Bobinniki: a brief history of reel-to-reel tape recorders and a growing interest in the audio gadget today

    Analogue music does not even think of a thing of the past: the demand for vinyl and even coils is returning . Today we have prepared a short story about the history of reel tape recorders in the world and the USSR.

    Photo by Matt Donovan / CC

    The history of reel to reel tape recorders

    The history of reel-to-reel tape recorders dates back to 1878, when American engineer Oberlin Smith met Thomas Edison's phonograph and began experimenting with the device. At some point he suggests using the phenomenon of magnetism to record sound.

    According to his idea, the carrier can make a cotton thread into which the steel wire pieces are woven. Smith publishes his ideas for improving the phonograph in the hope that someone will try to bring them to life, since he himself cannot take the time to do all this on his own. So it happened.

    An engineer from Denmark, Valdemar Poulsen (Valdemar Poulsen), who in 1898 received a patent for the magnetic recording technique on steel wire, drew attention to his work. However, magnetic recording took practical application only in the 20s of the 20th century, when engineer Fritz Pfleumer suggested using a tape of paper with a spray of iron oxide as a carrier. Pfleimer failed to get a patent for his idea due to Poulsen's previous experiments, but his technology formed the basis of Magnetophone-K1.

    It was created by the German company for the production of electronics AEG together with the chemical concern BASF, which produced a film for the device. New device presented to the public at the exhibition in 1935. And five years later, the AEG tape recorders were upgraded - the engineer Walter Weber (Walter Weber) discovered that if you magnetize the film with alternating current, it improves the quality of the sound recording. The decision hastened to put into practice.

    Tape recorders spread around the world after World War II. In 1945, American Jack Mallin (Jack Mullin) managed to find two “Magnetophones” and 50 reels of film on a German radio station in Bad Nauheim. Mullin brought the finds home, and after two years of experiments, showed a prototype of his car for commercial use at the MGM studio in Hollywood.

    At the demonstration of the technology was attended by singer Bing Crosby, who was interested in the development engineer. Crosby invested in Ampex, in which Mullin began to develop a commercial version of the tape recorder. The result of the work was the device Ampex Model 200, which went on sale in 1948.

    In Ampex, another sound recording innovation was born. Since 1949, the company's engineers have been working on a multi-channel recording system. They already had the experience of creating such devices for the film industry, so they offered to introduce it into serial tape recorders. The ideologist was Ross Snyder, the company's manager Ross Snyder, and he developed the Sel-Sync selective synchronous recording system. The first recorder of the series was installed in the studio. the legendary virtuoso guitarist Les Paul.

    Bobbiniki in the Soviet Union

    The release of tape recorders in the Soviet Union began in 1949. The first tape recorder of mass production in the USSR was Dnipro-1. Dnipro-1 had two tape speeds - 18 and 46.5 cm / s, and the duration of continuous playback was 45 and 20 minutes, respectively. The recording frequency range ranged from 90 to 7000 Hz. Although the production of tape recorders was serial, it was quite expensive and few families could afford a new technique.

    In 1957, GOST 8088-56 came into force in the USSR, which established general technical characteristics for tape recorders from different manufacturers, including standard tape scroll speeds. Classes of tape recorders, which the manufacturers were oriented on, were prescribed in GOST. They were designated by the first digit of the numerical name of the model: from the highest 0 class to the lowest 4. At the same time, tape recorders began to fall in price. And in the late 1950s - early 1960s, the devices began to become part of the everyday life of the Soviet people.

    The first Soviet serial two-track tape recorder appeared in 1956. It was the “ Dnepr-9 ” model : the speed of the tape in the device was 19.05 cm / s, and the frequency range was from 50 to 8000 Hz. The maximum recording duration was 30 minutes.

    A few years later, the first Soviet stereo tape recorder appeared: it was the Yauza-10 model , which went into production in 1961. He supported two tape speeds - 19.05 and 9.53 cm / s, and the frequency ranges of the tape recorder were 40–15000 Hz and 60–10000 Hz, respectively.

    The emergence of transistors made it possible to create portable devices. The first battery player was the " Spring ", which began to do in 1963. The duration of continuous recording or playback was 18 minutes, the battery life was 5–8 hours, and the frequency range of the device was from 100 to 6000 Hz.

    In addition to portable tape recorders, among the available devices were tape recorders. They differed from full-fledged stationary devices by the fact that such a device was connected to an external low-frequency amplifier to play the recording. In Soviet homes, such an amplifier was a desktop radio or radio. A popular and inexpensive brand of consoles was “ Note ” - the first model was released in 1966.

    photo Andshel/ CC

    Due to the availability of tape recorders in the 1960s, a separate branch of samizdat culture appeared - “Magnitizdat”. Magnetic films replaced home-made bones plates , which Soviet craftsmen made from x-rays. BothWestern records and the music of Soviet performers - songs by Vysotsky, Okudzhava, Galich, Vizbor and other poets and musicians were copied onto the film.

    Magnitizdat on coils out until the 80s. At that time, popular Soviet rock bands recorded their compositions on reels: “Aquarium”, “Zoo”, “Time Machine”, “Kino” and others. These were not just scattered recordings, but entire albums, which were called “magnetoalbums”. Records are often distributedthe musicians themselves or their friends, after which the albums literally in a few weeks flew into many copies.

    The phenomenon of magnetizdat influenced the fact that cassette tape recorders, the first production copies of which appeared in the USSR in 1969, quickly became more popular than bobinnikov, since the convenience of recording and playback turned out to be more important for listeners than quality. However, reel tape recorders continued to be mass produced until the 90s. Later, their popularity declined.

    Reel tape recorders today

    Reel tape recorder again declared itself in the early 2010s. Sales bobbins grew both on eBay and on sites engaged in the sale of vintage audio equipment. In many ways, this trend is compared with another major comeback in analogue music - vinyl records .

    The main advantage of the coils is the maximum proximity to the original studio mix. According to fans of this medium, the recording on the reel most accurately conveys the original intention of the musicians. As noted by Chris Mara, the owner of the company engaged in the restoration of tape recorders, the “reel” sound should especially please jazz lovers, since all the classic jazz songs were recorded in reel-to-reels.

    Today, the trend in reel tape recorders has been picked up by manufacturers who are creating new player models based on previously manufactured devices. These are the restored Mara Machines players , systems from United Home Audio, and also new models of tape recorders from Ballfinger . Their reel tape recorders also release Revox and Metaxas . The latter promised to present their device already this year.

    More about the history of audio systems - in our "World Hi-Fi":

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