Reel 2 Reel - bottomless pit of faff, expense and hisssssssss


R2R machines can take a punch far better than a streaming laptop can. Just ask Pete.

Glass jaws. Laptops.


Some Technics are quartz locked.


The capstan is, that’s the easy bit. The reels though change speed as the tape plays.


The capstan creates the tension by having the tape clamped to it by the pinch roller. The reel motors are low torque so can only pull the tape through at the speed the capstan dictates. So yes the reels vary speed as they spool on/spool off bit it’s always in proportion to what the capstan speed is.


Yes I know how it works, I suppose what I mean is I can’t get my head around how I would implement it.


That’s the bit I couldn’t get my head around.


Ah, right. I would suggest it’s quite a simple circuit really*, because there are plenty of older, quite rudimentary machines that manage it. Maybe you’re over thinking it?

*seeing as I have absolutely zero electro-mechanical knowledge whatsoever…:grinning:




However you do it you’ve also got to have provision to allow fast forward or rewind and some means of automatically shutting it off when the end is reached. It’s also funny watching how slowly the take up reel ends up turning when almost full after fast forwarding.


Hi there! My name is Antonia and I’m the co-founder of Central Dogma Magnetics, the startup company mentioned earlier that’s building new and affordable reel to reel tape recorders.




Hi Antonia. Are you going to be able to offer the facility to play 4 track tapes? Otherwise what are you expecting users to play on these machines? There doesn’t appear to be much 2T material available that isn’t $$$.


Hi Antonia, and welcome.

Please try to ignore what will inevitably happen over the next couple of hours, whereby some existing forum member will lose their shit completely and get themselves banned.

Happens every time :+1:


Who’s turn is it?


First off, you rock, @crimsondonkey, for linking to our site. May I ask where you found us?

@Gyroscope oh my lanta! Let’s hope that does not happen.

The two comments I read were: Who the heck uses 2 tracks? and How is the reel motor speed regulated?

  1. We are actually looking at 8 tracks and hopefully in two weeks we will be able to tell you if this is a go. The more tracks the better… but also the more $. We’re talking with manufacturers now and will keep you updated. You’re so right, murrayjohnson. 2T wouldn’t be great for people buying for the player aspect and recording musicians wouldn’t love the limitations of 2T either.
  2. Reel motor speed regulation is yet to be determined, but tension is certainly one way of doing it!


What would you prefer? 2, 4, 8, 16 track?


For playing back old pre recorded tapes then 4T with speeds of 3 3/4 or 7 1/2 ips. It’d also be nice to be able to throw a switch & play back the mono 2T tapes that were also common here in the UK (invariably 3 3/4 ips).

For home recordists, musicians etc then the option to buy a machine configured for multiple tracks would no doubt be appealing. I guess you have to look back & see what there was a demand for that the likes of TEAC, Ampex Revox etc used to cater for.

Have you hooked up with head manufacturers who are offering options?


Thanks very much for your thoughts, Murray!

We’ve been listening to people on Instagram, Reddit, and Discord trying to get a feel for what people want. I would say 90% of people we interact with are interested in r2r for recording their own music so that’s why more tracks is important but does not seem to us like an absolute make or break. This is encouraging because it means there will be more production of tapes, more sales of recorders, more models, and so on.

We are excited companies can produce the heads we need! We have been talking to two manufacturers and should get some kind of estimate in the next two weeks.


It would be good to do a modern day RS1500 with 3 3/4, 7 1/2 and 15 ips speeds with 4t and 2t playback facility.
If one machine could do everything it would make sense to me.
I guess the requirements of a studio are different to those of a HiFi user.


Here in Europe there is a raised interest in this & several companies offering ‘audiophile’ music on 2T 15 ips tapes (not unlike Tape Project) but using original if rather eclectic material.

Then there are a couple of manufacturers who are offering high end machines mainly for playback of such tapes. Ballfinger is one company.

But this is seriously high end stuff.

The issue with all of this is not dissimilar to that with electric cars & charging points. It’ll be slow to happen until both the software & hardware are widely available.

It’s also something of a niche technology. Many people are perfectly satisfied with the results they can get from streaming. Far fewer see the need for tape again.

Personally I like it because obtaining the 4T pre recorded tapes is still the best way I can get to hear some of the pre 1983 music I like, particularly some classical recordings but also Jazz & Soul.