Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

radio, tape, stands and accessories
vinyl master
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Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by vinyl master » 26 May 2018 21:10

Recently, you guys might have seen my latest purchase, a Teac Model A-1500 reel-to-reel player...As this will be my first reel-to-reel, despite owning lots of other great audio equipment, I thought this would be a good place for any other reel to reel owners out there to share their tips, tricks and advice regarding these machines...Might help any newbies wanting to get into a reel to reel for the first time...Be sure to include any links or web sites you feel are apropos for buying belts, accessories, etc.

If you have any pics of your own reel-to-reel machines, why not show them here, as well! =D>

Here's mine, although it will need a good cleaning...

41478
41481
41479
41475
41476
41474

I found two manuals in with the Teac, but they are for the wrong models...

41472
41473

Would either of those be apropos for my model or should I look for an exact manual? :-k

Edit: I did find this...

https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_libra ... 1500.shtml

LD100
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by LD100 » 28 May 2018 16:56

Helpful suggestion:
When you oil the capstan, make sure you lay the tape deck down horizontally for several hours for the oil to cover all necessary parts properly. It states that in my instruction manual (A-3300S 2T) and I have found it makes a big difference. :D


38697

Sunwire
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by Sunwire » 28 May 2018 17:50

Get a head demagnetizer. Turn it on at a distance from the heads, then bring it closer to use it, then slowly move it away and turn it off at a distance from the heads.
Keep the demagnetizer far away from your tapes at all times and keep all your tapes away from any strong magnetic fields: amplifiers, loudspeakers, motors, etc.
Keep tapes wrapped in plastic bags, in a cool, dry place, away from light.

The Realistic head demagnetizer is fine. Get one with a small probe that can reach into tight areas. Then you can use it on cassette decks, too.

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R ... 52&_sop=15



and some head cleaning fluid.

This is just an example of what I use. You may be able to find a lower price elsewhere:
https://www.amazon.com/MG-Chemicals-407 ... B005DNQZX0

vinyl master
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by vinyl master » 28 May 2018 20:01

Good advice there, Sunwire...I believe I might just have a demagnetizer around here perfect for the job...When you get into audio stuff, it's amazing just what types of items can accrue over time! :D

When you say to keep the tapes wrapped in plastic bags, will these sleeves work just fine?

https://www.bagsunlimited.com/product/3 ... torage-box

I have to make another order out with them anyway for more supplies, so maybe those would work OK...

I see they sell splicing supplies, too!

https://www.bagsunlimited.com/category/ ... ccessories

Oh, and for others who might need one, what are your thoughts on this demagnetizer here? :-k

https://www.amazon.com/Universal-DEMAGN ... QNQY4KQFTZ

DL110luvr
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by DL110luvr » 29 May 2018 08:47

vinyl.....
The demag unit you show from Amazon can probably be purchased cheaper from an Ebay vendor....
I have one of these...I paid $12 for it from a guy on the "Bay......
It DOES work very well....just wish it had an on-off switch...without one, you gotta be careful where you lay it down after you've "finished" a demagging!!

Sunwire
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by Sunwire » 29 May 2018 18:08

I agree ebay is almost always less expensive than Amazon.
That demagnetizer looks like it would do the trick. It's good that it appears to have a cushioned probe, so you don't scratch the heads, inadvertently.

I don't know if there are better or worse plastic bags for storing tapes. I just know you want to keep the tapes away from extremes of humidity, either too damp or too dry, and I think a plastic bag will help with that.

Do a web search for "long term storage of reel to reel tapes" and you will probably find better information than I can give you.

josephazannieri
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by josephazannieri » 29 May 2018 20:02

Yo vinyl master:

You should examine the tape path and see if there is any black or brown oxide on any of the guides. You should also examine the erase, record, and playback heads and be sure that there is no oxide on the heads. You may want to acquire a head alignment tape so that you can be sure that your playback head is properly aligned. You can clean the heads and the tape path with a Q-Tip and rubbing alcohol. The tips on demagnetizing the heads.

I have both a Teac A 2300 (7 inch) machine, purchased in 1978, and a Teac A 3300 15 IPS 2 track machine purchased in 1982. Both machine had to be taken apart about 10 years ago because the grease stiffened up to the point that the pinch roller would not engage with the capstan. There are service manuals available for all Teacs, and it is worth your while to get yours, even if it costs you some $$, because you will get the head alignment procedure, and the correct adjustments for levels and biasing.

Take off the head cover. I believe that the correct tool is a #0 Phillips screwdriver. Put on a reel of tape and see if the tape lifters are operational. I do not know if your machine has a control to disable the lifters to allow you to cue tapes by passing them over the heads. You should not pass tapes over the heads when rewinding or fast forwarding because this will wear the heads excessively. Your machine may automatically lift the tape, and this is OK, but it will make it difficult to edit tape. From 1967 to 2002 I cut tape to manufacture music for dancers. Then I went digital, AND, nobody edits tape any more with the advanced digital editing software readily available and cheap. You may need to buy some splicing tape, just to fix tapes that break and stretch.

Have you played any tapes? Playing a commercial prerecorded tape will tell you if your heads are aligned properly. The symptom of poor alignment is rolled off high frequencies. You may be able to find a commercial prerecorded tape on Ebay. I acquired several from a local widow whose deceased husband had an Ampex tape recorder as part of an elaborate wall mounted living room set up using Ampex components located in a drawer. Plug the tape recorder into the tape loop of your amp or preamp. This will permit you to record from a record or CD and monitor it directly as the recording is made. If there is a great difference between the source sound and the tape sound, you may either have a crud on the record or playback head,bad tape shedding oxide or a misaligned head.

And good luck from the old tape splicer,

Joe Z.

vinyl master
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by vinyl master » 01 Jun 2018 01:27

Thanks for the tips, guys...Keep 'em coming! 8)

I also found this recently...

https://www.gearsavvy.com/blog/restore- ... e-recorder

Ottermel
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by Ottermel » 03 Jun 2018 00:22

you should also go to tapeheads.net for lots of advice and info!!

BoblK
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by BoblK » 04 Jun 2018 04:34

Tapeheads.net as mentions has a lot of useful info.

Couple of things to look out for

Sticky tape syndrome. Some older tape formulations tend to have the oxide layer separate from the tape causing the tapes to squeal or even slow to a stop. Search for that issue on Tapeheads.

My A-2300SX had sticky tape lifters. The tension arms were cleaned of old grease but the tape lifer mechanism was sticking and it prevented the tape from completely contacting the heads. The recording levels were low. Cleaning the lifter mechanism solved the issue completely.

Denatured alcohol seems to be the preferred head and tape path cleaning fluid. Search for that discussion too.

Have fun!

Bob

My deck::::
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Tinkaroo
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by Tinkaroo » 18 Jun 2018 11:41

Some great tips and classic tape decks guys! 8)

I'm hoping to get back into the reel to reel format again soon, but right now the model I'm looking at is being serviced so I will keep my fingers crossed. [-o<

The tips about getting old grease cleaned off and fresh added is very important with some of these older decks which have a lot of mechanical switching mechanisms. Pinch rollers and idlers may also need to be looked at for glazing or hardening and can be rebuilt if needed but may just need cleaning. Sometimes belts may also need replacing.

One item that hasn't been mentioned yet is the grade of the tape used and the speed involved making a big difference in the quality of the sound. Recording at a higher speed or using a high output tape vs a low noise type will give you better sound quality but will result in shorter playing time in the case of doubling the recording/playback time.

High output tape tends to be fairly expensive these days however, but was relatively so when I used to buy it new.

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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by euclid » 27 Jun 2018 05:38

If you wish to record on your machine - there are two adjustments that must be set for the tape formulation that you are using. They are bias and record equalization. Failure to do this results in a recording with highs that are too high or too low or elevated noise or distortion.

The process in making these adjustments is:
1) Adjust the mechanics so that the tape passes over the heads smoothly and consistently.
2) Calibrate the playback head azimuth using a high quality test tape. MRL (Magnetic Reference Labortories) still sells these tapes.
3)Calibrate the playback equalization using a high quality test tape.
4) Adjust the Bias and Record Equalization for the best compromise of high end frequency response, noise, and distortion.

I have oversimplified the list of these adjustments. They are best done by an experienced professional with excellent test equipment. Experienced, professional tape recorder people have become rare and expensive.

In my opinion it is best to clean the machine regularly, lube it occasionally, and use it to playback tapes that have already been recorded. It is much, much cheaper to use good digital recording equipment. Getting excellent results on tape is not easy.

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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by antennaguru » 05 Jul 2018 02:12

The thing I found with owning a quarter track deck is that the recordings I make come out a lot better if I only record 2 of the 4 tracks. These decks were made to play 2 sets of stereo tracks on pre-recorded tapes, but by interlacing the tracks in the manner they used there is not really enough spacing on the tape to eliminate the crosstalk between the two "sides" with the volume turned up. However the recordings come out quite well if I only record one set of stereo tracks on the tape, and skip the second set. Yes, my quarter track deck was professionally set up and meets all specs and this is simply a limitation of the format.

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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by Spinner45 » 05 Jul 2018 03:45

antennaguru wrote:The thing I found with owning a quarter track deck is that the recordings I make come out a lot better if I only record 2 of the 4 tracks. These decks were made to play 2 sets of stereo tracks on pre-recorded tapes, but by interlacing the tracks in the manner they used there is not really enough spacing on the tape to eliminate the crosstalk between the two "sides" with the volume turned up. However the recordings come out quite well if I only record one set of stereo tracks on the tape, and skip the second set. Yes, my quarter track deck was professionally set up and meets all specs and this is simply a limitation of the format.
Correction, it is a limitation of the specific machine.
Crosstalk between tracks depends on the head construction itself, along with proper alignment.
The better machines have above 55DB adjacent track seperation.

antennaguru
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Re: Reel-to-reel tips and/or advice

Post by antennaguru » 05 Jul 2018 06:30

That could well be the case that better machines/heads could perform better than mine. The challenge with my TEAC quarter track (4 track "double stereo") machine is that it meets the crosstalk spec you've suggested using a 1 KHz alignment tape, but unfortunately the low bass saturation allows crosstalk that must be something less than that 1 KHz spec. When I am playing a fully recorded tape (all four tracks) and have the volume up and then the song I'm listening to ends, I can hear the low bass beat from the other "side" where I should have silence. This topic has had a lot of discussion on the Tapeheads site and the consensus there was that this is really because of the limitation to the way the tracks were interlaced with the format.

The way to work-around it is to record only one set of stereo tracks, and it really does make pretty nice recordings like that. However, tape has become really expensive today so if one is paying the price for new tape and can only put one album onto it, I and others found we could get even better results/value using a half track (two track stereo) deck as the two stereo tracks were each wider on the tape and with greater open space between them. My TASCAM half track deck has about the same spec and sounds quite better because of greater information density on the two wider recorded tracks.

What's funny is that "fast forwarding" to audio cassettes you never heard the bass bleed-thru from the other side between songs on the side you were listening to. Apart from some amazing results achieved with the next generation of tapes/heads the cassette tape did NOT interlace the tracks from one side with the other side. The speed was even slower and the tape half as wide! This is not to say that cassette sounds as good as 1/4 inch reel to reel - unless you're recording two albums on it as we all did with 90 minute cassettes for our cars.

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