Just to be clear about something -- I'm not saying you shouldn't use a full-track head to play
full-track tapes whenever possible. What I said was, if the tape has deteriorated or was slit so
that it won't travel well through your tape path, sometimes it's necessary to play smaller parts of
the track so as not to get flangeing and "swishing" with high frequencies.
To agree with other posts, of course full-track tapes sound best when played back with a full-track
head. My own experience has been that Nortonics heads work particularly well on Ampex AG-440B
transports because the "nose" of the head is pronounced and thus less tape area is in contact with
the head surface, so small problems with tape guidance don't matter as much as with a flat/broad
Ampex head. I had a full-track head from the 70's or 80's at one time, forgot the brand but I want
to say it sounded Japanese. Anyway, this head was big and blocky but the tape touched only a narrow
"nose" like on a Nortronics.
The big problem with full-track is that it's a somewhat antique format and therefore most full-track
tapes were made on antique tapes that are usually deteriorated by now. Yes, radio commercials and
the like were made in mono well into the 80's, so yes you do sometimes encounter full-track masters
on "modern" tape formulations. But mono LP records, at least in the U.S. market, were pretty much
phased out by 1970 or so, therefore many if not most mono full-track master tapes date from the
brown-oxide non-backcoat era. Not an iron-clad rule but definitely a trend. Some film-sound
recordists worked in mono until the end of the tape era, so again there are full-track recordings
that were made right up to the end. Full-track is a great format.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 4:14 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] transferring open reel tapes - track formats
> I have updated my blog a bit and now I think all of the relevant posts are in this category
> I hope that helps.
> To all blog readers, I have updated the blog to be sorted based on the last-modified date rather
> than the created date. In that way, modified posts ripple to the top. I have also added
> last-modified month/year (as mmyy) to each of the static pages in the right sidebar.
> I hope that makes it more useful to find items. I've removed the calendar and monthly archives
> just to reduce clutter. The pages and categories as well as the search box are still there.
> On 2012-01-05 9:53 PM, Gregorio Garcia Karman wrote:
>> Dear list,
>> considering the possibility of the following compromising solutions in the digital transfer of
>> open reel tapes...
>> 1. playing a mono half-track open reel tape on a stereo machine and reversing the channel playing
>> in the wrong direction digitally.
>> 2. playing a full-track mono tape on a stereo machine.
>> ...what are the considerations that speak against those?
>> Thanks for your advice
> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
> Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.