I discovered the vastly superior sound of reel to reel a couple of years ago and now thatnks to Ebay I have an extensive library of tapes. (see this website - reel to reel)
I use two Pioneer machines, one has a 2 track head installed. The playback heads are wired with good quality cable and exit the rear of the machine to feed a Cymer tape head preamplifier.
I have used the Bottlehead kit which sounded pretty bad. So bad in fact that I sent it back for a check up. Bottlehead said it sounded great. Here is was rolled off in the highs, muddy in the mids and woefully noisy.
As a stop gap I used a Shure M64E, surprisingly good considering what it is and how old it is.
I asked Elson Silva to make me a preamp and he did. It's based on the Marantz 7 and sounds magnificent. It uses two 12AX7 and a 12AT7 per channgel. the power supply is outboard. It is dual mono. I use the tubes I recommend for the Doge 8 (see that section).
There is a real scarcity of preamps for tape heads, so I urge you to invest in Elson's. It is not expensive either. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org
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