There's quite a delay between posting and having the email appear on the
list-serve so some of Richards comments overlap mine.
One point to add. Kodak videotape was also problematic. Signal decay
"seems" to be much more noticeable on Kodak videotape, mold is much more
common and oxide shed seems higher than other brands of tape. I love
Kodak, my dad worked there through his whole adult career. I have many
friends who are retired engineers from Kodak who helped paved the
landscape for everything from imaging technology for top secret military
spy satellites to the CCD imaging devices in your high-end cell phone.
No-one ever came close to many film products they offered but they never
made decent audio OR videotape. And consumer products that came out
after the days of film (8mm videotapes to lost cost ink/printers) were
always behind the 8-ball when finally released. They always seemed to be
behind the times, not ahead of it.
On 3/1/2015 4:52 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
> Hi Stewart:
> You are asking all good questions! Unfortunately, back in the era of
> the mono "1812" master tapes, Audio Devices put batch numbers only on
> crates containing the individual tape reels. In fact, in that era,
> they often didn't have any Audiotape branding on the brown-cardboard
> packaging for bulk sales to studios and other professional/industrial
> buyers. The pretty boxes were mainly for 7" reels for sale to consumers.
> It's entirely possible that the "1812"/"Capriccio" tapes were from
> different batches. Why? The "Capriccio" is a first-generation edited
> master made at the original recording session in Minneapolis in 1954.
> The "1812" and the narration were produced at Fine Sound Studios
> because the "1812" is a mixed production -- original music score,
> cannon and bells. All of this is explained in Deems Taylor's excellent
> narration. In any case, the master tape was recorded at a different
> time and different location from the component "session" tapes, and
> would thus most likely be from a different batch. What I was getting
> at with John Schroth is that it's strange how the occasional batch of
> Audiotape (only 1/4", in my experience) goes bad like this, while most
> Regarding Richard's comment about iron, I would guess that 3M/Scotch,
> Kodak and Audio Devices all had different suppliers of iron oxide for
> their tape formulations. Their plants were located in different
> places, and back in that time there were many iron mines and many
> producers of iron products in the US. Plus, I assume everyone had
> different oxide formulations. You can listen to each kind of tape and
> the hiss is different. So, if iron has something to do with vinegar
> syndrome, each oxide would have a different net effect on whether it
> happens and how fast it happens.
> Finally -- Kodak tape. Every reel I've seen has been edge-warped and
> shrunken. I've only had to play a few for transfer jobs. In all cases,
> they're required my gauze in the head can brute-force approach on an
> Ampex AG-440. The gauze pushes the warped tape against the play head
> (not good for the head at all). An AG-440 drive is brute-forceful
> enough to overcome the added friction. None of these tapes were
> high-fidelity music masters but all were valuable to the client. Kodak
> had really pretty packaging. It's too bad their tape formulation was
> doomed from the start.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Stewart Gooderman" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2015 4:19 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Distressing data point for upcoming ARSC tape
> playback workshop
>> What I say here are words of a layperson with respect to restoration,
>> but I am somewhat familiar with organic polymerization being an
>> contact lens practitioner.
>> Tom, do you know whether the two recordings were done on the same
>> batch of tape? Because if they were different, they a) could have
>> been polymerized differently, and/or b) could have been handled
>> differently prior to Mercury receiving and using them to record on.
>> In the short run that might not make a difference, but in the long
>> run that could have a profound effect.
>> Rigid contact lenses are made from buttons that are cut from long
>> rods of plastic. It is well known that the quality of the
>> polymerization at one end of the rod can be different that at the
>> other end and this can lead to differences in quality when the
>> contact lens is finished.
>> Cellulose can consist of hundreds to thousands of D-glucose units,
>> and so cellulose is not cellulose. It’s makeup can vary, the quality
>> of the polymerization can vary, and it’s subsequent breakdown from
>> heat and moisture can vary.
>> I’ve even seen things like this with spectacles, when a lens is cut
>> very slightly off. It fits into the plastic frame well enough when
>> new, but in 2+ years you can see the lens buckling inside the eyewire.
>> Again, I’m not an expert here, nor am I a chemical engineer. Just
>> food for thought.
>>> On Mar 1, 2015, at 11:43 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Interesting case in point -- the 1956 1/4" master tapes for the
>>> mono Mercury "1812 Overture." Side 1, the overture and the spoken
>>> narration by Deems Taylor, the master tape is a mess. It's badly
>>> edge-warped and smells of vinegar. Side 2, the Capriccio Italien,
>>> the master tape is in perfect condition. Both Audiotape, both made
>>> at the same time. Both tapes have been treated and stored the same
>>> because they are of one single album. Why has one fallen apart and
>>> the other not? Very strange! Have you seen any such things with
>>> acetate media in the Hollywood vaults?
>>> -- Tom Fine
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