¼’’ Reel-To-Reel Tape to CD | Audio Restored

Studio reel transcription on Revox B77 deck

1/4 inch open-reel tapes come in many formats but generally fall into two categories: “domestic tape” and “studio” tape. Both types can have a variety of playing speeds and tape lengths, giving a range of playing times as indicated in the table:

Reel to Reel Tape Playing Times (hr:min)

Reel Size Length Speed (ips)
(inch) (cm) (ft) 1 7/8 3 3/4 7 1/2 15
3 1/4 8 400 0:45 0:22 0:11
5 12 600 0:60 0:32 0:16
5 12 900 1:36 0:48 0:24 0:12
5 or 7 12 or 18 1200 2:08 1:04 0:32 0:16
7 18 1800 3:12 1:36 0:48 0:24
7 or 10.5 18 or 26.5 2500 4:24 2:12 1:06 0:33
10.5 26.5 3600 6:24 3:12 1:35 0:48
Sony TC377 Tape Deck

Sony TC377 Tape Deck

Domestic reels: Typical spool diameters are 3.25 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch, 6 inch and 7 inch. Usually the recording speeds are either 1 7/8 ips (inches per second), 3 3/4 ips or 7 1/2 ips and they are often quarter-track (4 track) mono or stereo.

Domestic reels are transcribed using either a Revox B77 deck or a Sony TC-377 deck for tapes running at 1 7/8 ips.

Occasionally we receive tapes running at 15/32 ips or 15/16 ips – these are speed-adjusted using software designed for the purpose.

Revox B77 Mk.II

Revox B77 Mk.II

2-Channel Studio Master reels: Typical spool diameters are 7 inch and 10.5 inch, and they are usually half-track (2 track) stereo recordings running at 15 ips or 30 ips.

1/4 inch Studio tape to CD transfer is performed using one of a pair of Revox B77 professional decks, catering for all speeds from 3 3/4 ips and above in both quarter- and half- track format.

Often, tapes are sent to us that are encoded for dbx type 1 noise reduction – these are decoded using an outboard dbx 150 type 1 NR unit.

PricesSticky Shed Syndrome (Baking Tapes)Reel-to-Reel facts


Domestic reel-to-reel tape (up to 7 inch reels) £25 / hour / reel
n.b. Short recordings (<1/2 hour from e.g. 3 inch reels) £15 / reel
Baking of domestic reels (if required) £8 / reel
n.b. Reels found to be blank (or content not required) are chargeable £10 / hour / reel
2-channel studio master reel-to-reel tape (up to 10.5 inch) (includes baking) £35 / reel
n.b. Reels found to be blank (or content not required) are chargeable £15 / reel

Sticky Shed Syndrome (SSS) and Tape Baking

Most reel-to-reel tapes that we receive for transfer to CD are found to be in perfectly good condition. Sometimes though, reels will arrive exhibiting signs of SSS – a noticeable ‘squealing’ sound as the tape is played, which is often accompanied by excessive wow and flutter and the shedding of sticky iron oxide particles on the record / playback heads and pinch roller. This is commonly due to the reels having been stored in less than ideal conditions (possibly extremes of temperature /dampness etc.) where the magnetic tape absorbs moisture from the air causing the break-down of the binder used to hold the magnetic particles onto the base film.

Carbolite_oven_smallAt Audio Restored, we use a ‘Carbolite’ laboratory oven supplied with the latest ‘type 301’ controller which is fitted with an over-temperature safety cut-out, to bake tapes suffering with SSS at a carefully controlled 55 degrees C for 24 hours. This technique drives out the moisture in a slow and controlled way, allowing us to retrieve and digitise the recorded content.

Be advised – never attempt to play any tapes exhibiting SSS –  it may well destroy the tape and its recorded content. Contact us to discuss a solution.

Reel-to-Reel facts

  • The Reel-to-reel tape format (also known as ‘open-reel’) was initiated in the late 1920s with the Anglo-German ‘Blattnerphone’, which was based on magnetisable steel wire passing across the heads from the supply spool to the take-up spool.
  • This led on to the development in the 1930s of the ‘Magnetophon’, which was introduced by the German AEG company, and employed magnetic tape rather than wire.
  • Early recordings tended to be disappointing, but considerable progress was made over the next 20 – 30 years in the formulation of the magnetic coating, which significantly improving the quality of the recordings.

Contact us to discuss your requirements fully.