Sounds like you're making the best of a BAAAD situation (which cassettes invariably are). Have you dubbed any cassettes with dbx II noise reduction? In my view, dbx II was a huge mistake for cassettes. dbx was very sensitive to errors in playback frequency response. Cassettes made with dbx II would often sound fine played back on the same machine they were recorded on. But, when you moved them to another playback machine, they would pump and breathe and otherwise sound lousy. Does U-He Satin do dbx NR? If so, how well does it work?
dbx I was made for fast speed reel-to-reel recording - usually 15-ips. It extended the high-frequency boosts in record up to the top end of the audible spectrum, so accurate machine alignment was necessary for proper high-frequency tracking in playback. I used it successfully at 7.5-ips, but you had to really make sure your machine was properly aligned.
dbx II was intended for slower-speed reel-to-reel recording, usually 7.5-ips, and it would work OK at 3.75. The HF boost in record was limited to, as I recall, around 10 kHz, so it wasn't as sensitive to high-frequency alignment in playback; it more forgiving of frequency response errors in the top octave. But, it was never intended for cassettes, and should never have been used on them.
Audio Engineer Emeritus
The Crane School of Music
SUNY at Potsdam, NY 13676
"Great art presupposes the alert mind of the educated listener."
"A true artist doesn't want to be admired, he wants to be believed."
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John Haley
Sent: Sunday, June 03, 2018 3:05 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] question about baking cassette tapes
I second the suggestion of getting a NAK Dragon for serious dubbing of
cassettes. I bought one a few months ago, and it has completely changed
what I can get out of a lousy old cassette (which refers to most of them).
And I used a nice TASCAM deck before that. I could adjust the azimuth on
the TASCAM and always did that, but it's not much fun. Adjusting the
azimuth is essential for music cassettes.
I really love using the NAK Dragon. It will play cassettes that won't play
on other machines--the double capstan system is great. In many older
cassettes, the foam pressure pad that is supposed to press the tape against
the head has fallen off--that's no problem in the Dragon.
The Dragon has one drawback--no speed control. If a cassette is off pitch
(and plenty of them are--the old machines, even expensive ones, were
notoriously inexact on the speed, which matters a lot for a tape that is
moving at only 1 7/8 IPS), and if that cassette is also Dolbyized, you need
to dub it with Dolby off, correct the pitch on the computer in the digital
domain, and then apply Dolby NR with software. U-He Satin is a good
program choice for doing that.
On Sun, Jun 3, 2018 at 12:14 PM, Dan Gediman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I can’t thank you all enough for your thorough and very helpful
> suggestions about dealing with cassette tapes. I am reassured that old
> cassettes generally have fewer problems than RTR tapes of the same vintage.
> It seems like having a playback deck with an azimuth adjustment and some
> empty shells available to rehouse troublesome tapes are the most important.
> My primary deck is a portable Sony D5M which I used for years as my main
> deck for field recording, and have generally used it to play back tapes I
> have recorded. I also have another Sony deck in my studio. But I am
> entirely open to investing in one of the Nakamichi decks that have been
> suggested for both the dual capstan and azimuth adjustment.
> Thanks again for all your good counsel!
> Dan Gediman
> [log in to unmask]
> > On Jun 3, 2018, at 12:00 AM, ARSCLIST automatic digest system <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > There is 1 message totaling 19 lines in this issue.
> > Topics of the day:
> > 1. Question about baking cassette audio tapes
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2018 00:28:11 -0400
> > From: Jeff Willens <[log in to unmask]>
> > Subject: Re: Question about baking cassette audio tapes
> > What Peter said.
> > There are a very few brands of cassettes that do indeed shed, and can
> benefit from a limited amount of baking time. I’m dealing with several
> boxes of them right now. But before doing that, I would check to see if
> rehousing them in new shells would help first. These tapes did not squeal.
> They just flat out didn’t move. Some needed a better tape path. Some needed
> baking. But itis generally less common than for RTR tapes.
> > ------------------------------
> > End of ARSCLIST Digest - 1 Jun 2018 to 2 Jun 2018 (#2018-116)
> > *************************************************************