Reading: Revox A-77 open-reel tape recorder
All indications are that this is by far the best tape registrar one can buy without going to a rightfully profession alabama machine. lone time will tell how well it can maintain its initially high standards of performance through months and years of use. JGH wrote again about the A-77 in March 1971 (Vol.2 No.12): In terms of performance, the Revox A-77 is decidedly the best tape recorder we have ever tested, and we ‘ve tested some of the top professional machines. It has a entire complement of inner frame-up adjustments for matching it to the record you ‘re using, and although Revox states that A-77s are pre-adjusted for 3-M ‘s 203 tape, we found that ours could be significantly improved ( for habit with that tape ) by some further adaptation, after which it produced the smoothest, widest-range tapes ( at a given rush ) of any registrar we know of. The prolong low- and high-frequency reception limits are impressive enough ( fig.1 ), but in fact it is the unusually smooth response between these limits that makes the A-77 ‘s playbacks sound virtually in distinct from the original signal. mechanically, the A-77 handles and performs wonderfully, with wholly inaudible palpitate ( due in separate to the flutter-filtering latent hostility arm that was added shortly after the fipple flute was introduced ), but there are indications that the pack of cards may not be a trouble-free as the electronic sections obviously are. We have never known a tape recorder that did n’t have at least one “ failing ” of some kind. The KLH Forty had tape-handling problems, the earlier Tandbergs had problems ascribable to overheating, and even some of the big professional Ampexes have motor and solenoid problems. As for the A-77, a count of users have reported problems with the relay contacts and the reel-drum brakes. The fact that Revox ‘s instructions recommend using reverse-wind torsion ( rather of the Stop push button ) to slow the tape after a high-speed weave suggests that the manufacturer, besides, may be aware of a certain weakness in the brake system. It is easy enough to get into the habit of doing this, and worth doing anyhow because it stresses the tape less, but the need for doing it does make one feel just a fiddling insecure about the deck. Of 46 A-77 owners we have heard from, though, lone 3 have had brake failures, 13 have had troubles that might have been attributable to relays, and 32 said they had had no problems that required professional service. Of the ones who did, all reported motivate and effective military service from the Revox people, which may set some kind of a record. Our own A-77 ( which we bought ) has been used for possibly 250 hours to date, and has worked flawlessly. The A-77 is, by the way, available on special ordain in a 2-track adaptation and/or a high-speed ( 15ips and 7½ips ) version, for professional manipulation, and no professional want apologize for using it. As for the home-type, 4-track, slower-speed one, this is going to be intemperate to beat. For sheer fidelity of recording, we doubt that it is beatable at the present state of the artwork. But we ‘ll keep looking. Manufacturer’s Comment (1971)
very early-production models of the A-77 used nylon brake shoes, which did on occasion “ catch ” during high-speed stops, but all A-77s made since over a year ago have cotton-pad brakes which have eliminated the trouble. It is now entirely safe for the registrar to go from a high-speed shuttle calculate ly to Stop brake, although it is still easier on the record to slow it via reverse torsion before stopping it. The relay problems that some A-77 owners have experienced appear to be the result of air pollution, since the trouble can be efficaciously eliminated by a particular contact-surface treatment that can be done by Revox in the US or by any of their dealers.
JGH returned to the Revox A-77 in December 1973 (Vol.3 No.5): In the Stereophile issue dated Spring ’71, our reputation on the original Revox A-77 concluded “ For absolute fidelity of recording, we doubt that it is beatable at the present state of the art. ” well, the state of the art changes with time, and the A-77 has been surpassed by at least one early open-reel machine : The A-77-III Dolby B. This contains four complete Dolby circuits, to allow coincident serve and deprocessing, so one can listen to the de-Dolbyed playback from a videotape while it is being recorded. And since we all know by now just how effectively the Dolby noise reduction works, we wo n’t linger to rhapsodize about it all over again. Just think of this as an ordinary A-77 with 10dB less audible hiss. There are other differences between this and the earlier Revoxes, besides. Because a Dolby requires careful adaptation of toy and record levels, Revox has last seen equip to provide meter of playback grade ( ahead of the bid bulk control ). digression from its measure in Dolby apparatus, this greatly facilitates in-the-field checks of bias and sign levels, a good as making magnetic tape copy well easier. ( Play any moderately brassy passage, note the VU meter recitation, and adjust record level on the second base car for the same learn. ) needle to say, all current-model Revoxes ( including non-Dolby ones ) incorporate design modifications that were prompted by some problems in early models. The virginia reel brakes no longer tear themselves apart if actuated during a high speed wind, relays are a lot more reliable, and the motors now run cool. And Revox ‘s astounding guarantee policy however applies : One year for the capstan, pinchwheel and heads, and a life guarantee on everything else. ( This means your life, american samoa long as you own the recorder—not the the registrar. ) The machine is however adenine much of a pain in the neck to thread as it always was, and the service manual is a horror. The only real glitches we found in our samole, though, were : 1 ) a tendency for the Input/Tape monitor trade to imprint audible clicks on the videotape ; and 2 ) a rather marked boost of low-end frequencies when playing back tapes that were recorded to conform to the NARTB equalization curvature that is criterion for all tapes, including pre-recorded ones, made in the US. We contacted Revox, USA about the clicks, and were told that they had not encountered the problem. It struck us as highly unlikely that we would receive for testing the merely clicky A-77-III that had been manufactured, so we conducted a call poll of local Revox dealers whom we know well enough to get the straight stern from. not one had encountered the clicky trade, and neither had any of their customers. So we were forced to conclude that the problem, if not singular to our sample, is quite rare. If you do encounter it, though, do n’t despair. It is not supposed to happen, and Revox will willingly if not gleefully undertake to eliminate it. The low-end rise was more difficult to pin down. Playing its own tapes, the A-77-III ‘s low goal was about perfectly flat depressed to around 25Hz. Yet when playing tapes made on other estimable recorders ( and this included commercially produced music tapes ), there was a low-end upgrade amounting to what sounded like about 3dB of boost at 40–50Hz. To date, Revox has not acknowledged the universe of this, and neither were we able to find anything in their playback circuitry that would account for it, but there it is. And we did not find it in their 2-track model or in any of their former 4-track models. It is not related to the Dolby, for the upgrade is there whether the Dolby is in or out of circumference. It is easily corrected with any variable-turnover tone control, but there is in truth no excuse for its being there at all. Revox prices keep going up. When we bought ours in 1971, the basic 4-track model ( we got a 2-track one ) was priced at $ 569, which was a good monetary value for a registrar of such performance capability. How the monetary value for the like model ( but incorporating the improvements we mentioned before ) is $ 799 without the Dolby, which is probably to make a prospec tive buyer take a long, thoughtful look at the rival. tied at their inflate prices, though, the ReVox units are going to be arduous to beat on overall performance. And no-one else is offering a guarantee like Revox ‘s. That ‘s worth something. Manufacturer’s Comment (1973)
On return of the sample A-77-III Dolby that Stereophile tested, we checked the low-end response with a l/4-track STL conjunction videotape and found a 1dB rise at 40Hz—well within our published specifications. A 4-track, non-Dolby machine and a 2-track Dolby car checked at the same time showed a similar response. With regard to price, in the high-fidelity industry it is strange for a assemble of equipment to be in production for long adequate for price increases to become apparent. The Revox A-77, because of its superior design, has been in production for some five years without its performance being surpassed. During this time, costs of raw materials have risen global, production costs have increased, improvements in components and materials have been incorporated into the A-77, and the dollar has suffered an unusually severe decline in purchasing might. To put it just, quality, like gold, has retained its intrinsic value. The dollar unfortunately has not.
The value-for-money of the A-77 is still extremely good though, and this is reinforced by your comments about the original A-77 and the A-77-Dolby B : “ For absolute fidelity of recording, we doubt that it is beatable at the present state of the artwork. ”
Footnote 1: I bought a secondhand Revox A-77-III in the late 1970s and used it for many live recordings over the next decade or so. I replaced it with a Revox PR99 and while I still have the A-77, some of the original paper-epoxy plug-in boards have crumbled into dust.—John Atkinson
footnote 1 : I bought a secondhand Revox A-77-III in the belated 1970s and used it for many live recordings over the following decade or so. I replaced it with a Revox PR99 and while I still have the A-77, some of the original paper-epoxy circuit board boards have crumbled into dust.—