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Old Reel-To-Reel Recorder


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#1 Ira Ratner

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 06:33 AM

I was surprised to discover that there isn't an audio forum here.

Anyway, in my never-ending quest to piss off my wife with even more ridiculous purchases, I'm looking at this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/.....=tab=Watching

I'm waiting to hear from the seller, but do you think the non-supplied battery for this is something readily available? Or would it be a special size and/or mercury, making it unusable as a portable? Also, judging by the adapter description, I'm ASSUMING it powers up through 110.

And in case you're curious, I'm thinking of getting it for an old-sound feel. Not really sure, because I think I could manipulate digital audio (digital recorder) and get the same lousy sound--but this looks like more fun.
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#2 Hal Smith

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 07:36 AM

I was surprised to discover that there isn't an audio forum here.

I'm waiting to hear from the seller, but do you think the non-supplied battery for this is something readily available? Or would it be a special size and/or mercury, making it unusable as a portable? Also, judging by the adapter description, I'm ASSUMING it powers up through 110.


Replacing the battery would be no problem assuming you know someone who can do basic soldering. Digikey has individual nicad cells with solderable tabs that can be wired in series. You'll need 8 cells in series, the original battery fully charged is probably actually 9.6 volts, not 9 volts.

Get batteries that are about the same physical size as the cells in the original. I'd judge that around 1200mah current rating is in the ballpark for the Sony. The current rating isn't highly critical, I doubt that the Sony's charger is a sophisticated rapid charge one that has to be matched to the battery size and capacity.

Search http://www.digikey.com/ for "nicad" then select termination type "tab" to get a listing of all the tab type nicads they have.

PS: There is an audio forum, it's at the bottom of the main page.

http://www.cinematog...hp?showforum=60

Expertise in pissing off the wife is a sign of true male maturity: He who dies with the most toys...wins.
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 07:39 AM

There is "Sound for Film and Video" down at the bottom.

I suspect you could make up a 9 volt power pack of your own - it could just be 6 x 1.5 volt batteries inside.
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 09:29 AM

There is "Sound for Film and Video" down at the bottom.

I suspect you could make up a 9 volt power pack of your own - it could just be 6 x 1.5 volt batteries inside.


If one is using primary cells like akalines in a device with a charger, there's a danger of charging batteries that aren't designed for charging. Either the charger has to be disabled, or at very least whenever the device is plugged into AC power, the batteries have to be removed or otherwise disabled.
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#5 Ira Ratner

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 12:17 PM

Thanks, Hal! I work with electric techs who know this stuff, so that shouldn't be a problem.

I know I'm taking a gamble as far as the heads go, but I'm pretty sure those can be replaced as well if need be.

If you read the item's description though, I still don't understand why the guy says "hasn't been tested," but I think he means tested with the battery. Anyway, I won't pull the trigger until I get an answer from him. Is it possible that the battery has to be in place for it to power up at all?

And sorry for missing the Audio Forum--and I swear, I DID look for one.

It's HORRIBLE getting old.
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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 03:26 AM

Ira, what camera are you using? I hate to say it but you might do better with a Nagra 4.2 for that "warm" sound quality. They're more expensive but are amazing.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 15 February 2009 - 03:30 AM.

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#7 Ira Ratner

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 07:57 PM

Ira, what camera are you using? I hate to say it but you might do better with a Nagra 4.2 for that "warm" sound quality. They're more expensive but are amazing.


Sorry for not replying sooner, but I passed on it. Didn't trust the answers I was getting from the seller.

I'm just using a K3 looking to post snip in non-sync audio of short lengths.
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#8 Keith Walters

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 10:31 PM

Sorry for not replying sooner, but I passed on it. Didn't trust the answers I was getting from the seller.

Just as well. In eBay speak (or Auction-speak generally) "untested" can be considered synonymous with "scrap metal value only".
With a tape deck of any type if you can't see (and hear) it going, forget it.
If it's more than 20 years old you'll probably find that all the rubber parts (belts etc) have either turned into black liquorice or have stretched to the point of unuseability. With luck you can find replacements among stock for VCR repairs, but nobody does too much of that anymore either.
Pinch rollers often get out-of-round and chew up tapes, and are often not replaceable.


Worn heads can sometimes be restored by refacing them using very fine emery or sapphire paper, although this depends on how the heads are constructed. They're about the only thing that doesn't deteriorate with age.

Generally, servicing old tape decks is a very specialised undertaking, not for the casual tinkerer.
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#9 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 01:21 AM

Sorry for not replying sooner, but I passed on it. Didn't trust the answers I was getting from the seller.

I'm just using a K3 looking to post snip in non-sync audio of short lengths.

For non-sync, pretty much any decent tape recorder would work. You might try an Uher Report:

http://cgi.ebay.com/...1QQcmdZViewItem


(not all are stereo) if you can't afford a Nagra. They are professional quality, portable recorders and go for prices much less than a Nagra though I'm not sure if any ever came with a Pilot plug or crystal sync. They should work great for what you want to do. Also, if you can find a deal on a Fostex that is another reel to reel that would be great to have.
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#10 Ira Ratner

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 07:20 PM

The thing is, for $200 I can get a brand-new rechargeable Zoom digital stereo recorder that fits in my pocket.

It's a matter of learning computer/digital audio editing to get it to sound like the old-time stuff, which is easier said than done, but I'm not sure. (Think of a Little Rascals/Our Gang short.)

For example, for Woody Allen's Zelig, they threw the film on the floor after processing and just beat the crap out of it to make it look old, like it came from the 30s. However, and I might be wrong, that was done before digital editing, and that might have been the best solution then.
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#11 Hal Smith

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 08:09 PM

.............I'm not sure if any ever came with a Pilot plug or crystal sync. They should work great for what you want to do. Also, if you can find a deal on a Fostex that is another reel to reel that would be great to have.

They had a pilot model, the Uher 1000 Report Pilot. They were pretty rare but there was one on Craigslist not too long ago.
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#12 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 07:29 AM

The thing is, for $200 I can get a brand-new rechargeable Zoom digital stereo recorder that fits in my pocket.

It's a matter of learning computer/digital audio editing to get it to sound like the old-time stuff, which is easier said than done, but I'm not sure. (Think of a Little Rascals/Our Gang short.)

For example, for Woody Allen's Zelig, they threw the film on the floor after processing and just beat the crap out of it to make it look old, like it came from the 30s. However, and I might be wrong, that was done before digital editing, and that might have been the best solution then.

Well, yeah, you can find all kinds of digital units that will record sound, I thought you wanted the "warm" sound of analog and the resistance analog has to clipping. and Yes Zelig was 1983 so it was pre-digital sound acquisition and digital editing which came into vogue in the late 90s and really the 2000s
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#13 K Borowski

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 08:24 AM

To be honest, the difference between analog and digital audio is far more subtle than, say analog vs. digital video.

The only time I can really tell when something is digital audio is when someone is doing a really bad job and the sound clips when someone is "singing" too loud.

Then again, I don't have the most highly sophisticated hearing. Maybe it's from listening to music full-blast in my car too much ;-)
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#14 K Borowski

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 08:27 AM

Well, yeah, you can find all kinds of digital units that will record sound, I thought you wanted the "warm" sound of analog and the resistance analog has to clipping. and Yes Zelig was 1983 so it was pre-digital sound acquisition and digital editing which came into vogue in the late 90s and really the 2000s


Umm, I am pretty sure they were using digital even in the late '70s. Probalby not in filmmaking, but it was definitely out there.
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#15 Patrick Nuse

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 12:10 PM

I was surprised to discover that there isn't an audio forum here.

Anyway, in my never-ending quest to piss off my wife with even more ridiculous purchases, I'm looking at this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/.....=tab=Watching

I'm waiting to hear from the seller, but do you think the non-supplied battery for this is something readily available? Or would it be a special size and/or mercury, making it unusable as a portable? Also, judging by the adapter description, I'm ASSUMING it powers up through 110.

And in case you're curious, I'm thinking of getting it for an old-sound feel. Not really sure, because I think I could manipulate digital audio (digital recorder) and get the same lousy sound--but this looks like more fun.

That is one funky box, I would keep an eye out for a nagra III. they are older but you can get them pretty cheap and it would be a lot more reliable. you will have the warm tape sound and avoid the dreaded tape hiss as the track width is four times that of the "home use" version of 1/4" tape. home recorders use 4 tracks, the nagra records only one but with much higher quality. the newer nagras like the 4.2. have circuits to cancel tape distortion so they wont have as much of the "warm" tape sound, they are more accurate. I have a Nagra 4.2L and the sound is fantastic.
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#16 Ralph Keyser

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 05:43 PM

While you're replacing batteries, you might also want to buy up a stock of audio tape. If I recall correctly, the last manufacturer of professional reel-to-reel audio tape ceased manufacturing in 2005. I'm assuming that this is a 1/4" deck, and if so, there are still some sources available. And I'll second the comments that an old Nagra will be a much better choice if you plan to do real work with it.
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Wooden Camera

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