Where Kevin says ‘you asked’, what he actually means is that Ken Kessler pestered him to within an inch of his life! Don’t worry, I’m not being mean to Ken (he is a friend, after all). It’s by his own admission. In his own words…
“To noodge is Yiddish for “to pester,” but with a vengeance. It isn’t just whining and nagging. It’s full-blown, incessant, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer annoyance. That’s how I managed to drive RX Reels’ Kevin Root into producing a 7-inch tape spool for those of us who spend more time using the smaller size than the hey-look-at-me 10-inch sort.”
Ken’s passion for commercial, pre-recorded tapes from the 1950s to the mid-1980s is well known to those of us who follow his articles in various print and online media, and no its no surprise to learn that his collection of 7-inch tapes outnumbers his 10-inch stock by around 40-to-1!
I’m pretty much the opposite, as it happens. I have a handful of 7-inch tapes (okay, so it’s quite a large handful) but my main passion, and main stock, is the “hey-look-at-me” 10-inch sort. So it’s good thing that RX Reels now caters for us both!
In case you missed it, the RX Reels story started in early 2021, when Kevin Root went all-out to craft a premium tape reel that would withstand the usual wear and warp suffered by typical plastic or aluminium reels, particularly those serving as take-up reels given their heavy use. In the process, he also inadvertently also came up with a sustainable solution – by using upcycled aviation grade carbon fibre. Normally, the cost of such a material would be prohibitive, but Kevin’s location in the USA’s Pacific Northwest gives him ready access to materials discarded by local military and aviation manufacturing industries. “The material is new, unused and high grade, but it’s often not big enough for their purposes and gets scrapped,” he explains. “But it’s absolutely perfect for ours, so we upcycle it to make our reels.”
RX Reels’ carbon fibre flanges are dense and strong yet light in weight and are designed to last a lifetime. They’re scratch-resistant and won’t warp or bend. What’s more, these reels can even enhance the performance of both tape and deck, while protecting both form undue wear: thanks to the combination of rigid flanges that won’t flex, and precision-made aluminium hubs that are perfectly balanced, the reels spin truer and avoid ‘tape scrape’, reducing motor friction and protecting precious vintage tape.
Anyway, you might think it should be easy, having created a 10.5-inch reel, to then make a 7-inch version. Not so fast… as any engineer would no doubt tell you (and me!), it’s not quite a simple question of ‘like for like – just a bit smaller.’ So, Kevin spent some months discussing the design with Ken and with others, and you can read about their ‘behind the scenes’ process, as well as Ken’s later review of the finished product, in a recent article for PS Audio’s Copper Magazine.
The new RX Reels 7” carbon fibre tape reel is available now, priced at £134 or US $149 per reel (plus shipping). You can find out more and order direct at www.rxreels.com
Note: If you’re in the market for an RX Reel but are feelnig the pinch of the current cost of living, you’ll be glad to know that there are some deals to be had. Check out rxreels.com/collections/reel-deals for offers on factory seconds – reels that have minor cosmetic blemishes and so don’t meet the standard for “A” stock. These reels meet every other quality standard and no blemish will impact performance (but be quick about it – quantities are very limited, some are one only).