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Reel to reel tape transfer
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Addict
 

Reel to reel tape transfer

Hi All,

I am transfering some reel to reel tapes I own, using an Akai GX-630DB someone gave me a few years ago, through a Switchcraft SC702CT to a Zoom F8. So far this works very well.

In my possession is a tape of a recording session my community band did back in 1988 at the conservatory in The Hague. It was a student project and the student had been a member of my band (I didn't know that at the time).

Long story short and cutting to the chase.

All tapes I have come across so far are either mono (side 1 of the tape in your left ear, side 2 of the tape in your right ear but reversed) or stereo one side, stereo on the other side. That would be four tracks. This one appears to be two track stereo. The first side plays as stereo as normal. I was always told the second side of the tape was empty, but today I discovered that if you play it you hear the first side in reverse.

Question: Am I getting additional information by recording the second side, reversing it and mixing it into the first? Or is it indeed the first side in reverse?

My thinking is that for a tape to play stereo on both sides the tape recorder head must be set up to have four tracks. If the tape only contains two tracks, am I then not missing half the track because the head thinks it is a 4 track tape?

Please help me with my confusion

Regards, Christine
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Mastering Moderator
 
Riccardo's Avatar
 

Verified Member
I am afraid I don't know that Akai tape recorder but if I am following your reasoning that could be a stereo 4 track only machine. As in side A stereo, reverse reel side B stereo while the tape you are playing is just straight stereo as in left channel, right channel one direction....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riccardo View Post
I am afraid I don't know that Akai tape recorder but if I am following your reasoning that could be a stereo 4 track only machine. As in side A stereo, reverse reel side B stereo while the tape you are playing is just straight stereo as in left channel, right channel one direction....
I think you are right. And I suspect it would be difficult to find someone who owns a 2-track stereo tape recorder.

Regards, Christine
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
The tape is a pro-type stereo tape. The full width of the tape is divided into left and right tracks playing in the same direction. Your reversible two-track (four actual playback gaps in the head) playback machine is not perfectly aligned to play the pro stereo tape correctly, but as you hear, it does a good, listenable job. As to your reverse-and-add strategy, no... Because an analog machine does not have an absolutely accurate and stable time/speed reference, your reversed playback will not match perfectly to the first playback. Adding the two will result in something louder, but you will probably (almost certainly) hear some degree of phasey weirdness added as well.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
By the way, I have working versions of the two types of machines I’m referencing, although mine are not at the Studer, Ampex or 3M level. The mastering houses that have been in business for decades have at least a pro two track machine.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Mastering Moderator
 
Riccardo's Avatar
 

Verified Member
I am sure you could either find a local friend or studio with a stereo Revox A77/B77/PR99 if not a Studer A807/810. Studios and radios in the Netherlands were full of those machines. I know for sure there are a few mastering houses with stereo 2 track machine but you will need to ask how much they charge for tape transfers.


P.S. Wim Bult (Amersfoort) is around here sometimes as well as Mischa van der Haiden (Rotterdam) both have Studer machines. I am sure there will be others in your area.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by connloyalist View Post
Question: Am I getting additional information by recording the second side, reversing it and mixing it into the first?
Yes, you'd get a great sounding phaser effect!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
What you have is a quarter track playback machine. The tracks split the tape into 4 quadrants and the machine records and plays back to tracks 1 and 3. If you flip the tape over, it records and plays back from tracks 2 and 4, but in the reverse direction.
Here is a link to a document that describes all the different tape formats.

What you have is a 1/2 track stereo tape playing back on a quarter track playback machine.

All the best,
Mark

Quote:
Originally Posted by connloyalist View Post
Hi All,

I am transfering some reel to reel tapes I own, using an Akai GX-630DB someone gave me a few years ago, through a Switchcraft SC702CT to a Zoom F8. So far this works very well.

In my possession is a tape of a recording session my community band did back in 1988 at the conservatory in The Hague. It was a student project and the student had been a member of my band (I didn't know that at the time).

Long story short and cutting to the chase.

All tapes I have come across so far are either mono (side 1 of the tape in your left ear, side 2 of the tape in your right ear but reversed) or stereo one side, stereo on the other side. That would be four tracks. This one appears to be two track stereo. The first side plays as stereo as normal. I was always told the second side of the tape was empty, but today I discovered that if you play it you hear the first side in reverse.

Question: Am I getting additional information by recording the second side, reversing it and mixing it into the first? Or is it indeed the first side in reverse?

My thinking is that for a tape to play stereo on both sides the tape recorder head must be set up to have four tracks. If the tape only contains two tracks, am I then not missing half the track because the head thinks it is a 4 track tape?

Please help me with my confusion

Regards, Christine
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
kludgeaudio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post
What you have is a 1/2 track stereo tape playing back on a quarter track playback machine.
Yes. The minute anyone talks about "two sides" of the tape, it's clear there is a quarter-track consumer machine involved.

You should know that half-track machines were pretty much the studio standard, and if you send the tape to a transfer house nobody is going to have any problems with a normal half-track tape.

You should also know that the Akai consumer machine has very limited playback controls... it is not going to be easy to set up the tones on those tapes. (Although you can at least set azimuth with the tones). If the tapes do have tones at the beginning it is worth paying attention to them and not ignoring them.

Also... that machine can't do normal 15ips audio. I take it these are slow-speed 7 1/2 ips tapes (which were common in the broadcast world where people were cheap)?
--scott
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