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Re: [AV Media Matters] Newbie to list question - tape baking, is it

At 16:18 22/12/99 -0800, you wrote:
>> However, my view is that Ampex *had* a perfectly good product which
>> was changed without proper accelerated life-testing (which would have shown
>> up this problem quite quickly)
>Not necessarily. You need to look at the complete set of facts. Recording
>tapes in the 1950s and 1960s were made using whale oil, and users indeed had
>no major problems. At least not with the performance of the tape but more
>with their consciences and the ecology lobby. Pressure was put on the tape
>manufacturers to find a synthetic substitute for the whale oil and that's
>when the hydrolysis problems began. Accelerated life testing has its uses
>but is not a complete substitute for prolonged and practical 'in-the-field'
>experience. You have only to look at dozens of different plastic products
>that have become brittle or distorted as a result of plasticisers leaching
>over time -- or once-beige and attractive-looking computer peripherals and
>photocopiers that have turned a foul nicotine brown in six or seven years.
>Plastics technologists are clever guys but not always as clever as they
>think they are.

While accepting that accelerated life testing is not a total solution to
long-term effects, I think that this particular problem would have shown up
in such tests,had they been properly conducted at the time.  My guess is
that the manufacturers did do some testing, but worked from the assumption
that the users would store their tapes within the levels of humidity and
temperatures recommended.  On that basis, life-testing may well not have
shown any serious problems.

Living in the practical world, how many of us can honestly say that tapes
have always been properly stored when under their supervision (other than
those who are involved in archival work and the like).  As a practical
recording engineer, I can only say that it was not uncommon for masters to
leave a studio for several months or longer, in the care of their 'owners',
when they would be handled with gay abandon and subjected to treatment that
even the poorest studio would not apply.  Even when returned to the
studio/s concerned for long-term storage, they invariably ended up in a
room which was usually considered 'safe' for tape 'because it's the coolest
room we have' or some other, similar, reason.  There was little or no
temperature control and I don't think I have ever seen a studio which had
full environmental control for its masters, other than a handful of

>Given that people using the baking technique to recover 'lost' or fugitive
>information would have demonstrably suffered loss at the hands of the
>self-same patentee, they would have the weight of  moral  right on their
>sides and only a foolhardy tape manufacturer would seek to drag its
>reputation into disrepute by bringing a case for infringement.

Which far more eloquently expresses exactly the same opinion as I did :-)

Graeme Jaye

Personal-CD - Affordable Audio Restoration


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