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Sound Rating: 9 / 10 # Owners: 1
Relaibility Rating: 6 / 10 Views: 740

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Technical Details

Brand: Tandberg

Model:TD20A SE

Category:Super High Fidelity


Electronics:Solid State


Country of Manufacture:Norway

Original Price: $1595

Tracks:1/4 Rec/PB

Speeds: 3 3/4, 7 1/2, 15

Max Reel Size("): 10.5"

Number of heads: 3

Dimension: 17¼ x 17¾ x 7¾ " (435 x 450 x 195 mm)

Head Composition: Permalloy, Ferrite

Head Configuration: Stereo

# Motors: 3

Auto Reverse?:No

Voltage(s): 110-120v, 220-240v

Outputs: RCA, DIN

Frequency Response:15 ips: 20Hz -30kHz 7½ ips: 20Hz - 25kHz 3¾ ips: 20Hz - 18kHz (+- 3dB)

Wow and Flutter:15 ips: 0.03%, 7½ ips: 0.05%, 3¾ ips: 0.10%

Signal-to-Noise Ratio:better than 70 dB (half-track) and 68 dB (quarter-track)

Sound quality rating:9 / 10

Long-term reliability rating: 6/ 10

Weight: 37.5lbs (17 kg)

Additional Details


This was the very last recorder Tandberg produced before their bankruptcy in December 1978, although the machines continued to be sold after that.
Capable of accepting 10½ ” reels, the TD 20 featured two speeds, three heads (erase, record (Permalloy)  playback (Ferrite) and had a very decent transport utilizing 3 motors.
The capstan was driven by a brushless synchronous motor, and used a belt drive and heavy flywheel to eliminate any motor vibration being transferred to the capstan. The two reel motors were directly coupled to the reel turntables and controlled by a P-ROM (Programmable Read-Only Memory) with three outputs to provide constant tape tension regardless of the amount of tape on the reel or tape speed.

It was available in four different configurations where you would choose

Half track or Quarter track

Slow (3 3/4 – 7 1/2 ips)  or  High-speed (7 1/2 – 15ips)

Additional Info

These days the 20A machines seem to have a reputation as being unreliable, which has some truth to it,  but it’s worth examining and reconsidering because it’s such a great sounding machine.

Here are the possible problems one might encounter…

The most common is the pinch roller arm assembly needs to be removed cleaned and lubricated.

The 4 large Power Supply capacitors made by Frako should be replaced as they are known to fail.

The three squares switches on the left–  power, speed and reel size are prone to failure meaning they stop engaging the second position.

Solution- power on – hook up a switch on the power cord.

Speed – pick your speed and stick with it . Reel size – pick your size and stick with it

Reel table issues

The Reel tables are made of plastic which should never have been done, but if they aren’t abused, seem to hang in quite well and clamp the reels quite decently.

If you encounter a machine that has issues replacements are hard to come by and I’ve had some success taking parts from some of the older Tandberg machines to rebuild these tables but you need some mechanical skill to do this. Other alternatives might be 3D printing.

So other than these potential issues, is it worth buying one of these machines?

Absolutely, because they sound beautifully musical and will give your best Japanese machines a run for the money, usually beating them.


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