass the output section by taking the signal directly off the tape head and running it through an external tape head preamp?

FWIW - I have been running Otario 5050’s for several years now. At first using the internal output section. Then I got a hold of a 5050 Series III that was a two piece unit in a rack. I tossed the preamp and just used the transport modifying it to take the signal directly from the tape head. If you are truly after the best sound, then this is it IMO.

I have three tape head amps: A modified Atma-Sphere MP-3 that Ralph set up with both RIAA and IEC EQ, a DeHavilland 222, and a Music Reference phono/tape head amp. Granted the Otari does use balanced XLR outputs, but they are not difficult to convert to RCA (there is info on the Tape Project forum), or what I did was had the DeHavilland and MR units set up for single ended XLRs so I didn’t have to change cables. The Otari/MP3 combination leverages balanced operation and that makes a nice difference as well.
Of course, directly off the head. Why do you need three tape head amps ? Just slightly different sound ? I suspected Ralph does these things, he also uses tape.
But I would start by using internal electronics as well. I took a look at ebay, both Orati and Technics can be had from $1k to $2k, condition not quite known and would certainly vary.
Yeah, blank tapes are probably around $50 a piece. I would not need many at once, and it is less expensive than Maxell Vertex cassettes. Still, a lot. That's why I call it a project, it's not just adding one more source component. In fact I would want to rebuild my entire system, and this would be huge. True, I could take it step by step over years but not too slowly or I'll get irritated.
Other than the MP-3 I guess I just lucked into the other two. A friend of mine bought the DeHavilland and was not happy with it, so I took it off his hands for pretty cheap. The attraction is that it has both IEC and NAB EQ, where the MP-3 has IEC only. I do have some pre-recorded tapes in NAB format so that helps. As for the MR, I work with Roger so for giggles we built one with both RIAA and IEC EQ. We actually presented it here locally at the SFAS meeting a few months back when Michael Fremer was a guest speaker.

I think your thought process here is sound. You do need to rebuild the system to an extent, especially if you are going to take the signal off the tape head. To that end it is why I have two Otari’s, one to record (it can playback through internal output) and one to playback through a tape head amp. As an FYI I bought a several cartons of amount of RMGI tape a while back on eBay.
Which one format sounds better, IEC or NAB, and in what way ? Can Technics play and record both ? I guess, there was a reason why Ralph chose IEC but maybe not only because of sound quality.
I saw a deck somewhere on the internet, I think it was Studer, that had a switch between internal electronics and outboard playback head preamp, so it could be used both ways. I heard that Germans are quite into tape, though there are people everywhere.