With over 14 million vinyl LPs sold in the United States alone in 2017, it’s no wonder that some artists and hardware manufacturers are putting their lossy MP3 files on the backburner to take a closer look at physical media—including cassette tapes— all over again. But for some extreme audiophiles, nothing beats going straight to the source. And when it comes to analog music, that’s a reel-to-reel tape deck.
Last week, for the first time in decades, Germany’s Roland Schneider Precision Engineering introduced four Ballfinger reel-to-reel machines for audiences that prefer warm-sounding analog harmonies to compressed and overly-processed digital files.
While rare outside of the homes of true audiophiles, reel-to-reel recorders were (and still are) used in recording studios due to their ability to offer higher fidelity than other formats. However, their large tape size and manual loading process make them less ideal for mass audiences. Cassette tapes eventually took over as a more portable and user-friendly format for consumers—followed by CDs and, of course, MP3s.
Of course, just like any other piece of audiophile kit, the Ballfinger machines don’t come cheap. Available in four models, music fans can expect to pay around $11,400 for the basic model to over $20,000 for a customizable high-end model. Find out more over at Ballfinger.