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Re: [ARSCLIST] Can 1/4" 2 Track play on a 4 track machine

At 10:24 PM 6/12/2003 -0400, Mike Csontos Mwcpc6@xxxxxxx wrote:
In a message dated 6/12/03 3:08:13 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
smolians@xxxxxxxxx writes:

>  IMHO, people with such an approach have no business is the preservation
>  field.

However not everyone who has access to historic material is in the audio
profession or has the funds to hire a professional.

If a person has a choice of making a copy with the equipment on hand or
seeing the material destroyed (by deterioration or the lack on interest
leading to disposal by the actual owners) should they simply walk away
because they are not official "preservationists"?

Of course not, but with good tape recorders going for pennies on the dollar on eBay, someone with a collection should be able to find something more appropriate to play the tapes and then capture them in another medium--especially if the tape is disintegrating and this will be the last time it will ever be played.

Some of us engineer types (I speak for myself only, perhaps) will speak to
archivists and offer suggestions gratis to help them get up and running. If
they work at it, they might find retired radio station engineers or people
who still understand analog to help set things up.

I am frustrated when I see archives use substantially sub-optimum equipment
for transfers--and I'm talking in general here and not singling out a
specific archive.

It doesn't take too long to learn what you don't know about analog
recording and then proceed to fill in those gaps either in your own
knowledge or by bringing someone else on board who lives/breathes this stuff.

I see it as part of my job on this list to help raise the standard of audio
engineering in archives, but I really want to help, not criticize. I have
seen archives within the last few years who were using 35-year old
Wollensaks to play tapes. For one archive, I did a transfer to CD and they
were blown away by what they heard. I did it on a machine that I paid $400
for. I was lucky and I understood the machine, but still, it cost me $400.
What was it you ask? A Sony APR-5003V - $12,000 new in 1989.

A key thing about tape recording: MOST MACHINES RECORD BETTER THAN THEY
PLAY BACK. I am often pleasantly surprised when playing older tapes on the
newer pro equipment I now have. This, by the way, even applies to the ReVox
A77 (I don't know about the B77). So there is often stuff put there--even
by a Wollensak--that you aren't hearing (by a long shot) on the Wollensak.

And my first tape recorder was paid for out of my own money in fifth grade
and was a Wollensak T-1616-4.

I see ReVox A77 and B77 machines generally going for under $500. Many of
these will have several thousand hours of play life left in them. These are
often available in either two-track or quarter track. They are still not a
bad machine. I sold two of mine since I've been buying pro machines I could
only dream about 15 years ago. I still have one good one left.

If a few things go right, I'll offer a ReVox A77 2-track to the archive in
question to play their two-track tapes--if they have enough to justify a

I understand Steve's frustration at this--I share it.

I attempt to be gentle in my posts, which was what I hopefully did in my
response earlier in this thread about what I do and what I use specific
track formats for. AND REMEMBER, I'm not even doing this full time,
although it is paying for itself.

I wish there were a better way to help save all these archives, but the
thing we must understand is that playing the original is BY FAR the hardest
part. Sticking a blank CD into a Sony CDRW33 (my current choice for this
stuff) and hitting record is easy. Making sure you're getting an optimum
playback is hard.

I have SOME information and tips on my Web site

Yes, I try to solicit some business through the Web site (and it's working
quite well), but I also hope it's an aid to people I cannot help
personally. After all there's more stuff out there that should be
transferred than (a) there is money to transfer and (b) there are people to
transfer it.



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