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Tapes deteriorating at an accelerated rate?

 
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bearsbearsbears



Joined: 17 Mar 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:16 pm    Post subject: Tapes deteriorating at an accelerated rate? Reply with quote

I wonder if someone here who is more tape or tech savvy could help me out with an annoying problem I've been having with my tapes lately?

I'm not sure what involving the tapes would cause this exactly, but according to the decibel gauge (and my ears anyways) many seem to be louder in one of the two channels when they once were not. I've tested many on my Walkman and my tape deck and the problem persists between the two of them, sometimes the Walkman is more sensitive to the difference in loudness, sometimes it's the tape deck...

The reason I think it's not a problem with my deck and Walkman has to do with the fact that the problem isn't evident with all my tapes, some are perfectly balanced and sound fine. Only random ones which once were fine and totally balanced are turning up just a tad bit quieter in one side once I dig them out after having not listened to them in a while. But if you think it could be a gear problem please let me know. At this point so many of my tapes are afflicted I'd prefer it to be a gear problem. That's a much easier fix... Confused

As for where I store them, they're in a bookshelf in my bedroom which is built into the wall. As far as I know they're not exposed to any sort of magnetism or unprecedented humidity (I've heard this can greatly affect how well the tapes keep?).

If anyone has any clue as to what might be causing this some insight on the matter I'd love to hear it. Like I said I'm by no means tape or tech savvy, so lay it on me. This is driving me fucking insane, so any and all constructive input is much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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xyosefx



Joined: 06 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you been good about upkeep on your tape decks? I'm no expert, but that could be an issue.
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bearsbearsbears



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xyosefx wrote:
Have you been good about upkeep on your tape decks? I'm no expert, but that could be an issue.

I try to clean the heads at the very least once a month. I've never demagnetized them however. Could that cause enough buildup of residual magnetism or whatever to be severely harming my tapes?
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xyosefx



Joined: 06 Aug 2009
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Location: We lived among the people. I think you say "convenience store." We lived above it.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bearsbearsbears wrote:
xyosefx wrote:
Have you been good about upkeep on your tape decks? I'm no expert, but that could be an issue.

I try to clean the heads at the very least once a month. I've never demagnetized them however. Could that cause enough buildup of residual magnetism or whatever to be severely harming my tapes?

I imagine so... but again, I'm far from an expert.
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Orpheus



Joined: 28 Dec 2011
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bearsbearsbears wrote:
xyosefx wrote:
Have you been good about upkeep on your tape decks? I'm no expert, but that could be an issue.

I try to clean the heads at the very least once a month. I've never demagnetized them however. Could that cause enough buildup of residual magnetism or whatever to be severely harming my tapes?


Potentially. It sounds like the azimuth or whatever its called is off...the tape head is at an angle and is wearing one side of the tape more than the other. Does the weaker side switch when you flip the tape?
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bearsbearsbears



Joined: 17 Mar 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orpheus wrote:
bearsbearsbears wrote:
xyosefx wrote:
Have you been good about upkeep on your tape decks? I'm no expert, but that could be an issue.

I try to clean the heads at the very least once a month. I've never demagnetized them however. Could that cause enough buildup of residual magnetism or whatever to be severely harming my tapes?


Potentially. It sounds like the azimuth or whatever its called is off...the tape head is at an angle and is wearing one side of the tape more than the other. Does the weaker side switch when you flip the tape?

Upon checking some of the tapes I can think of that have this uneven wear or what have you, the weaker side doesn't appear to switch when the side is flipped. I'm noticing that it almost always seems to be the right channel on the affected tapes.
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Orpheus



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My gut tells me that if the tapes were actually damaged it would flip like I said. Cassettes have four tracks on them Alternating like this: Side A, Left Channel; Side B Right Channel; Side A Right Channel; Side B Left Channel. If half of the tape was bad it would alternate.
Before you freak out further, try a friends deck first. Or try a new tape and if its the same.
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bearsbearsbears



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Orpheus wrote:
My gut tells me that if the tapes were actually damaged it would flip like I said. Cassettes have four tracks on them Alternating like this: Side A, Left Channel; Side B Right Channel; Side A Right Channel; Side B Left Channel. If half of the tape was bad it would alternate.
Before you freak out further, try a friends deck first. Or try a new tape and if its the same.

I see what you're saying. I'll try out a different deck ASAP. Thanks a lot for the input guys.
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Orpheus



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just bumping out of curiosity as to how this turned out.
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boca



Joined: 04 Jul 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe the problem is in today's mix & mastering rather than actual tapes...
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Orpheus



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Its possible, but the manufaturing process used in making "pro tapes" back in the day was absolute horseshit. If you have a serious tape deck like a Tascam 122, dubbing onto decent tape off an LP or decent master will beat the shit out of the garbage that was being churned out.
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bearsbearsbears



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Been at sort of an impasse with this as of the past couple of weeks, as my stereo receiver was starting to have some problems which required me to take it into the shop, and I just got it back about 2 hours ago.

In the meantime I bought a demagnetizing wand (one of the cheapo 17$ ones off eBay), and read up on tape head azimuth adjustment. I went through and demag'd both my deck and Walkman, though I didn't hear much of a difference with the Walkman I'm eager to hear the difference (if there is any) on my deck. As for azimuth adjustment, while an interesting read, I'm not sure I trust my hand at that. If it comes down to that I might end up taking the deck into a shop to see if they can pin point whatever it is.

Unfortunately after getting all my shit setup and ready to roll again I picked up my headphones from my desk which then fell apart into a million broken little plastic pieces... cheap little shits. And as for trying a friend's tape deck I only know one other dude with one and his is currently out of commission at the moment as well. I'm not sure who I pissed off but I think I might be cursed...

I'll post an update, or PM you with one if you're still interested once I get all this other shit sorted out. Thanks for the help and interest though.
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Orpheus



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No rush, it usually involves a six week turnover for me to get around to shit like this, haha.
You should post your results to help other people troubleshooting similar problems.
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