It’s great to see tape decks featuring in The Absolute Sound Editors’ Choice Awards again this year. Five decks have been singled out in 2022: one a vintage refurb, one a brand new design, and three hybrid designs – modern updates built using parts from vintage decks. Here’s a quick run-down of the five awarded models.
The vintage refurb: J-Corder Technics 1500
The vintage refurb is from US-based (Washington State) J-Corder. ‘Technics by J-Corder’ is, as the name suggests, their line of refurbed Technics decks and you can either opt for a prebuilt, ready-to-play machine, or select a base Technics model and have it customised to your specifications. The TAS Award went to the 1500 model, currently priced at $6,995. More details at https://j-corder.com/tape-decks-for-sale
The brand new model: Metaxas & Sins Tourbillon T-RX
“ The most compact, coolest-looking, best-sounding portable tape deck JV has heard, the T-RX,” writes Jonathan Valin. It’s a brand new design, created with Stellavox founder Georges Quellet’s blessing as an updated version of his “fabled and fabulous” Stellavox SM8, and is “the very model of highest fidelity”. “If you have the money for Kostas Metaxas’ little wonder (and for the 15/30ips tapes to feed it with), you will be buying a freehold in the top tier of the absolute sound—and a piece of gear that will endlessly delight you with its mechanical and sonic excellence.” Read the full TAS review at www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/kostas-metaxas-t-rx-tape-deck and go direct to source at www.metaxas.com
The hybrids: Sonorus Audio’s ATR10 & United Home Audio’s Ultima 4 & Super-Deck
The Sonorus ATR10 is a modern two-track, 15ips, quarter-inch deck that’s based on the Revox PR99 chassis. It uses Studer/Revox mechanical parts and all newly designed electronics, including tape drive, power supplies, and playback circuits. “Warm and beautiful sounding, the tube-amplified ATR10 is a virtual plug-and-play device. Just connect to your line-stage and you can access the highest-fidelity source material currently on the market,” says the review (by Jonathan Valin again).
Two of United Home Audio’s hybrid decks are Award-winners. The Ultima 4 is “one of the highest-fidelity source components JV has heard, with phenomenal bass power and extension, matchlessly continuous dynamics top to bottom, unrivaled resolution, astonishing transient speed, and simply gorgeous tone color.”
The Super-Deck, a completely refurbished Tascam-based deck with bespoke enclosures, boards, parts, damping and wiring, “is the best effort yet from tape maven Greg Beron—and one of the two most lifelike source components JV has yet heard in his home.” (The other being DS Audio’s Grand Master optical cartridge). “If you have the dough and a hankering for the sound of the real thing, it will be tough to find a better full-sized tape player.” You can read Jonathan Valin’s full review of the Super-Deck at www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/united-home-audio-superdeck. More details at https://unitedhomeaudio.com