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Sony TC-399

Stereo Reel to Reel Tape Recorder (1978-82)

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Sony TC-399


The TC-399 has large-sized VU meters which indicate the average level of complex musical waveforms.

Other features include high performance Ferrite and Ferrite heads, tape bias and equalization switches to obtain the maximum characteristics according to the type of tapes, and a tape tension regulator to reduce wow and flutter.


Track system: 4-track, 2-channel, stereo/monaural system

Heads: 1 x playback, 1 x record, 1 x erase

Reel size: up to 7 inch reel

Equalization: NAB or JIS

Tape speeds: 1 78  3 34  7 12 ips

Wow and flutter: 0.06% (7 12 ips)

Frequency response: 30Hz to 25kHz (7 12 ips)

Signal to Noise Ratio: 61dB

Total harmonic distortion: 0.8%

Input: 77.5mV (line), 0.25mV (mic)

Output: 0.775V (line)

Dimensions: 415 x 435 x 190mm

Weight: 12.6kg


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Reviewed Jun 07th, 2018 by

Good, reliable if rather agricultural,- very mechanical clunking- machine.

Common faults, just like all its ilk, 366/377 etc, dead and or distortion Rec or Play 1 or both channels, = dirty switches, Bias, Eq, Tape-Monitor/Line switches, and the Record-Playback switches on the rec amp/bias board, as well as all the user pots like Rec level etc can be noisy.

Chemi-con caps it uses are pretty good, don't be surprised you find none faulty!

Heads are hard ferrite, last well. Automatic tape back-tension control means machine is easy on tapes, unlike similar vintage Akai machines.

Belts are cheap, easy to get, and will need changing, plus all bearings will need cleaning and re-oiling at the age they are now, including pinch-roller bushes.

Motor Run cap, 2uF (50Hz) or 1.5uF (60Hz worth changing to protect motor from low torque and overheat.
Take care the motor drive pulley height is set right or wear of capstan idler tyre can occur on 3.3/4 IPS, making it barrel shaped.

Reviewed Jan 26th, 2015 by

Very surprised deck,easy to service,heads after 33years like new,very quiet engine,very good recording don't colored voice.Watch for condition idler wheels you be very glad.



re: TC-399

My TC-399 can't record on both channels. Anyone who has overcome this problem before? Thanks.

richartisticwoods's picture

re: TC-399

Is there anyone out there who has removed the front cover from a Sony TC 399 Reel to Reel? I'm attempting to fix mine and I've loosened the front cover to the point where it needs to have the Pause lever "knob" removed so that I can pull the cover away from the Reel to Reel, but I don't know how to remove that lever knob. It is too large for the arc shaped slot on the Pause/Lock arm to pass by. I need to remove the head of that pause lever which is just a small aluminum cylinder but I don't want to force it. I've tried pulling on it with a pair of needle nosed pliers but it doesn't want to move. Do I need to unscrew it or pull on it? Is it just pressure fit, or is there a trick to getting the cover past this little knob. It is quite frustrating as the service manual just shows a parts breakdown on page 5 but doesn't say how to remove the knob. I would be immensely grateful if someone could help me. Thank you, Richard

re: TC-399

One year later I think you might have figured it out - but yes, it's threaded, though the threads are left-handed for some reason!
Edit: Oops, saw the rest of the comments after I posted mine.

re: TC-399

Hi. I just bought one of these and am attempting to remove the front panel too. The pause knob you're asking about screws off with a left hand thread. I still need to remove the 3 large knobs along the bottom which are held on with set screws, aka grub screws. Do you know if these set screws have a hex/Allen head or a straight slot?


richartisticwoods's picture

re: TC-399

OOPs, I figured it out. The threading is reversed and it screws on and off. My bad. Anyway, I'm having a problem as the main motor doesn't turn. I'm thinking it is the oil cap that is right above the motor might be shorted. Lights come on but motor doesn't move at all when the switch is put into any position, forward, reverse, etc....

Any others who have run into this problem?

Thanks, Rich

re: TC-399

Hi Rich, I assume you have a tape loaded and is taut. Otherwise, when the tape runs out there is a sort of a lever that falls back and cuts off power to the motor.

re: TC-399

These comments are from personal experience of the TC-399 and TC-377. TC-366

Motor Start capacitor (metal can) 2uf 450v (240v mains) or 1.5uf 250v (120v mains) failing will cause low motor torque and slow running. The motor running pretty hot is a good clue here to a failing capacitor.
The rubber Idler wheel tension spring becomes weak with time and won't put enough tension against the metal flywheel. Especially noticable at 7.5IPS with running slow. Rubber deposits on Motor pulley and flywheel will cause flutter. Check the pinch roller is not damaged too. (It will cause wow otherwise) Clean everything with isopropyl alcohol. I also use print roller restorer/cleaner (Plantenclene) sparingly on rubber surfaces to restore grip and it softens hard rubber, but be frugal with this as it removes some rubber too. Be warned, but it helps.
Belt change is a must, they're cheap. It makes a huge difference. There are four belts in total. Two round belts drive the wind/rewind and two small square section belts for the tape counter. The capstan is driven through a rubber idler wheel direct from the motor pulley. This also needs to be in good condition. After removing the top panel and knobs plus pause knob. you have to remove the head block and top flywheel bearing housing . Six screws here. It lifts upwards.
MOST IMPORTANT. When unscrewing the pause button screw on the front panel, IT IS LEFT HAND THREAD. Therefore undo it CLOCKWISE!
The Silver knobs on the Mic/Line and Output on the TC-399 are locked on using 2mm Hex bolts. (Allen bolts). Hope this helps

re: TC-399

How on earth do you remove the front panel. I cannot get the lock switch or the 3 knobs to come off.

re: TC-399

Screw out the lock switch knob by turning it clockwise. The three other knobs you require a 1.5 mm Allen wrench.

re: TC-399

Does this machine have sound on sound?

re: TC-399

I would believe so as it has separate record buttons for each channel.

2 or 4 track

is this machine switchable between 1-4 and 2-3 tracks, as i cant see this option on the machine.

Yes, it has two source-tape

Yes, it has two source-tape switches and two record buttons which can be used to play and record the tracks separately.

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