This Old-School Audio Setup Deserves a Grammy

It plays tape. It plays records. And it's f*cking gorgeous.

February 9, 2017 9:00 am

“They don’t make ’em like they used to.”

An all too common lament when it comes to audio equipment. But one you can officially retract — if you got the cashflow — thanks to Ballfinger.

The German design and manufacturing company recently released the Tonbandmaschine M 063 and Schallplattenspieler PS 2 —  or, in English, a reel-to-reel tape recorder and turntable. The company claims the former is “the first newly developed [analog] tape recorder” in 25 years.

Ballfinger Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorder (3 images)

Even that guy walking down the street carrying a Discman knows vinyl is back, but reel-to-reel tape players? Ballfinger argues that while digital has overhauled the music industry, the tape recorder’s “sound characteristics are not to be overthrown and it is increasingly a sensible addition to the digital recording.”

Unlike the kitschy retro-chic tape recorders and record players you’ll find elsewhere, Ballfinger made these with professional use in mind. But as a design-focused firm (with previous products like lamps and watches) they couldn’t help but make them handsome as all get-out.

Ballfinger Turntable (3 images)

The direct drive turntable of course has a broader appeal, as well as “a newly developed, ironless and electronically commutated engine.” As Designboom notes, the straight tone arm “has been combined with a processor-controlled linear guide,” which means you can go ahead and listen to those investment records you’re going to sell one day for a hefty profit without the fear of scratching them.

Both were unveiled in early February at the North German Hifi Days audio show. So it’ll be a while until these make it to the U.S., but with prices projected to be around $28,888 for the reel-to-reel and $9,400 for the turntable, you can start saving up now.

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