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Re: [ARSCLIST] rehousing audio cassettes

At 12:14 AM 2009-01-23, Steven C. Barr wrote:
----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard L. Hess" <arclists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
We're seeing some second-tier tapes which are becoming dimensionally unstable and won't wind well. ...
Have NEVER had this problem...including with my few bargain tapes...!

Hi, Steven,

You are lucky. I had never seen it until I received two collections of cassettes, both of them exhibited this and both collections contained bargain-brand Canadian tapes. I don't recall the brands, or if they were the same.

Overall, I've had very good luck with cassettes playing, but these six or so tapes were a real challenge.

There is another phenomenon that has only been very poorly documented and that is loss of highs just sitting in a wood drawer with no magnets around. ...
Reading this, I realize my "illusion" of "cassette permance" may well be exactly that...!!

All-in-all, I think your half-vast shellac collection will ultimately prove far more archival and ultimately easier to play in another 100 years than most tape collections. I'm already seeing people younger than I struggling with some of the things that I just assume as "general knowledge" from growing up in the analog tape era.

I did get a note off-list from another restorer who had noticed this as well, but had never seen it documented anywhere. It was originally brought to my attention by a friend who had worked in a lab measuring tapes and making calibration tapes. Little of this information came out of the labs at that time as it wouldn't help the marketing departments. And, it wasn't the brand of tape that was on my friend's paycheque that was worst at this--it was multiple brands, many respected. The precise details are lost to history, I fear, as his notes were left with the company when he left and he was telling me this from his usually good memory.

standing WAY too close to Fender Twins turned
up to 10 to get desired distortion levels...my hearing ALSO
suffers from "loss of highs!!"

Indeed. There are standards about how long you should do that (and they don't all agree), but if your ears ring after doing it, you're doing it too long and too loud. Just be glad you didn't have them turned up to 11!!!!

BTW, C-120's always carried warnings of "short life," and
were NEVER considered for archival use...?!

Sadly, while that warning may have been on some C120's, it wasn't on all of them as far as I know other than in a generic sense (like the "fade" warning on colour film). Many people recording oral histories in the cassette era were less technical than recordists a generation before because they could be. Because of that the technical details weren't given proper weight and archives end up with important lectures and/or interviews recorded on poor C120's, which makes my job harder. In a large collection where I have to bid fix-priced for the transfer, I hope I don't see too many of these. We did get all but about one minute from these tapes as previous playing attempts had stretched that one minute beyond recovery.



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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