Roberts Vintage Audio & Video Tape Reels

What You Need to Know when Purchasing a Roberts Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorder

Reel-to-reel tape recorders are coming back into fashion with audio enthusiasts. Low-priced Roberts reel-to-reels were among the first to be distributed to the general public, and many units from the 20th century are still operational. They are generally compact and utilitarian tape recorders and can be found on eBay.

How do you choose a Roberts reel-to-reel?

A Roberts will usually be a four-track or eight-track. It is standard for them to have three wheels, an eraser arm, and reverse features. Many have instantaneous stop and start functions so that you dont accidentally erase any audio. You can also find models with attachments such as speakers and tape timers. Take such features into consideration when making your purchase.

You also want to make sure there is a repairman near you who is comfortable working on Roberts machines.

How do you determine the condition of a Roberts reel-to-reel?

No reel-to-reels have been developed under the Roberts name for several decades now, so any of the tape recorders you come across are going to be vintage and have some wear and tear. Here are a few things to look for when making a purchase:

  • Corrosion of switches - This is one of the most common issues you will run into. It can be alleviated with contact cleaner.
  • Worn tape heads - This is part of normal wear and tear on the machine. Luckily, they can be replaced.
  • Misaligned tape heads - You should not attempt to adjust or replace the tape heads. This can still happen sometimes, and it must be taken to a professional to be recalibrated. Also, dirty tape heads can cause problems for the recording process and audio quality.
  • Damaged belts - If the belt is damaged, the easiest and sometimes necessary thing to do is get a replacement. Replacement belts can also be found on eBay.
What kind of recording fidelity should you expect?

Roberts tape recorders were designed for portability and home use. Appropriately, most of them operate at domestic speeds of 1 7⁄8 in/s, 3 3⁄4 in/s, and 7 1⁄2 in/s.

Roberts recorders are known in particular for utilizing a Crossfield head. This invention allowed them to record up to 10 kHz when, at the time, home tape recorders could only record up to 5 kHz. With this higher frequency response, you can avoid the muffled quality of many older recordings.

Content provided for informational purposes only. eBay is not affiliated with or endorsed by Roberts.