View Full Version : Looking for a 1/2 track 15ips reel to reel mixdown deck for my studio...

12-12-2016, 23:01
Hello. As above, I'm looking for something to mixdown to from my Akai MG1214 (remember those? HUGE 80s 12 channel multitracker, 1/2" tape in a Beatmax-like cassette). My budget is 400-800 (for the right machine). I think I've decided on a Revox B77 or PR99 and have been looking on eBay but it's so hard to know whether or not you're buying a dud, not having a great deal of experience with r2r yet (having only previously owned a Tascam A3340S) and being unable to travel about much to check them out in person. I know condition is key no matter what make/model you get, but are there any others that people might recommend? Or have for sale? ;) If necessary, I will be taking whatever I get to Reel Audio in Sussex for a calibration etc.


Since my lowly compositions will likely be "released" on cassette, would I be better off getting something like a Revox B710 cassette deck instead? Is the advantage of the wider track width of r2r 'lost' by then being duplicated to cassette, thereby dictating that I may as well mix to cassette in the first place anyway? This is all in lieu of anyone being able to cut vinyl using all-analogue processes these days.

Thanking you in advance!

13-12-2016, 07:28
I would buy a Tascam BR20 excellent machine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsZFU2leAAI
If you are buying a revox be prepared to build in the cost of a full service with some preventative measure recapping, the PR99 mk 3 is my favorite


13-12-2016, 09:02
You might get a Sony APR5003 at that budget - i have 2 of these - both within your budget. The one on eb*y is overpriced and the heads need relapping.

13-12-2016, 09:37
Cheers fellas. I'll look into those. Infact, I bought a Tascam 122 off someone a while ago that had a BR20 that they were due to sell but hadn't put on the market yet. It did look like a sweet piece.

What of my r2r/cassette quandary?

13-12-2016, 10:17
R2R for stereo mix down mastering will always beat cassette - even a Tascam high speed 122. The tape cost is higher, but it's a one-off per album.

13-12-2016, 17:47
Aye, for real. But, what I mean is, will there be any sonic advantage to mixing down to r2r and sending that off to get duplicated to cassette over just mixing down to cassette in the first place? If it were to be listened to solely on r2r then the advantages would be clear as obviously recording to r2r is highly likely to sound much better than cassette, due to the higher tape real estate and many other possible factors. However, is that 'betterness' going to 'transfer' onto the duplicated cassettes? Or is going from multitrack to r2r and then cassette just adding an unnecessary step? You get me?

13-12-2016, 20:21
Hi Geoff;

I can see what you are driving at here. Two words....Noise Floor.

No matter how good an analogue source you have tapewise it will always have an inherent noise floor. When duplicated to another analogue tape format the noise floor adds and thus increases - a simple fact of physics.

Now you can use Dolby type A or SR on your open reel master which will reduce (not eliminate) the source noise floor however if you just run a straight mixdown out of a Protools or similar system into a high quality cassette deck you will only have one noise floor - that of the cassette format itself.

Analogue warmth and character can be gained from using high end open reel machines however.

I leave these points for you to consider.

13-12-2016, 22:07
Thanks for your reply. However, either way there will be the same amount of 'transfers' of the material...it'll be going either from my tape multitrack, mixed down to r2r, then to the duplicating place for transfer to the cassettes (they can duplicate from their in-house PR99) or from my tape multitrack, mixed down to cassette (probably on a Revox B710), then to the duplicating place for straight cassette duplication.

Ah ha! What I actually meant was the increased frequency and dynamic response of the wider tape track width on a r2r...will that be lost when it's transferred to cassette at the duplicating place? If so, might I just as well mix to cassette?

13-12-2016, 22:30
I suppose I've kinda gone round the houses, but I got there in the end...

I guess ultimately what I'm asking is, will the 'final destination' cassette duplications be able to reproduce the sonic benefits of the r2r format? Afterall, it can't represent frequencies etc that it's not physically able to represent, right? And, if not, might I just as well mix down to cassette in the first place?


Oh, and I'm not one of these bods who's looking to add 'analogue warmth' to their digital recordings by sticking it thru tape. Analogue is a bit of an 'ideology' for me more than anything. In my 30 (jesus!) patchy years of making music, I have only recorded to a computer but twice! :) It's always been cassette multitrackers up to now, however.

14-12-2016, 07:49
Why don't you down mix to both formats and see which gives the best results
There are some very good cassette decks arround but I doubt you will get one of the top spec Naks for les that 1000 CR7e
My Tascam 122mk2 is very good but still not as good as my best R2Rs

I would downmix to R2R onto New RMG or RTM SM900 tape which can still be purchased new. Calibrate the machine to take full advantage of this tapes extended dynamic range and high output +9db

Can you actually buy new cassette tape now? if not you will be relying on NOS and second hand at very high prices
I bought 30 NOS cassette tapes last year and on the TDK SA in particular I dont get even recording levels and have difficulty Biasing that tape yet the Maxell XLi tapes seem fine


14-12-2016, 09:27
Ahhhhh, but comparing would necessitate the purchase of both a r2r and a cassette deck. Well, I have an Akai GX912 (had a Tascam 122 mkI) but it needs setting up and I'd think I'd get a Studer/Revox A/B710 anyway.

Yeah, there's NAC in the states. The tape they use is new old stock (they bought everyone's pancakes when all but them went over to burning CDs) but they make the cassettes to order. There's a minimum order of 100 tho, but even with the shipping it still works out at about 1.50 a tape and they're very good quality. Google 'em. I went halves on 100 cobalt type IIs (they just ran out of that tape stock) with a chum. We kept 30 each and sold 40.

28-12-2016, 11:42
It appears that the BR20 previously mentioned is still available. I'm waiting to hear back about a price etc. I didn't look that closely at it when I picked up the 122 but, assuming a couple of mm of headwear, what would you suggest is a fair price to pay? It appeared that the chap (sadly deceased, hence the sale) looked after his stuff and he also had a Studer a80, so I suspect the Tascam wouldn't have seen a great deal of use.

After the posts above, I started to look into the Sony APR5000s. It's astounding that you can get such a pro deck for such a seemingly low price. Should I take the BR20 if I can, or hold out for a decent Sony to come up?

28-12-2016, 17:04
Get the BR20 they are excellent you will not be disappointed


28-12-2016, 17:59

How much do the family want for the BR20 and the A80? Personally I would go for the A80, but it will be more that the BR20 for sure.


29-12-2016, 00:13
I am very interested in the A80 if its available still?
The BR 20s go for arroun 400 quid normally


29-12-2016, 01:09
When I picked up the 122, the widow said that the A80 was going to be long-term lent to the chap, a friend of the deceased, who was taking care of the advertisement and pre-sale servicing/testing of the equipment. I'll ask tho, since it's bound to be out of my price range. Still waiting to hear about prices. I believe the email I have is that of the aforementioned chap and I suspect he's checking with the lady that she wants to sell, as she said she wasn't in a rush when I enquired upon picking up the 122 originally.

29-12-2016, 18:23

An A80 in fair condition now with console etc. must be getting quite rare - absolutely lovely machines.

The renovation cost alone on the one we have was well north of 1600.