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RE: [midatlanticretro] Semi-OT: Preserve old cassette tape?

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  • Wesley Furr
    Basically...be sure to practice with another tape of some sort beforehand. The biggest thing you want to do is have enough volume level coming in, but not TOO
    Message 1 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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      Basically...be sure to practice with another tape of some sort beforehand.
      The biggest thing you want to do is have enough volume level coming in, but
      not TOO much. You want it as loud as possible, but absolutely do not want
      it to hit 0db...when you do, the audio will clip and sound bad. I liken it
      to playing the price is right...you want it as high as possible, but you
      don't want to go over. Of course that can be difficult with a dynamic
      medium like a spoken voice...it will change through the course of the
      recording, especially if the mic is moved closer or further from the
      speaker...

      My personal choice for recording is Cool Edit 96...an old shareware program.
      It's been abandoned, and I hear you can find a registration code
      online...but it will work fine in trial mode. It has a good level meter at
      the bottom so you can monitor levels and make sure it's not too loud or
      quiet. Of course once you have it recorded, you can do tweaking of the
      audio if needed to help it sound better.

      Wesley


      -----Original Message-----

      (When the time comes to make a computer recording, I assume it's as simple
      as connecting the tape player's headphone jack into my computer sound card's
      input, and then using any recording software. Right?)
    • Dan Roganti
      ... Aside from all the necessary preparations regarding the tape and sound equipment described so far - and these steps are really needed - you also need to
      Message 2 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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        On Sat, Feb 23, 2013 at 11:04 PM, <evan@...> wrote:
        Guys,

        One of the items I got from Stephen Gray's daughter last weekend is an audio tape of Stephen giving a lecture. I want to be sure the tape's in good condition before I dare to play it. (When I do play it, I'll make a recording at the same time.)

        The tape is from 1976. I don't know when it was last played.

        What should I do to ensure its integrity before playing it? I would freak out if I started playing it and it got "eaten" or otherwise damaged.


        Aside from all the necessary preparations regarding the tape and sound equipment described so far - and these steps are really needed - you also need to worry about delamination on such a cheap cassette tape. No amount of preparation from the other steps will prevent this. Because of age, quality of the product, the conditions of storage, the iron oxide film can literally peel off the polyester backing during playback from the friction or tensile stress created by the capstan motor.  In worse conditions it can happen simply by spinning the cassette reels just with your pencil. You just don't know where in the middle of the tape it can happen. Once that happens, it's almost a lost cause.

        Dan

      • B. Degnan
        ... program. ... at ... I agree, for basic simple stuff Cool Edit is adequate. I used to use 95 version bd
        Message 3 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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          >
          > My personal choice for recording is Cool Edit 96...an old shareware
          program.
          > It's been abandoned, and I hear you can find a registration code
          > online...but it will work fine in trial mode. It has a good level meter
          at
          > the bottom so you can monitor levels and make sure it's not too loud or
          > quiet. Of course once you have it recorded, you can do tweaking of the
          > audio if needed to help it sound better.
          >

          I agree, for basic simple stuff Cool Edit is adequate. I used to use '95
          version
          bd
        • Dave Wade
          Personally I find the base quality of cassettes is so poor that it s not worth doing slot of tweaking. As for a free modern recording program audacity is
          Message 4 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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            Personally I find the base quality of cassettes is so poor that it's not worth doing slot of tweaking. As for a free modern recording program audacity is pretty good.

            On Feb 24, 2013 4:19 PM, "B. Degnan" <billdeg@...> wrote:

            >
            > My personal choice for recording is Cool Edit 96...an old shareware
            program.
            > It's been abandoned, and I hear you can find a registration code
            > online...but it will work fine in trial mode.  It has a good level meter
            at
            > the bottom so you can monitor levels and make sure it's not too loud or
            > quiet.  Of course once you have it recorded, you can do tweaking of the
            > audio if needed to help it sound better.
            >

            I agree, for basic simple stuff Cool Edit is adequate.  I used to use '95
            version
            bd



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          • RonK
            ... All the suggestions are good. If you can find a variable speed player to start out the tape slowly, and run it through until the end, without the pinch
            Message 5 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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              --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, Dan Roganti <ragooman@...> wrote:
              >
              > On Sat, Feb 23, 2013 at 11:04 PM, <evan@...> wrote:
              >
              > > Guys,
              > >
              > > One of the items I got from Stephen Gray's daughter last weekend is an
              > > audio tape of Stephen giving a lecture. I want to be sure the tape's in
              > > good condition before I dare to play it. (When I do play it, I'll make a
              > > recording at the same time.)
              > >
              > > The tape is from 1976. I don't know when it was last played.
              > >
              > > What should I do to ensure its integrity before playing it? I would freak
              > > out if I started playing it and it got "eaten" or otherwise damaged.
              > >
              >
              >
              > Aside from all the necessary preparations regarding the tape and sound
              > equipment described so far - and these steps are really needed - you also
              > need to worry about delamination on such a cheap cassette tape. No amount
              > of preparation from the other steps will prevent this. Because of age,
              > quality of the product, the conditions of storage, the iron oxide film can
              > literally peel off the polyester backing during playback from the friction
              > or tensile stress created by the capstan motor. In worse conditions it can
              > happen simply by spinning the cassette reels just with your pencil. You
              > just don't know where in the middle of the tape it can happen. Once that
              > happens, it's almost a lost cause.
              >
              > Dan
              >

              All the suggestions are good. If you can find a variable speed player to start out the tape slowly, and run it through until the end, without the pinch roller engaged, that would be a smart idea. Shuffling the tape that way will allow it to "breathe", repack and adjust to the new machine. Also, look for any tape curling(it should be flat). You may also check to see if there is any mold present on the tape, which sometimes happens. As mentioned, the adhesive on the pressure pad may dry out. It can be replaced, or if your are careful, the cassette reels and tape, can be removed and placed into a new plastic cassette. This can be tricky, though.

              The great part of magnetic tape is that it lasts a long time. I've copied reel-to-reel tapes that I recorded in the 1950's. Boy, Am I old!

              Ron K
            • PhillipP
              I don t consider myself an expert by any means on this topic, but assuming that the tape is playable, wouldn t it be smarter to make a tape-to-tape copy to
              Message 6 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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                I don't consider myself an expert by any means on this topic, but assuming that the tape is playable, wouldn't it be smarter to make a tape-to-tape copy to allow for more precise digitization of that copy?

                -Phillip



                --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, evan@... wrote:
                >
                > Guys,
                >
                > One of the items I got from Stephen Gray's daughter last weekend is an audio tape of Stephen giving a lecture. I want to be sure the tape's in good condition before I dare to play it. (When I do play it, I'll make a recording at the same time.)
                >
                > The tape is from 1976. I don't know when it was last played.
                >
                > What should I do to ensure its integrity before playing it? I would freak out if I started playing it and it got "eaten" or otherwise damaged.
                >
              • Brian Schenkenberger, VAXman-
                ... More noise! -- VAXman- A Bored Certified VMS Kernel Mode Hacker VAXman(at)TMESIS(dot)ORG Well I speak to machines with the voice of humanity.
                Message 7 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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                  "PhillipP" <cooldude166861@...> writes:

                  >I don't consider myself an expert by any means on this topic, but assuming =
                  >that the tape is playable, wouldn't it be smarter to make a tape-to-tape co=
                  >py to allow for more precise digitization of that copy?

                  More noise!

                  --
                  VAXman- A Bored Certified VMS Kernel Mode Hacker VAXman(at)TMESIS(dot)ORG

                  Well I speak to machines with the voice of humanity.
                • Matt Patoray
                  Direct to digital with a high quality cassette deck is best. Using an external ADC is also a good idea as most sound cards and mother board sound chips have a
                  Message 8 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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                    Direct to digital with a high quality cassette deck is best. Using an external ADC is also a good idea as most sound cards and mother board sound chips have a lot of noise. 

                    Is there any indication if the tape was recorded with Dolby NR? 

                    What brand is the tape? Any markings like "Normal" "Chrome", "Type I" "Type II" or "Type III"?

                    A cassette to cassette copy would lower the S/N by at least 3 dB and add wow and flutter to the copy.

                    Matt

                    Sent from my iPhone

                    On Feb 24, 2013, at 7:19 PM, "PhillipP" <cooldude166861@...> wrote:

                     

                    I don't consider myself an expert by any means on this topic, but assuming that the tape is playable, wouldn't it be smarter to make a tape-to-tape copy to allow for more precise digitization of that copy?

                    -Phillip

                    --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, evan@... wrote:
                    >
                    > Guys,
                    >
                    > One of the items I got from Stephen Gray's daughter last weekend is an audio tape of Stephen giving a lecture. I want to be sure the tape's in good condition before I dare to play it. (When I do play it, I'll make a recording at the same time.)
                    >
                    > The tape is from 1976. I don't know when it was last played.
                    >
                    > What should I do to ensure its integrity before playing it? I would freak out if I started playing it and it got "eaten" or otherwise damaged.
                    >

                  • ekoblentz
                    Thanks everyone for the helpful advice. Cory Sickles ( Burning Image ) is going to digitize the tape for us.
                    Message 9 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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                      Thanks everyone for the helpful advice. Cory Sickles ("Burning Image") is going to digitize the tape for us.
                    • Jeff Jonas
                      ... I remember that effect on most of my tapes: Maxell or TDK. I d hear the next song softly in the blank spot between tracks. That sure burst my bubble when I
                      Message 10 of 25 , Feb 24, 2013
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                        > If it's a typical 'era' cassette tape (not metal or CrO2)
                        > using only FeO3 and this tape has been
                        > sitting for a long while, you're likely to encounter
                        > quite a bit of print-through when played
                        > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Print-through

                        I remember that effect on most of my tapes: Maxell or TDK. I'd hear the next song softly in the blank spot between tracks. That sure burst my bubble when I realized that my memory was NOT really so perfect!

                        I probably still have several blank TDK audio cassettes: silver and gold.

                        For 1970s authenticity, we ought to use a Kor/Sonic audio cassette from E.J. Korvettes, but I suspect my bar-mitzvah lessons are still on it! That would match Evans' Apple ][ being such a gift!

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._J._Korvette
                        http://www.snopes.com/business/names/ejkorvette.asp
                      • Brian Schenkenberger, VAXman-
                        ... Like my Apogee Duet or Symphony? ... I asked previously and I don t believe there was an answer. Being a tape lecture, I d wager it was recorded on a
                        Message 11 of 25 , Feb 25, 2013
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                          Matt Patoray <mspproductions@...> writes:

                          >Direct to digital with a high quality cassette deck is best. Using an
                          >external ADC is also a good idea as most sound cards and mother board
                          >sound chips have a lot of noise.

                          Like my Apogee Duet or Symphony?



                          >Is there any indication if the tape was recorded with Dolby NR?=20
                          >
                          >What brand is the tape? Any markings like "Normal" "Chrome", "Type I"
                          >"Type II" or "Type III"?

                          I asked previously and I don't believe there was an answer. Being a tape
                          lecture, I'd wager it was recorded on a low-quality Fe2O3 tape. There's
                          likely to be print-through, dropout (from both print-through and adhesion
                          losses) and curl.



                          >A cassette to cassette copy would lower the S/N by at least 3 dB and
                          >add wow and flutter to the copy.

                          At least!
                          --
                          VAXman- A Bored Certified VMS Kernel Mode Hacker VAXman(at)TMESIS(dot)ORG

                          Well I speak to machines with the voice of humanity.
                        • Dave Wade
                          ... He is going to get it done elsewhere... ... I have had virtually no success in getting any thing that s even half listen-able too off cassette tapes, even
                          Message 12 of 25 , Feb 25, 2013
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                            On 25/02/2013 11:58, Brian Schenkenberger, VAXman- wrote:
                            > Matt Patoray <mspproductions@...> writes:
                            >
                            >> Direct to digital with a high quality cassette deck is best. Using an
                            >> external ADC is also a good idea as most sound cards and mother board
                            >> sound chips have a lot of noise.
                            > Like my Apogee Duet or Symphony?
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >> Is there any indication if the tape was recorded with Dolby NR?=20
                            >>
                            >> What brand is the tape? Any markings like "Normal" "Chrome", "Type I"
                            >> "Type II" or "Type III"?
                            > I asked previously and I don't believe there was an answer.
                            He is going to get it done elsewhere...

                            > Being a tape
                            > lecture, I'd wager it was recorded on a low-quality Fe2O3 tape. There's
                            > likely to be print-through, dropout (from both print-through and adhesion
                            > losses) and curl.
                            >

                            I have had virtually no success in getting any thing that's even half
                            listen-able too off cassette tapes, even pro Dolby tapes. I have tried
                            reasonable quality tape players (there is a Sharp RT-100 connected into
                            this computer at the moment) and also dedicated external USB connected
                            dedicated archival devices. Frankly the quality I difference is so
                            dependant on the original material I don't think you could tell the
                            difference between my best efforts and for mono at least, playing the
                            sound back and recording into the Microphone built into my old M700
                            laptop. The degradation is minimal compared to the garbage that comes
                            off the tape. In fact the more you try and enhance them, often the worse
                            they sound. In this modern age of loss-less, noise free digital copying
                            we have forgotten how utterly appalling the quality of the "Compact
                            Cassette" was...

                            >
                            >> A cassette to cassette copy would lower the S/N by at least 3 dB and
                            >> add wow and flutter to the copy.
                            > At least!


                            --
                            Dave Wade G4UGM
                            Illegitimi Non Carborundum
                          • Ray Sills
                            ... In almost all cases, it s best to be able to digitize the original tape, not an analog dub. No dub is an exact clone in the analog world, so there will be
                            Message 13 of 25 , Feb 25, 2013
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                              On Feb 24, 2013, at 7:19 PM, PhillipP wrote:

                              > I don't consider myself an expert by any means on this topic, but
                              > assuming that the tape is playable, wouldn't it be smarter to make a
                              > tape-to-tape copy to allow for more precise digitization of that copy?
                              >
                              > -Phillip
                              >

                              In almost all cases, it's best to be able to digitize the original
                              tape, not an analog dub. No dub is an exact clone in the analog
                              world, so there will be some form of degradation with the dubbed
                              copy. High quality copying equipment can minimize the problems, but
                              the copy -will- be not as good as the original, other than being
                              recorded on new tape stock. Sometimes, that trade-off is the better
                              choice, but usually not. If the original is able to be played to make
                              an analog copy, then it can be played to make a digitized copy.

                              In the digital world, there are processes that can be used to improve
                              a not-so-good recording, like noise removal, and even peak distortion.

                              73 de Ray
                            • Mr Ian Primus
                              ... You must be doing something wrong. I mean, sure, I ve run across a few bad recordings and damaged tapes, but by and large, cassettes sound quite good. I
                              Message 14 of 25 , Feb 25, 2013
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                                --- On Mon, 2/25/13, Dave Wade <dave.g4ugm@...> wrote:

                                > I have had virtually no success in getting any thing that's
                                > even half
                                > listen-able too off cassette tapes, even pro Dolby tapes.

                                You must be doing something wrong. I mean, sure, I've run across a few bad recordings and damaged tapes, but by and large, cassettes sound quite good. I use them regularly. A good recording on good tape can really sound fantastic. Are you sure your cassette player is aligned properly? Do you live near a massive power transformer or other source of magnetic interference? Indian burial ground?

                                > In this modern age of loss-less, noise free
                                > digital copying
                                > we have forgotten how utterly appalling the quality of the
                                > "Compact
                                > Cassette" was...

                                Some low grade tape is truly bad. But, again, cassettes can sound very, very good - don't dismiss the format entirely. It's not digital, no, but it's not 8-track either.

                                -Ian
                              • Dave
                                ... Nope the nearest thing is the local trams which are about 300yds (two blocks) away. http://www.altrincham.org.uk/PublicTransport.asp I have tried a
                                Message 15 of 25 , Feb 25, 2013
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                                  On 25/02/2013 15:16, Mr Ian Primus wrote:
                                  > --- On Mon, 2/25/13, Dave Wade <dave.g4ugm@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  >> I have had virtually no success in getting any thing that's
                                  >> even half
                                  >> listen-able too off cassette tapes, even pro Dolby tapes.
                                  > You must be doing something wrong. I mean, sure, I've run across a few bad recordings and damaged tapes, but by and large, cassettes sound quite good. I use them regularly. A good recording on good tape can really sound fantastic. Are you sure your cassette player is aligned properly? Do you live near a massive power transformer or other source of magnetic interference? Indian burial ground?
                                  Nope the nearest thing is the local trams which are about 300yds (two
                                  blocks) away.

                                  http://www.altrincham.org.uk/PublicTransport.asp

                                  I have tried a selection of cassette players, a selection of sound
                                  cards, and it always sounds naff when I play back the resulting audio,
                                  be it in the car, on a computer or via my Android phone....
                                  >> In this modern age of loss-less, noise free
                                  >> digital copying
                                  >> we have forgotten how utterly appalling the quality of the
                                  >> "Compact
                                  >> Cassette" was...
                                  > Some low grade tape is truly bad. But, again, cassettes can sound very, very good - don't dismiss the format entirely. It's not digital, no, but it's not 8-track either.

                                  No but compare to any reel to reel how can 1/16" tracks on 1/4" wide
                                  tape at 1.75ips ever sound "good". There were some less worse devices
                                  that worked at double speed, but I still don't think they are/were
                                  brilliant.

                                  >
                                  > -Ian
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > ttp://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                                  >
                                  Dave
                                  G4UGM
                                • William Donzelli
                                  ... OK, Mr. Albini. -- Will
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Feb 25, 2013
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                                    > Some low grade tape is truly bad. But, again, cassettes can sound very,
                                    > very good - don't dismiss the format entirely.

                                    OK, Mr. Albini.

                                    --
                                    Will
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