Christmas may be well behind us now, but if a brand new tape deck is on your wish list, then Ballfinger is set to bring you tidings of comfort and joy in the coming year…
The German brand, one of just a handful of companies manufacturing modern tape decks, is set to release a brand new model next year, as well as announcing an upgraded edition of its original M-063 deck, and an update to the M-002-P.
The brand new M-051-MR deck
Described as “a fully studio-standard master recorder”, the M-051-MR will (says Ballfinger) “set completely new standards for dynamics and signal to noise ratio”. Pricing isn’t mentioned as yet, but the advance tech spec is:
- Available in 1/4″ or 1/2″ or 1″ stereo
- 3 motors with direct drive
- 3 speeds 19.05/38.1/76.2 cm/s
- 3 speed spooling
- Reel size up to 14″
- Edit function manually one-handed or via control knob
- Interface for wired remote control of tape transport functions
- Electronically balanced inputs and outputs
- Interchangeable head assembly
- Recording and playback amplifier in plug-in card system in shielded amplifier magazine, accessed from front
- Strong aluminum chassis with massive 23 mm aluminium cast ground plate
- Available with aluminum rolling rack.
The company is looking at a release date before the end of 2023. “In our in-house studio, 6 of these machines are already performing reliably”, says Ballfinger, so it seems they’re already at prototype stage.
I imagine we may see previews at the Munich High-End Show in May – fingers crossed!
More info and images at www.ballfinger.de/master-recorder-m-051-mr
The newly upgraded M-063-H6
Also released in 2023 is a new edition of Ballfinger’s M-063 deck, the H6. Originally launched in 2018, Ballinger’s M-063 came in 4 iterations: the compact, entry-level, playback-only H1; the next-step up H3, which added a recording function; the top-end H5 with a raft of pro features, and a bespoke, fully-customisable HX.
Now Ballfinger has turned its attentions on the H5, saying “After five years of production, it was time for a revision of the iconic M 063 H5. While outside almost everything remained the same, there is a whole series of innovations inside”. The most significant changes in the new H6 are:
- New reel motors with software update.
- New tape transport electronics with software update.
- New tape tension scales, mechanically more damped.
- New stabilizing rollers left and right. The weight of the rollers has been increased and the rubber surface omitted, improving the smoothness.
- New VU meters with software update, enabling the response time of the level meters to be shortened, resulting in a return time for active peak hold of 3 sec. to -20 dB. The LED peak indicators now react at 0 dB in the first stage and at + 3 dB in the second stage.
- The audio electronics have been completely redesigned with new mainboards and new amplifiers. Each channel now has its own board and is according studio standard now. Erase and bias frequency has been lowered from 155 kHz to 132 kHz.
- New power supply with improved electromagnetic shielding.
Timing and pricing of the new M-063-H6 are still to be confirmed. I’m guessing that it will replace all previous editions of the M-063, since the others no longer appear on Ballfinger’s website.
More details and images at www.ballfinger.de/analog-open-reel-tape-recorder-m-063-h6
M-002-P technical revisions
So, going forward, Ballinger will have 3 decks on offer: the above-mentioned new M-051-MR and upgraded M-063-H6, as well as the existing M-002-P, a playback-only machine that was launched in 2020 – and the latter has just been upgraded too
“After 2 years on the market, the M-002-P has received a technical revision,” says Ballfinger. The tape tension sensors have been changed, and are now more strongly damped against vibrations. The capstan motor now has a significantly higher rotational mass. And there is now a completely new playback amplifier. The new version launched in December 2022.
More information and photos at www.ballfinger.de/tape-deck-m-002-p