Need advice about reel to reel tapes found in an attic

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by amanda246, Jan 30, 2017.

  1. amanda246

    amanda246 Member Thread Starter

    Hi everyone, so sorry not been here as of late, i have listened to a few of these reel to reels i dont know how to post from my phone some of the footage i recorded via video, but i can confirm the George Martin ones are as stated, Bryan Ferry, Gallagher and Lyle, Willie Nelson, Empire strikes back (Audio) Stevie Wonder Elton John TOTPS Tom Jones Beatles Tony Hancock ,seems all the ones i have listened to are what are on the boxes but there is still a lot more to go through , also there is a reel that we do not know who the artist or songs are, we tried the apps to find out but it comes up unknown, this is a studio recording and we are stumped on this, there is also one with talking on that is describing of how to fade music into another and the songs that was being used was Beach boys, the voice i have no idea whom it is (Test Tape) one of them, Any way if anyone is able to help us with the unknown one at all, i hope this is not cheeky to ask this, but i do have this on my facebook page as i would like t know if all is well who the artist is, so anyone who would like to listen to it please message me and ill tell you whom i am on there and fingers cross this mystery may be solved, also if anyone could give me a guide line of what to ask for these reels as a one lot as son would like these sold, i doubt we will be able to listen to them all as time is limited at the moment and it is very time consuming
    Many thanks
    The FRiNgE, Tullman and snipe like this.
  2. The FRiNgE

    The FRiNgE Forum Resident

    Hi Amanda, this is my first response, however had read this discussion back when you found the tapes.
    I just would like to reiterate what has been mentioned, just a summary If I may..
    You have a great wealth of tapes, and without a doubt high quality copies.
    It is important that the hand of the person who possesses these knows about the special care they require.
    The fact they were in an attic may have saved them so far, provided the temperature wasn't too hot at times.

    First on the list is playing them. May I ask what tape deck you have? Excellent advice given from a member here, the tape handling capability of the deck is critical. Harsh fast rewind speeds can stretch and fraze the tape edges, damaging it forever, and the brakes can also stretch or snap a tape.
    it is critical that the heads are clean and demagnetized, then entire tape path, guides, pinch rollers and capstan should be clean (appropriate to use the adjective, "immaculately" clean in the play of tapes) Recommended decks to play these on would be a Revox PR-99, (refub models $1600.00 range) or the popular Teac 2 track A-6100 2T (more affordable at about $800.00) The Pioneer RT-1050 is a more affordable great sounding 2 track semi-pro deck, but has very high FF and Rewind speeds, not good for your tapes. Your tapes are two track, the industry standard, so they will produce the highest fidelity on a professional two track deck. However they will at least play on a 4 track deck like the Teac A-3440 (more affordable at about $800.00) Incompatible are home 4 track stereo decks, although they will play on these, however with channel imbalance and greatly reduced fidelity. The tapes would not be harmed, but the sound quality will suffer greatly.. ok for identifying the content as you already have. (the recorded tracks on the tape do not line up with non-pro decks)

    I understand you have played the tapes and confirmed the content (except for two) The above info is for your reference in the future. The tapes must be played with knowledge of equipment and guidance from experienced engineers or tape audiophiles.

    One very important point, slower FF and REW speeds are easier on the tape. Virtually all professional decks feature an advanced servo transport electronics/ mechanism which allows the operator to toggle REW and FF alternately to slow the tape spooling speed. (on a low cost home deck this would snap the tape, the direct opposite) The tape handling on a pro machine is so gentle, that this is beneficial, never harmful to the tape. Certain pro decks feature a slow spooling/ cue feature, such as the Studer A-807 and other Studer models, very expensive and beautiful machines.

    Secondly is storage and handling. As I mentioned, the attic space may have saved these tapes. Although heat is bad, tapes are most susceptible to damage from high humidity. Now that these tapes are in your living space, those rainy days, and hot humid days may quickly react with the tape, and develop sticky-shed condition. Tapes in this condition become unplayable. It is important to do your best to store in a cool dry place. Heat is bad, but humidity is far worse. My suggestion is to store in a new box, purchase some silica Gel packs. Seal the box with tape. Open once every three months or so (on a dry day) and replace the silica packs. An alternative to the silica would be dry shredded newspaper. Dry sawdust is great for absorption, but far too dusty to be around the tapes... no sawdust anywhere near the tapes, nor anything "dusty". Certain types of tape are more susceptible to stick-shed condition, most of the back-coated types, a black coating on the back side. (the coating aids in smooth transport of the tape) Tapes without the coating will have a shiny side, more robust, but can also develop sticky shed, with longer exposure time to high humidity.

    The tech explanation for sticky-shed, certain types of glue or binder that adheres the oxide coating/ back coating to the substrate tends to absorb moisture over time. As the moisture increases, the tape becomes sticky. The result is oxide shed, severe damage or destruction of the music, and a huge mess on the heads and tape guides. The tape may slow or stop or produce a squealing sound during REW or FF. If you hear this, stop, do not play the tape. Sticky shed tapes may be baked in an oven at a specified and controlled temp and made playable for a short time to archive to digital.

    Another critical storage point is the awareness of magnetic field producing devices which damage tapes. Also be aware that magnetic fields go through floors and walls, so if there is a refrigerator let's say, on the opposite side of a closet wall, the wall does not stop it. The only avoidance is distance. The tapes need to be at least 3 meters (10 feet or more) away from magnetic devices, better to have the tapes off the floor if possible.

    Here is a list of common devices the tapes need to be far away from: :bone:
    1) refrigerator
    2) any wall wart, phone chargers, etc
    3) furnace (electric motors produce strong magnetic fields)
    4) any speaker (which contain strong magnets)
    5) vacuum cleaner (electric motor strong field, dangerous to tapes)
    6) fluorescent lights (transformers produce magnetic fields) (ie: a light on an apartment ceiling below .. the magnetic field goes thru your apartment floor
    7) desk halogen lamps low voltage types (which contain a magnetic field producing transformer, as bad as a fluorescent light)
    8) any powered device with a motor, power tools, etc... avoid (ok if more than 10 feet away)
    9) any household item that contains a magnet, a mag light seems innocent enough, but has a very strong magnet, keep it away from your tapes
    10 Television sets, to a far lesser degree plasma TV's

    Just to repeat for clarity, all of these magnetic sources are to be clear of the tapes, more than 10 feet away is good. Weaker magnetic sources such as a wall wart can be closer, maybe about 3 feet away. (the same applies to cassette tapes BTW, one of the reasons most do not play well after 10 to 20 years)

    Third critical storage point is handling. Never touch the tape. (ok on the leader portion to load the tape) Oil from fingers cause dropouts, an abrupt decrease in volume or treble at the affected area. I always wash my hands before handling tapes as my general practice... a non softening type of soap, not as pretty for the hands, but good for the tapes :pleased:

    Thank you for the update, what a great find! And I believe have fallen into good hands, fantastic you sought advice from all the great members here!
    My advice/ summary is based upon my lifetime as a lover of music and sound, a musician, audiophile, and pro experience with analog tape recording.

    long post, but I hope beneficial, rock on,
    Steve VK
    Last edited: May 28, 2017
    Rick Bartlett and amanda246 like this.
  3. amanda246

    amanda246 Member Thread Starter

    Thank you so much for this advice, the tapes are in storage away from any of the things you suggested, And it is dry where they are, I shall relay this information back to my son and state that although they are kept in a clean container not to place it on the floor, i know every time the machine was used it was thoroughly cleaned, i shall get some gel pads for the reels to keep them safe but as there are so many of the reels i doubt we would ever get the time to hear them all, what would be a shame, so to even think about keeping them would be such a waste when another could benefit from them, and treasure them as it is a part of history, My son and myself have spoken about them and what we should do, and he suggested letting them go as a job lot to a collector or someone that has a passion for this type of thing, there could be some hidden gems in them who knows, i know we stumbled on one that we can not find any information on, name of the songs or artist even though the voice sounds familiar, I agree with you the members here are great and helped me so much in an area i had no knowledge about, so meanwhile its keep them safe and look for a new home for them, I am not a lover of ebay so that has been ruled out, I think its time we let them go to someone who would appreciate them and have the time to listen to them all .
    Many thanks
    The FRiNgE likes this.
  4. amanda246

    amanda246 Member Thread Starter

    We need the storage so these reels need a new home, we have not listened to any more of them so we dont know what is there, so if anyone is interested in them please message me and ill pass my sons number to you
    Many thanks
  5. Shak Cohen

    Shak Cohen Forum Resident

    United Kingdom
    I would have thought that spending say £400-500 on a used Revox, Tascam, Fostex etc. and around £100 on a standalone digital recorder would be the best option in these circumstances. The tapes can then be copied to a digital format, and assessed. Once the transcription is complete, the equipment can go back on to eBay, and you should get at least 75% of what you paid back; the tapes can then be auctioned as well. :righton:
    Agitater likes this.

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