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Discussion Starter #1
An old friend called me up and said "I think you should have this."

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"I also have three boxes of tape if you need any," he says.

This was purchased by CBC Radio back when these were new, and the tech who maintained it bought it at auction from them when CBC retired it. It was part of his studio until it was bumped by those new-fangled DAT decks. I doubt it's been turned on since.

Cool. But after some quick reading online it seems I'm likely going to need to replace the battery before I even try to fire it up, and I should re-cap the whole thing and clean everything. I thought "no problem," but there are around 74 caps to be replaced!

Then I'd need to learn to calibrate it, let alone use it!

Is this a project I really want to take on? My friend said he has another, not quite as good, a810 I could have if I revive this, so there's some incentive. But I'm not recording anything these days, let alone on a reel-to-reel. But, then again, it's a cool piece with a history behind it.

Came with original manual and all circuit diagrams! A 3.5" binder!

What to do? Keep it 'cause it's cool? Sell it? Refurbish and sell? Bury it in my "old, but probably cool," pile of gear?
 

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64 Gretsch 6120, 65 Fender Tremolux and a 58 Supro 1624T
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An old friend called me up and said "I think you should have this."

View attachment 160281

"I also have three boxes of tape if you need any," he says.

This was purchased by CBC Radio back when these were new, and the tech who maintained it bought it at auction from them when CBC retired it. It was part of his studio until it was bumped by those new-fangled DAT decks. I doubt it's been turned on since.

Cool. But after some quick reading online it seems I'm likely going to need to replace the battery before I even try to fire it up, and I should re-cap the whole thing and clean everything. I thought "no problem," but there are around 74 caps to be replaced!

Then I'd need to learn to calibrate it, let alone use it!

Is this a project I really want to take on? My friend said he has another, not quite as good, a810 I could have if I revive this, so there's some incentive. But I'm not recording anything these days, let alone on a reel-to-reel. But, then again, it's a cool piece with a history behind it.

Came with original manual and all circuit diagrams! A 3.5" binder!

What to do? Keep it 'cause it's cool? Sell it? Refurbish and sell? Bury it in my "old, but probably cool," pile of gear?
Depends how much free time you have I suppose. If you have the time and motivation, do it up.
 
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If it works, why would you go through all that work to solve imaginary problems?

Free tape? Even unused, it is still old tape so it will not be up to spec anyway. Still good for daily use, though.

Hook up a couple of decent mikes and run her every time you jam. When that magic riff happens you'll have it covered. Code the tape by date and time. Other notes if necessary. Re-run the tape til its pooched.

Drive the deck into the ground and sell it for parts.
 

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Believe it or not, reel to reel has its own following right now. A high quality tape machine is worth big dollars, it might be worth doing some research on the possible value of this unit.
Looks like 1/2" tape. This will never be a music recording studio piece. Its a high quality utility deck probably used for interviews.

I would personally be effin thrilled to get such a prize. Great for home use. I think I paid about $700 for a bottom of the line Teac that was re-built by a couple of old-timers in Texas. I bought it for nostalgia.

This one is way better. If it works fine forget the re-build if you intend to use it. Otherwise...

Yeah, Humongous, properly re-built it would be worth four figures.
 

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Nice friend. Personally I find that most technology when approached from a dedicated person will likely take away your playing and writing time. That’s my take.

They are cool. But for $300 used to have a zoom r24 with SD card is tough to beat.

My two cents. Rock on either way.

Last thought
Could be a rabbit hole that just wastes your time. And if you're allowed to just sell it then you could be much further ahead (practically speaking ).
 
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I have a '61 Phillips that I inherited from my wife's uncle.
Boxfull of store bought and recorded big band music.
Everything works except the stereo mic which is weak.

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for all the replies so far, everybody!

I think I'll take the Kapn's advice and simply turn it on and see what happens.
I'll put the VU meters back into the main unit so it's all together.

Yup, only 1/4" tape, though I can compensate for the size a little by running the tape faster.
These units were considered portable for their day! We've come a long way, baby!
 

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Thanks for all the replies so far, everybody!

I think I'll take the Kapn's advice and simply turn it on and see what happens.
I'll put the VU meters back into the main unit so it's all together.

Yup, only 1/4" tape, though I can compensate for the size a little by running the tape faster.
These units were considered portable for their day! We've come a long way, baby!
I am surprised at how happy I am to hear that you are going to use it! Nostalgia runs deep,
I guess. Good luck and keep us posted!

Audacity
into the back of your desktop computer is fine for converting demos to digital.
 

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Looks like 1/2" tape. This will never be a music recording studio piece. Its a high quality utility deck probably used for interviews.

I would personally be effin thrilled to get such a prize. Great for home use. I think I paid about $700 for a bottom of the line Teac that was re-built by a couple of old-timers in Texas. I bought it for nostalgia.

This one is way better. If it works fine forget the re-build if you intend to use it. Otherwise...

Yeah, Humongous, properly re-built it would be worth four figures.
Dude, sure it would - it's stereo not multitrack. Very in demand; not for tracking but as a mixdown deck. Granted mixdown decks are not as large a market as multitracks, but still, this is the most desirable one.

And that's exactly what I would want it for (considered going that way, obviously with a lower end deck than this, but decided against getting into tape due to cost and maintenence; would have to learn all from scratch). Also for live off the floor pure stereo recordings, which I don't do as much anymore, but would if I had one of these in working order. Even if it was 4-8 track on 1/2"; someone would want it and the price would be good (again - me, except I am mostly over my tape lust at this point for the reasons mentioned) for a smaller/project studio even though most pro places would insist on at least 1" for that.

Also worth quite a bit of coin as parts; no need necessarily to fix it up before selling. But yeah @Moot, fire it up and see.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Dude, sure it would - it's stereo not multitrack. Very in demand; not for tracking but as a mixdown deck. Granted mixdown decks are not as large a market as multitracks, but still, this is the most desirable one.

And that's exactly what I would want it for (considered going that way, obviously with a lower end deck than this, but decided against getting into tape due to cost and maintenence; would have to learn all from scratch). Also for live off the floor pure stereo recordings, which I don't do as much anymore, but would if I had one of these in working order. Even if it was 4-8 track on 1/2"; someone would want it and the price would be good (again - me, except I am mostly over my tape lust at this point for the reasons mentioned) for a smaller/project studio even though most pro places would insist on at least 1" for that.

Also worth quite a bit of coin as parts; no need necessarily to fix it up before selling. But yeah @Moot, fire it up and see.
Very encouraging, thanks!
At first I thought "It'll be just like my old Radio Shack cassette recorder, but bigger." Boy, was I wrong! Once I started reading the manual I realized that this was the kind of kit an engineer would spend a couple of years to master.
But my buddy is coming over to show me how to use it as a cool slap-back delay! Now that's decadence!

I've cleaned the tape heads. The tape that was in the unit must have been there since it was put away - it looked like rust that I was removing.

It's missing its tape-cutter and two screws. Everything I've read online urges changing the battery if it hasn't been fired up for five years or more. I may as well look at the caps while I'm there.

It might be a fun restoration project, and, who knows, maybe I'll find it worth learning.
But compared to Pro Tools, it's a bit archaic.

But now that I think about it, I bet Hipsters would love tape masters!
 

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But now that I think about it, I bet Hipsters would love tape masters!
Exactly. Even if tracking to tape, it makes sense to mix down to digi UNLESS you are going to master OTB (analog) in which case it makes more sense to leave it analog vs converting back and forth all the time. There are a lot of people (from Pro to Indie,) who do just that - keep it all analog through to mastering.

I can't afford analog mastering (or analog tracking). I rec to DAW, multitrack out to mixer and outboard, and then mix back down to digital and leave it there (except if I'm pressing vinyl, which is not often).That's still more rounds of A/D conversion than I would like, but the best feasible compromise for what I am trying to do.
 
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The A810 is an iconic mastering recorder. It was a great gift from your friend.

As others have said, I think analogue tape is best viewed in the rear view mirror. The only benefit I can see these days is to use it, along with several other long surpassed iconic devices, to attract clients who think that stuff is "best".
 

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There are a lot of people (from Pro to Indie,) who do just that - keep it all analog through to mastering.
Pretty much backwards I would say. To go analog all the way and then do the final refinements digitally, well... just shows how misunderstood mastering is. Way better off with digital tracks to save the money for analog mixing and analog mastering.

I know a mastering engineer and starting out, he thought he was doing it pretty well in the box, until he went pro with all analog gear. Funny thing is, everybody was happy before and everybody is happy now. I guess he was the only guy who could tell the difference. Although his new clients are better musicians and pay better too.

Frankly a lot of those refinements are lost on me. Did we even have mastering in the sixties? I hear that guys like Ted Fletcher used to scab stuff together for the BBC outa military parts.

BTW, GG what you said about the submix tape deck is so true. I stand corrected. Definitely want analog mastering with that though.

Check out this piece of brand new mastering gear. Talk about analog! It doesn't even have a power cord...

Gyraf Audio
 
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