Lately, I’ve been developing quite a close relationship with the FedEx Freight delivery guy because more and more big wooden crates have been coming and going with classic pro reel-to-reel analog tape recorders. This past week, this beautiful Studer A820 1/4″, 2-track machine arrived for repairs. It is suffering from transport problems and it only took a few moments out of the crate for me to have pretty strong suspicions about what is causing the problem.

As usual, I posted my new patient on Facebook and received many supporting responses from fans of this beloved machine. This made me think about my favorite 2-track tape machines of all time. So, here is my short list, in no particular order:

Studer A820 288x384Studer A80RC:

2-track machine, which can be either 1/4″ or 1/2″. It was used for mastering and mixing and was the typical Studer work horse for any 2-track application. Most of my favorites have the same qualities: great track record, amazing sound, brilliantly designed, easy to work with and they represent the very best engineering found in tape machines. This tape machine was first available in the mid to late 1970s.

Studer A820:

This machine has all of the qualities and uses of the above-mentioned A80RC, but it went to the next level of engineering, advancing the technology being micro-processor controlled and more complicated to use, but well worth the additional learning curve. This machine was first available in the mid-1980s.

Ampex ATR100 Series:

2-track machine, also 1/4″ or 1/2″. This machine was also available as a 4-track. A very solid design that offered a different way of handling the tape. This recorder uses a system without a pinch roller set up, all servo controlled, making the tape path run more smoothly. Unlike the Swiss made Studer, Ampex was an American made machine. This recorder was first available in 1977.
So, these are my top three choices. But ONLY for the 2-tracks. There are so many other reel to reels I love and I’m sure I’ll come back and give you my other choices!!!