New RX Reels carbon fibre tape reels

Kevin Root RX Reels started saving for his first reel-to-reel tape player at age 13, but in fact it was another 40 years before he finally got around to buying that deck. By then, he was understandably keen for everything to be perfect. Which it was – almost. Sitting in his living / listening room, Root had an ‘aha’ moment. “It occurred to me that the tape deck was the focal point of my system, and the reels were the focal point of my tape deck,” he recalls. “But since a typical reel is either plastic or aluminium, they weren’t quite giving me the same visual ‘wow’ factor as the rest of the system.” Thinking it over further led Root to an even stronger argument for upgrading his reels: the take-up reel on a deck (the reel onto which any ‘tails out’ tape is wound before play) gets a significant amount of use and so is subject to wear and warp – especially if constructed in a material that’s none too hardy. The solution? Develop a better one.

Carbon fibre: the perfect solution

“It took seven months to find the just-right combination we were looking for,” says Root. “A way to not only make the reels look better, but to be better. We wanted a flange that was rigid, but not too heavy. Carbon fibre provided the perfect balance of strength to weight: it’s twice as stiff as steel and five times stronger.”

Carbon fibre comes in many grades, the highest quality being aviation grade. This is what goes into RX Reels’ flanges. Normally the cost would be prohibitive, however Root’s location in the USA’s Pacific Northwest provided a lucky break. “Turns out there’s a lot of new, high-grade raw carbon fibre material that’s discarded by local military and aviation manufacturing industries. It’s unused and perfectly good, but often not big enough, so it gets scrapped. We ‘upcycle’ that unused material and turn it into our reels.” 

At the centre of each reel is a custom-made, professional-style NAB hub. Most commercially available hubs are designed to be inexpensive to produce and are typically joined to the flanges by just three screws. RX Reels’ solid aluminium hubs are precision made to tolerances below two thousands of an inch, and each 2.3mm thick flange is held to the hub with six screws (so twelve screws in all) for a secure fit. 

The hub also features an innovative nano-machined surface – an almost invisibly small detail that makes a significant difference. This special surface is designed to grip the end of the tape making it far less prone to slipping, which in turn makes threading the tape quick, easy and stress-free. Root was equally mindful of ease of use when designing the flange cut-outs (or ‘windows’). Having noticed how many reels on the market have cut-outs that become very narrow near the hub, he crafted a space large enough for three fingers so that, when threading the tape, holding the tape end against the hub is easier than ever. 

RX Reels are made to last a lifetime. Each one is handmade in the USA’s Pacific Northwest by skilled craftsmen, and each is individually numbered. Their proprietary construction process allows the finished reels to display a carbon fibre weave, a rich wood grain or a marble finish, resulting in a range of six highly elegant design options. All are delivered in a durable library-storage box with custom foam insert to protect the reel for years.

Pricing & availability

RX Reels’ carbon fibre 10.5-inch tape reels with ¼-inch spool are available now, in six finishes, priced at US $239 each.