Roberts 1630

One day in 2018 I received a message online from a former student who knew of my interest in reel-to-reel and asked if I'd seen a reel machine on the Facebook Marketplace. Since I'd never looked at that venue I hadn't seen it but I figured out how to get there and, sure enough, there was this Roberts 1630. It was pictured sitting next to a box of reel tapes. I don't remember the asking price but it was something like $50 for one and $25 for the other.

I contacted the seller and went out to his place of business. He was a young guy stuffed into the middle of a strip mall where he bought/sold/traded coins and such. He pointed to the deck and the box of tapes on the floor. I asked if the deck worked and he said it did. Seeing that there was no power cord I wondered how he knew, but the deck looked to be in reasonable shape and the tapes looked interesting. We talked a bit and, noting my hesitance, he finally said "How about $20 for everything?" "Sold" I said. I paid him and off I went with the goods.

I gave the deck a minor clean up, found a power cord in my spares pile, and powered it up. It took a moment for the tubes to warm up but it played the tape I'd put on it and it sounded pretty good on its built-in amplifier and speakers. I connected it to my shop stereo and shut the speakers off using the switch on the back of the unit and it really did sound great. Nice and warm.

Not having a place for it in my man cave, it has remained as my shop deck where I have used it quite often. Just recently (December 2019) I think it started playing the tapes a bit slow so I imagine it might need motor capacitors. That's generally a very easy fix.

The tapes that came with it were worth having considering that some of them are factory pre-recorded and good titles. See the images below. The other 7" reels have various music recorded on them.

The 5" reels have music as well except for the "Racal" branded ones. Two of those were blank but one was quite interesting. Apparently it belonged to an ABC Radio News team that was covering the 1972 Democratic Convention in Miami. It has the sound crew testing out the equipment and chatting about what they heard the "yippies" might be planning to do. Also on the tape is reporter Charles Murphy practicing what he is going to do on the air. This is from July 1972, probably about the 9th of that month. The sound file can be heard in its entirety below.

ABC News field tape - Click here to play

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Updated November 2020.