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