greatbear analogue and digital media > audio tape transfer > audio cassette

audio cassette

Nakamichi 682ZX Discrete head tape deck used to digitise audio cassettes

digitise audio cassettes to wav

We use Nakamichi RX505 and 680 and 600 series 3 head cassette decks when we digitise audio cassettes and Teac C-3x and Tascam 234 and 238 decks for high speed 2 channel, 4, and 8 channel transfers. These machines all have their transports regularly cleaned and demagnetised and are serviced and checked using test equipment such as the Nakamichi T100 Audio Analyser.

2 track stereo, 4 track and 8 track, Dolby B, C and DBX encoded cassettes can all be copied in addition to cassettes recorded at half normal speed, 15/16 inches per second and double normal speed, 3.75 inches per second.

We offer a range of delivery formats for audio transfer including Broadcast WAV (B-WAV) files on hard drive or optical media (CD) at 16 bit/44.1 KHz (commonly used for CDs), 24 bit/96 KHz (the minimum recommended archival standard) and anything up to 24 bit / 192 Khz.

If you just want to listen to your old tapes again we can also provide copies on CD or MP3 (to upload to the internet, or listen to on an ipod, for example).

Please feel free to contact us for a free and friendly discussion about your needs.

audio cassette problems

Sometimes, compact cassettes have physical problems that need to be addressed and repaired before a good transfer can be made. These can be:

  • respooling loose or damaged tape in the existing cassette shell
  • splicing or refixing the leader tape to a reel hub
  • reshelling the tape in a new cassette shell
  • baking sticky tape
  • addressing fungal growth on tapes stored in less than ideal environments

Due to the small tape width and slow speed that normal speed cassettes run at they usually have a reputation for poor sound quality and reduced frequency response. This is often the case but with the right tools well recorded cassettes can sound very good and the best can be got from other recordings.

It’s quite common for the Azimuth in cassette recordings to vary between tapes and recording machines. Unless you are playing back a tape recorded from a known properly calibrated tape machine it is often necessary to adjust the playhead azimuth to get the best high frequency response when digitising audio cassettes. On many cheap tape players this is difficult, not very accurate and is often not done so tape transfers can suffer. The machines we use all have easily adjusted playhead azimuth to get the best from your tapes.

audio restoration

For the best transfers, the tape and playback machine must be in good order but what if the digital transfer has unwanted noises such as excessive tape hiss, audible hums, buzzes or pops and clicks?

These kind of noises can be successfully addressed and reduced with digital noise reduction techniques.

audio cassette history

In 1962 Philips invented the compact audio cassette medium for audio storage, introducing it in Europe in August 1963,and in the United States in November 1964, with the trademark name Compact Cassette.

The cassette tape is 3.81 mm (0.150 in) wide, with each stereo track 0.6 mm wide and an unrecorded guard band between each track. The tape moves at 4.76 cm/s (1⅞ inch/s) from left to right.

In the early years, sound quality was mediocre, but it improved dramatically by the early 1970s when it caught up with the quality of 8-track tape and kept improving. The Compact Cassette went on to become a popular (and re-recordable) alternative to the 12-inch vinyl LP during the late 1970s.

For a time in the 1970s and 1980s the cassette was ubiquitous part of everyday life. The invention of the Walkman in 1979 revolutionised how and where people listened to music. The compact cassette’s modest size allowed recorded music to be personal and portable. The cassette was used in many different contexts, from car stereos and police stations – making one of the most flexible and widely used recorded formats in history.

 

 


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