Yes they do, as the sound on LP records is compressed which is not the case with tape, which is more dynamic and not prone to clicks and pops.
In the early 2000’s people began returning to vinyl, realizing that CD was not as natural sounding as analog. Cassettes followed shortly thereafter.
In 2011, people began to show up at audio shows with reel to reel tape recorders that could compete or better the best turntables made. That was the beginning of a resurgence of interest and now reel to reel tape recorders have become the go to device for high-end audio enthusiasts.
New tape recorders fall into two categories.
1. Designing and manufacturing a completely new reel to reel tape recorder.
2. Taking previously made models rebuilding them from top to bottom while potentially redesigning the electronic circuits to new specifications.
Ballfinger of Germany was first out of the gate to design and manufacture a completely new tape recorder. As of early 2021 this company has 3 models in their lineup.
Metaxas and Sins have recently released a new tape recorder that will be produced in limited quantities.
Revox and Thorens have made plans to do so, having produced prototypes but have yet to release any production models.
Strangely, there seems to be a widespread opinion by people who know nothing about this category, that tape degrades. Across the wide spectrum of tapes that have been manufactured in the last 60 years, the track record for tape lifespan has been quite good. 98% of the prerecorded tapes made in the 1950s and 60s are still playing beautifully.
Some types of tape formulations may be more prone to degradation, especially when stored badly. And certain specific tape formulations have been proven to be problematic but this represents a very small percentage of overall tape production. With some of these failed formulations, should you have a tape with material on it that is valuable to you, you can reverse the process of tape shedding by heating or baking the tape at low temperatures. Lots of information available on the Internet on this topic.
The higher end ones from the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s are highly sought after and getting harder to find. But there are many lesser-known high-performance tape recorders that are readily available. We share that information on this website.
Yes and more so on the higher end models where we have seen prices multiply times five relative to a decade ago.
Tape quality is always dependent on the tape speed and the tape width. When you increase either, you can make better recordings.
Most consumer reel to reel enthusiasts use quarter-inch tape which is twice as wide as cassette.
The speed of reel to reel tape recorders being variable, typically starts at twice that of cassette (1 7/8 inches per second, IPS) and can be doubled (3 3/4 ips) or quadrupled. Semipro and Studio professional tape recorders can run at even higher speeds, up to 60 IPS
A question best considered in a variety of ways.
Best build quality?
Most technologically advanced?
Best tape path handling?
So the best sounding reel to reel tape recorders, many would suggest would be one of the top Studer machines which is an easy assumption based on build quality and application.
But certain hard-core tape recorder enthusiasts will maintain that some machines made in the US in the late 50s, such as Presto, Crown and a variety of other companies are the best sounding tape recorders ever made. Some of the new generation tape recorders that have been manufactured or (refurbished from older models) in the last five or so years might be at the top of the list as well. Generally speaking Japanese tape recorders should not be included in the top 10 list unless you are talking about reliability.
What is the most reliable reel to reel tape recorder ever built? To get to this answer one would get more specific and suggest it would need to meet two criteria
It never or rarely needed to be serviced
Has record and playback heads that are more durable than regular permalloy.
There are quite a few Japanese machines that would be at the top of this list
There are many ways to find one locally or on the Internet.
In North America, there are many classified sites like Craigslist where often you will get un-serviced tape recorders for lowest prices and then there are more audio focused sites like US audio Mart or Canuck audio Mart.
A very good all-purpose site for Searching audio https://www.hifishark.com/
You can also find a great selection of reel to reel tape recorders on this site
Then of course there’s eBay, which is where you will usually pay top dollar.
As with any mechanical device, they should be serviced from time to time and especially if they have been sitting idle for years but generally speaking, they are very reliable. Routine maintenance should include cleaning the heads with a Q-tip and special head cleaners that are alcohol based as well as de-magnetizing the heads with a device that is specific to that purpose. This should be done every 10 to 20 hours of use.
What is the best blank reel to reel tape available today?
Recording the masters (RTM) are currently the best tape to buy as it is extremely high-quality and can be recorded at higher signal levels (hotter) than previously made tape formulations.
So far so good, 60 years later, many tapes that were recorded in the 1950s are continuing to perform excellently.
Do old reel to reel tapes have any value?
Prerecorded commercially made tapes by the record companies are the most valuable, sometimes reaching prices of over $1000 for a single album recorded on a 7 inch reel. Blank tape produced in the 1980s and 90s by TDK, Maxell, BASF, Quantegy and some other manufacturers still remains sought after now that current tape formulations have become quite expensive with very little competition in the industry.
Reel to reel tape can be easily erased, some tape formulations better than others. Bulk tape erasers are available but if looking to get optimal results, often it’s a good idea to do a pass recording over the old material with no signal input and then returning to the beginning and recording the new material.
Store open reel and cassette tapes with the reels vertical as you would records. Tapes should be stored like books on a library shelf and not stored laying flat.
As a versatile format, there are many different options but tape speed and tape length are the most important factors. For stereo, two channel lower fidelity recording at 3/3/4 ips, you can get six hours on 3600 foot tape or three hours at 71/2 ips.
Here’s a slightly technical tape timing chart https://richardhess.com/notes/formats/magnetic-media/magnetic-tapes/analog-audio/tape-timing-chart/
The choice is up to you. You can buy 1/2 track tape recorder that offers higher fidelity and it will record in one direction only or if you buy 1/4 track tape recorder, it records in both directions, therefore making it two-sided.