I purchased my RT-909 somewhere around 2008 from a fellow who had fallen on hard times. He owned this deck, which was a complete disaster – a non-running machine, but needed money for reasons I did not know (and didn’t inquire). But, he was also pricing it to sell. I paid $150 for it, and he had two take up reels to go with it. It was a complete machine, unmolested, but in dire need of a good amount of work. Having already owned a very nice TEAC A2300-SR, which was purchased running and in excellent shape, I knew these things could be brought back to life. Little did I know the lengths I would have to go to in order to get it in running condition.

After receiving the deck and realizing it was really not much more than a boat anchor in its current shape, I made the decision to take deck to Music Technology in Springfield, VA (just outside of Washington, DC). These guys, I was told, were the absolute best. So, on the Friday before Labor Day weekend, my husband and I took the 3-hour trip to drop the deck off for repair. I had been told ahead of time these guys are not quick with a turnaround, given the volume of work they have, but when you do receive your item back, it will be right. Boy, they were right (on all accounts).

A month after dropping it off, I received a call from the technician who gave me a laundry list of things the deck needed. This included new heads, a rebuilt digital counter, and much more. I ok’d the work. In January, the following year, I received a call the deck was ready for pick up. When I got it home and hooked up, I was blown away at just how amazing this deck actually was. It sounded amazing and worked flawlessly.

A video shot from 2014 capturing playback of a great Henry Mancini tune.

All of my decks get regular use. They’re not used daily, but they are given play time once every couple of weeks. I have quite a few decks, and I try very hard to give them all their due time. In 2022, I noticed while playing a tape I had made years before on the machine, the speed began to drop. After a while, it was apparent something was dying (definitely wrong). I cut the machine off, and decided to take it to my trusty “old school” electronics guru (Action Electronics in Williamsburg). He determine the capstan motor needed cleaning. He told me these motors are not the strongest motors out there, and after 40 years in age, they can go south. Replacements are not obtainable. Luckily for me, this motor came back to life with a good cleaning. He advised me NOT to let the deck sit there powered up for hours with tape if it wasn’t being played. The motor is engaged when tape is brought across the heads and the tensioners engage.

So, I’ve been extremely cognizant of this fact and powered up the machine only when it is going to be played and powered down when it’s not. Here’s another video shot in 2022 of the same deck in operation. Bear in mind, between the video shown from 2014 and this current video (below), a new play head has been installed on the reverse playback. Essentially, the deck has new heads for both forward and reverse playback.

I will continue to update this page with fresh information and videos, and look forward to the commentary others will offer on these decks and reel-to-reel in general.