SH Spotlight A reminder about recording terminology --- TAPE HISS

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Decca used 200's in New York and LA up until around 1958 so that's a good 10 years..
  2. Perisphere

    Perisphere Forum Resident

    Were they using them at the Pythian Temple facility? More to the point, was a 200 used to record Bill Haley's 'Rock around the clock'?
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter


    Yes, and everything else there for at least 10 years.
  4. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Motown Legend

    Nashville, TN
    An interesting contextual twist to the Jack Mullen story surfaced a few years ago. Apparently AEG had shown the AC bias machines to RCA when they were first developed but David Sarnoff wanted no part of having to pay for a license to use the AC bias technology.
  5. DanG

    DanG On Green Dolphin Street

    I've just been listening to The Definitive Django Reinhardt Series remastered by Ted Kendall. Certainly a lot of 'shellac swoosh' present. To my ears, more present than tape hiss.
  6. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    Capitol used the 200's at their (pre-Tower) Melrose Ave. studios. They were modified for Capitol - change in the head gap, and something else I can't think of.
  7. ZenArcher

    ZenArcher Forum Resident

    Durham, NC
  8. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Well, most people think that tape has been around for ever but believe me, Sun Records was still recording on disk as late as 1953.. The smaller already had their disc cutting gear and those new tape recorders (the good ones) were very expensive..
  9. sharedon

    sharedon Forum Zonophone

    We actually have paper-base tapes where I work... Is there any equipment around these days that can play them???
  10. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Motown Legend

    Nashville, TN
    I have to wonder if the Captial 200s were modified beyond the ones Ampex performed on all 200s in order to make tapes recorded on one machine playable on another. According to Walter Selsted, who was Ampex vp of engineering, the company actually went broke before coming up with a head design for the 200 that worked.

    Virtually every studio still had disk until the late '60s because many clients needed to be able to take acetates home in order to evaluate what they had done. Decent quality home tape machines didn't become available for less than $200 until the mid to late '60s.
  11. posieflump

    posieflump New Member

    The late Peter Copeland, former head of the National Sound Archive at the British Library, once told me that he was taught to cut direct to disc as part of his Studio Manager's training on joining the BBC in 1960!

    (They phased it out of the training scheme shortly afterward, although there was a cutting lathe rumoured to exist in a storeroom at Maida Vale into the 1990s).
  12. Magnus A.

    Magnus A. Forum Resident

    Uppsala, Sweden
    A machine for making magnetic recordings was available to broadcasting companies as early as the 1930s: The Marconi-Stille steel tape recorder, manufactured by Marconi Works in Chelmsford, England. (See web page with tremendous pics.) These monsters could record about 32 minutes of sound on 3,000 meter (9,800ft) long spools of Swedish-made tungsten steel tape, running at 1·5 meters per second (59ips). The tape was 3 millimeters (0·118in) wide and 0·08 millimeters (3·15mil) thick.

    It was actually possible to edit the recorded performances, but this had to be done by welding the tape!

    The BBC and the Swedish Broadcasting Company both started using Marconi-Stille machines in the mid-1930s. Those were still in use in the early 1950s. I believe the Swedish Broadcasting Company has kept at least one machine in the Broadcasting House for the purpose of transferring old recordings from their archive. I’ve got a few LPs and CDs of 1940s radio shows transferred from steel tapes, and they don’t sound too bad.
    Another brand of steel tape recorders, Stahlton, was manufactured by C. Lorenz A.G. in Berlin.

    Broadcasting companies in several countries used steel tape machines for pre-recording radio shows. But probably they were too awkward to operate — and the sound quality to low — for being practical to use as an intermediate medium when mastering commercial records.

    Attached Files:

  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    That's a monster. Great sounding machine. Not in America until after the war (WWII).
  14. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Motown Legend

    Nashville, TN
  15. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Too much to really summarize, but *tons* of information on early magnetic recording in these two PDFs:

    Note that AEG was recording in stereo in *1942*. Some of these recordings still exist.
  16. Beech

    Beech Forum Resident

    Dublin, Ireland
    Awesome topic!
  17. DanG

    DanG On Green Dolphin Street

    Reviewing this thread - I think the first time I ever heard of an acetate was the story that Brian Wilson received an acetate of Sgt. Pepper before Pepper was released.
  18. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    I think this is pretty interesting in particular:

  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Getting to meet Mullin at the AES meetings was always a big thrill. He played the most amazing sounding audio tapes from the 1940's. He had one Bing Crosby song on a 30 ips tape from like 1947 or so that sounded so jaw-droppingly wonderful, when it was over no one spoke or clapped for a minute. Just a bunch of pocket pen protector engineering types with their mouths hanging open.

    I realize now that I try and match my Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, etc. remixes up to the sound of that ancient Bing tape I heard back in the 1980's at The SPORTSMEN'S LODGE . Wish I could hear some of that stuff he had again. Quite tremendous and a big influence on my mixing and mastering style.
  20. ROLO46

    ROLO46 Forum Resident

    BBC WWII monitoring Service at Caversham always followed Hitlers Broadcasts with interest
    They knew it was impossible for him to be in 2 places at once and suspected fidelity recording.
    RAF Mosquitoes bombed a Berlin Radio station in daylight in '44, when they suspected a live broadcast from Goering and Goebbles, so Hitler was very cautious.
    There is a live recording of the event with thumps and scream behind the announcer.
    Possibly made on tape.....
  21. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Magnetophons were certainly used, although perhaps not for the reasons assumed by the Allied forces:

  22. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    That's pretty cool Bob. Thanks for posting it.

    Interesting that such a low bias frequency of 20khz would work. Most of the pro recorders I know of used much higher frequencies, sometimes well over 100k. I never questioned that only to know that it worked. Perhaps it was only set at such a high frequency to keep it way above the highest frequency the machine could record.

    Of course the definition of hi-fidelity back in those days may have been only 6k. If so, that would put that 20k bias frequency at over 3x that frequency.

    By extension, a more modern analog pro machine that could record to over 30k would end up with a bias frequency of 100k using that same 3x factor.

    What's interesting me is that I never gave a second thought to the reasons different recorders used different bias frequencies. I always assumed those frequncies were selected to optimize the recording process.

    This is why I love reading old historic documents. I think I just learned something.
  23. keoki82

    keoki82 Active Member

    Cool thread. Thanks for resurrecting :thumbsup:
  24. DrAftershave

    DrAftershave A Wizard, A True Star

    Los Angeles, CA
    Those crazy Germans.
  25. ROLO46

    ROLO46 Forum Resident

    Behind the Iron Curtain in Cold War days the authorities decreed home recording illegal,to prevent recording, attempts were made to interfere with bias.
    RF was broadcast to beat with the signal and distort.
    The mics I used were Sennheiser MKH,they worked on RF capsule principle and sometimes they were unusable from the level of RF induced.
    Strangely the Nagra was unaffected,its bias too high perhaps,the RF was aimed at domestic machines ?

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