WTB: 16 Track Reel to Reel

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BootsyGraham
audio school graduate
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 11:12 pm

WTB: 16 Track Reel to Reel

Post by BootsyGraham » Sun May 22, 2011 11:19 pm

Hey guys, I just want to say that this forum is really incredible. I am looking for a budget reel to reel that isn't noisy to the point where I can't use it for tracking a (loud) live band, and that can track 16 tracks at the same time. I'm looking to spend around $400. I would also be interested in getting two 8 track machines that I can sync together. Any suggestions?

davidollard
alignin' 24-trk
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Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 11:45 am
Location: SoCal

Post by davidollard » Mon May 23, 2011 12:19 am

Hello Bootsy

Your budget is pretty slim, but you may possibly pick up a Fostex B-16 on Craigslist for that.

Shop around though for one that you can go and see working properly. I'd argue against buying one on ebay for that price since you'll have to add shipping onto that, probably around $100, and then you don't know if it is a good one until it arrives. The first repair job will blow your budget.

I advise you to up your budget to about double that, to:

a) get a machine in nice condition
b) have some in reserve for repairs/relapping

Good luck


David Ollard
Thin Brown Line
Multitrack Analog to Digital Transfers

BootsyGraham
audio school graduate
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 11:12 pm

Post by BootsyGraham » Mon May 23, 2011 12:30 am

I've read great things about the B-16. I don't have a lot of experience with other reel to reels but I do have two 2-tracks reel to reels that I've messed around with over the last four years. I've gotten some great results.

I can start with an 8 track reel as long as I can sync it with something. What would you recommend in the $300-400 range for an 8-track reel?

If I can get it up to $600-$800, what would you recommend?

BootsyGraham
audio school graduate
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 11:12 pm

Post by BootsyGraham » Mon May 23, 2011 12:25 pm

I have the option to get two Fostex Model 80s for pretty cheap. Will this be a decent reel to start out with? How could would go about synching them up?

davidollard
alignin' 24-trk
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 11:45 am
Location: SoCal

Post by davidollard » Mon May 23, 2011 12:49 pm

Hello Bootsy

If you really need 16 tracks, rather get a 16 track machine and don't mess with syncronizing two of them.

I don't know that the model 80 can be synchronised. I know that this was standard practice with ADATs, and of course pro analog machines, but it wasn't so common with the baby multitracks with 7" reels like the model 80.

Setting aside the challenge of getting two machines to sync with each other, think about this: if this is your standard modus operandi, it means that you've landed yourself the problem of maintaining not one machine but two machines in working order. And you only get 14 tracks of course...

Rather raise your budget a bit and get a 16 track machine. Also look at the Tascam MSR-16. Opinions differ on which is the better machine, the Tascam or the Fostex. I only have Fostexes here for transferring project studio tapes, so I cannot say.

Ideally, get yourself a 1" 16 track for better quality, or rethink your needs and get a half inch 8 track like the Otari MX-5050 Mk III, which is way better built and better sounding than any project studio machine.

Regards


David Ollard
Thin Brown Line
Multitrack Analog to Digital Transfers

BootsyGraham
audio school graduate
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 11:12 pm

Post by BootsyGraham » Mon May 23, 2011 1:07 pm

Thanks for the info. The more I've searched through threads here, the more I've realized that I think I just want to go with a nice 1" or 2" inch 16 track. I definitely want 16 tracks, but it looks like I'm going to need to save up a bit longer.

In the $1500 range, which ones would you recommend?

davidollard
alignin' 24-trk
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 11:45 am
Location: SoCal

Post by davidollard » Mon May 23, 2011 6:16 pm

Now you're talking!

The better deals are on the 1" machines. If you find a 2" 16 track for $1500 it will probably need a lot of work, or the heads will be shot. Whereas you can often find decent 1" 16 tracks in the $1000 to $1500 range.

It is going to be Otari or Tascam, and either will be fine. Be more concerned about the condition than the brand. Buy it locally for two reasons:

1. These machines are all HEAVY and delicate. It will cost a lot to ship, and something could get broken along the way.

2. You want to go and see it working before you buy it, and as best you can judge its condition.

Head condition is hard to know by looking. Ideally have them send the heads to JRF or the like for a full report (c. $125 I think) before you buy, but in this price range they may not be willing, and it eats into the budget. So a second best will be to get them to put their alignment tape on and look at how steady the 10kHz and higher frequency tones are. Or get them to record a 10K tone and watch the meters on repro. If the level drops dramatically at 10K and cannot be adjusted up, or if the meters waver a lot, then the heads at minimum need relapping and at worst need replacing. Big expense!

This is some very quick advice and is really just a start. Go to www.analogrules.com for some really good advice on buying a used machine, and a list of prices that machines have sold for over the years.

Good luck!


David Ollard
Thin Brown Line
Multitrack Analog to Digital Transfers
Last edited by davidollard on Mon May 23, 2011 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BootsyGraham
audio school graduate
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 11:12 pm

Post by BootsyGraham » Mon May 23, 2011 7:26 pm

Oh man, that site is great. Thank you so much. Do you have any other articles/sites that are as informative? I think I can get the quality I'm looking for at 1" 16 track.

davidollard
alignin' 24-trk
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 11:45 am
Location: SoCal

Post by davidollard » Mon May 23, 2011 9:50 pm

That's not enough for you? :)

If anything else comes to mind I will post it. In the meantime, start scouring Craigslist to get a feel for what is out there while you start saving up for it!

Regards

David

BootsyGraham
audio school graduate
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun May 22, 2011 11:12 pm

Post by BootsyGraham » Mon May 23, 2011 10:34 pm

Hey David, I'm actually getting an great deal from one of my friends on guess, what? A Tascam msr-16. Through a set of weird coincidences, it just worked out that way. We're going to take it into a shop to see if everything is working correctly, get the heads checked, and to get it calibrated. I'm going to test it out in my own recording situation before I commit to buying it, but I hope it isn't too thin sounding for the type of music we make because of the 1/2" tape.

davidollard
alignin' 24-trk
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 11:45 am
Location: SoCal

Post by davidollard » Mon May 23, 2011 10:50 pm

If it is working ok and you are getting it for a fair price, then you can't lose!

Working examples of those machines are in demand, so use it for a while and if you decide you want something more then simply sell it and move on up.

Good luck

David


PS A common problem with these machines is the HF down on the edge tracks, due to the tape cutting a groove in the rec/play head and then not sitting totally flat against the surface. It's easily fixed by relapping the head and having relief slots cut. JRF Magnetics did it on my Fostex when I first got it and the HF is perfect now. Relapping on half inch heads is not all that expensive, and you generally don't need it on the erase head, just the rec/play head.

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