The Otari MX5050
I am fortunate enough to own both a Zoom H6 and an Otari reel to reel. When one looks at the technical advances in the recording industry be it for home studio or a multi-million Rand setup there is just no comparison between the analog of the 1960s to early 1990s and the modern digital installation. The H6 is virtually a home studio in the palm of your hand. And lets not talk about price.
Whilst the Otari comes in various models, some even being 8 track it is still one of the favourites amongst the home collector, along with Pioneer, Teac, Technics, Akai, Revox and Studer. And no, this list is or should be infinite because each for his or her own.
A well maintained machine, which includes new or lapped heads is a crowd puller. The question that arises is it because most of the crowd were born post 1990 or is it the quality. I know of umpteen people that have never heard or even seen a reel2reel. Is it truly vintage and what determines whether something is vintage or not? In a race against time, setting up the H6 is a breeze and the quality of reproduction will always surpass the Otari, even the highly ranked Studer. That’s my opinion. Try to over-modulate the H6 and we end up with one hellava mess. The reel deck is going to beat it hands down.
This is called record slam – pushing into saturation. We have all heard of the wonderful advantages of tube over solid state when it comes to distortion right? Well it just so happens that some musicians like to slam their recording. You just don’t get the same result with digital.
So is record slamming the only advantage of R2R?
No, it’s not all doom and gloom – reel recorders have their place. We’ll move on later to the real Otari and why people buy open reel recorders.