Project R2R building new reel-to-reel tape machine

According to Volker Lange from Horch House, the aim of Project R2R is "to achieve the best sound quality, bar none"(Credit: Shutterstock)

There's no doubt that digital music formats offer a convenient way to listen to lots of music on the move. Factor in on-demand streaming services and you don't even have to worry about running out of storage space on your portable device. But even though digitized music reigns supreme, demand for analog formats like vinyl is on the rise, with US sales in 2015 up 30 percent on the previous year. Austria's Horch House says that when it comes to analog, you can't beat reel-to-reel tape and has announced its intention to develop a new consumer reel-to-reel player.

Horch House was founded with one goal in mind, to bring analog master tape audio quality to music lovers around the world. Master tapes, the blueprint from which subsequent pressings are made, offer listeners access to the original studio or concert recording as edited, mixed and arranged by the engineers. The company has a number of recordings from labels like Warner, Sony and Universal available on audiophile-grade vinyl or in high resolution digital formats, but it also sells reel-to-reel tapes.

"Audio tape is the only format that can record and play back pure, natural sound in its whole and original state," says Horch House. "Every other format requires some form of interference with the original audio signal. Audio tape is therefore the only format which allows the listener to hear a recording exactly the way the original artist and producer intended it to sound, before it was altered to fit on a vinyl record, sampled for a CD or squashed down to MP3 size."

Many homes in the 1950s may well have had a reel-to-reel player as the living room hi-fi centerpiece, but advances in portable music devices and digital recording and playback a few decades later relegated the reel-to-reel to the realms of yesterday's technology. If you want to dip into the reel-to-reel pond today, you'd be pretty hard pushed to find a new player to satisfy your appetite for pure analog goodness. In fact, the company reckons that new machines just aren't manufactured anymore.

Horch House aims to rectify this and announced last week that it intends to develop a brand new consumer reel-to-reel machine, and "will be working closely with some of the industry's foremost experts in order to deliver the most accomplished outcome possible." Details are scant at the moment, but the Project R2R team is reported to already be hard at work on a prototype to demonstrate at Munich's High-End Show in May.

Source: Horch House

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