There’s no question about it: a tape deck is a far more complex device than a turntable or a DAC. If not properly repaired and restored (in the case of a vintage machine), set up, aligned, serviced and maintained, not only will your machine fail to deliver the superior sound quality you so crave, it could also risk damaging your precious tapes. Therefore it’s a good idea to do some research into basic care and maintenance. It’s an even better idea to find yourself a good tape engineer right from the outset.
Finding the right tech support
A tape recorder has two distinct elements: mechanical and electronic. This requires two very different areas of expertise. On top of that, vintage machines have been manufactured at different times and in different parts of the world and they vary quite widely in their design and engineering. It’s important, then, that whoever services your particular model knows what they’re doing. You need a specialist tape engineer.
Unfortunately such people can be somewhat thin on the ground. Before the 1980s the worldwide recording industry’s vast bank of tape recorders was kept in good service by a global network of highly trained and skilled people. But then as studios moved towards all things digital, the demand for tape engineers fell away and supply naturally dwindled. There’s still a handful of accomplished tape specialists out there, but they can be tricky to find and may not be that local to you. Still, a good place to start is your local high-end hi-fi dealer who should be able to point you in the right direction.
We’ve listed a couple of good tape engineers here. The list is deliberately small to begin with since it only includes those with which the rambler has had a direct and positive personal experience.
If you come across other specialist tape engineers you’d recommend, whether in the UK or internationally, do drop us a line and we’ll add them here.
The Audiophile’s Clinic
Thear Technology Limited – manufacturer’s appointed service company for Otari & Revox, with manufacturer parts agreements for service to Studer, Sony & Tascam
Chalfont Acoustics – official UK Tascam & TEAC support
(Jo Fialho )