3M M79, studio reel to reel tape machine

3M M79 tape recorder

We use a 3M M79 mastering magnetic tape recorder in the studio. This example is the reel to reel 2-track version made for mastering with input and output transformers. The 3M M79 is equipped with a remote control so that the tape recorder can be placed in another place than the mastering studio. 

3M M79 reel to reelHistory

The company is actually named Minnesota mining and manufacturing company but use the short name 3M on their recording devices. The 3M M79 24-track was the first 24-track tape recorder to hit the audio market. It quickly became a studio standard and was used on a numerous recordings. The 3M M79 was extremely popular and was used on numerous Motown recordings, in the rolling stones mobile studio and in Paramount studios in LA to name a few. The rolling stones studio was actually referred to in the deep purple song smoke on the water.   

The 3M M79 reel to reel studio recorder was used by:

  • Michael Jackson
  • Led Zeppelin
  • David Bowie
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Jimmy Hendrix
  • Deep Purple
  • Bob Marley and the Wailers
  • Iron Maiden
  • Frank Zappa
  • Uriah Heep
  • Aerosmith
  • Boston
  • Bad Company
  • Santana
  • Simple Minds
  • Dire Straits
    to name a few...


The main reason that the M79 is so great sounding is the patented isoloop tape path. The rollers and guides are removed from the most crucial places to get a smooth clean tape path. This also minimizes the tape flutter. The sound is clean and punchy with that smooth handling of the highs and lows. This tape recorder is great on almost everything. We love to use it on studio recordings to soften that digital feeling. When driven hard its still very subtle but adds a nice warm sound.

4 thoughts on “3M M79, studio reel to reel tape machine”

  1. They are awesome machines.I own 2 m79s24tr..and 2 two tracks..Any one know of 24tr head stacks floatin around?

  2. Working on an M79 now. Came from a school in Chicago, but originally out of Sigma Sound in Philly. Seller said the unit was in great shape. Pulled a 10″ by 1/4″ inch copper-strip out of the card-cage shorting an array of boards. Oddly enough, after removed, I couldn’t find any damage.

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