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Reel to Reel recorders

Discussion in 'Recording' started by TomNY, Nov 27, 2014.

  1. TomNY

    TomNY Guest

    I have, in the past, transferred both vinyl and cassette tape to digital files and I have a frien who asked if I could have some reel to reel tapes put on CDs, they are home recordings of her long deceased father, about a dozen 7 inch reels. Since I don't have and have never used reel to reel I sought out a local source to do it for me but they are scarce and they are not repsonsive. Due to the content I'm not willing to ship them anywhere. SO I decided, after some research, that I'd get a reel to reel unit and do it myself. I basically have one question. I have no idea how the tapes were recorded and I'm I'm trying to cover as many bases as I can with the unit I purchase. I'm going to assume (rolling the dice) that they were not recorded at 15 ips. I am assuming its possible that they were recorded in mono on an 8 track unit however unlikely that might be. If I were to obtain a stereo 4 track unit and did indeed run into the issue of an 8 track recording could I run just one channel at a time into the computer and be OK or am I looking at having 2 mono tracks recorded into one stereo channel? I'm thinking it's the latter. How common was 8 track recording in the early 1960s, when these tapes were recorded?
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    early 60's those tapes will be 7 1/2 ips. they might be mono or they could be stereo. they might be half or quarter track but they will not be 8 track.
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Distinguished Moderator Resource Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    As Kurt says, they will not be 8-track, and I very much doubt they will be stereo, unless your friend's father was an enthusiast rather than just a normal home tape user. That leaves the question of half-track versus quarter-track, but it's easy to get round it. A quarter-track reel-to-reel tape deck will play half-track as well as quarter-track tapes, it's just that you don't get the full advantage of the half-track format in terms of noise.

    As far as the recorded speed goes, they are likely to be either 7.5ips or 3.75ips, with a possibility of 1.875ips. If you want to cover most of the possibilities, you should buy or borrow a tape deck that can take 7" reels and is quarter-track (commonly, but incorrectly, known as 4-track) with speeds of 7.5, 3.75 and 1.875 ips. A mono deck would transcribe one track at a time, but a stereo deck would save time by transcribing two mono tracks simultaneously - you would save them as separate tracks in your computer.
  4. TomNY

    TomNY Guest

    Thank you for the helpful replies. I had suspected that a 3 speed 1/4 track machine would be what I was looking for to cover my bases. I don't even know if the tapes contain anything, but I figure the worst that can happen is I'll end up with a new toy to mess around with. Or a doorstop if I'm not careful LOL. Thank you again and Happy Thanksgiving!
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Moderator (Distinguished Member) Resource Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    Be very cautious when purchasing. Things like heads, motors, lifters...these are mechanical parts that can wear out over time. If you can actually test a local machine for sale, you'll want to put a reel on and check PLAY, REC, REW, FF, meters and speed... check to make sure the speed is constant and doesn't drift from too slow to too fast. Check the rollers - if they are rubber, you'll want to make sure they aren't flaking or leaving residue on tape. If I were buying used off of eBay, I would consider getting buyer's insurance.

    You also need to be cautious when playing older tapes. Depending on how they were stored - the climate, humidity, dryness... they make have the backing stripping off, or, they can be brittle and even break, and not just at edit points, either.

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