March 21, 2021 4 min read

Promotional Photo Courtesy of Thorens

Reel-to-reel players have been around since the early 1950s, and have played a huge part in the music industry’s growth. Despite the clarity and sound quality being far and above even vinyl records, reel-to-reel players and recordings dropped in popularity.

 Good news, though – in the last 10 years, reel-to-reel players have seen a huge resurgence. More music enthusiasts and even artists are realizing that the best quality comes from reel-to-reel systems.

Before you spend hundreds of dollars on eBay for a used machine from the 70s that may or may not work, though, consider this; new reel-to-reel are on the market right now, and available for you to buy and use right out of the box. Nearly new refurbished systems are also available for a fraction of the price, and will involve no hassle, stress, or worry.

 Interested? Let’s dig in a bit to see what’s available on the market currently.

 Where You Can Snag a Nearly New Reel-to-Real Player

 Far more than just a used machine on eBay with questionable problems, these good as new players are a great option for the audiophile who doesn’t want to spend $60,000 on a brand new piece of equipment.

 Mara Machines Restoration

At a Glance, Pros:

Reliable Restoration

High Quality Final Product

Highly Specialized

6-Month Warranty

Lifetime Tech Support

Since 2008 Mara Machines has been refurbishing reel-to-reel players; specifically, just MCI JH-24 and JH-110B/C models. This highly specialized concentration means they are really good at what they do, and their process, and quality, show that.

 Each machine they have goes through an extensive testing and refurbishing process before you ever lay eyes on it. However, the downside to using Mara Machines for a restored reel-to-reel home player is clear… there are only a handful of models you can choose from.

Mara offers lifetime tech support for any machine you purchase, and a 6-month warranty on all of their restored MCI machines.

 Prices for Mara Machines range from $5,000 to $16,500, with financing available.

 J-Corder

 At a Glance, Pros:

Larger Variety

12-Month Warranty

Completely Customizable

J-Corder was started by Jeff Jacobs, a former auto restorer with a passion for great sound. J-Corder has a wide variety of products available for purchasing, so if you’re looking for more variety than at Mara Machines, this should be your first stop. Prices range from just over $2,000 to well past $20,000, so there is a restored product for anyone.

J-Corder will also customize your reel-to-reel player for you, down to your specific requests and parts. If you want a specific look, style, or component, like auto-quality paint, precious metals, and more, J-Corder can make it happen for you.

 The downside of a J-Corder purchase? The majority of what they refurbish and sell are Technics records, with a handful of other choices. If you’re looking for a Technics refurb, J-Corder is absolutely the place to go. However, if you want more variety, J-Corder might not have what you’re looking for.

 Where You Can Snag a Brand New Reel-to-Reel Player

If you’re more interested in a brand new, never used, stop of the line reel-to-reel player, there are options on the market for you! While they may not be as common as the record players you can find online, the quality can’t be beat.

Thorens TM 1600

Price: $13,500 USD

At a Glance, Pros:

2-Track Playback

3 Motors

Digital Real-Time Counter

Wall Mounting

External Power Supply

Thoren’s brand new reel-to-reel tape machine, created in conjunction with Ballfinger, promises to be a reasonable and reliable method for the home enthusiast. In addition, Thoren’s machine is very attractive, and available in both walnut or high-gloss black finish. It plays half-track quarter inch tape, and can be used on a desktop traditionally, or mounted on a wall as a statement piece.

The biggest downside with this new machine? It doesn’t offer any recording ability, only playback. If you’re just looking to listen, this could be the perfect brand new piece, but if you want to record as well, this might not be the piece for you!

Metaxas T-RX Tape Deck

At a Glance, Pros:

Detachable Headblock

Easy to Modify/Customize Yourself

Variety of Pricing Models for Specific Needs

The Metaxas T-RX Tape Deck was set to hit the market in early 2020, but delays – for obvious reasons – meant that bringing the design to market was a struggle. Full specs of this beast are available on the Metaxas website, but it’s safe to say this powerhouse is set to rival many modern equivalents.

One downside some old-school reel-to-reel fans might see is the sleek, modern design. Nothing about this new machine takes you back to the peak of reel-to-reel recording. Instead, made with titanium and full of soft curves and color, the T-RX Tape Deck is a new machine for a new era.

The Metaxas T-RX Tape Deck is by inquiry only at the moment, given supply chain issues, and pricing varies depending on your specific needs. No word on how long one to take to ship, or the support given.

Kevin Root
Kevin Root



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