Ahh... a nice deck. I "borrowed" one of these from my friend, when my Denon DRM-540 began to play slow, and... erm... sort of... still have it. Currently being used in a fixed set-up back in England, with a NAD amp and a Rega Planar 7 turntable, in a combination to tape 78s.|
What can be said about this beast? A monster, for sure: Clunky responses, slightly mechanical servo controls, but smooth and somewhat "tightened" sliders and knobs. They respond, however, extremely well. The drum-counter gives away the age of the machine, but, as in my other reviews of older, classic decks, it is always a plus in this age of downloaded mp3 files and other digital sources, to SEE SOMETHING MOVING - the capstans, the spools, or the drum counter - accurate or not - very charming indeed.
With regular maintenance (demagnetising, cleaning tape heads, switch-cleaner etc.) this machine with serve you for a lifetime. The parts and controls are sturdy and robust, and the machine feels like it's got the build of a shire horse.
Nevertheless, the recording - and playback of recorded sources - is not 100% reliable. The non-Dolby recorded matter reproduces fine, with sensitive fidelity. However, once you start choosing Dolby B or C, things begin to go downhill slightly - not enough to warrant a criticism, but enough to notice. The Dolby B lops off quite a bit of fidelity, and sounds like you've put that warm, furry Russian hat on, while listening. Dolby C pretty much annihilates the rest of the fidelity that was left after Dolby B: Imagine a great jazz track with wonderful fidelity from the cymbals - well, tape that and then play it back with your head in a bucket of water - that kind of thing.
Non-Dolby or Dolby B, with a bit of tweaking from the amp's treble and bass controls, are the ways forward here.
So, to sum up:
Build, construction, performance and reliability: 5
Recording and playback: 3
Overall: A high-up 3.