Beocord Stereomaster 610K

(1963-1964) Stereo tape recorder, 1⅞, 3¾, 7½ IPS, two or four track format, 2x6W

Type number: 1081

Picture by Martin Olsen


The Beocord Stereomaster was the first in a long line of excellent stereo tape recorders that featured 3 heads, mixing capabilities and all-transistor modular construction. They offered near-professional performance for the home user, though their high price put them out of reach for all but the wealthy few. Throughout the series, these machines were amongst the most expensive items in the B&O range. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

For the capabilities it offered, the Beocord Stereomaster was fairly compact. It came in a neat, wood trimmed cabinet, which was known as the “cassette” version. This confusing title in fact meant that the machine fitted readily into a space provided in B&O radiograms, it is just unfortunate that the word took on other meanings later on in the development of tape recorders. The deck was large enough to accommodate 7” spools, which would allow 45 minutes of high quality stereo recording if normal tape was used at the highest speed. The four-track version doubled this figure as the tape could be turned over, though the narrower tracks meant that the noise performance was not quite as good. At the front of the machine there was a control panel with push buttons and sliding faders, an unusual fitment to domestic equipment at that time. The tape transport was controlled by a single “joystick” lever, which was interlocked to the record switches to prevent accidental erasure of existing recordings. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Because the Beocord Stereomaster had separate heads and separate amplifiers for recording and playback, it was possible to monitor a recording “off the tape” as it was being made. In addition, there were separate stereo preamplifiers for a microphone, a record player and a radio tuner, the outputs of which could be mixed using the sliders and recorded individually or in combination. Finally, a built-in stereo power amplifier of 6W per channel (a good figure for the period) was included for playback through external loudspeakers. This arrangement allowed for great flexibility, and in addition to being able to make superb stereo recordings, the machine could be used to assemble multiple recordings onto one track and as an echo generator. A facility to use the amplifier only, without starting the motor, was provided, so that the Beocord Stereomaster could be used as the centrepiece of a complete Hi-Fi system. The pre-amplifiers were in the form of small plug-in cards and could be exchanged as the user desired. The record player preamplifier was available in two versions, one for a standard crystal pickup and one for Beogram turntables with a magnetic pickup. This density of function in a reasonably compact machine was made possible by the use of transistorised circuitry, it would not have been practical to make such a machine if valves had been used. As with all transistor recorders, moving coil meters were used to show the correct recording level. These were illuminated in white to show the machine was switched on, but changed to red if a recording was being made. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Mechanically, these machines were well designed and sturdy. A single Papst motor was used, complete with a stepped pulley for three speed drive. The speed selector included switches for equalisation, ensuring that recordings were made correctly to the NARTB standard, the same as was used in European recording studios at the time. The tape path included “slack absorbers”, which effectively isolated the tape that was in contact with the heads from jerks and other mechanical disturbances that could result from uneven reeling or prolonged storage. The die-cast head cover was easily removable for cleaning and inspection of the heads. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The Beocord Stereomaster quickly gained a reputation for quality and versatility, and become a great success. The format it established continued in production well into the 1970s, the next version being known as the Beocord 2000. Text copyright © Beocentral. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

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