RX Reels has recently gained attention by the industry press, and if you’re new to the site, you might be wondering what we’re all about. I’ve been passionate about great sound quality for a long time, and RX Reels is truly the product of that passion! Each reel is produced here in the pacific northwest with upcycled aviation-quality carbon fiber, made with far more precision than any other reel on the market.
Check out my interview with StereoNet.co.uk below, where I go into details about why I believe in my product, and how it came to be. What started as a personal journey to get the best sound quality possible while creating a visually beautiful product has turned into something so much more, and I’m excited to share that with others who feel the same way.
Originally published on StereoNet.co.uk:
Carbon fibre tape reels from RX Reels boast high-performance and good looks.
RX Reels look the perfect upgrade for your reel-to-reel tape player. Produced using upcycled aviation-grade carbon fibre, RX Reels state that this will bring superior strength, durability, and weight. Also, the company says that these new tape reels will neither warp nor bend.
Kevin Root, the man behind RX Reels, apparently started saving for his first reel-to-reel tape player when he was 13 years old. However, it was another 40 years before he finally got around to buying that deck. Needless to say, by the time he made his acquisition, he wanted everything to be perfect. It was the reels that were letting him down.
Kevin Root told StereoNET:
“It occurred to me that the tape deck was the focal point of my system, and the reels were the focal point of my tape deck. But since a typical reel is either plastic or aluminium, they weren't quite giving me the same visual 'wow' factor as the rest of the system.”
This initial thought led him to further reasons for upgrading the reels. For instance, the take-up reel on a deck (the reel onto which any 'tails out' tape is wound before play) gets a significant amount of use and is subject to wear and warp. This is especially the case if the reel is constructed in a material that's none too hardy. So, Root went on to search for a material that would not only do a better job but look great while doing it.
That mystery material was carbon fibre. Carbon fibre comes in many grades, the highest quality being aviation grade, and this is what goes into making RX Reels' flanges. Usually, the cost would be prohibitive; however, Root's location in the USA's Pacific Northwest provided a lucky break as there is an apparent abundance of new, high-grade raw carbon fibre material discarded by local military and aviation manufacturing industries in the area. These perfectly good pieces of unused carbon fibre are just not big enough for what's required by the military or aviation manufacturers, so it would only get scrapped. Instead, it's now upcycled into RX reels.
At the centre of each reel is a custom-made, professional-style NAB hub. Most commercially available hubs are designed to be inexpensive to produce and are typically joined to the flanges by just three screws. RX Reels' solid aluminium hubs are precision made to tolerances below two thousands of an inch, and each 2.3mm thick flange is held to the hub with six screws (so twelve screws in all) for a secure fit.
The hub also features an innovative nano-machined surface. We are told that this almost invisibly small detail makes a significant difference. This surface is designed to grip the end of the tape, making it far less prone to slipping. In turn, this makes threading tape quick, easy and stress-free. Root was equally mindful of ease of use when designing the flange cut-outs (or 'windows'). Having noticed how many reels on the market have cut-outs that become very narrow near the hub, he crafted a space large enough for three fingers so that, when threading the tape, holding the tape end against the hub is easier than ever.
RX Reels are made to last a lifetime. Each one is handmade in the USA's Pacific Northwest by skilled craftsmen, and each is individually numbered, says the brand. The proprietary construction process allows the finished reels to display a carbon fibre weave, a rich wood grain or a marble finish, resulting in a range of six exquisite design options. All are delivered in a durable library-storage box with a custom foam insert to protect the reel for years.
RX Reels' carbon fibre 10.5-inch tape reels with ¼-inch spool are available in six finishes priced at $239 US each.
I’ve always strived to be the best at whatever it is I do, and RX Reels is no exception. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your existing player with a new design, or you’re searching for a custom reel with your business logo, RX Reel is here to make it happen for you. Quality products can be functional and visually attractive. - Kevin Root
See RX Reels Carbon Fiber 10.5" and 7" reels here.
This post delves into the topic of making enhancements to the actual recorded media on reel-to-reel tape. Numerous vinyl albums have been remastered, and indeed, several hundred tapes have undergone remastering from the master or near-master. These offer notable improvements in sound quality compared to the original recordings. Sonorus Audio offers a Holographic Imaging tape remastering service explored here.
Analog Audio Design's first product, the TP-1000 is wholly constructed from new components, utilizing technologies such as computer-aided design and advanced testing tools to augment tape transport and minimize distortion.
The all important heads are from AM Belgium, the same company that inherited the head technical specs directly from Studer / ReVox when they shut down.
The TP-1000 stands out as a three-motor machine using DC motors, all uniquely coupled by a belt and a flywheel to a modern design. Why? To reducing the cogging and flutter commonly associated with DC motors.