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

Studio reel transcription on Revox B77 deck

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

Prices (basic cost to transfer tapes + manual restoration as required)

Domestic reel-to-reel tape (up to 7 inch reels)£30 / hour / reel
n.b. Short recordings (<20 mins from e.g. 3 inch reels)£20 / reel
Manual Restoration as required£10 / reel on average
Baking only, of domestic 1/4″ tape (no digitisation) (3 inch to 7 inch reels)£10 for 1 – 4 reels
n.b. Reels found to be blank (or content not required) are chargeable£10 / hour / reel
2-channel studio master reel-to-reel tape (7 inch) (includes baking)£30 / reel
2-channel studio master reel-to-reel tape (10.5 inch) (includes baking)£40 / reel
Baking only, of studio 1/4″ tape (no digitisation) (7 inch and 10.5 inch reels)£20 for 1 – 4 reels
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.

1/4 inch open-reel tapes come in many formats but generally fall into two categories: “domestic” tape and “studio master” 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 SizeLengthSpeed (ips)
(inch)(cm)(ft)1 7/83 3/47 1/215
3 1/484000:450:220:11
5 or 712 or 1812002:081:040:320:16
7 or 10.518 or 26.525004:242:121:060:33
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. Digitisation can be performed at between 16 bit/44.1 kHz (CD quality) up to 24 bit/96 kHz – just let us know your preference.

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.


Contact us to discuss your requirements fully.