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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 Size||Length||Speed (ips)|
|(inch)||(cm)||(ft)||1 7/8||3 3/4||7 1/2||15|
|5 or 7||12 or 18||1200||2:08||1:04||0:32||0:16|
|7 or 10.5||18 or 26.5||2500||4:24||2:12||1:06||0:33|
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.
Studio 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.
|Domestic reel-to-reel tape (up to 7 inch)||£20 / hour / reel|
|Studio reel-to-reel tape (up to 10.5 inch)||£25 / reel|
|Baking of reel-to-reel tape||£8 / reel|
|Identification of unknown content, subsequently not required & blank tape discovered||£10 / hour / reel|
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.
At Audio Restored, we use a Carbolite type 201 laboratory oven (with 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 transfer and retrieve the recorded content to digital.
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.