Analogue recording is the oldest standard in audio recording based terms and the analogue standard is still in mainstream use these days and can be found being used in a multitude of different media’s. Analogue style reel-to-reel recorders are still considered by some as the preferred equipment for sound recordings.
Although the basic cassette recorder is probably the cheapest form of analogue recorder which is readily available, the larger reel-to-reel recorders are still employed by professional sound specialists, since the quality of these machines can seldom be duplicated by the smaller recorders and their cassette tapes.
Because of economic reasons the cassette recorder is by far a more common analogue recording system than the more expensive, heavier and bulkier reel-to-reel recorders. However, the advantages of reel to reel tape recording systems are generally the far better quality recordings and the fact that the tapes can be easily edited.
The tape transport mechanisms of reel to reel analogue recorders, also known as open-reel recorders, are virtually immune to humidity-related problems. They have wider tape width and faster linear tape speeds than cassette recorders; they offer the widest frequency bandwidth, greatest fidelity, and best signal-to-noise ratios of any analogue recorder. Reel reel tape recorders are capable of recording sonically challenging sounds that most cassette recorders cannot record accurately.
Since the quality of these machines can seldom be duplicated by the smaller recorders and their cassette tapes the reel-to-reel recorder is the clear choice of professional recordists. They are still used for master studio recording, though digital reel to reel recorders are more the norm now.
However, analogue reel-to-reel recorders offer proven reliability to researchers and recordists even under the harshest conditions, whereas digital recordings can become unusable in any number of ways, not least where the hardware and software they are based on becomes obsolete.
Analogue reel to reel recorders are still available today but they are getting a little hard to find and can be rather expensive in some cases, although, issues regarding maintenance or repair should not be a major concern as tapes, parts and components are still available.
Reel to reel tape recorders are still a popular way to record and listen to music sound tracks and it is still possible to acquire models that have been manufactured by Akai, Pioneer, Ampex, Revox, Sony, Teac, Toshiba and many others
Many recording artists, even today, prefer the natural, warm sound of reel to reel player recorders and many rock and blues artists find the unique form of distortion, caused by tape saturation, very pleasing. The illusion of a fuller sound, which is a more natural effect to the human ear, is created by the harmonic distortion, which causes the high end to become slightly depressed and the bass to thicken up. It is not uncommon for artists to re-record digital tracks to analogue reels.
Many people have come to realise how versatile a reel to reel analogue recorder player can be and how good and rich the sound is, even from within the depths of this digital age.