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Re: [ARSCLIST] Wishing for old tapes, was Yet another great box set from Mosaic
Tom and Richard, excellent thread here. I'm wondering what are the
typical losses, in frequency, that you find in tapes due to age? I've
often heard that high frequency losses are common but beginning at
what frequency? Have you noticed any low frequency losses also? And
what is the apparent time considerations that you've experienced
( ie. become apparent with tapes recorded 30 years ago).
On Apr 18, 2008, at 4:44 PM, Richard L. Hess wrote:
At 06:20 PM 2008-04-18, Tom Fine wrote:
It's too bad that the newfangled Magnetofon never made it over
here in the late 1930's. So much good music was made in the last
decade of 78's and almost all of it would sound better if it had
been recorded on tape. The flipside of course is that those tapes
might well be dust now...
This is a complex and not-clear-cut issue. I have transferred
second generation Magnetophon tapes from 1946 and there is a fair
amount of distortion on them -- not DC bias distortion but an
obvious lack of understanding of the tape's compression/overload
While there is some excellent sound -- the AES stereo CD from
second generation Magnetophon tapes sounds better than the material
I did from 1946 -- the process/conditions/operator knowledge was
very variable, as was the tape.
There is a huge jump in quality with Mullin's electronics -- think
of what he did was sort of like the Aria electronics of its day. He
changed the original AEG electronics -- in fact, all he brought
back from Germany were tapes, heads, and transports.
The 1946 / 1947 material that Mullin recorded sounds really, really
In the late 1930s, AEG did bring a machine to GE -- being a related
company -- and GE turned up their nose at it. They appeared to be
suffering from a huge case of NIH from all I've read. I can't cite
exact quotes right now, but I think the memo has been published
So it wasn't as if the opportunity wasn't there, it wasn't
exercised. Meanwhile Semi Begun at Brush and Marvin Camras at
Armour were doing things, but Brush's work was low end and Camras
was stuck in wire, I think, at least during WWII.
Apparently several Magnetophons were brought back, including Orr
and Ranger, in addition to Mullin's two. We know where Mullin's two
So while it's a good wish, it wasn't to be and the results might
have been uneven and perhaps even disappointing. Everything seemed
to fall into place in 1946/47.
Oh, and the vast majority of the WWII era German tapes are still
marginally playable -- at least the ones that I have seen. The
Magnetophonband Typ L which is the homogeneous PVC material still
works well, although its magnetic characteristics are, ummm,
interesting by today's standards. Magnetophonband Typ C if stored
in the original metal cans is at grave risk of vinegar syndrome --
it is a coated acetate material.
I even played one reel of 1930s carbonyl iron tape from Jack's
collection, but it had nothing but tones on it. It's the gray tape.
Anyway, I'm glad everyone likes the Mosaic box set!
Be careful, the tape is 6.5 mm wide, not 6.35 mm.
Richard L. Hess email: richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.