Monday, September 11, 2006

Tapes Tapes Tapes!

Hmmm... it hadn't even occurred to me that you folks were scattered all over the country. Here I am in good ol' Tempe with my stash of tapes and such, thinking that all these other KCAC/KDKB folks must still be locals too... Anyway, I have a couple of cassette decks, a reel-to-reel tape deck, a turntable, and a stand-alone digital audio burner so I pretty much have what I need to put old analog stuff onto CD. On the other hand, if someone locally has professional equipment and abilities, we can probably make it sound even better. Bob Gately, Ronco, Johnny D - your move! Contact me anytime at As for posting stuff online so everyone can just access it without me having to make physical copies: sounds good, but someone would have to do that work for me. I still use the computer pretty much as a glorified typewriter and have few skills beyond basic word processing. Did I say few? Make that none.

FYI, I digitized the two Hans Olson tapes over the weekend... one turned out very well, and the other one - from a fragile, damaged tape - not so well but nevertheless complete and listenable. Anybody remember a song of his called "I'm Doing the Best I Can Do"? He damn near blew the roof off the studio with that one; an incredibly intense blues performance.

Don't expect sonic miracles from these tapes; I was a young punk with no money, so I had a cheap-ass Panasonic reel-to-reel tape recorder from J.C. Penney's, and I bought the lowest-grade tape I could find at Radio Shack. I also had a little crackerbox cassette recorder that I sometimes used instead of the Panasonic, because those Certron cassettes at the drugstore were even cheaper than the cheapest reel-to-reel tapes. Around 1978 the Panasonic suffered a merciful death and I switched to a relatively high-quality cassette deck... alas, I used Memorex cassettes for a couple of years, which sounded good at the time but have now shriveled with age and are prone to self-destruction if I dare to try to play them. By 1980 I switched to TDK cassettes which still survive in pristine shape, but by then there was little on the radio worth recording. So you've been warned: expect muddy sound, lots of hiss, occasional tape damage, and in general a pretty primitive sound. But at least I was smart enough to make direct recordings, through a headphone jack or other audio output device; these are not tinny "microphone-stuck-up-to-the-speaker" recordings. I think you'll enjoy them, once we get something set up to distribute them.


1 comment: said...

TOM (and everyone)
Here is a neet computer-based audi program I use called AUDACITY. With it you can record 78's at 33 and DIGITALLY speed it up to 78 for copying to CD. Same with 45.. play it back at 33 on the theuntable then ramp it up.

You can add or remove echo's remove surface noise remove silent spots, edit, edit, edit, compress to save time and a bunch of other stuff.

There is a learning curve to AUDACITY but as you discover the features it gets to be more interesting. There is an external file for converting to MP3 but it is easy to download. Beat $12000 for a studio board!
Free Audacity
Complete Audacity Music
Editing Studio - Free!

AudacityA free, open source software for recording and editing sounds in Linux, Mac OS X, and other operating systems. - 10k - Cached - Similar pages

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If you need tips on patching or salvaging old tapes, lemme know. I have a little tiny japanese person that I keep in a shoebox for dissasembling and repairing cassettes.

There are some simple tracking tricks for old RR tape that I have learned with pencils and so forth - to get the mud out. GENTLE, GENTLE is the keyword. You can even re-back old RR tapes with SCOTCH tape to hold them together while you copy, if need be. There are even a few sources for 8-track drive pucks and pads. Trick is--- GET IT DIGITIZED.. then you can pretty much do anything with it.