Could R2R be about to enter the mainstream of high-end hi-fi? Wishful thinking perhaps, but a press release just landed on my desk that’s making me smile the smile of a reel-to-reel guy who’s enjoying seeing tape continuing to defy the modernist odds, as vinyl has already done big time.
Absolute Sounds, the UK’s leading high-end audio importer and distributor, has just added Metaxas & Sins’ TR-X Tourbillon and Papillon reel-to-reel tape machines to its “peerless portfolio of exceptional audio equipment from around the globe”.
Ricardo Franassovici, Absolute Sounds’ founder and MD, has selected the two decks to join ‘Ten’ – “a carefully curated collection of extraordinary sonic creations from independent makers”, which sits alongside the main Absolute Sounds portfolio.
If you follow this blog you’re probably already familiar with the Metaxas brand, but if not, here’s the PR extract:
“Founded by Kostas Metaxas and based in the Netherlands, Metaxas & Sins is renowned for the quality and originality of its design approach, creating “high-end audio sculptures” and “kinetic art objects” that are as striking to the eye as they are to the ear. Kostas is a renowned artist and product designer whose collaborations with revered luxury brands stretches well beyond audio equipment – pens, clocks and much more besides. He’s also a prolific recording engineer who’s made hundreds of live concert recordings using magnetic open-reel tape.
“Although Metaxas & Sins makes a variety of audio equipment including amplifiers and speakers, its reel- to-reel tape machines have attracted particular attention.
“Metaxas & Sins makes two reel-to-reel tape machines – the TR-X Tourbillon and the Papillon. Both are designed from the ground up to utilise the finest component parts available today, from the heads to the entirely discrete circuits, and the sound quality they deliver puts ‘classic’ reel-to-reel machines to shame. Although Absolute Sounds will carry both machines, the initial focus is firmly on the TR-X Tourbillon. Designed for 10.5-inch reels, the Tourbillon is a ‘location recorder’ – in other words, sufficiently compact and transportable to be used in a variety of environments, rather than purely recording studios, with an optional battery box so it doesn’t have to be plugged into the mains. Its design revels in the tactile appeal of precision mechanical machinery; in the hands of its operator, with the turn of each dial and the flick of each switch, it performs its function to deeply satisfying perfection.
“As is the case with all Metaxas & Sins’ creations, the design is horologically inspired. In high-end wristwatch design, a tourbillon (French for whirlwind) is an addition to the mechanics of a watch lever escapement to increase accuracy. The TR-X Tourbillon is the first reel-to-reel tape machine to use the same concept to regulate the speed of the tape.
“In the words of Metaxas & Sins: “The TR-X Tourbillon is an entirely newly designed professional reel-to-reel tape location recorder and playback machine that meets and exceeds the highest demands of recording engineers and the most serious audiophiles… combining 2020s technology with 1960s ‘soul’.”
The TR-X Tourbillon is available in two versions – one for recording and playback, the other for playback only. There’s also an optional Li-ion battery box and a matching stand, both sold separately.
These are the first R2R decks that Absolute Sounds has carried since the company’s formation in 1979. So, why now and why these decks?
“There are two important reasons why I have selected these Metaxas & Sins tape machines to join the Ten collection,” says Ricardo. “The first is that thanks to a number of specialist suppliers, the increased availability of the reel-to-reel format to consumers makes it a viable – and highly satisfying – medium for music connoisseurs. The second – and crucial – factor is that Metaxas & Sins has succeeded in elevating the sound quality from open-reel tape to new levels, wrapped in a package that exudes individuality and flair. Unique, exceptional, highly desirable – these are perfect additions to my Ten collection.”
Absolute Sounds is the sole UK distributor of Metaxas & Sins reel-to-reel tape machines.
UK retail prices
- TR-X Tourbillon 10.5-inch open-reel tape player: £46,998
- TR-X Tourbillon 10.5-inch open-reel tape player/recorder: £59,998
- TR-X Tourbillon stand: £9,398
- Li-ion battery box for TR-X Tourbillon: £3,200
- Papillon Studio 15-inch open-reel tape player: £72,998
- Papillon Studio 15-inch open-reel tape player/recorder: £89,998
- Papillon Studio stand: £19,998