Tape Machines > Tape Project Machines

Flexible Good Machine Help Please



I am new to tape and very interested to get into it. I am no stranger to analog and have a high end phono kit, but I am looking forward to exploring a new analog source. After doing some research I am confused, and I was hoping that you guys can help me out so I can select a flexible machine, which will be used mostly for playback only. The focus is on playback, but I will be doing some recording as well, so it can't be a total clunker for recording.

1. Does 1/4 and 1/2 mean: (1/4 inch tape and 1/2 inch tape) OR (4 track and 2 track)?

2. Can you play 2 track tapes on 4 track heads?

3. Are there machines that have both 2 track and 4 track playback heads ?

4. Is it possible to get machines with both IEC and NAB equalization (push button) ?

5. Are most commercial tapes IEC or NAB?

6. Some commercial tapes have Dolby encoding, and different types of dolby Do you need a special machine/repro/head for these tapes, are these formats common  and worth accommodating for?

7. What are the accessories that are absolutely essential to running a tape machine demagnetizer, Alignment tape, etc.?

8. Do all tape machines need a step up transformer when fed into a regular hifi preamp ?

9. Do most machines have the capability to handle 7" and 10" reels, what is most common for commercial tapes?     

10. Is it necessary to have a machine that does 7.5, 15, and 30 IPS, or are most tapes out there 15 IPS or lower ?

Those are the FAQ type questions that I do not completely understand at present, I would greatly appreciate some help.

My last question is: What tape machines provide the flexibility of being able to play most of the common formats (speed, size, track count, and equalization type). I am looking machines that come with "decent" sound reproduction/playback electronics and "good" stock heads, that would be good enough to get my feet wet in reel to reel tape (both commercially pre-recorded and  tape project).   

The short answer is buy an Otari MX-5050BII-2 or BIII. That will do all of the things you are looking for except play Dolby encoded tapes. There aren't that many Dolby tapes around, but you can buy an outboard Dolby B processor when you find some.

Hey dfel, (btw, we use our real names here)

Welcome to the forum.
Regarding your search for faq's,
Take a look at the "Beginners Guide" sticky located above the General Forum.
You might just skim it now and really dive into it when you have a machine.
Have fun!


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