Natural Born Kessler

    Back to My Reel-to-Reel Roots, Part 17: Stalking the Wild Revox II

    Issue 165

    In the wake of the AudioJumble – see my article in Issue 164 – there has been a palpable buzz about vintage gear, not least because of activity on social media. The AudioJumble’s organizers posted a few images, one of which caused excitement with a Copper reader living as far away from Tonbridge in England as San Francisco. It was the Made-In-England 1920s Western Electric horn and receiver which caught his eye, surely worthy of museum placement. Alas, the items ended up on eBay, selling for huge sums.

    After the dust settles on the AudioJumble come the regrets. Why didn’t I snag that professionally-rebuilt Audio Research D115? What about that Scott FM tuner? I saw a couple of tonearms I wouldn’t have minded adding to my audio repertoire, and those as-new Leak Stereo 20s are impossible to forget. Then there were the massive 1970s Japanese receivers and integrated amps which are now back in fashion, a smattering of mint Luxman items, a couple of high-end cassette decks, a gorgeous top-of-the-range Sony reel-to-reel for £750/$940 and that table full of brand-new tubes.

    When the next one rolls around in on October 2, and (fingers crossed) COVID retreats further back into our memories, I’m hoping most of the absent regulars return, as well as the foreign visitors – notably the vintage-hi-fi-oriented Italian contingent and a few hardy souls from the Pacific Rim. I saw a Polish enthusiast leaving with a two-wheeler trolley stacked with gear to take back with him – apparently the resale value on something like a 1980s Sansui amp makes it worth the effort.

     

    There was plenty of activity at AudioJumble.

    There was plenty of activity at AudioJumble.

     

    As for me? I still have 550 open-reel tapes remaining to curate, and I expect to find at least another dozen duplicates among them to offer at the next fair – including a spare of the underrated Andy Williams knock-out, Get Together, in which he turns a handful of late-1960s rock classics like the title track into easy listening gems. I know I have at least one copy already cleaned up and fitted with leader and tail, so this one will be targeted at a good home.

    Andy Williams?!? I’ve mentioned before that this open-reel tape lark has been changing my attitudes toward assorted artists of whom I’d previously been (foolishly and arrogantly) dismissive. You know the drill: filing John Denver, Mantovani, the Carpenters, Engelbert Humperdinck, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Jerry Vale, Ray Conniff, Percy Faith and far too many others filed under “Guilty Pleasures.” But, damn, if the Osmonds don’t swing behind Andy.

    Yes, open-reel sound will do that to you.

     

    One of a number of Akai 4000D decks, the ideal beginner's reel-to-reel.

    One of a number of Akai 4000D decks, the ideal beginner’s reel-to-reel.

     

    There were turntables of all kinds.

    There were turntables of all kinds.

     

    A rare Cooper-Smith British-made monoblock amplifier from the late 1950s/early 1960s.

    A rare Cooper-Smith British-made monoblock amplifier from the late 1950s/early 1960s.

     

    New old stock Mayware moving-coil cartridges.

    New old stock Mayware moving-coil cartridges.

     

    Ready for the cassette revival: a Nakamichi 700 deck.

    Ready for the cassette revival: a Nakamichi 700 deck.

     

    A Revox E36, for spares or a rebuild project, £150/$190.

    A Revox E36, for spares or a rebuild project, £150/$190.

     

    More gear that's ripe for spares or refurbishment: another G36 for £200/$250.

    More gear that’s ripe for spares or refurbishment: a Revox G36 for £200/$250.

     

    A Tandberg TD20A for £500/$630.

    A Tandberg TD20A for £500/$630.

     

    A wonderful Garrard 401 with SME tonearm in a mint SME plinth, with owner's manuals!

    A wonderful Garrard 401 with SME tonearm in a mint SME plinth, with owner’s manuals!

     

    Yamaha's rare, freaky piano-shaped (or ear-shaped) drive unit.

    Yamaha’s rare, freaky piano-shaped (or ear-shaped) drive unit.

     

    Immaculate Icon Audio MB30 power amps at £1800/$2270 for the pair, a savings of £1000/$1260 off list.

    Immaculate Icon Audio MB30 power amps at £1800/$2270 for the pair, a savings of £1000/$1260 off list.

     

    Some new products were also on display, including this cool tube amp from JJ Electronic.

    Some new products were also on display, including this cool tube amp from JJ Electronic.

     

    Header image: Nice Revox G36 for £300/$375, one of a number of Revox decks at the event.

    4 comments on “Back to My Reel-to-Reel Roots, Part 17: Stalking the Wild Revox II”

    1. Thanks Ken, I really look forward to your articles and salivate each month on the media and equipment. I live in the US and the UK would be a long way to attend the AudioJumble. I have to research and see if there are any vintage HiFi events that are similar in the NYC area.

      Keep them coming and thanks!

      1. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this, as I live in the general area, but I recently found out about the following monthly event:

        https://www.nyantiqueradio.org/

        I signed up for the newsletter in order to find out where these events are held. They start at sunrise…now that’s hard core!

      2. I reckon the Jumble is the most exiting thing that ever happens in Tonbridge, which says more about how sleepy/comatose Tonbridge is even when the sun shines. There was some excitement back in the 11th century. It’s the forgotten relation of nearby Tunbridge Wells. Penshurst is nearby, made famous because JMW Turner painted it several times, and Winnie the Pooh lived down the road in Ashdown Forest. Otherwise, zzzzzz.

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