Tape Machine Again
Last week I met Ryan Canestro at Aaron Burch’s house to see Aaron’s studio and geek out. Aaron said his reel-to-reel tape deck wasn’t working and wondered if we would have a look at it. But when I asked where he got it, and his answer was my Alma Mater, I got chills.
Sure enough, Aaron showed us his Otari 5050, the same recorder from my college radio days. I am positive this is one of the two decks I used to first learn recording and editing over 20 years ago. When I hit the power switch the deck lit right up. Threading tape through the transport mechanism felt instantly familiar, like I had done it before hundreds of times. Well, I had.
Sadly, the transport was sluggish and the unit wouldn’t record, so we couldn’t press it into full service. Now I don’t miss cleaning heads, waiting for the tape to roll back to the top or identifying edits with a grease pencil. And there are certainly better sounding analog tape decks than this model. But I had a good run with the 5050 all those years ago: learning fundamentals, getting work done and creating audio magic.
It was great to hang with Ryan and Aaron that night. But I also felt far away — alone in a little radio studio producing spots — just from seeing that deck again. I’m pretty sure my fondness for old school VU meters can be blamed on this machine.
It’s not just me… these are sexy, right?