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I have one of these left over from my when i bought a Sony JH 16 24 back in the the late nineties. I barely used the tape before ditching the Sony because it was just not reliable enough to use (without a full time tech on the staff!). Is it worth anything? Someone told me that it would probably need baking - is that true.

I also have a one reel of BASF 911 2in tape, plus 2 reels of Ampex 499, and one reel of Ampex 456. All have low usage and I think no splices.....worth anything to anyone?




JoeH Sun, 03/04/2012 - 12:10

Probably your best bet is to try selling them on Ebay. Do a search for similar product, and then check on the "Completed listings" button, to tell you similar items that sold, and for how much. That will give you some idea of what's being sold these days.

As for "baking" an alignment tape, I think that's pointless if it IS bad/sticky.

However, not every "old" tape needs baking. Believe it or not, some very old tapes play just fine. (Usually Scotch and sometimes BASF). It comes down to the formulation, and the particular batch of tape. Tapes from the 70s', particularly Ampex 456 and others (Sony Superscope, etc.) had bad formulations that ended up becoming "Sticky". The short story is that the binder that holds the iron oxide particles to the tape become sticky, and begins to shed and stick to everything in the tape path, eventually causing so much friction that the machine physically stops. Along with this, pieces of the tape can come off as well.

The baking process reverses the breakdown in the binder, but only temporarily. Once a tape has been properly "Baked" in a convection oven, the next step (immediately after it cools) is to play it (usually once) on a machine to retrieve its contents, converting it all to digital for archiving, remastering, etc. Within a day or two of the baking, the tape usually gets sticky again and becomes useless.

So, all that to say, baking an alingment calibration tape isn't really going to yield anything useful. (I wouldn't trust a tape that's gotten sticky to become a "reference" for anything. The point would be to retrieve the contents, which in this case are just test tones.)

If you've got a machine to align, you're better off getting a new tape to for this sort of thing. (And selling a "sticky" aligment tape - if it is indeed so - won't get you anywhere.)

Frank Oglethorpe Wed, 06/27/2012 - 08:42

In my experience, BASF tapes didn't need baking however it also depends in what climate the tape was kept as to what its condition will be in. I recommend finding someone with a 2" machine you can play it back on to see if it sheds. But don't play it for too long if it is sticky as you can burn out capstan motors that way, especially on MTR90's. The Ampex tapes are probably sticky but somebody may want the empty reels.

FYI The test tape if it is a proper one is made with a single track head which makes it difficult to re-use as a multitrack as the the guard bands don't get erased and you get bleed thru from the tones. Multiple erase passes will help or better still, a bulk eraser.

Good luck,
Frank Oglethorpe

RemyRAD Sun, 07/08/2012 - 19:51

Everything everybody I said above is essentially correct. It's not all correct. And that's because it's not so much who manufactured the tape but the type of binders or glue that was utilized to affix the iron oxide particles to the mylar polyester " film ", changed in the late 1970s due to the EPA. The hazardous stuff (Binder/glue) that was used prior to the EPA mandate, didn't break down because it was inorganic. Once the EPA mandate was enacted, they went to an environmentally friendly urethane binder. And while it was well " torture tested " and we were all told it would last 100 years... it didn't last 10 years. So any recording tapes made prior to 1979 such as Scotch 206, Ampex 406 and from other manufacturers will generally be all right. Everything after that however has huge disappointments, huge losses of recorded history. While making a tape (with a scientifically controlled oven capable of maintaining a precise temperature within ± 2°) allows one to salvage a recording, frequently, damage has already been inflicted from attempting to play the recording before the baking process.

When you add heat in order to salvage a tape, the heat causes an increase in what is known as " print through ". Print through has always been problematic in the land of analog tape recording. Print through is easily identified as faint echoes, especially on anything percussive, before the actual sound and after the actual sound. And actually causes the magnetization of loudly recorded items to " print through " to the adjoining upper and lower layers. It can be quite distracting and obtrusive. That's one of the things I don't miss about analog recording and about the only thing I don't miss. Otherwise the nonlinear transference of the analog recording process created " saturation ". The saturation created its own soft limiting and a unique harmonic structure that a lot of engineers found advantageous. And that's why you find that saturation feature in so many pieces of software today. But nothing beats the real deal.

The only way you can find out if your tape has become " sticky ", is to simply load it up on a machine and hit play. It should work just fine or in a short period of time, you'll actually hear mechanical squealing as the tape passes through the guides and over their heads, through the words and to grandma's house to go. Then it will just screeched to a physical stop with the capstan still turning and the tape not moving. That's because it has actually physically glued itself in place on your recorder. It has shed its oxide and glue onto your guides and all over your heads. It will take lots of alcohol and dozens of Q-tips to try and clean it off your machine. And when you look at your Q-tips, there's a lot of audio on those Q-tips that can never be recovered much less, reapplied. In lieu of baking tapes, I have a couple of old consumer Sony recorders, with much simpler tape paths, no supply holdback tension & felt pads to keep in contact with the head. This causes less damage and less shedding from the tape which still can allow for a quick transfer. Those old Sony is are 1/4 track consumer configuration. So in order to transfer a professional 1/4 inch, 2 track professional standard recording, I have a couple of the heads tricked up in the height to fall within the 1/2 track professional configuration. And then there is also the speed to contend with as these consumer machines go no faster than 7.5 IPS and many masters go at 15 IPS. This also causes the reproduced frequency response to be quite inaccurate. Thankfully with software, we can not only change to the correct speed, we can compensate for the incorrect frequency response.

You never want to attempt to bake any analog tape in any oven within your kitchen. While they have thermostatic controls, they for a short while become much hotter than the temperature at which you have set. Then they switch off and fall down in temperature below that which you have set. Your tape will melt. The tape cannot accommodate much of anything above 125°F. So it doesn't matter if you set your kitchen oven to that temperature, you'll virtually guarantee a melted tape. Other folks have utilized some of those consumer home fruit/food dehydrator's with great success.

I should also point out that the sticky tape phenomena happens regardless of the controlled storage environment. Many precious masters which have been stored in proper tape libraries, at proper temperatures, with low humidity levels have still ended up like this. I believe this would not have happened if the tapes were kept in a virtual vacuum like that of outer space. This problem occurs at any humidity level regardless of storage technique. In a complete vacuum there is no humidity. Unfortunately this is both impractical and we didn't know it until it was too late. They say that nothing exists in a vacuum. Well that's bunk. These precious masters would have. LOL. And that's also because any humidity within the tapes would have been instantly eliminated within a total vacuum.

Storing them in your Hoover, Eureka or Kirby is not an option. In a Dyson they would have merely unraveled. LOL.
Mx. Remy Ann David