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Baking a cassette tape?
Old 27th November 2009
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Thread Starter
Baking a cassette tape?

I've got someone who wants me to transfer an old cassette into Pro Tools. Easy enough. But he told me it was from 1976. Apparently, it is the only master that exists, and he wants to make the transfer before he loses it forever.

I've had someone bring me old 2" tape before, and after 10 seconds of rewinding sent them out of here to go get them baked because the stuff was all over. Has anyone ever had to bake a cassette tape?
Old 28th November 2009
  #2
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Generally cassette tapes don't suffer from the same "sticky shed" that reel to reel tapes do. I've transferred hundreds of cassettes from the 70's/80's and I don't remember any needing baking. So, I'd say the chances are quite slim that it will have to be baked.
Old 28th November 2009
  #3
I have some Ampex cassettes from the 80s that squeal and baking didn't help them. They were the worst cassettes ever and I was talked into using them and now I wish I had stuck with Maxells. I lost the masters to some Mike Stern/Bill Evans gigs I recorded at the Willow Jazz Club in Somerville MA ca. 1983 and I am really bummed. I gave copies to Mitch Forman shortly after and I hope his are still OK.

Oh well.
Edwin
Old 28th November 2009
  #4
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edwinhurwitz View Post
I have some Ampex cassettes from the 80s that squeal and baking didn't help them. They were the worst cassettes ever and I was talked into using them and now I wish I had stuck with Maxells.
I remember those POS cassettes. Thank goodness not many of them got out into circulation. In it's day Ampex made some fine reel to reel tape but they sure never understood how to make a decent cassette.
By the way, I have also seen RtR tape that exhibits this "loss of lubrication" type of behavior that baking won't solve.
Old 29th November 2009
  #5
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glenn Taylor's Avatar
 

I baked a few cassettes about 10 years ago. It worked for me. The only problem I had was the heat was a little too hot 1 time and I melted the cassette shell. Was able to take the tape out and put in another shell and it worked fine.
GT.
Old 29th November 2009
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Thread Starter
Update: The tape was unmarked, so I don't know who manufactured it. Other than a little bit of wow and flutter at the head, it sounded quite good, especially considering its age. Played back fine, and made the transfer. heh
Old 29th November 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
Clean EVERYTHING after the run - rollers, heads, guides, whatever you can reach.
Old 30th November 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 

The biggest problem I have with old cassettes is shed.
The oxide just falls off leaving a jagged remnant of the original recording.

I also have a lot of cassettes that have severe tape curling.
The tape just won't lie flat on the head and you get all kinds of fluttering dropouts.

Also, the brand name of cassette tape in particular doesn't indicate who manufactured the tape.
It might say Ampex, but I would bet that it wasn't made in Opelika, Georgia at the Ampex or Quantegy plant.
I forget who the big cassette manufacturers were in the day, but I know that TDK was one big supplier.
Old 30th November 2009
  #9
Gear Head
 

TDK: The Dropout King.
Old 3rd May 2016
  #10
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MickeyMassacre's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
I remember those POS cassettes. Thank goodness not many of them got out into circulation. In it's day Ampex made some fine reel to reel tape but they sure never understood how to make a decent cassette.
By the way, I have also seen RtR tape that exhibits this "loss of lubrication" type of behavior that baking won't solve.
Interesting. Sorry to dig up such an old thread, but I am having this issue now with an old ampex cassette I am transferring with a client. Its doing a gradual slowdown and then stop. If I rewind or FF it works again for maybe 30 seconds.

Replaced the shell, reels, felts, exercised the tape about a dozen times, half of which was by hand, the other half of the times were done on a Tascam 122mkIII.

I just CANT get a clean transfer!

edit: I also have cleaned all my heads and lubricated the rubber capstans as well...

Last edited by MickeyMassacre; 3rd May 2016 at 08:58 PM.. Reason: cleaned machine
Old 3rd May 2016
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by MickeyMassacre View Post
Interesting. Sorry to dig up such an old thread, but I am having this issue now with an old ampex cassette I am transferring with a client. Its doing a gradual slowdown and then stop. If I rewind or FF it works again for maybe 30 seconds.

Replaced the shell, reels, felts, exercised the tape about a dozen times, half of which was by hand, the other half of the times were done on a Tascam 122mkIII.

I just CANT get a clean transfer!

edit: I also have cleaned all my heads and lubricated the rubber capstans as well...
Those Ampex cassettes suck. I lost my masters of live Mike Stern shows from the early 80s because of them. I tried everything, including baking, and nothing worked. I got lots of squealing, which ended up being embedded in the audio.

I am not happy.
Old 3rd May 2016
  #12
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MickeyMassacre's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwinhurwitz View Post
Those Ampex cassettes suck. I lost my masters of live Mike Stern shows from the early 80s because of them. I tried everything, including baking, and nothing worked. I got lots of squealing, which ended up being embedded in the audio.

I am not happy.
Ended up switching from my two Tascam 122 units to a consumer JVC dual deck and it played well enough to get the transfer good enough for transcribing. So finally keeping crappy gear around rather than throwing it out became useful!
Old 5th May 2016
  #13
I would not try to bake cassettes as it will bend the shells and ruin other plastic pieces inside and the alignment or flutter will be bonkers.
Most important for a good transfer are clean heads and rollers, setting the azimuth correctly (sum signal to mono, adjust azimuth screw until it sounds brightest) and having a good deck. I'm often surprised what the Studer A712 I keep around for that purpose is able to get out of the old cassettes!
In case of Dolby B NR involved it's often best to turn it off and EQ/De-noise afterwards.
Old 5th May 2016
  #14
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12ax7's Avatar
 

.
I worked for a while at a joint that did a lot of this kinda work.

Most of the problems we had with capturing from old cassettes had more to do with the SHELL than with the tape itself.

(Just think how much time many of these old cassettes spent getting kicked around on the sandy floorboard of a car in the in the middle of summer!)

First thing we'd do with most of them was transfer the tape to a "new" shell.

We had boxes of of old unused cassettes (the kind with screws holding them together) that we used for the "new" shells.

The tape inside usually had more "sticky" problems from beer and soda spills gumming-up the works than from actual tape degradation.

We'd look for sticky spots as we went, and sometimes used isopropyl alcohol to get rid of it (or just cut the sticky sections out with a blade & splicing tape if it was easier, and didn't cause any loss of program material).
.
Old 5th May 2016
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwinhurwitz View Post
I have some Ampex cassettes from the 80s that squeal and baking didn't help them. They were the worst cassettes ever and I was talked into using them and now I wish I had stuck with Maxells. I lost the masters to some Mike Stern/Bill Evans gigs I recorded at the Willow Jazz Club in Somerville MA ca. 1983 and I am really bummed. I gave copies to Mitch Forman shortly after and I hope his are still OK.

Oh well.
Edwin
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
I remember those POS cassettes. Thank goodness not many of them got out into circulation. In it's day Ampex made some fine reel to reel tape but they sure never understood how to make a decent cassette.
By the way, I have also seen RtR tape that exhibits this "loss of lubrication" type of behavior that baking won't solve.
Ampex made some of the worst cassettes ever. Particularly insulting because they weren't 4 for a buck like other cassettes of similar poor quality.

I stopped buying Ampex entirely when I opened up a new-on-my-shelf box of DAT blanks and one after another was bad. I popped open a Maxell I'd bought on a Sunday in a pinch to have on hand (and not needed it) and it tracked fine.I tried the Ampex blanks on my other DAT machine and confirmed they were just bad tapes. After that I just bought Maxell. The company went to hell in stages, I guess, since their cassettes pretty much sucked from the first one I ever bought. When I was in rec school, some fellow students would keep buying Ampex no matter how ****ty they were. People, gotta love 'em.
Old 5th May 2016
  #16
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12ax7's Avatar
 

.
Oh, and by the way:

If I WERE to decide to bake a cassette tape, I'd remove it from the shell first!

Baking oysters in the shell works well enough because (unlike cassette shells) oyster shells are made mostly of calcium (instead of cheap plastic).
.
Old 5th May 2016
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Ampex made some of the worst cassettes ever. Particularly insulting because they weren't 4 for a buck like other cassettes of similar poor quality.

I stopped buying Ampex entirely when I opened up a new-on-my-shelf box of DAT blanks and one after another was bad. I popped open a Maxell I'd bought on a Sunday in a pinch to have on hand (and not needed it) and it tracked fine.I tried the Ampex blanks on my other DAT machine and confirmed they were just bad tapes. After that I just bought Maxell. The company went to hell in stages, I guess, since their cassettes pretty much sucked from the first one I ever bought. When I was in rec school, some fellow students would keep buying Ampex no matter how ****ty they were. People, gotta love 'em.
They were insulting. I was sold on them in the early 80s by a high end stereo shop who touted Ampex as the choice of studios everywhere. Being young and impressionable, I fell for it. Not for long, but long enough to lose some important masters. Thankfully, I made some dubs on Maxells for Mitch Forman, the keyboard player on those gigs, and hopefully he still has them somewhere.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Here for the gear
 

Cassettes don't get SSS but they can become dehydrated. When played they slowdown or stop completely. Usually re-shelling a cassette will help. Baking them at 120F for 48 hours does work on a very small number of cassettes. I recently transferred about 1000 cassettes and 3 or 4 had to be baked.

Another possibility to use with cassettes that can’t play well is to use decamethylcyclopentasiloxane, D5 for short. It is a silicone used in soaps and shampoos. It doesn’t have any extra chemicals in it and it evaporates quickly. I take my cassette deck and place a block of wood under it so the deck is lying on an angle. With a syringe applicator I place the tip of the needle on the capstan and let it drip while the cassette is playing. Very little is needed to accomplish a transfer.

Cyclomethicone 500ml 16oz High Purity | eBay
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Last edited by Creative Audio; 4 weeks ago at 06:39 PM.. Reason: Link to D5
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
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Meriphew's Avatar
 

Out of curiosity - Those who are taking cassettes in to be transfered, are you taking it to a recording studio, or to a mastering facility?
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