Tape Decks/Reel to Reel Players

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Price Drops on Tape Decks & Reel to Reel Players

Tape Decks/Reel to Reel Players For Sale on Reverb

Although magnetic tape technology is decades old, it’s never gone away. Many musicians still record to analog tape, and even mainstream artists are again releasing music on cassettes. Open reel tape has been produced at various sizes and speeds, as well as digital formats before solid state drives became more practical.

Reel to Reel Recorders

For decades, tape was the standard medium for recording anything. Engineers capture sound on analog tape using reel to reel recorders. The image of a reel to reel recorder has become synonymous with the studio: two large metal circles rotating near the top corners of a large rectangle.

Although never really popular with consumers, collectors and producers still value these devices for their warmth, flexibility, and nostalgia. Many effects heard on classic albums, such as those by The Beatles and Slowdive, were created by physically manipulating tape. And the earliest samples were created by building tape loops.

Some examples of open-reel tape recorders that can be found at reasonable prices include the Akai models and the Sony TC line. Keep in mind that vintage machines will require regular maintenance.

Reel to Reel Tape Players

Around the 1960s, audiophiles began adding reel to reel players to their home systems. Although the format is mostly obsolete, partially because loading and storing media is less than convenient, the resale market for vintage units is healthy, and some boutique companies offer brand new R2R players. The entry level, even for new releases on ¼-inch tape, is steep. Current albums and reissues both go for hundreds of dollars.


In the late '50s, the RCA Victor produced the first tape cartridge, but magnetic tape-based cassettes were not popular until Phillips developed a version using narrower tape in a smaller form factor, known as Compact Cassette. In the mid '60s, blank and pre-recorded cassettes came to market.

Around the same time, early versions of 8-track tape cartridges were released, composed of a single reel of magnetic tape. They were more popular than compact cassettes through the late 60s, partially due to their inclusion in some factory automotive stereo systems. New releases on 8-track can still be found, although the medium has become niche.

As compact cassettes caught up in quality in the early 70s, they became the standard audio format. Their flexibility and relatively low cost made copying, combining, and sharing music easier than ever. Portability has always been a keystone of cassette use, and brands like Walkmen became synonymous with the format. The common access to recorders, dual decks that made copying tapes easier, and all types of media helped keep cassettes ubiquitous.

Cassettes reigned as the media of choice until the early '90s, when CD became accessible to most consumers. Cassette never actually died as a format, although it hasn’t enjoyed the renaissance that vinyl has. Most of the market for quality players and recorders are vintage units, but some companies produce new models of varying quality and price range.

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