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G. Hoffman
April 12th, 2011, 08:45 PM
My dad has a box of old consumer reel to reel tapes (Scotch 150, if any of your are familiar with this stuff) that he recorded back in the 1960's and 1970's at the Bean Blossom Bluegrass festivals. He is wondering about digitizing them. Now, my first concern is about his tape deck. I have no idea if it is working or not, but it's an old Teac of some sort. I'm sure it is all 7.5 ips and all that, so certainly not professional quality, but if I were to try and do the transfers for him, what do I need to look out for?


Gabriel

weedywet
April 12th, 2011, 09:16 PM
only that the tape isn't so brittle it breaks

archtop
April 12th, 2011, 09:34 PM
or that the tape is so sticky that it plays slow.

G cubed
April 12th, 2011, 09:54 PM
Track configuration also helps. Are the tapes all recorded in the same format? full trk mono, 2 trk mono, 2trk stereo,1/2 trk mono, and the possibility of 4 trk 1/4" tapes as well ?

radiationroom
April 12th, 2011, 10:03 PM
Get in touch with Richard Hess (http://www.richardhess.com/). He knows probably as much as anyone about tape restoration.

weedywet
April 12th, 2011, 10:14 PM
or that the tape is so sticky that it plays slow.

that shouldn't be an issue with 150

that was a much later 406 , 456 era issue

dwoz
April 12th, 2011, 10:22 PM
If you CAN roll the tape on the machine it was recorded on, you're probably going to dodge a major bullet in terms of repairing alignment issues, etc.

Chances are, unless the machine's output electronics or motors are truly fucked, it will sound better off the machine that it was recorded on, than on a "better" machine, because of alignment.

That also makes the track schema question go away.

jstuart
April 12th, 2011, 10:39 PM
Take a look at the tape deck. check out the heads for configuration ( errr, assuming you know the width of 1/4 track, and 1/2 track...) Look for the model # of the tape deck: probably can figure out the track configuration from that. Most of that older scotch tape is pretty resilient. the sticky problems came later. with the higher coercivity (sp) "blends"... I've personally had few problems transferring the 150, but maybe I've been lucky...just a few from edits drying out, and I'm guessing your dad didn't do boatload of editing. the potentially biggest problem is the playback on his old deck... it may be way out of alignment... so you are faced with either finding a reputable transfer house ( reference RR's post) or doing it your self. if the cost is prohibitive. If it is prohibitive, and it's 1/4 track, try to find an otari mx 5050 deck in ok shape ( or a technics 1500, harder to find , nicer deck) they both have 1/4 track playback with adjustments to make the most of the tapes.
actually they both have ok 1/2 track playback and can adjust from 15 to 33/4 speeds... IF this is a bit cryptic/long winded , pm me

john



ps my memory of the 1500 is a bit out of focus... it's been since 1985 that I owned one, so I'm not sure of it's 3 3/4 speed abilities... that's what happens when you get " vintage"

pps, what WW and Dwoz said as well

G. Hoffman
April 12th, 2011, 10:47 PM
Thanks all. And any other info, keep it coming. I haven't dealt with tape since I was at Berklee, and the machines were all maintained by the work study folks. I'm reasonably certain that dad didn't do any editing, but I'll try to dig out the machine and see if I can figure out if it is working.


Gabriel

PRobb
April 13th, 2011, 01:02 AM
If you CAN roll the tape on the machine it was recorded on, you're probably going to dodge a major bullet in terms of repairing alignment issues, etc.

In theory, yes.
But I'm not sure that holds if the machine has been sitting in a garage for 40 years.

dwoz
April 13th, 2011, 01:11 AM
In theory, yes.
But I'm not sure that holds if the machine has been sitting in a garage for 40 years.

if it was a consumer deck it probably didn't actually have any real end-user alignment adjustment, so the chance that it got moved since those tapes were made is slim.

Anyway, it's the best FIRST option to try. There could be a hundred things wrong with the machine, including a bunch of dried out caps that go SNAP CRACKLE POP when he turns it on. or the capstan puck has got a divot in it. Or the motors are frozen, or lots of other stuff.

But if it is in the same alignment as when the tapes were recorded, he might be in his best position then.

T.Bay
April 13th, 2011, 01:39 AM
I had some virgin NOS Ampex 456 that had tiny speckles of 'red oxide' showing in the bag it was wrapped in.

You are asking for trouble if you put this shit on your machine. It was all fucked, what a mess. The same era NOS BASF tape was perfectly fine.

hank alrich
April 13th, 2011, 03:03 AM
I was given an old Teac 3340 that looks to be in superb shape. If you put tape on it the machine will snap the tape. Something's amiss in the brakes for the take-up reel.

Be careful.

Bob Olhsson
April 13th, 2011, 10:04 PM
They told us tapes like 111, 150 and 201 would be toast by the '70s and we should switch to tapes like 456. As it happens, they couldn't have been more wrong about both.

There is no way to reliably predict the longevity of complex chemical compounds. Unfortunately lots of manufacturers lie. It's a known fact that metal particle tape self-erases after about twenty years. The suits all across the economy are going to have a cow when they realize most of what they've been told about backup by IT types was pure bullsh!t. Audio was just the canary in the high tech mine.

dwoz
April 13th, 2011, 10:39 PM
They told us tapes like 111, 150 and 201 would be toast by the '70s and we should switch to tapes like 456. As it happens, they couldn't have been more wrong about both.

There is no way to reliably predict the longevity of complex chemical compounds. Unfortunately lots of manufacturers lie. It's a known fact that metal particle tape self-erases after about twenty years. The suits all across the economy are going to have a cow when they realize most of what they've been told about backup by IT types was pure bullsh!t. Audio was just the canary in the high tech mine.

ALL competent data archiving schemes include a planned media migration on regular appropriate intervals.

Bob Olhsson
April 14th, 2011, 04:12 PM
True but assumptions are being made about tape reliability that are totally unwarranted. In fact my personal experience of twenty years has been that hard drives are actually lots more reliable!

dwoz
April 14th, 2011, 11:26 PM
True but assumptions are being made about tape reliability that are totally unwarranted. In fact my personal experience of twenty years has been that hard drives are actually lots more reliable!

I would sign on to that statement.

The only caveat being that a head crash on even a low density HDD is like a fleet of Boeing 747 jumbo jets crash landing on Madison Avenue somewhere in the vicinity of 5th Ave.