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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 19th Nov 2020, 11:33 pm   #1
spindle71
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Default R-to-R Uher help

Hello all - newbie here. I have some old tapes I recorded on a rented Uher back in the early 70's. It was a portable, battery powered machine but I can't remember the model. Fastforward a few years and I wanted to transfer it to cassettes. The store no longer had the Uher so I rented a newer machine like a Akai. The music sounded okay if you turned off one channel otherwise you got one correct track and one backwards track. So I left it for a long time just using one channel on the cassette deck. Now I'd like to transfer to my computer, I'd like some advice. I assume the Uher was a 1/2 track and recorded on tracks 1,2 and then when flipped over/reversed it recorded on 3,4 tracks. And regular machines like the Akai use 4 track stereo- tracks 1,3 and 2,4. I can't find a Uher to use and was wondering if I use a 4track and just use track 1, am I missing much or should I pay a recording studio to transfer it using the full width of tracks 1,2? A studio I contacted said they must 'bake' my tapes, but they are pre-1973 and I understand they do not need baking (Ampex 344-1 mil polyester, low noise).
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Old 20th Nov 2020, 8:13 am   #2
Restoration73
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

It is likely your original Uher was 2 track mono or 2 track stereo. To obtain best
transfer it should be played on a 2 track mono or stereo machine at the correct speed.
You should find a quality Ampex, Revox, Teac or similar 2 track stereo machine
will do only using one track if the original recording was mono.
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Old 20th Nov 2020, 9:47 am   #3
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

Most likely the original portable Uher would have been one of the 4000/4200/4400 Report series.

4000 were 2 track mono, 4200 were 2 track stereo and 4400 were 4 track stereo.

There were various models such as the basic Report, Report L, Report IC and Report S and later Report Monitor.

Less likely it would have been a Report 6000, 2 track mono and very unlikely it would have been a Report 1000 Pilot, 1 track mono.

David
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Old 20th Nov 2020, 8:31 pm   #4
Uncle Bulgaria
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

The 4000 series sound most likely as David says. It's not clear if you want to digitise the original reels or the cassettes made from the reels on the Akai with one channel turned down. If you want to play back the reels, a mono Uher is not expensive (though the cheaper they are the more they'll need restoration, where this forum can provide exemplary help). Alternatively, the easiest option is to pay one of the many companies that offer to digitise old recordings. Depending on how many you have, it may be cheaper to buy a renovate an old tape deck or get them done professionally.

Or you could get the deck and play back the original tapes and leave the digital out of it!
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Old 20th Nov 2020, 9:38 pm   #5
spindle71
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

Thanks all- I went back to the rental store years ago and they no longer had the Uher. I never owned the Akai that I used to transfer to cassettes. I now want to digitize the old reels. A local guy has a Uher 4000 for $375 and it hasn't been brought up to snuff with capacitors,etc that are 50 yrs. old. So I might go to a studio to transfer it. What I'm wondering is if I only use half of the mono track am I getting an acceptable recording?
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Old 20th Nov 2020, 10:15 pm   #6
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

I don't know BC but I saw

https://reeltoreeltech.com/
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Old 20th Nov 2020, 10:45 pm   #7
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

That seems steep - here A 4000 Report-L will be around 50, although a good serviced one will likely be more. Unless it's one of the later Report Monitors, which are sometimes stereo and have become one of the collector's fads, with the correspondingly inflated prices.

The 4000 Report-L is two track, so half the tape is used in one direction, the other on the way back. I'm not well versed in tape formats enough to be specific, but perhaps the tapes were recorded in 2 channel 2 track, but played back on a 4 track machine, so you get half the track from side 2 while playing side 1. Look at this diagram to see what I mean. Obviously it would be best to play it back on the same sort of machine it was made on, so you don't lose half the information on the track by using another 4 track machine, the head of which will only read half of the 2-track when playing side 1, as you'll have to mute the channel that's reading side 2 at the same time.
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Old 21st Nov 2020, 12:24 am   #8
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindle71 View Post
A studio I contacted said they must 'bake' my tapes, but they are pre-1973 and I understand they do not need baking (Ampex 344-1 mil polyester, low noise).
I guess the studio were concerned about the possibility of the tapes suffering from Sticky Shed Syndrome (SSS) and wanted them baked/wanted to bake them to avoid that possibility, both to reduce any risk to their equipment and to ensure good recording transfer.

Some tape brands such as Ampex are known to potentially suffer with SSS, although maybe not so much for 344.

I guess it can be expensive to have baking done professionally. Note that baking is normally only a short term/temporary measure. There may also be some risk of tape damage if not done correctly.

David
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Old 21st Nov 2020, 7:56 pm   #9
derekheeps
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindle71 View Post
Hello all - newbie here. I have some old tapes I recorded on a rented Uher back in the early 70's. It was a portable, battery powered machine but I can't remember the model. Fastforward a few years and I wanted to transfer it to cassettes. The store no longer had the Uher so I rented a newer machine like a Akai. The music sounded okay if you turned off one channel otherwise you got one correct track and one backwards track. So I left it for a long time just using one channel on the cassette deck. Now I'd like to transfer to my computer, I'd like some advice. I assume the Uher was a 1/2 track and recorded on tracks 1,2 and then when flipped over/reversed it recorded on 3,4 tracks. And regular machines like the Akai use 4 track stereo- tracks 1,3 and 2,4. I can't find a Uher to use and was wondering if I use a 4track and just use track 1, am I missing much or should I pay a recording studio to transfer it using the full width of tracks 1,2? A studio I contacted said they must 'bake' my tapes, but they are pre-1973 and I understand they do not need baking (Ampex 344-1 mil polyester, low noise).

From what you describe , the Uher was 1/2 track mono : one track in one direction , then one track in the other direction .

You need a 1/2 track mono or stereo machine to play back , but if a stereo machine , only play back the left channel .
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Old 24th Nov 2020, 6:43 pm   #10
spindle71
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

Thanks all- appreciate your help. If I use a stereo deck and only one channel- am I missing much of the recording? Or should I just settle for what I can get? Thanks for that diagram, Uncle Bulgaria. Wow, 4 tracks including separation space on a 1/4" tape! It's a wonder that these tapes sound as good as they do.
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Old 24th Nov 2020, 8:43 pm   #11
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

If you bought a Uher 4200 Stereo IC you wouldn't have to turn one channel down as it has two buttons with which you can select upper track or lower track or both.
I still don't really understand what you meant by tracks 1,2 and 3,4 in your first post.
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Old 24th Nov 2020, 8:53 pm   #12
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindle71 View Post
... A studio I contacted said they must 'bake' my tapes, but they are pre-1973 and I understand they do not need baking (Ampex 344-1 mil polyester, low noise).
Yes I'm pretty sure Ampex 344 has no SSS issues so shouldnt be baked. Later ones ( 407/457/456/457) definitely had the problem though.

You didnt mention the recorded tape speed. The Uher 4000 series could go down to 1 7/8 and 15/16 ips. Many pro half track machines will only go down to 7 1/2 or 3 3/4 ips.
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Old 28th Nov 2020, 12:14 am   #13
spindle71
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Default Re: R-to-R Uher help

The tape was recorded at 3 3/4 ips. As I understand it, the orig. recording was done on the upper track and when the the tape is flipped over it is still the top position, but is on the bottom track when viewed on the orig. (starting) direction. So the top track on the Uher comprises #1 & #2 tracks when used on a 4 track deck. And it uses #3 & #4 tracks when flipped over. On a 4 track stereo deck I'm picking up half of the lower track as well as half of the top track ( 1 & 3).
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