Tandbergs Radiofabrikk A/S

Tandberg still exists today, and its name name appears on high-end HiFi equipment and computer tape drives. Back in the "old days", Tandberg manufactured consumer audio equipment that, while still more high-end than low-end, was not totally out of the reach of the average person's budget.

Technically, I find Tandberg interesting because they used the same basic mechanical deck on all their machines from the 1950's up to the 1970's. Even when the three-motor logic-controlled 9000X, 9100X, 9200X and 10X models appeared in the mid- 1970's, simpler models like the 3300X still basically utilized the same mechanics as did the model 2 from the 1950's! In fact, all Tandberg machines use one of only two types of pressure roller, the difference only being the axle diameter!

Not that Tandberg was boring; they made quite a lot of variations on the theme in terms of capabilities, both mechanically and electrically. A number of small but significant improvements were made over the years.

A small selection of Tandberg tape recorders

The Model 2 HiFi 3 Speed on the right is a typical example of the early Tandberg machines, from the mid-50's. Note the dark brown deck, and yellow plastic knobs, head covers, and speaker grille. (The function control knob on the right is not original; it's a dark brown knob from a radio).

The model 2 is a classic no-frills two-track mono tape recorder. Like all Tandberg machines, it features 7" reels, and the classic Tandberg mechanics. A four-position function control knob at the right selects play, fast forward, rewind and stop modes, whereas the knob to the left of the head covers selects recording and playback, with an amplifier-only mode being thrown in for good measure.

An unusual aspect of this model was the speed selector. The machine has three speeds (1 7/8, 3 3/4 and 7 1/2 ips), with two speeds being selected by mechanically moving a rubber idler, and the third speed being selected electrically by changing the pole count on the drive motor.

If you look closely, you'll see that the legends are in Norwegian. In fact, a few years on, Tandberg would be one of the first manufactureres to solely utilize English on their product legends.

Tandberg Model 2 HiFi 3 Speed

Tandberg Model 2 HiFi 3 Speed

Tandberg 5

Tandberg model 5
The model 5 depicted in this picture represents the late 50's style, with its dark yellow deck and plastic yellow knobs and head covers. (Again, the machine is not in original shape; the left function control knob is again from a radio of the same period.)

The model 5 is unusual in that it's actually a four track machine, even though it was built as early as 1958. It's even more unusual in that although it can play back stereo tapes, it can only record in mono. Probably a sensible step, as there was very little stereo material to record in those days, unless you got a pair of microphones and made your own recordings. And surprise, you could actually do this with the model 5! By connecting an optional record amplifier to the 2-pin DIN connector on the rear head cover, the amplifier getting its power from an extra connector eminating from the back of the machine, one could also record in stereo!

Like most Tandberg recorders, the model 5 was a three-speed model, with the single motor sitting right between the reels, driving the reels via a "figure-8" rubber belt and the flywheel via a movable idler (in order to change speeds).

An interesting fact is that although the machine has two power amplifiers for playing back stereo tapes, only one loudspeaker is built into the case.

The model 72B depicted here probably represents the peak of Tandberg tube technology (although it could be argued that the semi-professional model 6 deck should take this place). The late-1960's style shows a move from rounded edges to a more square style. All knobs and covers are made of metal, with all controls being polished steel, and the covers a graphite gray. The function control knob on the right has a new position called FREE whereby the reel brakes are disengaged to allow easy threading. In fact, on all Tandberg machines of this type there are no true brakes; instead, in stop mode, both reels are interlinked but in opposite directions resulting in a very efficient self-regulating braking system. A constantly applied clutch mechanism avoids tape breakage.

The model 72B is a two-track stereo tape recorder, with integral power amplfiers and speakers (one on each side). (It was also available in a four track version, the 74B.) It has three speeds and separate volume, record/playback and speaker controls for the two channels.

Of final note is the move from the old EM71 "magic eye" recording level indicator tubes to the EAM86 "magic ribbon" type, as well as the change from the earlier clock-type tape counter to a more modern-day counter (however still not with a reset button but instead a knurled knob for zeroing the counter).

Tandberg 72B

Tandberg model 72B

More to come...

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