Sony TC-353?

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Sony TC-353?

Post by sad iron » Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:26 pm

I was just gifted this reel to reel. Don't know anything about it and at this point it doesn't have a power cable. I'm gonna try to find one, but am wondering if anyone on ere has any experiences with this or a similar model.
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Post by Byll » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:20 pm

This brings back memories of the late 60's, and early 70's. At that time, Sony was building a number of one motor decks, that used pressure pads for head contact, rather than reverse current applied to the spindle motors, as is the norm for 3-motor units. The decks were crude, but many worked very well, as long as they were kept in adjustment.

The 353 (I think) was a unit that was pretty much all-in-one, in that it included speakers and an amplifier. Now I remember: It was also available in pure deck form, and was sold as the TC-353D. Shortly after this budget deck hit the market, its popularity convinced Sony to continue improving their one-motor technology, and they introduced some really fine units. The one real saving grace of the 353 series was that it had 3 heads, which allowed recording and off-tape monitoring, concurrently. I have a fondness for those early decks. I can remember recording 12 open mics, in my living room, feeding a mixer, which fed a one-motor quarter track recorder. Ah, memories.

Since you were given the unit, and I assume it appears to not have been dropped, abused, or thrown down a flight of stairs, I would find a good reel-to-reel tech. They still exist. If you are fortunate, he might be persuaded to go over it, getting rid of gunk, cleaning and lubricating, etc.

If you are expecting this to be the beginning of a love affair with analog tape, it is probably the wrong machine. However, for playing old quarter track tapes at no greater speed than 7.5 ips, it could be a lot of fun. Because of its 3-head configuration, experimenting with tape delay could lead to some fine effects... Hmmm. I could be wrong, but I think this thing just might have been 3-speed, which means it went down to 1-7/8 ips. 3 speeds to experiment with tape delay = flexibility...

Your post is timely to me, as I just had my one remaining Teac consumer 7.5 ips deck disassembled and gone over very carefully by a tech. It now works beautifully. I am interested in it for archival purposes. There are lots of people out there who own quarter track tapes, who want them converted to digital - usually optical - format.

Good luck with your project.
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Post by Groovedog » Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:55 pm

I bought a tc 353d last year off ebay, taking a chance, knowing nothing about it. I love it! Granted, it is my first open reel deck so I don't have a 30ips machine to compare it to. I don't really track with it but use it primarily to warm up digital mixes (and for just casually listening to music thru). I will then usually use just a very slight hiss reduction on the mix after it is sent back into the computer in Adobe Audition. It was the best $60 I ever spent.

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Post by sad iron » Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:53 am

So, I found the power cable and got the unit powered up. The VU lights come on, but the thing don't run. I can't get the reels to move (although they will spin manually). I emailed a tech (vintage electronics) and he's quoted me $225 plus shipping each way for the repair.

Does this sound reasonable? Is it worth spending this kind of $$ on this unit? I would mostly want to use it to run mixes through it and back to digital, and perhaps as a tape delay.

Any feedback would be awesome!
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Post by KennyLusk » Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:29 am

Ask him for a list of what's included in the repair. If he's lubricating everything, cleaning the heads (3 heads, right?), swapping in new belts, then testing for full functionality...IMHO, yes it's definitely worth $225. IMO it's even worth $300, but that's just me. I have 3 antique consumer decks and have a use for each one and really enjoy what they do. $225 to get that machine up and running is fantastic.

Q: Does it say "three head stereo" on the capstan/head cover?

And does it have integrated speakers?

Just curious.
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Post by sad iron » Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:53 am

KennyLusk wrote:Ask him for a list of what's included in the repair. If he's lubricating everything, cleaning the heads (3 heads, right?), swapping in new belts, then testing for full functionality...IMHO, yes it's definitely worth $225. IMO it's even worth $300, but that's just me. I have 3 antique consumer decks and have a use for each one and really enjoy what they do. $225 to get that machine up and running is fantastic.

Q: Does it say "three head stereo" on the capstan/head cover?

And does it have integrated speakers?

Just curious.
Thanks for the input, Kenny.

I don't have the head cover, but I have seen a photo of the 353D with that written on the head cover. They are pretty much the same deck, but the 353 has detachable speakers, which answers your second question.
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Post by AstroDan » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:11 pm

I have a 353d. It sounds good, almost zero noise. And you can record really hot, in the red so to speak.

In my opinion, I wouldn't say it adds anything - like any real thick analog goodness - but it tracks very faithful.
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Post by sad iron » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:23 pm

AstroDan wrote:I have a 353d. It sounds good, almost zero noise. And you can record really hot, in the red so to speak.

In my opinion, I wouldn't say it adds anything - like any real thick analog goodness - but it tracks very faithful.
So, based on your above statement, would you say it's a good deck for me to use to run mixes through or not?

Hey Byll, just checked out your website. My in-laws own a bed and breakfast in Lancaster County. Small world.

Thanks all.
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Post by AstroDan » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:41 pm

Definitely try it. I just don't think it has the kind of quality components to really add anything special, but it could make a good back-up. No real character or 'tone'...but it's impressive for an early solid-state consumer device.
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Post by sad iron » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:47 pm

AstroDan wrote:Definitely try it. I just don't think it has the kind of quality components to really add anything special, but it could make a good back-up. No real character or 'tone'...but it's impressive for an early solid-state consumer device.
Hmm, well I could certainly use the money for something else if the trip through the analog stage isn't gonna do much in terms of sound. A decision...
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Post by Byll » Fri Oct 30, 2009 5:38 am

Hello, sad iron: Yes, it truly is a small world. Lancaster County is the hub of the universe, you know.

I have been doing some thinking about your situation and impending decision. No, this 353 is not going to give you the analog tape 'sound' that is so highly touted, in some quarters. And yet, having a working, serviceable 3-head tape deck on site, has its real advantages - beyond the obvious experiments in tape delay.

Whenever we do a recording session - especially for clients who are a bit older (like me), we always ask if they have old reel tapes in their possession, that they would like to have archived. I can guarantee that you will earn the price of the 353 repair, many, many times over, with only that application of the deck.

If you have access to a high class 3 head/3 motor deck somehow, then let this one go... If not, you would do well to consider having it refurbished. The discussed price is fair. It would be good to find a head cover.

Best to you.
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Re: Sony TC-353?

Post by mgorenstein » Sat Apr 18, 2020 3:50 pm

I have a TC 353D reel to reel tape recorder with quite a few tapes still in cellophane. The recorder is still in the box with the manual. I am not sure if the recorder was ever used but it looks pristine. Does anyone know the value of the machine with unopened tapes?

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