Open-Reel Tape Experiences -The Good & Bad

Skywavebe

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#21
If you compare Maxell XL I to The Capture I bet the XL I would beat it. We left XL I for the standard 1 mil some time ago maybe right after the 2000.
 

8991XJ

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#22
A little late to the party but I'll post anyway. I've had a Tandberg 10X from new and it needs a bit of work, recap I would suspect would bring it back to right. When I got it the tech at the shop set it up for Maxell UD35-180B the backcoated tape and I used that since I bought a box from Maxell. I also used some of the non-backcoated UD35-180. Tried a couple TDK Audua both backcoated and not and it was fine. Since I was working at a store that sold Maxell, it is most of my collection. A few years ago I bought a pile of reels from a company going out of business, Quantegy 406/456 tapes, including a box of pancakes. Sold most of it but kept the pancakes and a couple of the 456s. These are what I'm recording on now since I found a reasonably priced Crown SX-724 that needed a full nicotine cleaning bath, recap, maintenance and set up for the tapes I was using. I did the mechanical/recap and sent the electronics to Chuck Ziska with the headblock and he retouched the heads, mild relap, and set them up on his machine and dialed in the electronics to the tapes I would be using. That machine sounds just DAMN EXCELLENT, even playing the tapes I recorded in the late 70s/early 80s when I was more active using my Tandberg.

Get a machine that is in good shape, refurb it to like new and set it up to the tape you will be using and you will have something.

Pontificating Bob is totally correct on the purchase of used tapes, in general. The ones I bought were from a production house and if they had been recorded 8 times they were replaced. If they were more than 5 years old they were replaced hecne the reason they had a box of pancakes in the sell off. So I got some lightly used fairly recent tapes, not tapes used in a dirty environment with dirt and other detritus caked into the magnetic medium. So I quoted his third comment below.
The first comment is also very true. If you are going to use a specific tape have the machine dialed in for that tape. Back in the day this was done for batch lots of tape since the tapes were ordered by the multiple boxes. Not so much the home audio crowd which had machines that were rarely their best because they were never moved from factory settings by the happy and clueless owners.

Finally, Bob talks about the price of an NOS box of tape. Why on earth pay more for an NOS Maxell UD35-180B when you can buy new and better tape for less. Keep an eye on what tapes sell for and you will see the use of new tape is the way to go. Is it expensive,? NO, it is selling for exactly what tape sold for back in the day adjusted for inflation. Now if you are making the same today as in the 80s I understand your concern but tape isn't really expensive today.

Follow Bob's advice.

I'm not a fan of the NOS tapes but that's primarily because the prices for the good ones are now equal to or more than the new stuff. I prefer buying new and supporting the existing manufacturers these days.

...extracting the most out of a reel to reel (or a cassette) deck really means you need to spend the time (or in my case, the money) to properly calibrate the deck to a specific tape. Even if you have Bias and EQ switches on your deck(s), I still recommend setting the deck up for one specific tape you'll use most of the time.

Third: in a lot of cases, old acetate and early mylar tapes bought on the cheap are false economy.
Happy taping, folks.
 

mr_rye89

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#23
I'm gonna get a fresh reel of LPR-35 one of these days. Still working on that Akai GX-something, needs the control board recapped and probably clean/lube on the mech. I also have a Teac X-3, it sounds pretty meh so I should at least look at the heads.......

EDIT: are 2SC945s bad transistors?
 
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NavLinear

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#24
I checked out the AK forum named top-ten-worst-transistors-noisy-failure-prone-whatever-and-replacements and searched for the 2SC945 transistor. The comments I read about this specific transistor discuss what replacement transistors will work as a direct replacement - no indication that this transistor is in the noisy-failure prone and whatever category. There are modern and available replacement transmitters if you have a failed one.
 

Skywavebe

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#25
Most NPN or 2SC or 2SD transistors can be replaced with KSC1845 which is a great transistor (low noise) up to 50mA but after that I use KSD1616A for subs that can go to 1 Amp. There are common transistors I have found that can be stocked and used in repairs but some like the KSC1845 only good for 50mA often times work where transistors with an Ic max of 200 or 300mA because if you figure the current in the transistor circuit it comes out to 8-9mA. So you do not have to follow the original specs all the time if you know how to calculate a current draw through a given transistor circuit.
For the PNP which are 2SA and 2SB these KSA992 can work and I have some other ones here too.
The only transistors that have a clear history of going bad were 2SC458 with black leads and also to a lesser extent in Teac decks the 2SC1327 and I think these are also noisy in the Pioneer models. I have had 2SC1327 transistors fail in the same deck within 2 hours of each other- it was the other channel and same position.
 

Skywavebe

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#26
The term Common Sense has left this nation with the selection of the wrong President. People tell me there is no more common sense and one example is buying used tape that cost more than the better new tape. If the new tape would not be better than XL I when I do machines I would be back to XL I as I have a lot of it here. It is not bad tape at all. It is just the print level of LPR and MDS now are better by a small amount. It is not a huge amount but tape formulas move in small amounts usually except that for price advantage some go down in performance not to mention any brand.
There are people out there using old garbage machines but they get them for free and at least they produce sound but in my decks that is not the criteria I use as the head must reproduce all the frequencies it is suppose to not just 1KHz like one brand used.
 

mr_rye89

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#27
I checked out the AK forum named top-ten-worst-transistors-noisy-failure-prone-whatever-and-replacements and searched for the 2SC945 transistor. The comments I read about this specific transistor discuss what replacement transistors will work as a direct replacement - no indication that this transistor is in the noisy-failure prone and whatever category. There are modern and available replacement transmitters if you have a failed one.
That’s what I figured, I don’t have any bad 2SC945s, but the rest of the deck had 2SC458s and 2SC1213s(number might be wrong) and the legs were corroded and the deck sounded like crap. I replaced all those with KSC1845s a few years back. I bought 100 or so KSC1845s and have used them like crazy on my 1970s gear

I did a bunch of the caps on control board on that Akai last night, gonna try to finish.
 

MarkWComer

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#29
(Bumping an old thread…)
DANG! I wouldn’t ever expect to hear tape squeal so loud! I used Scotch Dynarange 8-Track carts, sounded pretty good with my Wollensak, so I bought Dynarange when I bought my X-7R. Sounded great for the first 20 minutes, then the squealing began. I thought it was a lubrication problem with the pinch rollers and rotating guides. CRAP! I bought a BUNCH of these reels! All used tapes at that. The few Maxell tapes mixed in didn’t squeal.

Read a few things about using those old silicone cloths used for record “cleaning,” even one article about using pencil lead against the tape to deposit a graphite coating on it similar to 8-Tracks. Hesitant to try any of this, there are as many reasons not to do this as there are to make the attempt. Frustrating…
 

62vauxhall

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#30
That squealing is a hideous sound. I experienced it with Sony PR150. Several PR150’s actually. Kind of a shame because there was some good stuff recorded on them.

And my one and only prerecorded open reel tape, Rod Stewart - Smiler. The first 1/3 sounds great then the squealing starts.

What reels of PR150 I had got tossed but I kept Smiler.

When used R2R tapes were commonly found, I often saw Sony PR150. It must have been popular back then.
 

Bob Boyer

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#31
(Bumping an old thread…)
DANG! I wouldn’t ever expect to hear tape squeal so loud! I used Scotch Dynarange 8-Track carts, sounded pretty good with my Wollensak, so I bought Dynarange when I bought my X-7R. Sounded great for the first 20 minutes, then the squealing began. I thought it was a lubrication problem with the pinch rollers and rotating guides. CRAP! I bought a BUNCH of these reels! All used tapes at that. The few Maxell tapes mixed in didn’t squeal.

Read a few things about using those old silicone cloths used for record “cleaning,” even one article about using pencil lead against the tape to deposit a graphite coating on it similar to 8-Tracks. Hesitant to try any of this, there are as many reasons not to do this as there are to make the attempt. Frustrating…
Welcome to sticky shed syndrome, Mark. My solution was to just toss 'em - and I had a bunch of bad 10" reels of Ampex 407. It was pretty easy to get the tape off the metal reels and dump the tape, but getting bad tape off of plastic reels is a pita, even if it's only 7" reels.
 

MarkWComer

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#32
Welcome to sticky shed syndrome, Mark. My solution was to just toss 'em - and I had a bunch of bad 10" reels of Ampex 407. It was pretty easy to get the tape off the metal reels and dump the tape, but getting bad tape off of plastic reels is a pita, even if it's only 7" reels.
16mm films have a different issue (apart from the dye fading) where the acetate base deteriorates, warps, and becomes completely unprojectable. I made a split reel so I could wind the film, remove a side of the reel, tape the pancake together, then dump it. A metal tape reel that has the sides held with screws should allow the same thing.

I bought a food dehydrator to try the “baking” technique…
 

MarkWComer

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#33
So with “sticky shed” in mind, how long can I reasonably expect new tapes from ATR Magnetics (or elsewhere…) to last? Have binder formulations improved sufficiently to prevent this?
 

J!m

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#34
It was a problem with Ampex and later Quantegy (who took over operations) used the same binder and therefore had the same problem with age.

I used both with no issues back in the day but to play them now might be a problem... And other Quantegy tapes (other call numbers) may or may not use the same binder- it's hit or miss with old tape, and once the binder stops binding, it sheds flakes of magnetic material...
 

bill7621

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#35
I would think ATR would outlast you. If you want used, go with Maxell UDXL or UDXLII. I used to like BASF, but recently opened a couple professional series and they were shot. I also have some old scotch that's still good and I think they were one of the tapes that were affected with sticky shed. Guess I got lucky. I kind of think how they were stored has a little to do with it. The Scotch brand I have were my grandpa's and he passed in 1979. He had them probably 10 or 15 years before that. They still play. I haven't recorded over them . And like Jim said, it's hit and miss. I will say I've never had a problem with any Maxell, no matter what version.
 

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#36
I continue to buy used tape. Recently, I bought a Pioneer PR-101 take-up reel for my Pioneer RT-909, a Maxell MR-10 take-up reel and a Maxell UD 35-180 reel of recorded music - all from the same seller for a great price. The recording was so-so @ 3.75 i.p.s., but not bad selection of tunes. I am undecided on whether I will record over it, but I think not. I hate recording over someone else's mix tape.

Seller's photos:

4586863-d1c6ec29-reel-to-reel-maxell (1) (1).jpg
4586864-288eb444-reel-to-reel-maxell (1) (1).jpg
4586865-e275b969-reel-to-reel-maxell (1) (1).jpg

Nando.
 

Bob Boyer

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#37
HI Mark, ATR will not let you down. Didn't have any trouble with RMGI, or whatever it's called now, either, but ATR was my go-to tape for critical recordings. Never a note of issue with sticky-shed. I agree with Jim - the backcoated Ampex and Quantegy tapes were the primary offenders, though I ran into a TDK once and several Scotch tapes that all had issues.

By the time ATR came along, I think things were pretty well worked out. I agree with Bill - I'd bet it outlives you. Maxell is obviously the gold standard of used/NOS tapes but for the prices, I always bought new.
 

Elite-ist

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#38
Quantegy 480

I bought a carton (12 tapes) of Quantegy 480 7" reels, new, when it was still being sold at a Burnaby wholesaler. I like this tape as much as the Maxell XLI. I may have six tapes remaining as the others were used for recordings I sent off in open-reel mix tape exchanges.

DSC07214-1.jpg
DSC07217.jpg
DSC07239.jpg


Nando.
 

Bob Boyer

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#39
Can't remember if it was backcoated or not, Nando. The Roy Buchanan album you sent me on it was quite good sounding, as I recall. I digitized it before getting rid of all the reel to reel stuff a few years back.
 
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