Reel-To-Reel, really?

I was watching a Steve Guttenberg video the other day where he was showcasing audio systems from viewers. Several systems had reel-to-reel decks. I understand nostalgia and the quest for sound prior to digital, but why would someone buy and showcase a reel-to-reel? The entire concept of reel-to-reel has so many red flags against it; it just leaves me baffled.

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Hi Rob,

I have an R2R deck that I purchased used only a year ago. There are several reasons why I did this.

  1. Back in the late 70s, I had an old Roberts R2R deck that my uncle gave me that I enjoyed using immensely. Similar to Records (some people call them Vinyls), I liked the physical aspects of mounting the tape, stringing it up, and pressing play. I missed the fun I used to have along these lines.

  2. During that time, there was an R2R deck that I always wanted but could not afford on the money I made from my paper route. $1500 back in the late 70s was a LOT OF MONEY. But a kid can dream. When I found that tape deck for sale last year, I just had to have it. Bucket list item checked :+1:

  3. For the same reasons I used R2R in the '70s, I’m starting to use it again. I have some collector edition records worth hundreds of dollars. Each time I play them, they wear, and/or I risk damaging them if something unfortunate happens. So, I record the record to R2R and play it back from there, retaining the quality of the record and reducing the risk of damaging it.

  4. If you are willing to pay the price, you can purchase pre-recorded tapes once removed from the analog master recording. I have the Nora Jones, Come Away With Me tape, and it sounds better than any other copy of that music I have ever heard (including SACD, lossless streaming, etc.). I agree that the catalog of prerecorded music is very sparse. However, owning recordings I like and can find in this format has been second to none from a sound quality perspective.

  5. For fun, I recorded lossless streamed music to tape to compare the differences between the two formats. The recorded copies always exhibit that “analog sound,” whereas the native streamed files sound more etched. Since I enjoy both kinds of sound, I will play back one or the other depending on my mood and what I want to hear/experience.

  6. Did I mention the physical experience of mounting and stringing up the tape deck? :wink:

If I think about it from a purely monetary sense, I agree that R2R makes no sense, but a lot about this hobby makes no monetary sense. It’s all about the enjoyment one gets from it, and spending the money on it is worth it to me. Lastly, I finally got to check off a very long-standing bucket list item. :clap:

I hope this helps you understand, at least from my perspective, why I chose to purchase and use my R2R deck.


A similar comment might apply to vinyl records. Why?
Sonics. That’s the bottom line for me.


I have a turntable and love playing records for many of the same reasons.


Because they are tactile, fiddly, and fun :slight_smile:
Also a well made and maintained R2R deck running at high speed (pref quarter inch full track 15 ips) sounds rather lovely.

I miss using R2R.
(of course, like valve equipment, it’s too expensive now, old or new, as it is seen as “cool” again),
and the tapes are dear and many are in bad condition, so i wouldn’t bother now, I’m glad I did in the 80s and 90s though :slight_smile:


Because, unfortunately, it’s better than the best vinyl (at least that) I’ve heard - all other things being equal. I’m friends with Harry Weisfeld of VPI. He has the very same tape deck Chad Kassem uses for cutting records. I don’t recall what exactly it is, but it doesn’t look anything like these classic decks. It has its own stand and is laid out more flat like. Anyway, one day I was with him and he played the 45 RPM copy of the Acoustic Sounds release of Time Out on a VPI Avenger Rim Drive with some ungodly expensive cartridge, and a copy made by Chad of the very tape he used to create the record. Both good? Yes. Tape noticeably better? Unfortunately, yes. My firsthand experience on the matter, and at shows it seems like tape always sounds the best. But IMO you gotta be a rich SOB audiophile to be into tape. A high end deck costs more than a good to great table, and at $3-500 a copy, pre-recorded tapes are not for your average audiophile bear!


I agree on the cost of a pre-recorded tape. They are expensive. But if you can limit yourself to one a year, a birthday present or a present to yourself for the holidays, one might be able to justify it. At least that’s how I look at it.


Ugh! I don’t have that kind of restraint! :crazy_face:

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I have begun to think the same thing about turntables.

Why do people build brand new homes that look like a Tudor? It’s the 21st Century.

Why do people renovate their interiors to look like it’s Victorian? It’s the 21st Century.

People like what they like.


Don’t forget, R2R just looks friggin’ great! Audio eye candy!


Considered to be among the finest


Is that a Nagra? :hushed:

Pioneer RT-707


Tried and true, the 707!

Original owner.


Oh man! That’s fantastic. Have you considered having a wood cabinet made for it? At one point I think it was an option.

I like it as is.

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Considering how long you have had it, that makes sense. I have been looking at them for several years. For some reason I never pull the trigger.

Were reel-to-reel albums, for example, in the 1960’s or 1970’s more expensive than the same album in LP format?