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Topic: is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes? (Read 5711 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • pelmen
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
I've checked via the search and found nothing even remotely close to my question. Been searching online for years but no resutls either.

Basically anyone who's lived through the cassette era would have experienced the joy of a cassette deck chewing a tape to death. I've got some tapes in storage which are original recordings (some mine, some were left to me) and a couple have had this done to them but only on a small scale. That is the tapes were more nibbled then chewed...they weren't chewed out of the casing to fill the deck with an afro effect they were more creased as they wound through the rollers in a deck.

So of course they have that wonky/underwater/muffled sound to them.

Short of taking them to a restoration service and pay them a fortune I have been trying to find out:

1) if there is any way of physically "ironing" out the tape flat again to minimise playback distortion and lessen the risk of the tape getting caught and spooling out and being damaged even further,  and

2) if there is any software which can "look" for this type of distortion and aid in digitally removing it from a recording (24bit 48kHz WAV format).

I already use Sound Forge & the Noise Reduction plugin and can happily restore tape/vinyl nicely to make a nice CD. But none of the tools I've found deal with the damaged tape distortion. The only solution I've found so far is to slowly work on small sections manually and apply EQ settings to try to counter the effect but its still not perfect and of course its massively time consuming and very subjective. These recordings don't exist anywhere else on any format so this is what I have to work with. After reading about using a flatbed scanner to read vinyl LPs I thought that somebody on this planet would have tackled the chewed tape syndrome that is so common.

Thanks

  • jdp
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #1
I am new to add this, but I have cassettes in the same situation.  I have seen an ad for Sony's Noise Reduction 2.0 software

http://www.sonymediasoftware.com/products/...duct.asp?pid=14

You need a DirectX host applicataion and $280.00

I'm not sure how well this would help and I don't think I'm going to get it but I would be interested in hearing comments from others.

--jd

  • pelmen
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #2
Quote
I am new to add this, but I have cassettes in the same situation.  I have seen an ad for Sony's Noise Reduction 2.0 software

http://www.sonymediasoftware.com/products/...duct.asp?pid=14

You need a DirectX host applicataion and $280.00

I'm not sure how well this would help and I don't think I'm going to get it but I would be interested in hearing comments from others.

--jd
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=301235"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]



thats what i currently use and it does a great job of removing hiss/noise but still i havent found anything that can help restore the "wonky" portions from a chewed tape recording.

is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #3
FYI, the Sony noise reduction plugin is the same as the Sonic Foundry/SoundForge Noise reduction.
"You can fight without ever winning, but never win without a fight."  Neil Peart  'Resist'

is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #4
You've probably already done this, but check to see if the tape was turned inside-out when it was rewound into the shell. If this happens, the oxide side of the tape will not be facing the tape head, and you'll get the muffled sound that you mentioned.

Hope this helps

  • unmake
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #5
I pulled up:
http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/vcrrx.htm#vxuct
(instructions on ironing tape)

Might be of use.. google responds to "crinkled audio tape", "restoring crinkled audio tape" etc

I think the general advice is to first carefully rewind the cassette, so that the messed-up part is flattened out between a lot of other tape, and maybe leave it like that for a few days before checking to see if things have improved.
  • Last Edit: 28 May, 2005, 10:44:05 PM by unmake

  • cliveb
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #6
Quote
1) if there is any way of physically "ironing" out the tape flat again to minimise playback distortion and lessen the risk of the tape getting caught and spooling out and being damaged even further,[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=255475"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

OK, I've never done this, but would have thought that ironing the tape is very probably your best bet. Given the physical nature of cassette tape, creases tend to be quite distinct, so you'll need to make sure you don't have a "soft" buffer between the iron and the tape. At the same time, I would be very cautious about applying the iron directly to the tape, so maybe you should use something like greaseproof paper. Also, you'll probably need a cool setting to avoid melting the tape. Obviously you should practice first on some experimental tapes (ie. make a recording, deliberately crease it up, then try some ironing experiments to see how well it works.

The other thing to note is that the bad sound you hear from a creased/chewed tape is due to serious drop-outs: the creases lift the tape away from the playback head. Since the cassette shell itself constrains the quality of tape-head contact, you'd get better playback if the tape could somehow be threaded up onto a reel-to-reel deck. The problem here is that I know of no reel-to-reel decks that handle 1/8" tape, or where the stereo tracks are arranged the way they are on cassette. But maybe there is a professional device built for this purpose that you might be able to hire. This is pure speculation on my part.

Quote
2) if there is any software which can "look" for this type of distortion and aid in digitally removing it from a recording (24bit 48kHz WAV format).[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=255475"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The kind of problems caused by tape dropout really are way too catastrophic for software to be able to deal with. You might try using Sound Forge's "pen" to redraw affected waveforms, but my gut feeling is that it won't work.

  • JeanLuc
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #7
I would advise you to get yourself a tape deck with a dual capstan motor.

A dual capstan has slight differences in diameter between both capstans, thus resulting in slightly different revs which will put slight tension on the tape itself  which results in a better contact to the playback head.
The name was Plex The Ripper, not Jack The Ripper

  • Pio2001
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #8
According to the quality of the spring that is built in the cassette, you might also consider putting the tape into another cassette case. TDK tapes usually have good springs to keep the tape on the playback head.

It should be possible to write a software that would correct this kind of problem. The drop outs should appear as darkened zones in the sonogram. If we consider the sonogram as a picture, applying to it a high pass spatial filter would eleminate the drop-outs, preserving the musical details.

  • cliveb
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #9
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It should be possible to write a software that would correct this kind of problem. The drop outs should appear as darkened zones in the sonogram. If we consider the sonogram as a picture, applying to it a high pass spatial filter would eleminate the drop-outs, preserving the musical details.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=301544"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I fear you are being rather optimistic. Tape dropouts are distinctly non-linear, and the amount of information lost is fairly catastrophic. For sure, you might be able to fiddle around with some EQ to improve things a little, but given the completely unpredictable effect of a tape dropout, I can't see how you could ever hope to do this other than manually.

is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #10
Quote
You've probably already done this, but check to see if the tape was turned inside-out when it was rewound into the shell. If this happens, the oxide side of the tape will not be facing the tape head, and you'll get the muffled sound that you mentioned.

Hope this helps
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=301287"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]



And you'll be playing the tape backwards....

  • pelmen
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #11
thanks for the feedback on this. i guess there is no easy solution other than just a lot of before and after recording.

i recently bought a new cassette deck and turntable specifically for my transfer to digital needs. i found some of my tapes that i used to have on a shelf on the headboard of my old bed now have small patches of mold in them (yuck). however i have found a method that does improve the moldy and damaged tapes to some degree using the principles of video tape cleaners/rewinders.

first i cut the tip off of a cotton bud (you know, the thing you use to clean your ears with) and gently poke it into one of the holes at the business end of a cassette tape but just off to the side of where the deck heads go. i poke it in such that the tape goes under it. next i add a drop of video tape cleaning fluid to the cotton bud tip. now i pop the cassette into an old walkman and run it on fast forward and rewind a few times. i've found it to not only act as a tape cleaner to remove mold and excess oxide but also adds just enough tension to help iron out the creases and allows the winding spool to be wound nicely (it also prevents the tape from moving sideways slightly as its being wound which helps keep it in line on the windup spool).

its not a wonder solution or anything but it has been noticably improved after doing this and hopefully helps keep excess oxides out of the take deck too. there is still much work to do in software though to clean up the wonky/watered sound of crinkled areas but for now it is about as clean as i can get it at the cassette deck stage (will have to experiement with the ironing, though in the past i had made copies of chewed tapes as the originals could no longer be relied upon, so i have some tapes which have the sound of wonkiness without the physical defect which is why i was hoping for a software solution that would help).

thanks again all!

  • antz
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #12
Quote
Quote
You've probably already done this, but check to see if the tape was turned inside-out when it was rewound into the shell. If this happens, the oxide side of the tape will not be facing the tape head, and you'll get the muffled sound that you mentioned.

Hope this helps
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=301287"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]



And you'll be playing the tape backwards....
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=301841"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Not to mention the wrong "side" i.e. tracks...

  • callmeace
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #13
A couple of questions:

About 15 years ago, I used to have a personal stereo which had an auto-reverse feature; this meant that I did not have to take out the cassette and turn it over in order to play the other side. What it did as far as I can recall was play the tape in reverse - which played the other side:- as far as I reckon this was nothing to do with actually playing the other physical side of the tape to play the other side of the album. So I wonder about this playing the tape backwards if one was to play the other side of the tape.  I have some Venom cassettes which contain evil messages which sound like backwards-speech and would like to investigate - but I don't want to destroy the tapes without asking on here first... So if I somehow unwind the tape and twist it over and wind it back in and play it I should then hear it backwards?

As far as unwinding a damaged 'crinkled' tape and making sure its all flat and the same side up, then ironing it on a lowish temperature - I have heard that fix highly recommended many years ago  I read it in a letters column of a Commodore64 Magazine with the subject of chewed tapes of data and the person had ironed their tapes between sheets of cloth - I think I remember it was thick cotton table-cloth - and the tapes were okay again

As I said, best to use a relatively low heat setting at first & probably don't leave the iron too long over any one place of the tape  Good luck

  • Q-W-Y
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is it possible to restore chewed cassette tapes?
Reply #14
Quote
A couple of questions:

About 15 years ago, I used to have a personal stereo which had an auto-reverse feature; this meant that I did not have to take out the cassette and turn it over in order to play the other side. What it did as far as I can recall was play the tape in reverse - which played the other side:- as far as I reckon this was nothing to do with actually playing the other physical side of the tape to play the other side of the album. So I wonder about this playing the tape backwards if one was to play the other side of the tape.  I have some Venom cassettes which contain evil messages which sound like backwards-speech and would like to investigate - but I don't want to destroy the tapes without asking on here first... So if I somehow unwind the tape and twist it over and wind it back in and play it I should then hear it backwards?


Just record it to PC and reverse