Philips open reel tape machine

A friend of mine has found a reel-to-reel Philips N4422, thrown away into the junk. It seems to be basically ok and looks as if it had been quite expensive back in the 70s or 80s. It sounds muffled though, even with a new tape. Does anyone know what to expect soundwise? Would it be worth it to get it repaired, provided one could find a suitable repair shop?

Might be something as simple as the heads need demagnetizing.

Could be…

Azimuth adjustment (with tapes recorded on a different machine).
Dirty head (magnetically shorted).
Too high a bias setting (tapes recorded on this machine).
Ageing electronics, particularly capacitors.
Head needs demagnetising.

As @Xanthe states + :-
It is not easy to get someone to make a really good job of (honestly) restoring tape decks in my experience.
I just got rid of a Revox after 40 years of use, I spent money getting new capacitors + all the above, then the left channel packed up, I cut my losses…
Muffled sound - 1st try would be cleaning heads THOROUGHLY + de-magnetising
There is also the problem of getting the brakes working smoothly. ?
What state is/are the motor(s) in ?
New tapes would be mandatory, old ones, presumably usually from 70’s - 80’s will be in a deteriorated condition.
Good luck !!!

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First give every running surface and aand the heads a really good clean. One run for a few minutes with a tape that’s shedding oxide is all it takes to cake up all the running surfaces and heads, with the result you just get really muffled sound.

Are there cleaning tapes for open reel machines?

No. The only way to properly clean an R2R is to remove the head cover and get down and dirty with a whole bunch of Q tips and some meths. Take an hour or two to really clean it thoroughly. Make sure you clean the capstan and pinch roller very thoroughly. If the pinch roller has hardened you should treat with some rejuvenator, pr else replace with a new one. If it has gone sticky, just replace it with a new one. The next step, if you decide it’s worth going further, is to replace the belts.


I have a vintage (1950s) Philips reel to reel, and I find when the tape pressure pinch roller is not optimally set/ or hardened or dirty , it can sound muffled… obviously check tape head is clean.
This particular model (EL3530) has metallic tape belts.

OK, some things to try out, and probably try the cleaning first. I’ll point the friend to this thread. Many thanks!

You can download a service manual from:

Mark Dunn

IIRC, those Philips machines were plasticky, difficult to keep alignments and noisy…
Not sure it is worth spending money on it… a good clean up is all you should invest in it.

I am refurbishing Revox and Teac-Tascam units with very good results… Akai and Sony are also good and easy to find for cheap. Many others are great but more expensive…

If there is any serious restoration contemplated on any Reel to Reel just make sure that you have it undertaken by those who know what they’re doing. I made early mistakes with my B77 going to a couple of so called experts who nearly ruined the machine including spraying the motor bearings with isopropyl alcohol. I finally found an excellent company who still maintains the machines at Abbey Road. Not cheap and obviously depends on the caliber of the machine your attempting to restore!

OK, so I understand that the Philips is probably not worth too much effort. This friend of mine also has the option to get a Revox 77(?) for free. I assume this device is more interesting for restoration then?

In any case, de-magnetisation of the heads: can this be done at home? What kind of equipment is needed for this? Heating up to the Curie temperature would probably be a bit over the top …

Yes, the A77 is a much more interesting and viable machine, and their build quality and longevity is legendary. Does the A77 work? Do you know which version? 2 track or 1/4 track?

De magnetisation is easy - you just need a demagnetiser. An inexpensive wand demagnetiser is perfectly adequate. You just need to follow the instructions very carefully.

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