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Vintage Tape (Audio), Cassette, Wire and Magnetic Disc Recorders and Players Open-reel tape recorders, cassette recorders, 8-track players etc.

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Old 23rd Dec 2022, 9:55 pm   #181
Richard_FM
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

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Just watched the Scotch Cassette advert on YouTube....

It's the one where the skeleton says "Rerecord, not fade away".

Must have been a lot of profits in cassette sales at the time for them to be advertised on prime time TV let alone the cost of making the advert.

Still brilliant & can't will see what the grand kids make of it next time they visit.

Rog
I used to like them, with Derek Guyler as the voice of the Skeleton. I wonder when they last honoured their lifetime guarantee?
When Scotch/3M ceased production of VHS video cassettes they reached a deal with BASF to honour the warranty. I am unsure if this passed onto EMTEC though. BASF would have honoured the warranty until 2002 at least, when their involvement with the domestic magnetic media ceased and the EMTEC spin-off was completed.

Though to be fair, I don't think I ever saw a single VHS cassette which faded away. I've got some 40 years old now.
Thanks for filling me in, I've still got some old tapes that play well.
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Old 24th Dec 2022, 4:54 am   #182
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

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On the subject of 8 Tracks, I am sure that Tesco`s sold a own branded Music Centre that had the ability to record on 8 Track, but I never remember seeing Blank 8 Track cassettes, or was it me ?
I am pretty sure Tandy sold blank 8 track cartridges at one time. The format was a lot more popular in the States than over here of course.
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Old 24th Dec 2022, 10:21 am   #183
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

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Surprised that nobody has yet mentioned that other big use of tapes in the 1980s, loading computer programs.

Your ZX81 or Commodore 64 was nothing without a shoebox style cassette player so you could load up Frogger or one of the flight sim games that were popular back then.

"Press Play on tape"
Used them with my Nascom setup. The only thing was that I stripped an old deck and provided my own electronics to achieve NRZ recording, which was much more reliable due to the tape saturation, rather than rely on the audio decode.
I also used cassette recorders to record and load programs for my expanded Nascom 1.

The default speed of 300 baud was dismally slow so I upgraded the tape interface to a Cottis/Blandford high speed interface (basically copying a construction article in Wireless World I think).

Getting it to run reliably at 2,400 baud was tricky, found it ran best using my only Hi -Fi deck at the time a Aiwa 1250, on a good day could get it to run at its max speed of 4,800 baud.

Many years ago I sold the Aiwa which I really regret now, it was only a budget deck, but I loved the styling and it gave really good results.

David
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Old 24th Dec 2022, 11:03 pm   #184
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

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...but I never remember seeing Blank 8 Track cassettes, or was it me ?
When I started as a Saturday assistant in a Radio and TV shop they had one BASF blank 8 track in stock. I don't think I ever saw anyone interested in buying it and somehow I ended up with it. I think I probably extracted the tape to use with my reel to reel recorder.
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Old 25th Dec 2022, 12:59 am   #185
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

The KJ Enterprises catalogue for 1971 has a double-page spread of 8 track machines, but all are players only except for the Akai CR80 recorder (rrp = 152.02, but yours for only 103 50 cash). Blank cartridges (brand unspecified) were available. Quoting from the catalogue:

" Single 35 minutes playing time, Normal Quality 1.00 Professional quality 1.15.
Double 70 minutes playing time Normal Quality 1.40 Professional Quality 1.65. "

Something I hadn't noticed before is that the reel-to-reel tape recorder section has the Akai X 1800 SD, a combination 4 track, 3 speed, 7" spool, tape recorder and 8 track recorder, able to record and play back both media, as well as copying from one to the other. List price 199.42, yours for 174.90.

Nor did I notice that it also describes, but does not illustrate, the Akai 2000SD, capable of recording and playback of all three systems ( R to R , compact cassette, 8 track), list price 300.00, KJ price 264.00 cash. I wonder how many were sold? 300 was a lot of money in 1971.

Last edited by emeritus; 25th Dec 2022 at 1:16 am. Reason: typos 2000 SD info added
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Old 25th Dec 2022, 1:29 am   #186
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

In that period the biggest selling Akai was probably the 4000D/4000DS and the price I paid new in 1972/1973 was 46 for a DS. So that's a very expensive 8-track machine

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Old 25th Dec 2022, 2:10 am   #187
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

I have a number of 'blank' recordable 8 track tapes from Memorex, Scotch, Realistic (Tandy / Radio Shack), Fuji Film and a British-made one branded Metrosound. Picture here: https://web.archive.org/web/20070206...k/blank_b2.jpg

And some of my recordable 8 track tape systems:
https://web.archive.org/web/20080723...k/8trakdex.htm
(I no longer have the Kyoto Supreme car player)

I also have a Lloytron music centre with turntable, radio and 8 track recorder not shown on that website. It can record from radio or turntable to 8 track tape. There were a few stereo systems that had both cassette and 8 track so you could choose your preference or copy from tape to tape. Tesco sold a 4-in-1 music centre called Winthrop President for around 175 in the late 1970s (hi-fi was a lot more expensive back then - even a basic mono cassette recorder cost 20). The Winthrop President music centre had stereo turntable, radio, cassette and 8 track although I think it was only possible to record to cassette; the 8 track unit was play-only.

8 track cartridge recorders were never as popular as cassette recorders. Recording on a cassette is a lot easier. You can see how much tape is remaining and you can fast forward or rewind to the exact point where you want to start from. Some 8 track decks had fast-forward but you couldn't easily tell where you were on the tape and going backwards on an 8 track cartridge is impossible by design.

In theory, the higher tape speed should have made the 8 track system better quality than cassette. However, as noted, cassette quality improved dramatically while 8 track stagnated. Very few 8 track machines had Dolby noise reduction. I never saw any chrome 8 track tapes either. The manufacturers didn't seem interested in improving 8 track quality. Presumably there wasn't enough demand from the buying public.
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Old 25th Dec 2022, 8:34 am   #188
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

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Tesco sold a 4-in-1 music centre called Winthrop President for around 175 in the late 1970s (hi-fi was a lot more expensive back then - even a basic mono cassette recorder cost 20). The Winthrop President music centre had stereo turntable, radio, cassette and 8 track although I think it was only possible to record to cassette; the 8 track unit was play-only.
That Winthrop brand rings a bell, back in the late 70`s, I worked for the part of Telefusion, that was contracted to repair, Tesco`s Brown Goods, including the infamous Derek Tyne brand Tellys
Ken G6HZG.
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Old 25th Dec 2022, 3:08 pm   #189
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

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I also used cassette recorders to record and load programs for my expanded Nascom 1.

The default speed of 300 baud was dismally slow so I upgraded the tape interface to a Cottis/Blandford high speed interface (basically copying a construction article in Wireless World I think).

Getting it to run reliably at 2,400 baud was tricky, found it ran best using my only Hi -Fi deck at the time a Aiwa 1250, on a good day could get it to run at its max speed of 4,800 baud.
There were a number of different recording-digital-data-on-tape 'standards' around back then; one I remember was called Tarbell - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarbel...ette_Interface - the othes I remember were the Computer User Tape System [CUTS] and the Kansas City standard.

There were lots of circuits for these published in "Byte" nagazine back then, using variable degrees of PLL-style decoding and raw bit-banging in the processor. I remember building one that used the 1200-baud Bell-202 modem tones, which subsequently resurfaced in VHF/UHF AX25 packet-radio service - indeed I demonstrated AX25 packet-radio to someone using off-air recordings stored on cassette!
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Old 25th Dec 2022, 5:05 pm   #190
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

If we're including digital tape formats, we should give a mention to Exabyte. They were a de-facto archive format for early digital audio:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exabyte_Corporation
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Old 25th Dec 2022, 5:43 pm   #191
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Nor did I notice that it also describes, but does not illustrate, the Akai 2000SD, capable of recording and playback of all three systems ( R to R , compact cassette, 8 track), list price 300.00, KJ price 264.00 cash. I wonder how many were sold? 300 was a lot of money in 1971.
Image from hifiengine :-

http://www.hifiengine.com/library/akai/x-2000sd.shtml

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Old 26th Dec 2022, 8:28 pm   #192
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Not a domestic format, but NAB Carts used in broadcast ran at 7.5 ips and sounded
great, with good tape longevity. Initial format was 2 track mono (audio+cue) then 3 track
stereo (L+R+cue) and unlike 8-track the pinch roller was part of the deck on a hinge
and moved into a cutout on the underside of the cart. I think maximum time was 30 min.
I have an ITC triple-stack recorder, the option is for the end of one jingle to start the
next. Exceptional build quality, and instant start.
In a previous life, I worked for a commercial radio station in the days before computers had fully penetrated the industry. We relied on NAB cartridges for daily playout of commercials and jingles. We ran 24/7, notwithstanding maintenance downtimes.

The carts were impressively durable, both in terms of playback and general ruggedness. The tape is made to rub against itself on every play, as well as the run through the machine. Yet tape jams were rare. A cart would usually carry on in service until the playback audio had gradually deteriorated too much!

The machines certainly improved over the years. The Harris models we bought became smaller and quieter in operation; we invested in Sonifex kit later on and they were quieter still.
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Old 28th Dec 2022, 10:31 pm   #193
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

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Originally Posted by Restoration73 View Post
Not a domestic format, but NAB Carts used in broadcast ran at 7.5 ips and sounded
great, with good tape longevity. Initial format was 2 track mono (audio+cue) then 3 track
stereo (L+R+cue) and unlike 8-track the pinch roller was part of the deck on a hinge
and moved into a cutout on the underside of the cart. I think maximum time was 30 min.
I have an ITC triple-stack recorder, the option is for the end of one jingle to start the
next. Exceptional build quality, and instant start.
In a previous life, I worked for a commercial radio station in the days before computers had fully penetrated the industry. We relied on NAB cartridges for daily playout of commercials and jingles. We ran 24/7, notwithstanding maintenance downtimes.

The carts were impressively durable, both in terms of playback and general ruggedness. The tape is made to rub against itself on every play, as well as the run through the machine. Yet tape jams were rare. A cart would usually carry on in service until the playback audio had gradually deteriorated too much!

The machines certainly improved over the years. The Harris models we bought became smaller and quieter in operation; we invested in Sonifex kit later on and they were quieter still.
And Sonifex are still going just around 8 miles from my house in East Northants.
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Old 29th Dec 2022, 9:15 am   #194
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

One post moved to a new thread here:-

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=197041
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Old 2nd Jan 2023, 2:37 pm   #195
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

What's good about tape?

* It's a physical storage medium. When enjoying recorded content, I think there is additional enjoyment to be gained from handling the media and operating the player. It anchors the listening / viewing experience to a sequence of very specific and deliberate actions, preparing the mind for the reward of hearing the music, more so than a few mouse clicks. I don't know whether people who grew up without physical media experience this, or whether they get the same satisfaction from the mouse clicks.

* It's fairly robust. Each different recording format makes its own demands and imposes its own limitations on the handling experience. LP records inspire a kind of reverence, because they need to be handled vary carefully and reward that care with HiFi results. In the context of say a non-valuable mixtape and boombox, cassette can be enjoyed in a much less formal way that adds its own character to the handling experience.

* Even with cassette, there's a high-end version of the experience available. In contrast to the mixtape+boombox version, the experience of using a top-quality cassette with a top-quality deck is rewarding, because you get to handle things that feel and look classy, and the sonic reward can surpass expectations. I enjoy interacting with the Pioneer SX-1250, which is one of the decks that doesn't have a cassette well or drawer, the cassette clips onto the front of the mech and remains exposed during play. This can be pushed to esoteric extremes with the TEAC O'Casse system, where two open reels are held in a skeleton shell. You could reach out and touch the moving reels as it plays, kind-of like open-reel but in beautiful miniature.

* Open-reel tape is exceptionally tactile. Handling it and using it in its various applications can involve complex and dexterous interactions. Editing, especially, gets you physically very close to the both the recording medium and its content. When I first started putting show FX reels together on 1/4" I gained an intense satisfaction from the 'coming together' and the finished product. The simple act of lifting a reel of 1" 8-track master off a machine after a really good recording session is exciting, because you've watched the machine 'soaking up' the music and it's now all there in your hand, not as a tabulation of millions of cryptic numbers but as a direct, literal capture of every vibration of the strings and vocal chords that you just heard.

* Nagra.

I think that's enough for now!
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 7:19 pm   #196
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

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Originally Posted by Lucien Nunes View Post
What's good about tape?

* It's a physical storage medium. When enjoying recorded content, I think there is additional enjoyment to be gained from handling the media and operating the player. It anchors the listening / viewing experience to a sequence of very specific and deliberate actions, preparing the mind for the reward of hearing the music, more so than a few mouse clicks. I don't know whether people who grew up without physical media experience this, or whether they get the same satisfaction from the mouse clicks.

* It's fairly robust. Each different recording format makes its own demands and imposes its own limitations on the handling experience. LP records inspire a kind of reverence, because they need to be handled vary carefully and reward that care with HiFi results. In the context of say a non-valuable mixtape and boombox, cassette can be enjoyed in a much less formal way that adds its own character to the handling experience.

* Even with cassette, there's a high-end version of the experience available. In contrast to the mixtape+boombox version, the experience of using a top-quality cassette with a top-quality deck is rewarding, because you get to handle things that feel and look classy, and the sonic reward can surpass expectations. I enjoy interacting with the Pioneer SX-1250, which is one of the decks that doesn't have a cassette well or drawer, the cassette clips onto the front of the mech and remains exposed during play. This can be pushed to esoteric extremes with the TEAC O'Casse system, where two open reels are held in a skeleton shell. You could reach out and touch the moving reels as it plays, kind-of like open-reel but in beautiful miniature.

* Open-reel tape is exceptionally tactile. Handling it and using it in its various applications can involve complex and dexterous interactions. Editing, especially, gets you physically very close to the both the recording medium and its content. When I first started putting show FX reels together on 1/4" I gained an intense satisfaction from the 'coming together' and the finished product. The simple act of lifting a reel of 1" 8-track master off a machine after a really good recording session is exciting, because you've watched the machine 'soaking up' the music and it's now all there in your hand, not as a tabulation of millions of cryptic numbers but as a direct, literal capture of every vibration of the strings and vocal chords that you just heard.

* Nagra.

I think that's enough for now!
Excellent post, this covers all the important points. I particularly agree with the sections on LPs & reel to reel tapes. Add in the joy of running your medium of choice through a good quality valve system and excellent speakers for a really happy life.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 5:43 pm   #197
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

The smell.
I well remember the pleasure from opening up a 7" box of International or Lafayette tape on Christmas morning and the glorious aroma when taking the reel out of the plastic bag.
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Old 11th Jan 2023, 5:50 pm   #198
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Default Re: What's good about tape?

One other use for tape: back in the70s when I was trying [and failing - I'm utterly lacking in any sense of rhythm and am tone-deaf!] to learn Morse, I used an old R2R recorder to tape off-air Morse, at 15IPS, then played it back at lower speeds in the hope that I would somehow 'get it'.
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 7:40 pm   #199
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I am pretty sure Tandy sold blank 8 track cartridges at one time. The format was a lot more popular in the States than over here of course.
Up to 1984/85 (pre-InterTan) the UK Tandy stores basically used the same catalogue as Radio Shack in the US...just with prices converted into pounds. The products were the same, which lead to some oddities such as CB radio sets being available before it was legal to operate them here, and Radio Shack telephones and answering machines (branded DuoPhone I think) which were not BABT approved. And....blank 8-track cassettes.

Having lived stateside in the late 90s, I grew to understand just how popular that format was over there. It barely made any impact here but was hugely popular in cars in the USA with a fair number of home machines used both to play pre-recorded material and to record mix tapes for the car.

My local Tandy did have a few blank 8-track cassettes and one 8-track recorder on display, if memory serves they sat there for some time.

What I've noted about magnetic tape is it's resilience. They're from before my time but I have some RTR tapes recorded off-air of the BBC radio series of Steptoe and Son in the 60s....pretty much perfect. I have B&W RTR video tapes from the late 70s that still play. VHS 40 years old. Cassettes 45 years old. My 8-bit computer tapes which date back to 1981-1987 still load into my Sinclair computers.

Cassettes, for a format that was designed to be a dictation medium, really did become ubiquitous for all kinds of recording and some of us still use them today.
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