Old 4 track reel to reel tapes To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
10 messages

Old 4 track reel to reel tapes

08 Jul 01 - 09:48 AM (#501071)
Subject: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: John MacKenzie

I have about 4 hours of early Carter Family radio broadcasts on a reel to reel 4 track tape and I want to transfer it to CD, or failing that to tape cassette. Can anybody out there help, I live way up in the frozen north of Scotland and would be afraid to send this tape to just anybody as it's unique and v precious to me.

Help!!.... Jock

08 Jul 01 - 11:00 AM (#501106)
Subject: RE: Help: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: clansfolk

Do you still have a reel to reel tape deck??

Have you any other form of recording equipment? e.g. Minidisc?

If you have there's not a problem copy to mini disk(s) and we can put them on CD(s)for you for the basic costs of the blank audio CDs and P+P etc..

Do you (or a friend) have a CD writer on your computer?

If you have record the tracks onto your hard disc drive via the input on your sound card then write them to CD

If you don't have a reel to reel deck you have a few problems of matching to solve.... What format the original recorded used eg. Standard or 4 track (mono/stereo, 1/3-2/4, 1/2-3/4 formats) or more if a professional deck was used. The speed settings it was recorded at - another problem we've had was to match the original speed even when known - as reel to reel machines often ran slower or faster than the stated speeds! - this can be sorted by recording the tape to an variable speed mini disk (or tape multi track) then put it back in pitch (hoping the original was in concert pitch!!)

I'm sorry we're so far away ("Sunny" Blackpool) or we could have been more help.

Hope you solve your problem - old tapes are a great source of good nostalgic music - Ian and myself here at PI spend many an hour sifting through and reviving tapes from the 60's.

Take care


ps - don't mention copyright!!

08 Jul 01 - 11:08 AM (#501111)
Subject: RE: Help: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: John MacKenzie

Yes I have a reel to reel to play it on, I also have a CD writer internal attached to my PC. I tried re-recording it through a microphone onto cassettes but the sound quality is sh-one-t, this tape is 35+ years old and I worry that it may die on me if I don't get it transferred. Regards to sunny? Blackpool, how is Stanley Park?


08 Jul 01 - 11:36 AM (#501127)
Subject: RE: Help: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: clansfolk

Stanley Park is Wet!!! and just around the corner!!

check if you have an aux input on the sound card the mic uses a pre amp and as usual they are rubish!

Once on the sound card - use Soundforge or similar to brighten an clean up the recording it should reach a standard equal to or slightly better than the original when played on the reel to reel

A problem that often happens with old tapes is that the oxide comes off the tape onto the heads of the Tape deck making the sound dull - make sure the heads are clean (and demagnitised if possible)

Any recordings done should be direct not via a microphone - does the Tape deck have a line level output? (aux out??) if it does use it - if not - unless you have some technical abilities it will cause a problem....

If you let me know what you have available I will try and advise the best way to use it -

a friend of mine now records all his bits and bobs onto Video Tapes - the quality is extremely good (getting near to mini disk) tapes are cheap and can last upto 5hrs (longer in extended play) great for archiving off air recordings! (and with timer recordings he never misses his favourite radio programs whilst away!!) - lateral thinking!!



08 Jul 01 - 07:01 PM (#501450)
Subject: RE: Help: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: GUEST,Fred

Another temporary solution would be to tape them onto cassettes, assuming you have a cassette player/recorder. Then at least you would have a playable copy to listen to and to experiment around with, instead of running risks with the 4-track.

11 Jul 01 - 05:34 PM (#504442)
Subject: RE: Help: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: John MacKenzie


11 Jul 01 - 06:40 PM (#504496)
Subject: RE: Help: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: Mark Cohen

I have many hours of music I recorded in 1968 from a couple of "underground" radio stations in Philadelphia (WMMR and WXPN, if anybody remembers!) They were made on a Sony 4-track monophonic machine that only recorded 1 track at a time: there was a switch to choose 1&3 or 2&4, and the direction of the tape determined which of the pair was active. The problem is, as a frugal teenager I recorded them at the slowest speed, 1 7/8 ips, and the sound quality was bad even when they were fresh. Could Soundforge or a similar program help fix that problem? The tapes are a wonderful slice of the late sixties rock and folk-rock era, and I'd love to be able to hear them again.

By the way, a funny note about mono/stereo reel-to-reel recorders, that I think you Brits will appreciate. My medical school roommate obtained several reels of Goon Show recordings. I'd never heard of the show before. When he played the first one, it was certainly funny but seemed very confusing, even for radio comedy. Eventually it dawned on us: we had one show coming over the left channel, and an entirely different show coming over the right!


11 Jul 01 - 08:24 PM (#504581)
Subject: RE: Help: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: clansfolk

Mark -

If you really want to appreciate the Goon Shows play 'em backwards!!!!

Re sound forge - yes you can improve poor recording with it and results vary a lot depending on the original - removing hiss can aid clarity also you can up the level of the recording if it was originally under recorded - frugal use ofthe graphic settings can also help - beware though you can spend a lot of time getting things to a resonable state - but it's usually worth it!

We recently did a radio show where we were playing a couple of tracks from old cassette tape - before we went on air it was run through a simalar programme and saved to hard disc then transmitted the quality was greatly improved just by using a few presets!
- If it's good enough for the BEB its good enough for us!!!!

Give it a try - nothing lost....


28 Dec 05 - 03:23 PM (#1636157)
Subject: RE: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: GUEST,mojlh@yahoo.com

A friend has some old 4 track 7 1/2 IPS Reels by Ampex in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, U.S.A., of TheBeatles and Ledzeppelin and a few more bands, and she is trying to find out how much the are worth can you help or tell us who can?
                               Thanks Jennifer

29 Dec 05 - 12:26 AM (#1636512)
Subject: RE: Old 4 track reel to reel tapes
From: johnross

The easiest way to get an idea of how much those tapes are worth would be to search for them in the "completed" sales listings on eBay. That will tell you what somebody actually paid.

As a general rule, the 7-1/2 IPS tapes are worth more than the 3-3/4 IPS versions, but that's a relative thing. If some collector wants the particular tape you have, they might pay $35-50 for a Beatles tape -- probably a bit less for other bands that are not as widely collected. Of course, there might be some extremely rare titles that are worth more, but don't count on it.