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Re: [ARSCLIST] Wishing for old tapes, was Yet another great box set from Mosaic

Tom and Richard, excellent thread here. I'm wondering what are the typical losses, in frequency, that you find in tapes due to age? I've often heard that high frequency losses are common but beginning at what frequency? Have you noticed any low frequency losses also? And what is the apparent time considerations that you've experienced ( ie. become apparent with tapes recorded 30 years ago).

Steve Koto
On Apr 18, 2008, at 4:44 PM, Richard L. Hess wrote:

At 06:20 PM 2008-04-18, Tom Fine wrote:

It's too bad that the newfangled Magnetofon never made it over here in the late 1930's. So much good music was made in the last decade of 78's and almost all of it would sound better if it had been recorded on tape. The flipside of course is that those tapes might well be dust now...

Hi, Tom,

This is a complex and not-clear-cut issue. I have transferred second generation Magnetophon tapes from 1946 and there is a fair amount of distortion on them -- not DC bias distortion but an obvious lack of understanding of the tape's compression/overload characteristics.

While there is some excellent sound -- the AES stereo CD from second generation Magnetophon tapes sounds better than the material I did from 1946 -- the process/conditions/operator knowledge was very variable, as was the tape.

There is a huge jump in quality with Mullin's electronics -- think of what he did was sort of like the Aria electronics of its day. He changed the original AEG electronics -- in fact, all he brought back from Germany were tapes, heads, and transports.

The 1946 / 1947 material that Mullin recorded sounds really, really good.

In the late 1930s, AEG did bring a machine to GE -- being a related company -- and GE turned up their nose at it. They appeared to be suffering from a huge case of NIH from all I've read. I can't cite exact quotes right now, but I think the memo has been published someplace.

So it wasn't as if the opportunity wasn't there, it wasn't exercised. Meanwhile Semi Begun at Brush and Marvin Camras at Armour were doing things, but Brush's work was low end and Camras was stuck in wire, I think, at least during WWII.

Apparently several Magnetophons were brought back, including Orr and Ranger, in addition to Mullin's two. We know where Mullin's two still are.

So while it's a good wish, it wasn't to be and the results might have been uneven and perhaps even disappointing. Everything seemed to fall into place in 1946/47.

Oh, and the vast majority of the WWII era German tapes are still marginally playable -- at least the ones that I have seen. The Magnetophonband Typ L which is the homogeneous PVC material still works well, although its magnetic characteristics are, ummm, interesting by today's standards. Magnetophonband Typ C if stored in the original metal cans is at grave risk of vinegar syndrome -- it is a coated acetate material.

I even played one reel of 1930s carbonyl iron tape from Jack's collection, but it had nothing but tones on it. It's the gray tape.

Anyway, I'm glad everyone likes the Mosaic box set!



Be careful, the tape is 6.5 mm wide, not 6.35 mm.

Richard L. Hess email: richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/ contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.

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