Who knows about old reel to reel recorders?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by DEMENTED, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. DEMENTED

    DEMENTED Supporting Member

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    I just picked up and old,( 60's?) Roberts 1630 model reel to reel 4 track tape recorder made in Japan. It is all tube with two built in speakes. How do you use one of these? Where can I get tape? And can I record guitar tracks on this thing?
    TIA
     
  2. BluesForDan

    BluesForDan Member

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    did you get the manual with it?

    Pics?
     
  3. buchla300

    buchla300 Member

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  4. alltone

    alltone Member

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    Source for tape..
    http://www.usrecordingmedia.com/
    You should clean the heads and then have a close look at them for signs of wear, also check the condition of the pinch roller and belts..it may not may be worth the effort if the transport mechanism is tired. Does it fast forward and rewind if a slight pressure is applied to the spindles etc? If the mechanics are O.K. and you can pass a signal through the electronics....have fun with it. A degausser to remove unwanted magnetic fields from the heads and tape guides would be a good investment if you plan to use it
    There should be some info out there in this forum. Good luck, Doug.
    http://www.stereomanuals.com/man/rep/roberts/

    http://www.analogrules.com/badheads.html
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2008
  5. DEMENTED

    DEMENTED Supporting Member

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    Here are some pics, no manual but this thing is clean! It looks like it was never used really. Weird tubes in it too, but it fires up and I have no clue how to use it......
    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    That is VERY cool looking, at least. I can't tell you anything for sure because I'm unfamiliar with the name, but I can tell you it *appears* to be better than consumer grade.

    From the hardware on the back my guess would be it was made in the 1970s/80s
     
  7. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    The tube part puts it into the late 60's IMO.
    You realize that 4 tracks refers the ability to flip over the tape and record the flip side with an additional 2 tracks, generally?
    Basically like using a stereo cassette recorder.
     
  8. andyc

    andyc Member

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    I agree that looks like 1960's era.

    Looks like it would take standard 7" reels of tape. You need a reel of tape and a take-up reel (empty reel). Full reel goes on the left. Tape loops under where it says "Roberts 1630" there, and then kind of around over the top of the pinch roller (between the capstan and the pinch roller, and the under the tensioner to the right of the pinch roller, then up into the takeup reel.

    You could drive a line level signal into the stereo RCA (phono) connections back there out of a line level source. Or you could mic your amps and run the mics into the front mic inputs. Those are probably unbalanced mic inputs (tip and sleeve, not tip, ring sleeve).

    The sound quality isn't going to amaze you, but the price of the magnetic tape will! At this point it's more or less a collectors item - quality not good enough to make it worth the cost and lack of flexibility.

    I love old magnetic tape machines. I also love the last of the era too - I have a couple of Fostex 8 track (8 channel, not like 1960's auto 8 track) machines I used in my studio until about 8 years ago. I almost hated to see it go.

    If you have any more questions you can PM me. If you can't find any tape I can probably find something around here I could send you.
     
  9. DEMENTED

    DEMENTED Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the info guys and for the offer of some tape Andy. I'll probably take you up on that. What do you think of the quality of these? I understand that they are re-labeled Akai units which are held in high regards. I am guessing it to be mid-60's production.
     
  10. andyc

    andyc Member

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    I don't know anything about the Roberts brand. I have had good experience with Akai recorders, and yes they are well thought of. That would be a good thing if it's a re-badged Akai.

    Open reel machines used for business meeting recordings and lectures, etc., tended to use lower tape speeds to make tape last longer. With that comes reduced audio quality. Studio recorders run tape very fast, and along with many other factors, that leads to much higher quality recording. I see there is a "low" and a "high" tape speed. That's probably 3-3/4" per second (IPS), and 7.5" IPS. Studio recorders run up to 15 IPS and 30 IPS.

    I think you have a fine recorder there. Doesn't look like it has a lot of miles on it, so the record/playback heads are probably in good shape.

    You should consider demagnitizing the heads before running tape through the machine. Also get some head cleaner and clean them and the pinch roller before running tape.
     
  11. elambo

    elambo Member

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    That recorder is from the mid-60's. It was primarily for home use. "Hi-Fi..."

    Roberts made several tape-based products in the 60's. Maybe even after.

    Tape will be hard to find. Tape for ANY machine is hard to find these days. Hopefully the links above will be helpful.
     
  12. Slow Reflexes

    Slow Reflexes Member

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    It was reviewed in High Fidelity magazine in September of 1965.

    I think my dad has one, actually.
     
  13. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Even unused, that transformer doesn't look 40-some years old... does it?

    I don't recall seeing Akai tape decks until the 1970s... I had two at different times, solid state. Their motors were weak and they sounded mediocre as hell, terrible build quality. That looks much more sturdy than any Akai deck I recall.

    Yours looks like it might fit 10" reels, which is nice. Might be hard to find hubs, though...
     
  14. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I just did a quick Google search for "Roberts tape recorder 1630"

    1960s is correct. Click on the "cached" pages and you'll get a lot of good info.

    This link had a whole bunch of newspaper ads from 1964, including one for this model.
     
  15. DEMENTED

    DEMENTED Supporting Member

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    Yes, it is in amazing shape, I live near some wealthy people, I'm thinking this sat in someones home and was cared for if rarely used and maybe they have passed away recently? The whole chassis and guts are that clean and all screw heads are unmarred. Do you think this thing is worth anything? $50? $100?
     
  16. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I don't buy or sell used tape recorders, but I'd guess that the tubes alone could be worth more.
     
  17. bendix

    bendix Member

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    When I was in 5th grade, (late 60s) the very first band I was in recorded an album on a Roberts recorder like that. Maybe even the same model. It belonged to the Dad of two of the members in the group. He was an ad executive, and one of his clients or his boss gave it him for Christmas one year. As I remember, it recorded in stereo, but you could set it to record on either the 1 and 3 tracks and the 2 and 4 tracks or tracks 1 and 4, and 2 and 3. We scrounged every microphone we could find and ran them through those little four channel hi-impedance passive mixers. I don't think we were able to add any tracks overdubbling-wise. My cousin, who was the lead guitarist, also played drums. But the drums were two or three empty gallon size ice-cream buckets, that he played with sticks made out of two pieces of 1/4 round moulding that he had spiral wrapped with tape and then sprayed with fluorescent green day-glow paint. We wrote all our own songs.

    Man, I haven't seen one of those recorders since the early 70s. It is amazing how far things have come!

    Tim
     
  18. cadduc

    cadduc Member

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    i remember this recorder

    roberts had a good reputation

    and was in the same league as upper level ampex machines and maybe revox

    the only problem, the electronics section of this recorder and the mechanics of the drive of this and other reel to reel tape machines was limited by the technology available, it creates a background noise that may or may not be audible to your ear, like hiss, wow and flutter,
    and this records on 1/4" tape, but the tape is pretty availble
    i like this machine
    and yeah record on this thing and play it back
    let us know how it goes
     
  19. franksguitar

    franksguitar Member

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    I still have 3 reel to reel recorders. A 1970 JVC with sound on sound which was $100 new then, a Sony 2 track with built in powered speakers I bought for $15 at an estate sale with a bunch of tape and a Fostex A8 - 8 track for $160 and all work. Of course I have my digital workstations and these are just old stuff and still have old band reel tapes.. Last time I bought 7" 1/4 tape it was about $15 a reel a few years ago.
     
  20. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    That's the big leagues... are you sure about that?

    I'm not saying either way, it's just the first I've ever heard that.
     

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