We can see the waves of drool floating all the way from Hamburg as the entertainingly-named Ballfinger brand from Dusseldorf’s Roland Schneider Feinwerktechnik showed its M 063 new reel-to-reel tape machine at the Norddeutsche Hifi Tage show which opened overnight.
The Ballfinger brand began in 2004, when Düsseldorf-based industrial designer Roland Schneider presented a new angle-poise lamp design at an international trade fair in London. More recently the brand has delivered high-design wristwear, but now the sleek uber-modernist aesthetic has been applied both to this new reel-to-reel, a Schallplattenspieler PS 2 turntable, and an amplifier too. Although design-orientated, Ballfinger is not merely dressing up componentry from elsewhere — these are ground-up designs with components including drive motors, complete servo units and pickup systems all designed and assembled in its own facilities, says the company.
Information is sketchy, and largely translated from German releases, but the M 063 is purportedly priced at 27,000 euros, with an eye to the professional user “as well as for the ambitious music lover”. It features a three-motor drive that runs at 7.5 or 15 inches per second, taking up to 12-inch tape reels. The aluminum chassis can be integrated into standard 19-inch studio racks. Buttonry and usability have both been under Ballfinger’s careful design eye, with tape feeding requiring little manual intervention. Of course much is possible today that was unavailable to earlier reel-to-reel designers, and Ballfinger boasts of the M 063’s almost silent running even in fast rewind ‘archive’ mode thanks to tacho-controlled winding speeds and a processor-controlled drive which prevents any kind of loop formation or tape stretching through over-tensioning. A precise digital counter is another addition made capable by modern electronics.
The subassemblies of the winding motor, the capstan motor, the power supply unit and the audio unit are arranged in such a way that the signal paths are kept short, with interference-critical components spatially separated from each other, minimising electromagnetic shielding measures.
It’s all a long way from angle-poise lamps, yet the efforts exerted by Ballfinger in its development of a new reel-to-reel and turntable certainly shine a light on the continued advance of the analogue revival, in which it is not alone — a new Revox reel-to-reel is expected this year and a newly modified original Studer is also on show at Hamburg.
Our thanks to the UK’s Dave Denyer in Hamburg for the Ballfinger tip-off!
MonoandStereo has since done a good on-the-spot write-up here:
And we'll leave you with pictures of the Schallplattenspieler PS 2, just so vinyl fans don't feel left out. Meanwhile you can visit Ballfinger at www.ballfinger.de