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revox a700 (1973) vs revox b77 mk2 (1984)
Old 19th August 2009
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
revox a700 (1973) vs revox b77 mk2 (1984)

Yep I'm just a dumb 32 year old DAW user that wants to saturate stuff through a revox.

Is a 1973 revox a700 going to pale in sonic comparison to a 1984 revox b77 mk2?

Or was 1973 still crisp and clear. I'm judging from records that maybe 1984 technology was better sounding.
Roman.
Old 19th August 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
They sound will not be that different.
There could be subtle differences, but it won't be due to any technology changes.
Not that much changed in basic analog tape deck design between '73 and the '80s.
The electronics could be a bit quieter on the newer deck, but I bet it would be below the s/n level of the actual recording.

I would go for the deck that is in the best physical condition.
The deck with the least head wear should be the one you get.
Generally decks used by consumers will have NOT have significant head ware, so a "consumer" past versus a "pro" history would be an important factor.

Physical condition aside...

There is the possibility that the '73 deck MIGHT have discreet electronics.
That could be considered an advantage.

Either way... assuming that the decks both are in good physical shape and operate properly it should be a toss up in sound.
Revox built nice decks and Swiss engineering is hard to beat.

Hell. get both!
They are cheap aren't they?
Old 19th August 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
vincentvangogo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Not certain, but I think the A700 only runs up to 7 1/2ips.
Old 19th August 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I always preferred the A-77 even though the A-700 was more expensive.
Old 19th August 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I much prefer the Revox B77mkII
Old 28th August 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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The Listener's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I am just considering a used A77 (to use as tape saturation "plug-in" and possibly as a 2-track mixdown machine), but the guy with whom I am debating a purchase suggested that A700 was "studio" machine and that also B77 specs and freq.range was better... He also suggested that for serious purposes of mixdown only something like Studer A810 would be suitable...
The prices vary very much, the A77 being the most affordable, which makes me wonder - because I somehow believe that you get what you pay for...

What's your opinion (I will borrow it and hear for myself if the machine is beneficial in any way to what I do...), but still - is only Studer A810 and similar good enough to print "pro" (wanna-be) mixes on?

And are A77 only suitable for some indie, experimental tape treatments or can I aspire to use it for a broader range of applications (mixdown of acoustic (jazz, world music, singer-songwriter...) stuff, etc.)?
Old 28th August 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you bypass the front end and wire the inputs right to the volume controls, an A-77 becomes a formidable recorder. I was shown how to do this at Abbey Road in 1968. Newer machines record quieter due to more modern bias and erase designs but the 7.5-15 A-77 half track stands right up to its contemporary pro machines.
Old 28th August 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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blim's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba ➑️
They sound will not be that different.
There could be subtle differences, but it won't be due to any technology changes.
Not that much changed in basic analog tape deck design between '73 and the '80s.
The electronics could be a bit quieter on the newer deck, but I bet it would be below the s/n level of the actual recording.
I would think the S/N ratio would be better on the 80s machine. That should be a primary factor in your decision, especially if you want to mix down to the machine.
Old 29th August 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The B77 and PR99 were superb machines.

The A700 was the top end at its time, but I never personally got my hands on one.

The A77 was good, but I found they didn't have the headroom and seemed to run into distortion much earlier than the B77.

The old G36 was a very nice machine and, in some ways, I prefer it to the A77.
Old 29th August 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
The Listener's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson ➑️
If you bypass the front end and wire the inputs right to the volume controls, an A-77 becomes a formidable recorder. I was shown how to do this at Abbey Road in 1968. Newer machines record quieter due to more modern bias and erase designs but the 7.5-15 A-77 half track stands right up to its contemporary pro machines.
So, the slower 7.5 version, 2-track is a different beast, probably... What's a half track? I only thought there were 2-track and less ideal 4-track versions.

I think I'll pass on that one and go for a B77. I guess any 7,5 machine would not be suitable for quality enough mixdown?

edit: Hmm, or maybe I'll just fool around with one. Can a slower A77 be modded to 15ips. Where can I find the info on how to to that bypassing the front end?

@ Mr.Olhsson - why did you prefer A77 over A700? Any specific sound characteristic? Just curious.
Old 29th August 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The A-700 was more complex, more prone to breaking and had the same analog input headroom problems as an unmodified A-77 did. Both padded a line signal down to mike level. I had my modified A-77 at home and an A-700 at a studio where I worked.
Old 1st September 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener ➑️
What's a half track? I only thought there were 2-track and less ideal 4-track versions..
Full track is where the whole width of the tape is used in mono

Half track is where there are two tracks to make stereo with a guard band in the middle

Quarter track has even thinner tracks - two in one direction and you turn the tape over to get the other pair

4-track has four tracks running in the same direction (like a quarter track, but four tracks instead of 2)

2-track is a term not normally used as it can apply equally well to both half track and quarter track machines as both of these only have two tracks at once.
Old 1st September 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
The Listener's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Thank's for all the info.

Had Revox B77 mkII and A77 (both in great condition) in for the test. Both 7,5 machines, unfortunately... but... I tried both and A77 has some special sound that B77 does not have... B77 mkII seems nice and clean, but lacks some "mojo". A77 is much more funky. Is that a common observation?

I can also get a pro version A700 with 15ips, so I guess I'll go for that or some Studer A810 in the future for mixdown, but right now I got the most realistic "tape saturation" plug-in for 130EU.

What does influence wow and flutter the most - the condition of the tape?

Just another question about that mod - there are several inputs - does the AUX input also pass the mic preamps? Can someone please post the link or description how to do that mod?
Attached Thumbnails
revox a700 (1973) vs revox b77 mk2 (1984)-a77.jpg  
Old 1st September 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You connect the RCA inputs right to the record volume controls. That bypasses the input switch altogether along with the mike pres. My friend Harry put a couple tiny toggle switches in mine to restore the mike pres if I wanted but the machines I saw at Abbey Road were just permanently rewired that way.
Old 1st September 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
Number 6's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener ➑️
A77 is much more funky.
The A77 is a thing of beauty. Underrated.
Old 2nd September 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
The A700 is a nice machine when you get it all lined up but the mechanisms that control tape tension are a ball tearer to calibrate and not for the faint hearted. They use a high viscosity fluid in a small plastic drum to dampen the action of the moving arm guides and that plastic drum is fragile. If any fluid escapes (and it can if the clips that hold the lid down on the drum get damaged) or dries up, the transport can go haywire. If you can find one, you'd be better off with a PR 99 (pro version of the B 77). Balanced XLRs, easy editing, great meters and a locator to boot. Beautiful machines.
Old 2nd September 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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dlmorley's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I used a PR99 for my masters for years. GREAT machines. I'd look for one of them.
A77, A700 or B77? I'd go for the B77. A77 has a "vintage" vibe but the B77 is just higher quality.
I have my A77 ready for tape delay use!
Old 2nd September 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener ➑️
What does influence wow and flutter the most - the condition of the tape?
Many things influence wow and flutter:-
  • the shape of the capstan
  • the condition of the capstan (eg: oxide deposits)
  • the main drive motor
  • the electronics controlling the motor
  • the feed and take-up spool motors
  • the electronics controlling these motors
  • motor lubrication (and the condition thereof)
  • any drive belts
  • the guide pins along the tape path and their condition
  • any springs for moving guide pins
  • temperature
  • humidity
  • machine maintenance
  • the tape itself
  • and a few more things
Does this help?

Now you know one of the reasons why people loved digital - all this eliminated in one fell swoop. heh
Old 2nd September 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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The Listener's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett ➑️
Many things influence wow and flutter:-
  • the shape of the capstan
  • the condition of the capstan (eg: oxide deposits)
  • the main drive motor
  • the electronics controlling the motor
  • the feed and take-up spool motors
  • the electronics controlling these motors
  • motor lubrication (and the condition thereof)
  • any drive belts
  • the guide pins along the tape path and their condition
  • any springs for moving guide pins
  • temperature
  • humidity
  • machine maintenance
  • the tape itself
  • and a few more things
Does this help?

Now you know one of the reasons why people loved digital - all this eliminated in one fell swoop. heh


Just kidding -

I just learned about an analog freak from town, who is a tape fanatic and a skilled technician, so I would not need to worry, too much. I also don't plan to rely on tape machine for the bulk of my work - only to "sweeten" things up when desired... but I need a stable enough machine, so I can make overdubs in time - too big fluctuations in time and frequency are not allowed... I am suspicious about this A77 I have, that it slips or wows just a bit too much - digital copy was shorter than the one taped... I guess such difference is not "normal"... I'll probably return this one and look directly for one of the 15ips machines... but I liked this A77 "vibe"... B77 sounded "plain" compared. Maybe I should go for PR99 or some Studer.

@dlmorley - you said that you "used" PR99 for years...what do you use now? Digital or another tape machine?
Old 2nd September 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I always thought the B-77 was a less expensive to build A-77.
Old 3rd September 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener ➑️
...digital copy was shorter than the one taped... I guess such difference is not "normal"...
Yes, it is normal, really.

You are moving a thin piece pf plastic across a head and there will always be some difference.

It depends on how large the difference is - if it's very small it's normal; if it's large, it's not.
Old 3rd September 2009 | Show parent
  #22
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Even the most exotic analog tape machines never run the same speed at the same spot on the tape twice.
Old 3rd September 2009 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba ➑️
They sound will not be that different.
There could be subtle differences, but it won't be due to any technology changes.
Not that much changed in basic analog tape deck design between '73 and the '80s.
The electronics could be a bit quieter on the newer deck, but I bet it would be below the s/n level of the actual recording.

I would go for the deck that is in the best physical condition.
The deck with the least head wear should be the one you get.
Generally decks used by consumers will have NOT have significant head ware, so a "consumer" past versus a "pro" history would be an important factor.

Physical condition aside...

There is the possibility that the '73 deck MIGHT have discreet electronics.
That could be considered an advantage.

Either way... assuming that the decks both are in good physical shape and operate properly it should be a toss up in sound.
Revox built nice decks and Swiss engineering is hard to beat.

Hell. get both!
They are cheap aren't they?
yes, both great, but s/n ratio is better on the 77, making it better for the digital age. noise reduction ain't a bad idea either... turn on the dubbly
Old 3rd September 2009 | Show parent
  #24
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The later machine was spec'd with higher output tape. It's really no quieter.

The only improvement in analog machines was head designs that allowed higher frequency, less noisy erase/bias circuits. To the best of my knowledge this was never incorporated in any machines before the late '70s or under $5,000.00.
Old 1st October 2012 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Sotsirc's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson ➑️
You connect the RCA inputs right to the record volume controls. That bypasses the input switch altogether along with the mike pres. My friend Harry put a couple tiny toggle switches in mine to restore the mike pres if I wanted but the machines I saw at Abbey Road were just permanently rewired that way.
Sounds interesting, I hope my tech guy understands how to do this.
Old 1st October 2012
  #26
Gear Addict
 
Fenris's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've owned an A700 and a PR99. The A700 had a horrible, muddy sound and was very unreliable, the PR99 has been a dream both mechanically and sonically. A B-77 is basically a PR99 without the transformer-balanced I/O.
Old 2nd October 2012
  #27
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The A77 was really in the sweet era of transistor technology. It needed to compete with tubes. Silicon had replaced germanium but integrated circuits weren't used in audio gear yet.
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