June 17, 2021 4 min read

Neville Roberts Reviews RX Reels’ Carbon Fibre Tape Reels

Posted on  

When I was first asked to review a 10½ inch NAB spool that offered to combine high performance with good looks, I was a little skeptical. Yes, I can imagine that a well-designed spool can improve the look of a tape deck, but I couldn’t see how it could improve performance.  However, I like to keep an open mind and therefore agreed to take the new carbon fibre tape reel from RX Reels for a spin. 

Looking for a great player? See Our Ultimate Guide to Reel to Reel Players

Carbon fiber reel for open reel tape players

Neville's First Impression of RX Reels

When I first received the RX Reels spool, I could instantly see that it was a high-quality product.

  • The reels are supplied in a durable library storage box with a custom foam insert to protect the reel for many years.
  • The spool flanges are made from up-cycled aviation-grade carbon fibre, which RX Reels says offers superior performance by combining high strength and durability with light weight.
  • Also, the company advises that these new tape reels will neither warp nor bend, unlike conventional aluminum or plastic reels.
Kevin Root, the man behind RX Reels, explained that carbon fibre comes in many grades, with the highest quality being aviation grade. Normally, the cost of aviation grade carbon fibre would be prohibitively expensive, but Root’s location in the USA’s Pacific Northwest provides him with access to new, high-grade raw carbon fibre offcuts that are usually discarded by local military and aviation manufacturing industries. Root recycles this unused material and turns it into the RX Reels’ flanges. The resulting flanges offer the perfect balance of strength to weight, as carbon fibre is twice as stiff as steel and five times stronger.

Carbon fiber reel for open reel tape player

Precision and Performance 

To complement the carbon fibre flanges, Root uses:

  • Custom-made, professional-style NAB hubs. The hubs are precision-made from solid aluminum to tolerances below two thousands of an inch.  
  • Each 2.3mm thick flange is joined to the hub with six screws, as opposed to conventional hubs, which have flanges secured with just three screws.
  • Furthermore, conventional spools use screws that pass through the hub to secure the flange on both sides. The RX Reels’ flanges are separately fixed with screws on each side so twelve screws are used per spool to give a very secure fit. 
  • The hub also features a nano-machined surface, which is designed to grip the end of the tape, making it far less prone to slipping and aiding the threading of the tape.
  • The handmade RX Reels are made in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The proprietary construction process allows the company to offer six different design options for the reels – two carbon fibre weaves, two rich wood grains and two marble finishes.

My review sample was fitted with the black carbon fibre flanges and it certainly looks stunning. Fitting the reel to my Studer A810 was easy and I can confirm that the nano-machined surface of the hub does indeed grip the plastic leader on my tapes really well, so threading was a doddle. As all pro-tapes are unidirectional and are wound tail out, I fitted the RX Reels spool on the left and wound my tapes onto it to play them. As I would expect from a premium product, the precision-made spool showed no signs of rattling or scraping the edges of the tape.

I now understood how using an RX Reels spool could result in sonic improvements. A spool that is even slightly out of balance can affect the tension on the tape as it is playing, and this can result in tiny amounts of wow and flutter, especially at the faster professional speeds of 15 or 30ips. This ‘micro-flutter’ can have an adverse effect on the sound. On the other hand, a perfectly balanced spool, such as the RX Reels spool, ensures a consistent tension and this was evident with every tape I played using the RX Reels spool.  Somehow, I had a sense of a slightly wider sound stage with clearer instrument imaging in comparison with using a standard spool fitted with aluminum flanges and a plastic hub.

The RX Reels 10½ inch carbon fibre tape spool with the NAB hub for ¼ inch tape is available in six finishes, priced at $239 US each. Bearing in mind that you will be using it with every tape you play, I really do consider that the price tag is justified. Not only do these reels look great, they help to bring out the best performance from your tape deck.

View original article here

You Might Also Enjoy:  Where To Buy Pre-Recorded Music On R2R Tape 

Neville Roberts Studer A810PEOPLE FOUND THIS POST BY SEARCHING: 

  • where to buy reel to reel players
  • best places to buy reel-to-reel tape online
  • vintage reel to reel tape players for sale
  • reel to reel players 
  • reel to reel tape 
  • 10.5 inch take up reel 
  • take up reel
  • best reel to reel tape recorders
  • pre recorded reel to reel tapes 
  • reel to reel tapes for sale 
Kevin Root
Kevin Root



Also in Reel News

Studer Reel to Reel Open Reel Tape Player
Remastering Reel-to-Reel Tape Recordings To Digital Audio

November 23, 2022 8 min read

In this article we take a look at re-mastering reel to reel and/or cassette tapes to digital, while not only preserving the original recording quality, but, in some cases, improving it.
10" reel to reel player for open reel tape
Pro-Tips: Reel to Reel Buying, Playing & Optimizing the Tape Experience

October 03, 2022 9 min read

We get asked a lot of questions about reel to reel players. These range from how to buy one to recording, playback and the maintenance of both tapes and decks. We thought it would be helpful to assemble a list of tips and suggestions from our reel to reel community as well as some notable experts around the industry.
RX Reels’ prototype 7-inch carbon fiber reel for open reel tape players
Ken Kessler's Review of RX Reels 7 inch Carbon Fiber Reel

September 22, 2022 7 min read

Running a finger over the spooled tape reveals no unevenness, no ridges. It made me think of (and I compared them to) fresh blank tape as it arrived from the factory. For this alone, anyone who uses 7-inch spools on a regular basis should purchase at least one for critical playback of treasured tapes.