1963 Loewe-Opta Optacord 403/4
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From Germany comes this attractively styled half-track mono machine.  Tape speeds were 3¾ and 178.jpg (4916 bytes) ips with a maximum reel size of six inches (15cm).  Features included a three digit tape counter, an electro-magnetic automatic stop at both ends of the tape, tone and volume controls and a five-watt output (of dubious quality - see test report below).. 

The machine had a remote control foot-switch (like most German models of the day it encouraged its owners to use it "für das diktation!")

The model 404 was identical to the 403 but was a quarter-track mono unit and sold for £10 more.

Movie Trivia:
In the 2002 submarine flick "K-19, the Widowmaker", it's 1961, and at the height of the Cold War, Captain Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) retires to his cabin on board the ill-fated Russian submarine 'K-19' to chill out to some classical music using one of these recorders.

There is a vintage test report and additional images for this recorder on the CD-ROM

Specifications at a glance
Optacord 403/404
Price when new (in the UK)
approx £48
Track system
half-track mono (403); quarter-track mono (404)
Maximum reel size
Tape speeds
3¾ & 1 ips
Frequency response (all 3 dB)
3¾ ips: 40Hz - 16kHz
1 ips: 40 - 8kHz
Wow & flutter (RMS)
0.15% at 3¾ ips, 0.18% at 178yel.jpg (4923 bytes) ips
Signal to noise ratio
Rewind speed
100 seconds for standard 6" tape
Valve complement
EL86,  ECC83,  EC92,  EL84,  EM 84 - 2 dry rectifiers
Audio output power
5 watts
microphone, radio and gramophone
Internal PM oval
32 lbs (14.5 kg)
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