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Author Topic: Tape makes a screeching noise  (Read 802 times)

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Offline CTDavies

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Tape makes a screeching noise
« on: February 04, 2021, 11:12:05 AM »
Hello Everyone,
new guy here from Germany (actually a Brit that's been in Germany for the last 50 odd years or so). I started recording concerts in the early 8ties, mainly progressive Rock stuff, until the mid nineties with a fair amount of indie stuff as well. We (my brother and I) mainly used a large Sony mobile tape deck with two directional microphones and it wasn't always easy getting the equipment into the venues back then, and there certainly weren't any taper sectons.
Got married, kids came (well, one daughter who is now 22), built a house and a career, I have been toying with the idea of getting the tapes out again and and digitizing the best of them. Of course back then I started trading what I recorded and built a large collection of tapes, with about 1.500 Genesis cassettes and about the same with various artists. Very early I learnt that not all people take care when copying audio cassettes and the quality could quickly deteriorate, so I wrote thousands of letters trying to get as close as possible to the master tapes. I was successful in many many cases (it was really worth it) and in some the taper even gave me his masters as some simply were not interested anymore - wow!
So for the last several months I've been using my laptop and Kenwood tape deck to get some experience and today I went and ordered the MixPre 3 (not the MkII) as I quickly realized that I don't have much control using a simple interface gadget and USB. I don't want to record concerts anymore and the MixPre 3 seems to be a good choice for use at home.
But another problem has popped up: some of the cassettes I have are 45 years old and older and are slowly deteriorating which becomes noticable by a very loud screeching sound as tape material seems to get rubbed off by the mechanics of the tape deck and sticks to the playback head. Usually this occures towards the end of the cassette so may be a problem with transportation of the tape in an old cassette housing that might not have the correct tolerances needed for smooth transportation, as they were cheap at the time and not usually built to last. I've checked eBay for some of those TDK metal tapes that came in a metal housing which were the best you could get back then, and they're still around albeit a bit pricey. So I'm thinking of getting the tape out and putting it carefully into one of those TDK cassette housings.
My question here is: what else can be done to stop this screeching for a least one run for digitizing. I heard about some very adventurous things like putting the tape in the oven for 30 minutes etc but I don't think I want to risk that (yet).
Any help here is greatly appreciated. I've been looking around here for a few weeks and have already read lots of interesting stuff.
Thanks in advance, Chris Davies, Germany

Offline datbrad

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2021, 07:51:05 AM »
I suggest you try a different playback deck. Shedding of material on the head can signal an issue with the transport mechanism and if it's happening to every tape you spin, it's very likey being caused by the deck. If you can find a used Nakamichi CR-7 or Dragon, or any higher end deck with manual azimuth adjustment capability, you will make the best transfers. Good luck with your project.
Edit to add: Transplanting the tape reels from one shell to another is tedious and difficult and should only be tried as a last resort if a shell was broken and is unplayable.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2021, 07:55:38 AM by datbrad »
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Offline unidentified

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2021, 11:15:17 AM »
Transferring old cassette reels and tape from 40 year old shells to a newer one (even cheap TDKs--with screws-- still on sale in drugstores, etc) to get that one last pass is difficult and tedious but it is always my first resort to address squealing and tape speed issues due to mechanical issues. It has almost always worked for me to get the last playback into a PC.  YMMV--it is a bit like brain surgery.   Tape shedding is a different problem, also associated with old cassettes.  Clean your heads often and transfer those recordings ASAP.  And, yes, get another cassette deck--a new one if you can find one or one that has been refurbished with new belts and pinch rollers.  Good luck. 

Offline DSatz

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2021, 07:11:36 PM »
If a tape makes a screeching sound and/or oxide comes off, STOP. To continue playing that tape can ruin it. Some cassette tape suffers from binder breakdown just like open-reel tape from the mid-1970s through early 1980s does.

I started a thread about this on https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=195949.0 . I am still dealing with this problem on a daily basis.

Of course if you can transplant the tape pack into a new cassette shell and the problem goes away, then that solves the problem for that individual cassette. But I have a few cassettes which I have moved into new shells and it didn't help; I will "bake" those when I go back to working with cassettes (right now I'm dealing with ~25 cartons of open-reel tapes from the 1970s and the beginning of the 80s).

--best regards
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline CTDavies

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2021, 01:58:24 PM »
Thanks everyone so far for your valuable input.
I bought a TDK MA-XG cassette (appr. 50€) for a re-shell but that only made matters worse. This time the tape squeal started after a few minutes and not towards the end of the tape. Then I ordered The Last Company‘s Tape Head Treatment (another 50€) to lubricate the heads which arrived today but that didn‘t really improve anything. So baking is what it‘s going to be. Instead of using the kitchen oven I‘m thinking of getting a fruit dehydrator (about 100€) as I‘m hoping to control the temperature better with one of these.
I‘ll keep you informed.

Offline CTDavies

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2021, 03:59:21 PM »
Is it best to remove the tape from the shell for baking? I can imagine 130-140 Fahrenheit is what you get in a car in a summer afternoon and that didn‘t seem to bother the Tapes back then in the eighties.

Offline CTDavies

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2021, 02:02:55 PM »
So, I tried both; baking tapes in and out of the shell. They both don‘t seem to mind the heat. I baked a C-90 cassette for four hours - no difference, and another C-90 (same brand BASF) for six hours - no difference. They run fine for about 20 minutes, then the squealing begins. Tonight I noticed some new: the squealing got so bad the tape stopped. Dirt had accumulated on the tape and not on the head. I took a picture and will see if I can post it here. It looks like dirt builds up on the tape as it passes the head until the friction is too much and transportation stops. So the question is not about cleaning the head, it‘s how do I clean my tape?

Offline Melanie

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2021, 07:46:31 PM »
It's not dirt,. it's the oxides shedding off the tape.

Offline unidentified

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2021, 08:04:01 AM »
BASF--that company made the worst cassettes of any major company. Bad shells, bad tape. Thank goodness for Maxell, TDK, and Fuji.

Offline DSatz

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2021, 12:26:21 AM »
You might want to look at the thread I started on https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=195949.0 -- I have had very few problematic cassettes, and haven't baked any of them yet, but may try to do so in one case.

--best regards
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline tim in jersey

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Re: Tape makes a screeching noise
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2021, 01:20:56 AM »
Are you sure you didn't record Yoko Ono and simply mislabel the tape?  :yack:

 

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