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Circuit Breaker

These analog tape and record players look gorgeous, but are only for the fabulously wealthy

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Ballfinger is a German-based design group best known for its wristwatches and desk lamps, but at the Norddeutsche Hifi-Tage 2017 audio show, the company showed off a pair of analog audio products that should make any serious audio gear fan sick with envy.

The star of the show is definitely the Tonbandmaschine M 063 reel-to-reel tape player, which looks like it was transplanted from another era to the modern day. I’ve never even used a reel-to-reel tape and I want one just to be able to fiddle around with the knobs and dials. It’s hard to figure out exact details on the M 063 — most of Ballfinger’s site is in German, so I’m basing some of this off Google Translate — but apparently the player can take up to 30cm reels, with a dynamic three-motor drive and a digital display. The entire chassis of the M 063 is made from machined aluminum for stability, and the front and rear panels are designed to tilt forward for easy maintenance. Cost, however, is expected to be anything but cheap, with AVHub reporting a 27,000€ (roughly $28,888.25) price tag.

Also announced was the Schallplattenspieler PS 2 turntable, which offers a similar, minimalist aluminum-and-wood design. The PS 2 is configurable in either fully manual or semi-automatic versions, although no prices have yet been announced.

And while Ballfinger may be known as a design company first, it’s taking the audio components of these new devices just as seriously as the look. There aren’t cheap imports that have been churned out by the thousands and dressed up in fancy clothes — Ballfinger claims to have designed both products from scratch with custom-built components from its own factories.

While it’s unlikely that anyone except the truly wealthy will ever be able to take advantage of the Ballfinger products in person, it’s hard not to look at them and appreciate the craftsmanship and design that went into creating these analog wonders in our mass-produced digital age.