Tape Machines > Tape Project Machines

First Tape Project by Bottlehead RS1500

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I am working this month on building some machines that will go to the Home Entertainment Show in New York in May. One of these dedicated playback machines will be available for sale, with delivery to be made after the show.

The machine I am building will include the following:

After an inspection and replacement (if necessary) of any tape path components subject to wear, we carefully align the components in the tape path to get straight and consistent tape travel over the heads and a flat, well centered tape pack on the reels. We take the mechanical improvements a bit further with refinements in the materials and configuration of the fixed tape guides. The end result is a machine that handles tape extremely well and sounds cleaner, with better low level resolution and snap.
Along with the tape path improvements we install improved brake pads that better maintain the factory brake tension specification, replace any necessary springs in the tension roller arm assembly, and carefully adjust the reel servo controlled tape tension to factory specification.

The two track playback head is replaced with a custom extended response head manufactured by Flux Magnetics for optimum performance with 15 ips tapes. Other heads are inspected for wear and refurbished where necessary. Optionally, a dedicated playback only machine can be fitted with long wearing ferrite dummy heads in the record and erase positions. Once the head block is set up as required a careful alignment is done using test tones recorded on our own Ampex ATR duplicating slaves (which have themselves been aligned with MRL test tapes), so you know that your machine is adjusted as closely as possible to those that record your master duplicates.

The output jacks of the machine are rewired to allow the playback head to be connected directly to an outboard reproduction amplifier that has CCIR/IEC1 playback equalization necessary for play of the Tape Project tapes.

The stock power entry panel on the back is replaced with a panel that accommodates high end IEC terminated power cords.

Custom Revox style NAB hub adapters will replace the balky Technics adapters.

The Repro amp

We love the articulate, natural, enveloping sound of tube electronics. Bottlehead has been putting out highly regarded tube gear for 12 years. The Bottlehead tube repro amp is a statement piece that will run with the best of what is out there.

The Repro is designed as a versatile tape head preamp that works well with medium to high inductance playback heads. It can output both single ended signals at the consumer level -10dB and balanced signals at studio level +4dB. CCIR/IEC1 and NAB/IEC2 playback equalization are each available with the turn of a switch

The Repro's circuit is designed to keep the signal as pure and uncolored as possible, while avoiding the harsh and sterile sound that can come from some gear that claims "great detail and speed". EF86 pentodes are used at the input, chosen for their high gain, low noise and sweet sound. The signal passes through a direct coupled passive equalization network to a 6DJ8 type dual triode. From there the signal can be taken at the single ended outputs. To achieve a studio level balanced output the signal passes through a 6CM7 gain stage to a balanced transformer output.

The power supply utilizes a separate hybrid tube/solid state shunt regulator for each channel which tightly regulates the high voltage, giving a sense of bandwidth and separation unparalleled by other means of power supply regulation. Each signal tube is isolated from power supply noise by a Camille Cascode Constant Current Source, giving the sound a black background and bringing the dynamics to an elevated level of realism. Premium quality components are utilized throughout, Schottky diodes, premium Panasonic electrolytic capacitors, high quality coupling capacitors, and a range of premium resistors from tantalum to metal film to carbon composition, each one chosen for optimal performance in the job at hand.

Individual trim pots for level are accessible from the front panel, as is a selector for playback equalization. Tubes and output transformers are socket mounted on the back panel in the tradition of classic studio gear, to allow for quick and easy changes to suit the listener's taste.

The Remote Possibility IR remote receiver

Adding a remote to these machines makes them an absolute joy to operate. Fortunately Panasonic saw fit to incorporate a jack on the rear of the RS 1500 for a wired remote control. In later years they also offered a very limited number of battery powered infrared remote controls. These are so few and far between as to have become collector pieces selling for insane prices.

Bottlehead has come to the rescue with a simple IR remote receiver that complements the classic look of your RS1500, controlling play, stop, fast forward, rewind and pause. The constant tension servo mechanism and updated brakes on the Bottlehead refurbed decks makes cueing, rocking and shuttling possible from your listening chair. A row of positive indicators across the front of the receiver sits conveniently between ten inch reels, flashing the appropriate command indicator as you press the remote.

To incorporate the remote control the obsolete wired remote connector on the back of the RS1500 is replaced with a modern 11 pin relay socket, allowing the remote receiver to be attached and detached at will.

A solid walnut 16U rack cabinet with dovetailed corners will house your refurbished RS1500, the IR remote receiver, the Bottlehead tube repro amplifier.

The retail price of a machine we provide, set up like this, will be $5550 plus crating and shipping. I will sell this demo unit for $4725 plus crating and shipping. A $2300 deposit will be required to secure this machine. Give me a call at 360-697-1936 for more info. There are some component upgrades available for the repro amp as well as a very souped up prototype version of the repro amp that I built for myself that I might be talked out of.

"WOW" is all I can say. I can't wait to see and hear this beast in a few weeks. I'll have my camera with me, since the only way I can go home with it is through the world of photography! Who ever buys it, enjoy it for all of us! Craig

three questions:

it is not clear whether the price is for the deck only or it includes the amp, remote and cabinet.

what are the dimensions and weight (approximate is ok to me) of this puppy?

will the alignment be done also to the 4 track and recording heads?



That of course includes everything - tweaked tape deck, repro amp, remote receiver, walnut case, hub adapters, etc. This machine is being set up as a playback only demo machine for the show, so it has a head block on it with a two track extended response head and three ferrite dummy heads. That can be reconfigured pretty easily.

The case dimensions are about 30"H x 20"W x 8"D, with the hubs and guides protruding about another 2". I don't have a weight because it is not yet complete.



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