Quarter inch tape heads are fairly forgiving when it comes to height alignment as the track is quite wide allowing some margin for misalignment between the heads. However it pays to make sure they are all lined up as accurately as possible to maximise the strength of the playback signal level to achieve best signal to noise ratio from the machine. Although the playback amplifier circuitry inside the Echorec might be able to recover or boost the gain of a weak playback signal to achieve reasonable echo swell volume levels, it will also amplify noise from the drum.
Head height in the Echorec is mostly determined by the length of the hexagonal mounting pillars on which the five head assemblies (the metal strip and head) are mounted. The pillars for all five heads are accurately machined to be the same length so that the heads line up, however there will be some small height variation between heads when setting azimuth alignment. Although some degree of height misalignment will not damage the drum in the short term, it will adversely affect the performance of the machine in the long term as the parts ‘bed-in’ over time. That is, over many, many hours of operation the drum and heads will gradually wear and settle into an optimum, harmonious relationship, but only if they are set-up correctly to begin with.