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New Reel to Reels Manufactured Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 8th May 2018
  #1
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New Reel to Reels Manufactured

A company called Ballfinger in Germany has decided to manufacturer new reel to reels.

They begin in the $11,400 range for a basic model and close to $30,000 for a high end model. Nothing better then new tape gear for sound quality but I'll pass on the pricing. I thought my Tascam was allot when I bought it for $400 used.

Here's the story. The Ultimate Analog Music Is Back, Ballfinger Reel-to-Reel Tape - Bloomberg

The unit does look sleek but this one is obviously a stereo model.

Old 8th May 2018
  #2
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KingsX's Avatar
 

Looks really slick...

The price though
Old 8th May 2018
  #3
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Lance Lawson's Avatar
 

Over the top $$$$. This is why this thing will go nowhere. A few audiophile cork sniffers will buy it but studios don't need it and the amount of new production tape that will be made to feed it will be minuscule. But it's not intended to be a deck for the general public. If there ever is a new viable mass market reel to reel tape machine it's going to come out of Asia most likely China. But don't hold your breath.
Old 9th May 2018
  #4
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cheu78's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
A company called Ballfinger in Germany has decided to manufacturer new reel to reels.

They begin in the $11,400 range for a basic model and close to $30,000 for a high end model. Nothing better then new tape gear for sound quality but I'll pass on the pricing. I thought my Tascam was allot when I bought it for $400 used.

Here's the story. The Ultimate Analog Music Is Back, Ballfinger Reel-to-Reel Tape - Bloomberg

The unit does look sleek but this one is obviously a stereo model.

looks nice..
wondering how the electronics and heads are done..which design does it have and how reliable are the mechanical parts.



Cheu
Old 9th May 2018
  #5
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O.F.F.'s Avatar
 

$11k is a very realistic price for a newly developed RtR considering up until very recently (last year?) Otari was selling a new 2track machine made from spare parts for $6k. Considering the amount of mechanical engineering involved they can not be much cheaper.
Otari stopped selling new machines because the market for them simply doesn't exist to make it viable.


A Revox B77 cost $2000 in 1986 which is equivalent to $4500 in todays dollars.
Old 9th May 2018
  #6
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Bart Nettle's Avatar
Antiquated technology but seems a revival is underway for those who never experienced it.
Old 9th May 2018
  #7
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vernier's Avatar
I'm all for it, and hope it starts a movement.
Old 9th May 2018
  #8
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O.F.F.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
I thought my Tascam was allot when I bought it for $400 used.
The truth is if you thought $400 s/h was a lot than a new RtR is not for you, will not be for you and more importantly it never was for you.
Old 9th May 2018
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by O.F.F. View Post
$11k is a very realistic price for a newly developed RtR considering up until very recently (last year?) Otari was selling a new 2track machine made from spare parts for $6k. Considering the amount of mechanical engineering involved they can not be much cheaper.
Otari stopped selling new machines because the market for them simply doesn't exist to make it viable.


A Revox B77 cost $2000 in 1986 which is equivalent to $4500 in todays dollars.
I quite agree- it's a realistic price given the R+D and the size of the target market!

It's not "expensive" just not a realistic investment for most. Which is their biggest thing - you can buy a lot of studio gear for $10k.

Out of interest, how does the equivalent Mara Machines compare, cost wise?
Old 9th May 2018
  #10
I don't fancy going back to tape editing! although I'm sure it sounds good
Old 9th May 2018
  #11
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cheu78's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I quite agree- it's a realistic price given the R+D and the size of the target market!

It's not "expensive" just not a realistic investment for most. Which is their biggest thing - you can buy a lot of studio gear for $10k.

Out of interest, how does the equivalent Mara Machines compare, cost wise?
I believe the JH-110 2 track 1/4" MCI (which sounds fantastic imho) it's around 4500 or 5k $. Basically half price.

love the sound of MCI's.. it's FAT, large and sweet..just very "natural" and probably like most people who never used tape imagine the sound of tape.
I had a 16 tracks on 2" Mara Machines few years ago.

Studers are "cleaner" and technically a bit better, but I'm really fond with the MCI sound (also the ampex MM series is great and sounds big).

I'm curious on how this ballfinger sounds and what kind of design they went for..and who made the electronics and heads.



Cheu
Old 9th May 2018
  #12
Lives for gear
VERY sexy indeed, but total audiophile bait
Old 9th May 2018
  #13
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Lance Lawson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Nettle View Post
Antiquated technology but seems a revival is underway for those who never experienced it.
Antiquated is perhaps too harsh a wort for it. Alternative or parallel might be a more accurate way of saying it. Antiquated implies inferior which at least in terms of sonic value tape delivers a kind of same only different or nicer over technically better. Antiquated would be wax cylinder records which are sonicly inferior to even tin cans and strings. Expensive is the accurate word for it though.
Old 9th May 2018
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumhead57 View Post
VERY sexy indeed, but total audiophile bait
What I was thinking. To me, the visuals screamed consumer-orientation, that 'classic hi fi era' silver faceplate, the rotary brushed pushbuttons (just like my old 70's Kenwood receiver!) Of course, at that price point, they're not looking to typical consumers -- but it does look like a consumer orientation from the machine's designer, Roland Schneider: “The high end hi-fi market is a difficult one, and companies are desperate for innovation.”


At least the bit of marketing-speak from the company included in the article is surprisingly cautious -- or at least crafty-- given the extravagant claims we too often hear in audiophile targeted marketing. These guys seem to be marketing an experience rather than any sort of magic tech and, at least in what's available in the article, their claims are ultimately somewhat reserved.

From the article:
Quote:
“Digital media is great, but experiencing music is more than just listening to a sound file -- it’s sensual, it’s reels that turn and can be touched,” says Roland Schneider, the machine’s designer. “When it comes to audio quality, nothing else in the analog world gets you closer to the experience of being right there in the recording studio than reel-to-reel tape.”
Not the experience of listening to the actual music, not the experience of hearing state-of-the-art audio fidelity, but rather 'being right there in the recording studio.'
Old 9th May 2018
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Given the recent news and prices of the resurrected Western Electric products; there may be a target market outside of GS which someone guessed as audiophiles in Japan. In the case of this deck, perhaps music producers for the audiophile market in Japan.

Check this out from the new Western Electric website:
97-A Monoblock Amplifiers (per pair) $50,995.00
116-C RIAA Pre-Amp & 20-B Power Supply $7,695.00
203-C CD Player $6,195.00

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
A company called Ballfinger in Germany has decided to manufacturer new reel to reels.

They begin in the $11,400 range for a basic model and close to $30,000 for a high end model. Nothing better then new tape gear for sound quality but I'll pass on the pricing. I thought my Tascam was allot when I bought it for $400 used.

Here's the story. The Ultimate Analog Music Is Back, Ballfinger Reel-to-Reel Tape - Bloomberg

The unit does look sleek but this one is obviously a stereo model.

Old 9th May 2018
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Imma file this with the typewriter comeback:

Typewriters Are Making a Comeback | Senior Planet
California Typewriter Documentary
Old 9th May 2018
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
I still got two of those.

Though, sadly, they're both electrics. First step on the stairway to hell.

But, man, my electric just about doubled my typing speed over the old Underwood I bought for a couple bucks as a kid.

And then when I got some typing gigs in my tumultuous young adult years, I got to use a number of iterations of the class typewriter, the Selectric II. Man, those things were great. The right typist could get up over 200 wpm on them. (Not me, buddy. Not me.)
Old 9th May 2018
  #19
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Can't tell from the specs whether it's half-track or quarter-track. If it's the former, for the home-hi-fi-playback folks there'll be almost no content available for it. For the latter, there's lots of old major-label releases. All of it high-speed duped, some decent, some terrible.
Old 9th May 2018
  #20
JUST TODAY I broke out my old Dokorder reel to reel (the 7100, looks like it goes for the low three figures on ebay), to transfer an old concert for someone that was recorded, if I read correctly, April 28, 1971.

This technology may not be coming back, exactly, but the residual material out there must be vast if unseen, like all the plastic in the ocean....
Old 9th May 2018
  #21
Gear Head
Great initiative, too bad the price is ridiculous. Obviously tape is never going to come back as big as it was, but if the technology can stay alive for die hard enthusiasts and not just to show off in museums, well, that's pretty cool.

I hope some companies start to manufacture cassette decks again too.. mine is acting pretty sketchy and man, am i going be f****d when it dies for good!
Old 9th May 2018
  #22
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Lance Lawson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
JUST TODAY I broke out my old Dokorder reel to reel (the 7100, looks like it goes for the low three figures on ebay), to transfer an old concert for someone that was recorded, if I read correctly, April 28, 1971.

This technology may not be coming back, exactly, but the residual material out there must be vast if unseen, like all the plastic in the ocean....
Vast residual material is not as vast as it seems. RTR was toast by 1981 in terms of new pre recorded material. The heyday for it was only from the mid 50's into mid late 60's until Cassette took over. Early Releases on RTR were invariably MOR, Classical and show tunes. If you were in that generation there was decent catalogs of material. I have a 1961 RCA tape catalog and it is surprisingly small. Eventually Rock titles were produced but more towards the end. I can count on the fingers of my hands the number of 7" RTR pre recorded tapes on the shelves of thrift stores I've encountered. With the exception of a Token's Greatest Hits all of it was the aforementioned types of titles. Titles being produced today are in much the same vein so definitely playing towards a conservative and seemingly older clientele. It'll be a long wait if you're hoping for Pet Sounds to make it onto 2 track 15ips tape.

Pre recorded tapes in today's world are almost redundant. A good CD can be recorded onto a good reel to reel and the user can have something equal to the products selling for idiot prices. Tape is great I love it I run it but it begins to run out of steam beyond CD. A 192/24 digital file is overkill for all but the very best (read Studer) tape recorders. Tapes strong suit will remain it's unique sound but hi res digital surpasses it in detail.
Old 9th May 2018
  #23
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Plush's Avatar
For high end hi-fi freaks. Might be ok, but I already have and maintain two Studers.
Old 9th May 2018
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lance Lawson View Post
A good CD can be recorded onto a good reel to reel and the user can have something equal to the products selling for idiot prices...
In most senses, a good CD can be recorded onto a 70's 7.5 its quarter-track machine and be a ton better than the old record-label tapes. Those old tapes were generally duplicated using a 7.5 ips quarter-track intermaster and numerous slave machines all running at either 75 ips (so 10:1) or 150 ips (20:1). Meaning 10 kHz content in the original master would get dubbed at either 100 kHz or 200 kHz. All 4 tracks at once -- left and right in both directions.

The one thing those old tapes do have going for them, strictly my personal opinion, is that the music on them has never been digitized. To me that counts for a lot.
Old 10th May 2018
  #25
Just to be clear, if not to hammer the point right into the ground, this concert from 1971 was a "vanity" effort by a high school with just enough initiative to see the value in documenting and preserving their efforts for the sake of the future... and the audio was remarkably clear and well engineered, considering the ghastly, primitive limitations of the format.

And I say to you today, the quantity of these archival tapes out there, by a conservative guesstimate, are numerous as cross ties in a railroad, or stars in the sky.
Old 10th May 2018
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Can't tell from the specs whether it's half-track or quarter-track. If it's the former, for the home-hi-fi-playback folks there'll be almost no content available for it. For the latter, there's lots of old major-label releases. All of it high-speed duped, some decent, some terrible.
Well, they say the track width is 2 mm. A quarter inch = 6.35mm.
Old 10th May 2018
  #27
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Well, they say the track width is 2 mm. A quarter inch = 6.35mm.
So with this machine you can put on a store-bought tape and hear two songs at the same time! One of them backwards.
Old 10th May 2018
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
In most senses, a good CD can be recorded onto a 70's 7.5 its quarter-track machine and be a ton better than the old record-label tapes. Those old tapes were generally duplicated using a 7.5 ips quarter-track intermaster and numerous slave machines all running at either 75 ips (so 10:1) or 150 ips (20:1). Meaning 10 kHz content in the original master would get dubbed at either 100 kHz or 200 kHz. All 4 tracks at once -- left and right in both directions.

The one thing those old tapes do have going for them, strictly my personal opinion, is that the music on them has never been digitized. To me that counts for a lot.
Early on with my first stereo deck (1969) I marshalled the extra money and bought a reel release of an album. I was pretty disappointed. But it probably wasn't all the tape duper's fault. My deck, which cost the equivalent of about $900, the absolute cheapest stereo deck Sony made at the time, was simply not very hi fi.

(Sony had just brought out a stereo cassette, their first, but it was the equivalent of $4K, adjusted for inflation -- more than 4 times as much as my admittedly not-so-great sounding reel deck, which had the typical low end earmarks: combo rec/playback head, 2 speeds, stereo-only record -- you couldn't record individual mono tracks -- and loads of flutter. For all you tape era romanticists. Oh, yeah, but back to that then brand-new Sony 'hi fi' cassette deck? The flutter was even worse on it. I thought it sounded horrible. Fortunately, cassette recorders got a lot better. Not great, but they sure were convenient, even I had to admit. I had at least 30 of them over the years. [Dupe stacks, but, really, I went through a lot of decks, myself.])
Old 10th May 2018
  #29
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It may be aimed at this market

Dan Schmalle of Bottlehead has been selling half-track 1/4" 15-ips tapes on a subscription basis for many years now at the Tape Project. Prices, last time I checked, ran around $400 per tape. It's a tiny market, but it's been around a long time.

WW
Old 10th May 2018
  #30
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O.F.F.'s Avatar
 

Just like to add that Ballfinger is a design studio whose other products are a €9000 turntable, €4000 wristwatches and desk lamps.
They appear to be registered in Germany as Ballfinger Beleuchtung KG (Ballfinger Lighting Ltd).

Make of that what you will.
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