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Old 29th Jan 2014, 2:04 pm   #4
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Madrid, Spain / Wirral, UK
Posts: 5,825
Default Re: Transferring reel tapes to PC or other formats - first steps


By the 1970s, Japanese manufacturers such as Sony, Akai, National (Panasonic), and Sanyo began to produce mass-market domestic Stereo recorders. Examples of popular models were the Akai 4000 series and the Sony TC377/399.

The likes of Revox were also very popular, though usually found in Broadcast and semi-pro circles. European firms like Philips, Grundig and Telefunken also produced Stereo units at this time.

In general, broadcast gear uses half track at 7 1/2 or 15 i.p.s; domestic users favoured quarter track using a top speed of 7 1/2 i.p.s. Better machines allow the use of 10 1/2" metal NAB spools.

These stereo units tend to use the RCA Phono connectors which were becoming established by now. These require little further description; connection via RCA to 3.5mm jack lead is usually all that is required.

Many European units still used DIN, in which case, the steps and precautions mentioned above apply.

Playing mono tapes on such machines often requires a track /channel selector to be set to left or right; there may be a Stereo/mono switch; some will simply output the signal on the left or right channel, in which case the points made about connections in the 'mono' section above apply.

You do not have the machine.

The first thing to do is measure the diameter of the reels you have. If 5 ¾” or below, you have considerable choice; if 7” or higher, you must be sure that what you buy can accommodate them. Many 1960s 'suitcase' style units do not take spools greater than 5 3/4"; very few doemstic decks accept the 10 1/2" NAB reels.

If you do not know from the tape boxes what speed or track configuration was used, then you must buy the most versatile deck you can find, just in case. Look for three speeds (1 7/8, 3 ¾, 7 ½ i.p.s.) and four track (switches marked 1-4, and 3-2) or ‘stereo’. A two-track (also called half track) tape will play on a four track (quarter track) unit, but not vice-versa. Ideally buy only after trying the unit out by playing a tape, to make sure it works.

As mentioned above, broadcast machines use 7 1/2 i.p.s. or 15 i.p.s speed, and for 10 1/2" NAB spools, you will be limited to the likes of Revox and some models by Sony, Teac, etc.

If you have tapes recorded at the non-domestic 15 i.p.s speed and your recorder only goes up to 7 1/2, you can record to PC at this speed then use software to increase the playback speed of the file. Some adjustment of the EQ may also be necessary.

A note on Philips and Ferrograph Series 7 recorders.

These recorders (examples pictured below) can present more problems than most because internal rubber belts, clutches and idler tyres tend to disintegrate into the most horrendous black tar, necessitating extensive disassembly, cleaning and rubber replacement. Not usually a job for the inexperienced! The goo will also ruin clothes, furnishing carpets etc. in seconds - Don't ask me how I know!

Unless the machine you intend to buy is fully restored, it may be better to look for other options.
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