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Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: Sticky AGFA PEM 469

This is a transcript I found and scanned from an AGFA Forum - "Restoring
Old Masters Seminar", Registry Hotel, Universal City, California, April
12, 1989, Official Conference Transcript.


"Magnetic tape restoration is a topic of great importance to the music
and recording industries. It affects us all in terms of preserving
priceless parts of our popular culture that already exist in record
company archives, libraries, and private collections. As a leading
magnetic tape manufacturer, Agfa is committed to the preservation of the
world's musical heritage for future generations. 

This issue has grown in importance as Compact Disc reissues have become
more and more popular. Record companies are now "mining for gold" in
their tape archives, pulling precious magnetic master tapes from their
shelves for the first time in many years.
Unfortunately, they are often finding out a little late that the tape
storage methods they considered acceptable a decade or two ago haven't
proven to be reliable -- and that shedding has 
occurred to such an extent that these "precious" tapes are virtually

At Agfa we felt that there must be some way to aid archivists and A&R
executives in the restoration of these tapes. Our technical service and
research teams in Munich and in the United States went to work on this
problem two years ago and they have developed a process that has proven
to be effective -- AGFA XT.

To date we have successfully processed over two hundred hours of
magnetic audio recordings, and frankly, we haven't met tape that we
couldn't restore. 

First a note of caution: The AGFA XT process is only a temporary
solution. We can take "unplayable" tapes and make them "playable" one
time only. Thus they must be transferred either to analog or digital
tape for preservation or remastering. Furthermore, once processed, these
tapes can only be played back for a period of about one hour. As a
result, all transfers are made to client-selected tape format as the
final stage of the AGFA XT process. 

How does it work? For proprietary reasons, we don't go into great
detail. Suffice to say that AGFA XT is a five-step process. It is quite
labor intensive and requires a special lab environment like the one we
have set up at our corporate headquarters in Ridgefield Park, N.J. Agfa
is offering the AGFA XT process as an industry service. 

The first step is preparing the material for treatment. This entails,
among other things, inspecting and protecting splices. A careful spot
inspection for dust, dirt and obvious tape damage is also performed.
Then, the tape undergoes a quick chemical treatment. The third step is a
careful cleaning process. Heat is then applied and, once the tape
acclimates to room temperature, it is finally ready for transfer. 

The obvious question of price comes to mind. The price varies based on
size of the tape format, the quantity and the number of splices. We can
make this simple price comparison for the sake of an estimate: AGFA XT
costs about the same as premium  hourly rates at our country's leading
audio recording studios. 

If all goes well in preparation, the tape treatment process takes about
45 minutes. A 30 ips master takes an additional 15 minutes to process, a
15 ips master takes 30 minutes of processing time, and a 7.5 ips tape
requires an additional one the lab. 

It is well worth the money -- especially considering the potential
return for a great performance. Currently, two major record labels are
working with us to evaluate the effectiveness of the AGFA XT process on
their material and, if they are satisfied, will soon commit to a major
restoration effort in our labs. 

However, we are sensitive to the needs of the studio population as
well. And we are equipped and eager recording studios with their tape
retrieval and restoration needs in the months ahead. 

Tape restoration is a topic of importance to us all. We're not just
talking about magnetic recordings. We're talking about an important part
of our culture deteriorating beyond repair. As a tape manufacturer, Agfa
is committed to preserving our nation's musical heritage. But we can't
do it alone. The challenge is there. But it is a challenge we must all
address together". 

Pity they didn't give out the trade secrets in this announcement!!



Marie O'Connell
Analogue Tape Preservation Archivist
Sound Archives/Nga Taonga Korero
PO Box 1531
Radio New Zealand House
Level 1, 51 Chester Street West
Phone  +64 3 374 8443
Fax  + 64 3 374 8448

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