Much has been written about the superiority of reel to reel tapes and I have many of them (I think I I have every London tape ever issued…)
Pre-recorded tapes sound fantastic – much better than vinyl..(comparing the best with the best) .better dynamics, sound staging, especially at the extreme left and right, and distortion free, especially advantageous with classical music and opera.
As well, some companies like Opus 3, chasing the dragon, and acoustic sounds are issuing master tape copies, albeit it at great cost (and in most cases you need a 2 track machine with IEC EQ).
(Please read my section on digital downloads, which is now the best music medium we have, especially if you download high resolution files. Digitised analogue recordings sound amazing too.)
Playing tapes and recording tapes is the ultimate audiophile hobby as it involves maintenance of the tape deck and it’s fun to handle the tapes, it’s fun to watch them turn around while you’re listening to the music and sometimes you have to splice tapes. It’s a hobby that predates the digital era of course were you just push buttons on the remote or tablet, giving you virtually no interaction with your precious equipment…
I have owned machines from Teac, Pioneer, Akai etc.. But all of these machines have seventies transistor electronics and while it is possible to take the signal from the playback head to a modern, preferably tube, amplifier, it can be cumbersome and difficult. With the Japanese machines I always used an outboard tube tape head amplifier, a Marantz 7c copy.
My main r2r is a completely restored and improved Revox B77. All boards have been recapped, the right tape guide is a ball bearing one, not the standard fixed one (a terrible design flaw IMO), and the pinch roller is the polyurethane one from Athan Corp.
I’ve added an aftermarket IR remote control for armchair control.
The sound is superb.