digital transfer/conversion of old audio cassettes issue

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digital transfer/conversion of old audio cassettes issue

Post by gtr_joe » Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:57 am

You can't make this stuff up.

A guy (singer/songwriter) hands me about a half-dozen audio cassettes of demos he's done with bands about 30 years ago.

He wants the material on CD.

I have a Tascam 102 cassette deck in very good shape.

I set up for Pro Tools. Match levels. Hit play. For about a second, the music sounds very clear, then instantly becomes muffled. Stop the cassette. Hit play again. Once more a second of clear and then horribly muffled.

Is this the oxide just coming off the tape base that's masking the playback head?

I know when we used to do 1/4" masters, we would always "pancake" them. Meaning let them run at tape speed until completed so they're tails out to make sure it was a clean wrap.

I also know that with 1/4", you can bake old tapes to get one more transfer out of them before all the oxide sheds.

Anybody have any suggestions on how to transfer old cassettes? Any good reco's for a restoration house?

Have checked the cassette deck (cleaned heads) with more recent cassettes and it operates fine.

Would appreciate any info and suggestions.


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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:06 am

If the heads were getting gunked up you'd see it and it would take a little longer than a few seconds to start happening. I'd guess that the layers of tape might be sticking together and the extra bit of tension is throwing the tape out of line over the heads. Try fast forwarding and rewinding through the whole tape before you transfer.
Oh, and clean the heads often.

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Post by Teacher's Pet » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:20 pm

It sounds like maybe the pads are loose.

Check the little foam pads that hold the tape flat against the heads. The glue that holds them on often dries out over the years and then the tape doesn't make good contact and it sounds like it's underwater.

You can unscrew or crack open the old shells and CAREFULLY transfer the tape & reels to a new cassette shell.

Good luck,

- Robin

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Post by junkstar » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:31 am

If you have not done it yet, and not to sound too obvious, but FF to the end of the side, then rewind to beginning of the tape again. Get that tape happy on the reel.

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Jeff White
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Post by Jeff White » Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:34 am

I'll bet $5 this is the pad as mentioned above.
I record, mix, and master in my Philly-based home studio, the Spacement.

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