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Question from a Audio Masterclass visitor...
First let me say congratulate you on your site and your hugely informative articles. I'd like to ask you a question if you have the time.
I have two Revox A700 analog recorders that were given to me. I haven't tested them yet as I have never been involved with analog tape and I need to do a bit of research before I do. The bad thing is that they haven't been used or cleaned for about 25 years now.
My question is that, are they worth to be cleaned and fixed? As they are very old, I think they were made back in 1973.
I've been told that Revox was a really quality brand but the most popular pieces I've seen were the A77 and the B77.
I was thinking of buying a more modern tape machine when I had a few spare cash but they're very expensive, so I was wondering of the sonic quality of the A700, are they up to the job to compete with today's recordings?
If I'm right you can only record 2 or 4 channels separately,correct me if I'm wrong, so I thought I'd edit all my tracks on my DAW then get them on tape and again back in my DAW to get the sound and saturation from tape, but would that be wise with all that A/D and D/A going around?
I'm also a drummer and I'm really anal (sorry it was the only word I could think of :P) about the drum sound I record and as i've read, tape makes a huge difference on percussion sounds.
David Mellor responds...
You were given two Revox A700 analog tape recorders? More than a few people would like to know the secret of your good fortune.
Revox was, and is, the consumer brand of Studer. Studer made tape recorders that were considered among the finest in the world. Studer still makes mixing consoles that are used in the highest echelons of broadcasting.
The Revox A77 was for many years the standard 'workhorse' tape recorder. Yes it was sold into the domestic market, but any organization that needed good quality recording would have one. Possibly several.
Studios would have a couple of A77's around because they would always come in handy for delays, spin-ins, tape loops etc.
The sound quality of the Revox A77 was remarkable. Revox could have gotten away with much less - the Sony and Teac (Tascam) brands of the time were very poor in comparison.
Yes you can hear the difference between a Revox and a Studer, but you have to have them side-by-side so you can make a direct comparison.
The B77 was an upgraded version of the A77. It had a certain amount of intelligence and knew that between going from fast rewind to play, there had to be a stop command! The A77 would just snap the tape.
But the A700 was something else entirely. It had the intelligence of the B77 but was upgraded in just about every area. It was very solid with excellent sound quality.
So I can confirm that you have two excellent tape recorders in your possession. Of course, they will need cleaning and may need maintenance.
The question of whether they are worth cleaning and bringing back up to specification has two answers...
If you wanted to sell the machines, then no, it wouldn't be worth doing anything to them.
Analog tape recorders have almost no commercial value these days. No-one wants them.
But if you want to use them to give your recordings the analog sound, then they are tremendously valuable.
I expect that both of your machines are stereo, so you can record two tracks at a time on them.
It is a simple matter to copy across from your DAW the tracks that you feel will benefit from 'analogization' and copy them back. Slight degradation in conversion won't matter.
And with two machines you can do tape phasing. I can guarantee that analog tape phasing is out of this world compared to the digital equivalent.
Anyone want to know how to do that?