Teac X1000M Tape Recorder
The Teac X1000 open reel tape recorder is the 'top of the range' comprising of the X3 and X7 models and comes in three basic formats: the X1000R 4 Track 2 Channel deck, with its fully bi-directional recording and playback facility, and the X1000 which is the same as the X1000R but without bidirectional working. Both of these machines are aimed at the top end of the domestic market whilst the third package, the X1000M 2 Track 2 Channel deck, the model under review, falls into the budget professional class. This model has dual speeds of 15 ips (38 cms/s) and 7½ ips (19 cms/s) whereas the other two models have dual speeds of 7½ ips (19 cms/s) and 3¾ ips (9.5 cms/s). All of the models are designed for connection to external monitoring equipment and are not supplied with power amplifiers or speakers.
The X1000M has a black facia panel with white labelling and comes with matching black take-up spool. There are removable NAB spool centres allowing use of large 10½ inch spools or the smaller 7 inch type. This model has a wooden case that consists of the usual composite board covered with a wood veneer. This finish is optional on the other models, the basic case being a tough moulded plastic with recessed carrying handles, although since the machine weighs a hefty 26 kg with the wooden case (22 kg without) it can hardly be considered portable. An additional problem is that when it is lifted by the handles the top swings forward, an unnerving experience unless you are Mr. Universe. The overall dimensions are 472 x 486 x 262 mm with wooden case and 432 x 452 x 262 mm without.
Internally, the main PCBs are isolated from the transport mechanics by the heavy metal chassis. These boards are at the top rear of the machine and once the plastic case has been removed access is not a problem. The wiring could be neater, but there does not seem to be any obvious cause for concern.
External connections are standard jack for the microphone and headphone sockets on the front panel, and RCA phonos for the input and output on the rear. Also on the rear is a multiway socket for the optional remote control and a DIN socket for the Dupli/Sync facility. When the X1000M is connected to certain Teac cassette decks, via this last socket, copying from reel to reel to cassette can be carried out with the cassette deck being controlled from the front panel of the X1000M. This has obvious advantages in a studio when quick copies of a mix are required for an artist to take away and mull over before deciding on further action.
The transport controls consist of buttons cut from the same moulded plastic strip and attached in two trackways, behind which are the actual micro-switches. The remaining switches are rectangular plastic buttons that do not look as if they will stand up to the hard life of a busy professional studio, but time will tell. The Mic, Line and Output level controls are substantial black dual concentric knobs. The inner and outer controls are for each channel and there is a friction fit between them so that a conscious effort has to be made to make one channel differ from the other.
When the Output control is placed on its CAL setting the output signal level is the same as the input signal level. The two large VU meters have a range from -20 dB to +5 dB and are illuminated when the power is turned on. In the playback mode the VU meters show the signal level after the Output level control; this can be misleading as they do not show the level coming off the tape unless you have remembered to set the level to CAL.
Above the VU meters there is a row of switches comprising of power on/off on the left, then the reel size and speed select buttons. Next to these are the left and right channel Record Mode switches which act as a safety device, as unless they are activated the machine will not respond to the Record switch on the transport controls. To the right of the Record Mode switches is the Pitch control; this has to be pulled out to activate and will give a ± 5% variation in speed, depending on which way the knob is turned from its central position.
On the end of this row is the Tape Lifter; by pushing this lever towards the tape when in the fast forward or rewind modes the tape is brought into contact with the playback head, enabling the operator to find gaps in the recorded programme. The harder the lever is pressed, the more the tape is brought into contact with the head, in this way the operator can adjust the volume of the signal. This system is a great improvement over that of the old Teac A3440, where the lifter is either fully on or off and the consequent volume level can be quite devastating.
To the right of this row there is a digital readout tape counter and the transport controls, both of which I shall deal with under a separate heading.
Below and to the right of the VU meters there are the level controls and under these there is another row of switches. The first, from the left, is the dbx switch which, when pushed in, brings in the dbx Type 1 noise reduction and illuminates to show that it is in the enable mode. This dbx system has a compression ratio of 2:1 compressing signal limits from -60dB to +20dB down to -30dB to +10dB on recording, and expanding them to their original levels on playback.
To the right of the dbx switch there is a microphone input attenuation button which introduces a 20dB cut for recording very loud sounds through the microphones. Next to this there are the three Tape Selector switches which provide the appropriate bias/EQ including one for EE (Extra Efficiency) tapes. The last two switches in this row are the left and right channel Monitor controls that switch the output between source and tape.
Above the central head cover there is the Auto Spacer control which presets the effective time of the Rec Mute on the transport controls up to a maximum of 8 seconds. Also above the head cover is the Timer switch which when activated automatically places the deck into playback (or record if the Record Mode switches are operated) when the mains supply is turned on. It is difficult to see a use for this facility in the studio and it is obviously aimed at the domestic user.
This set of controls can be split into two parts; those concerned with the transport and recording functions and those concerned with the timer and search facilities. The transport controls are logically set out in two rows with the main functions (Rewind, Stop, Forward and Fast Forward) along the bottom. The top row, all of which are illuminated when activated, consists of Dupli/Sync, Pause, Record Mute and Record controls.
As outlined above, when a cassette deck is connected via the Dupli/Sync socket, depression of the Dupli/Sync button places that cassette machine into record mode. Operation of the Pause control retracts the pinch rollers only slightly from the capstans so that when in playback accurate positioning of the tape is possible by manual rocking of the tape reels back and forth. This facility is particularly useful when fine editing is required. The Record control must be pressed at the same time as the Forward button before the machine will commence recording. The Record Mute does what its name implies when activated and may be used in conjunction with the Auto Spacer as described above.
The Tape Counter is a five figure, seven segment LED type display that reads in hours, minutes and seconds. This takes a bit of getting used to if you are familiar with the usual tape length counter; especially when the tape goes slightly back from zero and a reading of, say, 9.59.58 is obtained instead of a straight 9996.
There are six buttons associated with the Tape Counter; the Clear button resets the counter to zero and the Cue button marks the point on the tape at the moment it is pressed as a 'cue point'. Pressing the Straight To Zero or Straight To Cue buttons sends the tape automatically to those readings. The Program control allows timing of an individual part of the tape while retaining the main counter reading in the memory. A second activation of the Program button brings the main reading back up on the display.
The Repeat control allows either automatic repeat or omission of a section of the tape depending on the configuration of buttons operated. The procedure is fully explained in the manual and although it seems complicated at first, a little study pays dividends. Both the Program and Repeat buttons are illuminated by red LEDs when activated. A problem encountered on the review model was that after several automatic repeats the start point began to slip and progressively cut off more of the beginning each time.
This is a three motor deck with a DC Motor on each reel and capstan drive from a Servo DC Motor. The Dual Capstan Closed Loop configuration isolates the tape path over the heads so reducing wow and flutter. Tension arms and inertia rollers at each end of the tape path help stabilise tape movement and promote smooth running. This does make the tape path rather long and means that the minimum length of tape loop possible is in the region of 26 inches or nearly 2 seconds at 15ips; a point worth considering if you intend to use the machine for this kind of creative work.
There are four Teac Permalloy heads on the X1000M: erase, record and playback plus a 4 track playback head for standard 4 track tapes. The appropriate playback head is selected by a slider switch on the head cover.
There are three main sections of circuitry: a control circuit which processes the information from the switches and controls concerned with transport functions, a power/servo circuit controlling the motors and receiving data from the tape sensors and speed switch circuits and, thirdly, the record/playback amplifier circuits, incorporating the dbx circuitry.
The overall frequency response of the deck is specified as 30-36kHz (± 3dB) at 15ips and 30-34kHz (± 3dB) at 7½ ips with a signal to noise ratio of 66dB improving to 100dB when the dbx is switched in. The wow and flutter is 0.02% at 15ips and 0.03% at 7½ ips with harmonic distortion of 0.8% at 1kHz, normal operating level.
The X1000M is really a compromise between a budget studio machine and a domestic recorder. Unless you have your studio in the living room, the machine is certainly too heavy to carry from one room to another with any great frequency. With a performance specification comparable with more expensive machines and at a price tag of around £700 (less if you shop around) the X1000M is well worth consideration if you are looking for a good stereo mastering recorder. The automatic search facilities are particularly useful to the home recordist working on their own and are just one highlight of this impressive machine.
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Review by Rick White
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