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Topic: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;) (Read 2409 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • Porcus
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The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
https://utechrecords.bandcamp.com/album/serpens . Why not - physical format is merch, isn't it?

Eleven sold in two months. Just wait for a journalist to highlight a massive yearly percent-wise increase in sales.

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #1
"Repurposed ¼” tape ..."

What, not even new? Tape wears, right?

Too many years since I thought about this, but isn't tape, in some ways, at least as fragile as vinyl?
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #2
but isn't tape, in some ways, at least as fragile as vinyl?

Maybe worse in some ways considering a tape that gets eaten is totally useless in some cases and will eventually damage the machine (those with rotating drums are probably most susceptible to this type of damage) if it doesn't coat the entire deck in shedded oxide, requiring a cleaning of the heads.

The needle can do some damage to records...   A never seen a record player get damaged from a broken record that might change if you play something that's severely warped and misshapen.
  • Last Edit: 10 June, 2017, 08:20:16 PM by Chibisteven

  • cliveb
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  • Developer
Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #3
7.5 ips? Don't they know that to be properly audiophile, reel-to-reel tapes have to be 15 ips?
7 inch reels? No self-respecting tape-head would be seen dead having dinky 7" reels mounted on his Revox or Teac.   :D

  • polemon
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #4
The great advantage of tape is it's a record-able medium, if using high quality tape, and decent equipment, the quality is very much comparable to Vinyl.

The wear is actually lower on continuous use compared to that of vinyl, given that the interface forces are much lower. As long as the heads are clean and undamaged, tapes will last forever...
...however the recording might not. If tape heads are not degaussed, the recording on the tape might wear out even though the mechanical characteristics of the tape might not. Unclean heads, capstans, pinch rollers, etc. are the main reason for ferrite material ablation, which is basically slowly wearing off the magnetic layer of the tape.

The big advantage of vinyl is their relative robustness to handling. Yeah, you shouldn't touch or in some case contaminate the groove, or even scratch it, etc. once the vinyl is in it's sleeve it's pretty robust.

Tape is not, the Tape has to be carefully threaded, kinks folds, etc. are almost never recoverable. Even if the tape is in it's case, it's still not very robust, dropping it, sitting on it, might break it, etc. Probably the worst thing about tape is that mold moisture, etc. can kill it while in storage. It might make unwinding the tape impossible, etc. A vinyl can be cleaned, most tapes cannot. There are chemical processes to recover some errors, like abrasion of magnetic layer, they're mostly used for video tape though. The BBC had these Video reprocessing machines, which was basically an editing station, with certain utilities for quick repair, however things like scratches on the magnetic or plastic layer, had to be mended using chemical processes, etc.

I haven't really heard about those processes being used on audio tape, though. Damage on tape is recoverable to a small degree, whereas damage on vinyl isn't really recoverable to my knowledge (can you somehow glue vinyl back together after they're being shattered?), Dirt on tape is only recoverable to a very limited degree, essentially, all sorts of contamination to tape, is considered damage. Vinyls however, can be cleaned in most cases. Even when tape can be improved using the chemical processes that build up magnetic layers, etc. it's still never gonna be as new, the errors might get less noticeable, etc.

Especially for home use, I've never heard of people having their tapes processed to recover the audio from them, I only know of video tape recovery done in film production facilities, etc. TV stations used to have these, etc.

I've heard the best way to store magnetic tape, is under high pressure of an inert gas. The plastic substrate will over time lose its elasticity and become brittle due to oxidation, essentially. Almost no archiving facilities have these. However badly brittle magnetic  tape can be made softer and more flexible again using chemical baths, etc. Magnetic video tape from the beginning of video taping era still exist and they're in relatively good shape, if kept under the correct conditions.

I guess I've digressed a bit, since it's this has become more about magnetic video tape, rather than magnetic audio tape... I guess they're comparable for the most part.

  • Porcus
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #5
What, not even new?

Vintage! I actually think it is cool.

Obviously it is not intended to be your playback source - the tape package includes a physical CD AND the Bandcamp digital delivery.
Who does really need even CDs? (Old purchasing habits die hard though - and the physical CDs presset thirty years ago mean you can actually get hold of a pre-loudness war mastering.)


Oh, by the way, from Bloomberg Business,  "The last audio cassette factory": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMTpvr9HXeI
I admit it took until 2017 before I saw what those machines are really like.

  • pdq
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #6
@polemon, you forgot about print-through.

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #7
ah yeah: the reels are shamrock. That is the cheapest and worst tape of all time.....

  • polemon
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #8
@polemon, you forgot about print-through.

In linear audio recording, yes, kinda. Low-end video tapes use linear audio which is susceptible to print-through. Video tape where the audio is recorded in a similar fashion to the helical FM recording of the video signal is however protected from that.

How much print-through happens on high-quality Audio tape, I don't really know, but I've been told numerous times, that high-quality Revox or BASF tapes had protection against that by design and were nearly immune to that.

The number one killer of magnetic tape in general is moisture, and one other obvious thing I forgot in my previous post, which is almost a bit embarrassing: magnetic fields. I've known where recordings have been damaged by a person carrying a tape reel in her purse - with a magnetic catch. Since Neodymium magnets are used even on these tiny paper boxes for rolling cigarettes, they're more ubiquitous than a lot of people think.

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #9
@polemon, you forgot about print-through.

In linear audio recording, yes, kinda. Low-end video tapes use linear audio which is susceptible to print-through. Video tape where the audio is recorded in a similar fashion to the helical FM recording of the video signal is however protected from that.

FM recording could have been applied to commodity audio tapes, but it never was. It was first used on very high performance recorders for instrumentation. It was also used on video tapes, and ended up being applied to audio data on VHS HiFi video tapes.  The FM-based audio tracks on VHS HiFi were highly prized by those who actually got serious experience with it, and would have probably been more widely commercialized except for the introduction of digital audio and then video.

Quote
How much print-through happens on high-quality Audio tape, I don't really know, but I've been told numerous times, that high-quality Revox or BASF tapes had protection against that by design and were nearly immune to that.

Highly unlikely that some magic open reel analog machine (even as good as Revox tape machines were)  avoided print-through, since it was an inherent fault of the magnetic coating on the tapes. The best the playback gear could do is reproduce it well.  I had a Revox A77, and while it was very very good as a home and semi-pro machine, it was far from the performance of the later  high end Ampexes.  I tried various brands of tape including Scotch's high performance brand, Agfa's competitive product, and BASF's, which I'm not sure was even in the same league as the Scotch and Agfa tape.

To review, print through occurs when the magnetic field on the tape in one layer of the tape pack causes residual magnetization of the next layer of tape. The residual magnetism often had months or years to be transferred in this way. It did tend to decay fairly quickly when the source of the magnetization was removed. Therefore, storing tapes without rewinding them, and then rewinding them before playing might significantly reduce the effect.  Tape that was made on a thicker plastic base might have more resistance to print-through by separating the layers a little bit more. 

Tape is very nonlinear, and making it less sensitive to low levels of magnetization might also help.  Tapes were advertised as having "Low print-through" never seemed to make the problem become inaudible.

Quote
The number one killer of magnetic tape in general is moisture,

I'm not sure about that. There was a problem with magnetic tape moisture levels in the later days of mainstream use of analog tape due to changes in the formulation of the magnetic film when whale oil because unavailable due to vast reductions in whaling.  Prior to that, the moisture problem was far less severe. It sometimes took years for this problem to become apparent. Most analog tapes I've seen that were damaged were damaged by mechanical abuse.

Analog tape always seems to be  in the process of degrading a bit and leaving traces of itself on the playback hardware. If you held a clean cloth against a moving tape it would pick up some of the tapes built-in lubricant and loose oxide. Better and more modern  tape was much cleaner in these regards but I never saw a tape that didn't leave a bit of itself on the gear when played.

Quote
and one other obvious thing I forgot in my previous post, which is almost a bit embarrassing: magnetic fields. I've known where recordings have been damaged by a person carrying a tape reel in her purse - with a magnetic catch. Since Neodymium magnets are used even on these tiny paper boxes for rolling cigarettes, they're more ubiquitous than a lot of people think.

I don't know about that. I've done a lot of experiments involving subjecting audio and computer  tapes to casual magnetic fields and failed to obtain a measurable difference.  As I said before, the tape is nonlinear which is why bias must be used during recording. This means that it takes a fair amount of energy to change the polarity of the magnetization of the domains in the tape particles.

Magnetic tape is almost digital-like in terms of there being definite levels for changing the direction of magnetization of the particles. The analog performance is based on the statistical sum of the state of a large number of magnetic domains that are either magnetized one way or the other. Larger or smaller  head currents magnetize more or fewer particles by means of variable spreading of the magnetic field, depending on its intensity.

The magnetic field in the gaps of record  and erase heads is high because the actual volume of the tape in the gap  is tiny, the gap is almost vanishingly short, and quite a bit of current is applied to the tape head's coils.

I suspect that a lot of common lore  about analog magnetic tape was based on sighted evaluations.

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #10
What, not even new?

Vintage! I actually think it is cool.

Obviously it is not intended to be your playback source - the tape package includes a physical CD AND the Bandcamp digital delivery.
Who does really need even CDs? (Old purchasing habits die hard though - and the physical CDs presset thirty years ago mean you can actually get hold of a pre-loudness war mastering.)


Oh, by the way, from Bloomberg Business,  "The last audio cassette factory": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMTpvr9HXeI
I admit it took until 2017 before I saw what those machines are really like.
I'm ahead of you. Back in the early 70s, a friend's father had a studio (studio in a home, rather than what people would call a "home studio" today). Whilst, to me, his disc cutter (I suppose it has a proper name?) was the grooviest (oh damn, I really didn't mean that pun) thing, his tape duplicator was also fun. It took "empty" cassettes, which were just cases with leader tape joined to each spool, cut the leader, spliced and realed on tape, spliced that to the other leader and... recorded. I cannot remember how many it did at a time, but I seem to recall a grid of the things.

Not mass production as in your factory video, but good for dozens. 
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

  • pdq
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #11
That explains something that puzzled me many years ago. I had bought a book on tape (happened to be "Cold Mountain"), and when I got to tape 5 or 6, there was no tape in it, only a short piece of leader between the spools. Obviously it had missed one step in the process.

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #12
Delighted to have been of service!

I was surprised, at the time, to see how the process worked.
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

  • Miramis
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #13
“To cater for the needs of people for whom only the best is good enough and demand the ultimate in sound perfection we are now introducing open-reel master copies of our albums.” ::)

http://www.opus3records.com/am_list.html

“In 2011, we began to offer Master Tape Copies!”

http://www.opus3records.com/artists/samp/26000.html
Rhythmbox, Flac + Vorbis, Sennheiser HD650 + Sony MDR-XB1000

  • Atmasphere
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #14
http://tapeproject.com/

This revival has been going on for several years. Higher end consumer machines like the top end Technics have enjoyed a resurgence in used prices as a result. This is also true of a number of 2-channel pro machines.

  • Porcus
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #15
http://tapeproject.com/

... "duplicated from the original master tapes. You would expect these tapes to sound good of course, and you should expect they would sound better than the LP and digital sources."

Right. Could be true when the "digital sources" are from loudness war-brickwalled remasters. But if you have access to the original master tapes, why not ...
... except your business model would fall apart then?

  • bennetng
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #16
I am more worried about the conditions of the original tapes if they are too frequently played for making "true analog" copies. I don't mind people on the production side use analog tapes for euphoric purpose but I'd seriously hope they will digitize the tape output and distribute them as digital formats, which means the so-called ADD or AAD recordings.

  • Porcus
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #17
which means the so-called ADD or AAD recordings.
The marketing guy says that the emperor could use some new clothes ...

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #18

The needle can do some damage to records...  A never seen a record player get damaged from a broken record that might change if you play something that's severely warped and misshapen.

A bad scratch or a small crack can rip the diamond right off the stylus bar if the tracking force is high enough.

A lot of the wrong kind of dirt can wear the diamond prematurely.

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #19
I am more worried about the conditions of the original tapes if they are too frequently played for making "true analog" copies. I don't mind people on the production side use analog tapes for euphoric purpose but I'd seriously hope they will digitize the tape output and distribute them as digital formats, which means the so-called ADD or AAD recordings.

IME the easiest way to get good CD versions of old analog masters is to get the early CD transfers via used media sales, and before the tracks end up on "best of" compendiums.   I've seen "best of" compendious that were not only highly compressed where the previous CD versions were far cleaner, but some even had reverb added.

  • bennetng
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #20
IME the easiest way to get good CD versions of old analog masters is to get the early CD transfers via used media sales, and before the tracks end up on "best of" compendiums.  I've seen "best of" compendious that were not only highly compressed where the previous CD versions were far cleaner, but some even had reverb added.
Should be a good video to illustrate your comment.
https://youtu.be/eBJdfkXV5_s

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #21
IME the easiest way to get good CD versions of old analog masters is to get the early CD transfers via used media sales, and before the tracks end up on "best of" compendiums.  I've seen "best of" compendious that were not only highly compressed where the previous CD versions were far cleaner, but some even had reverb added.
Should be a good video to illustrate your comment.
https://youtu.be/eBJdfkXV5_s

Yes.

I first noticed this on a Best of Simon and Garfunkel CD my daughter bought in the early 1990s. Classic "My wife could hear it in the kitchen" tale only the story this time was "My dad could hear the difference and he hadn't played his original CD version for months."  I ripped the two CDs and looked at them in CoolEdit and the difference was even far more obvious than this example. 

Digital domain production gear was pretty sparse and/or very expensive until the 90s, so a lot of the  CDs from before that were often unmolested.

My daughter had bought the Best of S&G CD to replace an older copy of her favorite S&G disk that had gotten horribly scratched.

I ripped her supposedly unplayable CD (which ripped perfectly because CD players don't do retries) and gave her a burned CD of it. 

Happy ending!

Meanwhile I'm living the dream scooping up legacy CDs for $0.50 to $3 at estate sales.

My CD collection has grown to nearly 2,000 discs in about a year and a half.  I've ripped about half of the recent finds with my 6-at-a-time ripping station.

  • bennetng
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #22
Unmolested CD should include early DDD recordings as well. I read this in one of my CD booklet (attachment). I'd like to know the price of those equipment at that time.

Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #23
Unmolested CD should include early DDD recordings as well. I read this in one of my CD booklet (attachment). I'd like to know the price of those equipment at that time.

Right. The only piece of production hardware on that list that was unfamiliar to me was the Dyaxis I DAW. (note what may be corrected spelling).  Read more about it here:

http://www.realhd-audio.com/?p=1297

AFAIK everything on that list could  record and play and/or cut and paste and maybe mix with linear gain adjustments.  That meets my intent of the phrase "non molesting".

The comment: "The software called MacMix ran on the newly introduced Apple Mac Plus computer, a machine that had no hard drive, a CPU that clocked in a blistering at 16 kHz."  brings a smile when I read about and talk to placebophiles who are struggling to play audio transparently on 64 bit 16-way multi processors with clock speeds up in the thousands of megahertz.

  • pdq
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Re: The market for music on reel-to-reel tapes ;)
Reply #24
The comment: "The software called MacMix ran on the newly introduced Apple Mac Plus computer, a machine that had no hard drive, a CPU that clocked in a blistering at 16 kHz."  brings a smile when I read about and talk to placebophiles who are struggling to play audio transparently on 64 bit 16-way multi processors with clock speeds up in the thousands of megahertz.
16 kHz? I don't think so. By 1975 every available microprocessor had clock speeds in the low MHz range (6502, 8080, Z80).

OTOH, the first computer that I used, in 1962, had a magnetic drum memory and an execution time in the milliseconds.