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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.