All of a sudden the tape recorders are pouring in. At almost the same time I got hold of a Teac X-300, a small 18 cm reel deck from one of the last series made by Teac around 1987, and a Philips N4520 from around 1978, which is THE kick-ass deck to have from Philips if you want to do serious business. It is really monstrous.
The Philips N4520 has some unique features not found on other decks or only on very expensive studio decks, like
- bias adjustable from the front panel
- wind speed is adjustable on the front panel
- electronic tape counter in 1/10 meters
- Selectable equalization (at 38 cm/s) after NAB or IEC
- cue buttons for fast winding&play without using the stop button
- peak hold (yes, on analog VU meters!!) with peak leds as well
- mini input mixing console with master fader
- constant tape tension, so no reel size switch needed. Even when winding!
After listening to my first test recording on the 4520 with new and fresh SM911 tape through my Sennheiser HD-600 I was really blown away by the depth of the sound! It appears the 4520 has a build-in headphone amplifier that is very very good! It adds a lot of OEMPF to the sound. I did not know a good phone-amp was that that important to the overall sound. Also the sound quality on the line level is astonishing. The only difference when comparing the recording to the original is the tape noise, which is by the way very low. But that can be solved by using my newly bought (I haven’t told you yet. Sorry about that) DBX units.
Anyway, this Philips is the top of the line from all Philips tape decks. Among audio enthusiasts it is a very sought after model. It has some weaknesses, but mine has been under repair and is now ready for use. Also some modifications only found on later produced machines have been done. Sonically, I think it is my best sounding machine. But a comparison between my Tascam 34B and this baby will probably happen in the not so near future.
Not forgetting the other new deck, the Teac X-300. It is a compact built unit, as it only carries 18 cm reels. It is one of the last series built by Teac, and it shows. It has a plastic look and feel, however, when you operate it it feels very robust. It is capable of handling the new EE tapes (or chrome) with superior audio characteristics which unfortunately have not been very successful when they came out in the mid 80-s. I do not own such a tape, so I can not test it.
This unit came very cheap, only €50. It is in e very new state. I don’t think it has many hours on it. Everything on the deck feels new and fresh, like the brakes and the controls etc. When comparing the sound quality using SM911 with the new N4520 it came sooo close, I was really surprised. This is definitely a keeper, if I can live with the small reel limitation.
Tomorrow I will add some photos to this article