October 22, 2020 3 min read

Using a Reel to Reel Player With a Streaming Service

Today, reel to reel players are making a comeback with audiophiles and non-audiophiles alike. There are a lot of people who are buying reel to reel players for the first time and many of them are new to using an open reel deck.

Questions that come up a lot are:

  • How can I use my streaming service with a reel to reel?
  • Will I be limited to only recording music from a turntable?

We'll explore the answers to these common questions below. 

Just Getting Started With Reel to Reel Tape Players? See Our Ultimate Guide to Reel to Reel Players

Benefits of Recording Digital Music From a Streaming Service

I am happy to report that not only can you record digital music from your streaming service to your reel to reel player, but that it may actually sound better when doing so. So much in fact, I found that running the digital stream through my reel to reel directly enhances the sound of the streaming service – without needing to record it.  

The reason is running the digital signal through an analog circuit just sweetens up the overall sound. It's warmer and on my tube amp / preamp, the output is absolutely wonderful.

The other benefit is with recording and playback. I use Tidal and find that I can assemble a playlist to be recorded quickly and easily. I cue it up, set up the tape player, hit record and can walk away until it’s time to flip the reel.

Using high quality tape like ATR master tape and a high-quality bit rate digital source from Tidal and others, the recordings are simply outstanding in my opinion. 

Using a streaming service with reel to reel

Running the Streaming Signal Through the Reel to Reel

When conducting head to head comparisons of the original source on vinyl verses this digital/analog combination, the digital analog combo frequently wins over a vinyl source, especially one that suffers from poor or moderate engineering.

Many DACs today stream Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz natively so you can directly output from the DAC (digital analog converter) into the reel to reel then from the reel to reel into the preamp. This enables you to run the streaming signal through the reel to reel at all times and typically provides a richer sound to any digital stream.

It’s an easy thing to test to see if you like this combination as much as we do.



We hope you found this post helpful for understanding more about using a reel to reel player with a streaming service. 

RX Reels prides ourselves on manufacturing the world's best carbon fiber reels. Learn more about us and why Dave Denyer from The Reel-to-Reel Rambler has said: “This makes the task of threading a tape so much easier. Worth it for that alone.”

Curious About What Goes Into A Reel?  See Our Definitive Guide to Reels for Open Reel Tape Decks by Neville Roberts. 

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Kevin Root
Kevin Root

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