The Best Reel-to-Reel and Cassette
[Editor’s note: Welcome to the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide for 2021! This year we decided to mix it up a little by breaking up the Buyers Guide into sections, which makes it a far more manageable read. And oh, we know what you’re thinking–the best reel-to-reel and cassette tape playback? Really? People are still listening to tape decks? Let’s clear this up: these are the best reel-to-reel and cassette tape components that we, the PTA team, have heard.]
TEAC W-1200 ($499 USD)
Fancy a return to the good ol’ days of tape dubbing? Teac still produces a world class double cassette player/recorder, complete with USB output for digital archiving, noise reduction and pitch control. It’s a looker too!
J-Corder (prices vary)
J-Corder is a one-stop shop for all things R2R, everything from refurbished decks to head blocks to hub adapters to reels. They offer a line of refurbished decks from Technics, Pioneer and more, or you can just bring your old deck in for a complete makeover. If you’re serious about getting into the best reel-to-reel performance, this is the place to start.
United Home Audio (from $6,500 USD)
These refurbished units become some of the best reel-to-reel tape machines available, starting at $6K and can wind up well over $20K depending upon how far you want to go, which may be quite far considering how fun this part of the hobby can get. “Winner, winner, chicken dinner” we exclaimed when we bought ours.
Ballfinger M 063 H5 (starting at $11,400 USD)
Not a pimped up classic model with legacy parts recycled, this is a true, brand new, built-from-scratch reel-to-reel player, and it is a stunner. Built in Germany—the country that invented reel-to-reel—and offered in various configurations that will most definitely cover all your needs, this is an analog lover’s dream player. Definitely the best reel-to-reel you can purchase new.
Doshi Audio EVO Series Tape Head Preamplifier ($18,995 USD)
Nick Doshi has created an interesting product here—a preamplifier designed to handle the unique challenges of the best reel-to-reel tape machines. Useful for both audiophiles and recording engineers, the Tape Stage has a servo output stage that can be switched between Class A and Class A/B according to listener preference. Passive equalization is also included.
The Buyers Guides of 2021
- The Best Bookshelf Speakers
- The Best Floorstanding Speakers
- The Best Turntables
- The Best Phono Preamplifiers
- The Best Tonearms and Phono Cartridges
- The Best Reel-to-Reel and Cassette
- The Best DACs, Servers, Streamers, and Disc Spinners
- The Best Preamplifiers
- The Best Amplifiers
- The Best Integrated Amplifiers
- The Best Headphones, IEMs, and Headphone Amplifiers
- The Best Cable, Power, and Racks
- The Best Audio Accessories, Tweaks, and Voodoo
Looking for even more? Check out our “Best Of” awards in our year-end roundup on The Occasional Podcast. Now streaming on iTunes and all podcast platforms. We also offer educational and informative breakdowns for digital audio, getting into reel-to-reel and mastering in this year’s episodes.