What you are experiencing is the fact that cassettes are a horrible medium
for restoration purposes. Azimuth problems are probably all of the things
you are noting. The azimuth setting does not always stay the same across
the tape. I adjusted the azimuth for years on my Tascam 122Mk3, which is
doable but a PITA. The only real solution I have ever found is to just go
for a Nak Dragon, which as Richard Hess has said to me, is the finest
cassette machine ever made. It constantly monitors the azimuth and
corrects it, "on the fly." It really, really works. And its steadiness is
amazing--a well recorded cassette sounds almost like a digital recording.
Once I got it, a good many of my old cassettes became accessible to me
anew, in much better sound than I had ever heard before. This deck is the
answer when it comes to cassettes. It has changed my life!
On Tue, Oct 9, 2018 at 3:27 PM CJB <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> OK - thanks guys.
> But the first play through of the first cassette is brilliant at the
> start but gradually deteriorates towards the end. Then after the
> second cassette has run its course, the first cassette starts over.
> This second time through for the first cassette is very muddy.
> How does the azimuth change so dynamically?
> Chris B.
> On 09/10/2018, Eli Bildirici
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Yeah this sounds like an azimuth maladjustment issue. We witnessed
> > first-hand the importance of azimuth adjustment at the tape workshop at
> > conference, thanks to George Blood. The decks were Tascam 122Mk3s that
> > their windows taken out and azimuth screw replaced for easy adjustment
> > October 9 2018 3:07 PM, "Paul Stamler" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >> On 10/9/2018 1:47 PM, CJB wrote:
> >>> Problems Digitising Cassettes.
> >>> I guess this is a project known by thousands maybe millions. However I
> >>> am running up against problems. Remounting a spool of tap into another
> >>> shell is easy enough. So too is reattaching lead in / out tape - 3M
> >>> sticky tape is ideal, using a sharp pair of scissors to trim any
> >>> overlap.
> >>> But the real problem is the actual playing of the cassette tapes.
> >>> I use iMic and Behringer devices for the actual digitisation,
> >>> capturing with Audacity. I then do a Save As... in WAV, FLAC and MP3
> >>> (320 kbps) formats.
> >>> I have a variety of double cassette decks - all relatively brand new.
> >>> They have auto-reverse and switch from the first cassette tape to the
> >>> second automatically.
> >>> I always clean the heads manually first, then run a head cleaning
> >>> cassette, before mounting the cassettes. The cassettes are then
> >>> rewound forwards and backwards to even up the tape layers.
> >>> I have to assume that the read head azimuth settings are OK. I have no
> >>> way to adjust them.
> >>> So far so good.
> >>> BUT the digisations are far from perfect.
> >>> The first side of cassette one is nice and clear but the sound gets a
> >>> little 'muddy' (loss of clarity and treble) towards the end of that
> >>> side. The cassette then reverses direction and the 'muddiness' becomes
> >>> more pronounced.
> >>> This effect is repeated when its the turn of the second cassette.
> >>> Sometimes when I'm busy after the second cassette has run its course,
> >>> the first cassette starts up again. This time the recording has lost
> >>> all treble, and the digitised recording s all but unlistenable.
> >>> This is driving me mad, and has wasted so much time. But it indicates
> >>> a serious sticky-shed issue, likely exacerbated by the cassette
> >>> pressure pad forcing contact onto the read head.
> >> More likely your cassettes have azimuth problems.
> >>> Now I have bought a second hand Nakamichi DR 10. This has one
> >>> difference to the above decks. It has a cassette pressure pad lift-up
> >>> device, so that the tape passes across the read head passes across
> >>> with very little pressure. Hopefully this will keep the sticky-shed to
> >>> a minimum.
> >> The Nak has an easy-to-reach azimuth adjustment -- it's the slotted-head
> >> wheel to the right of the
> >> play head. Adjust while monitoring in MONO, tweaking for maximum treble
> >> output.
> >>> What I do find strange is that others maybe with even simpler tape
> >>> players manage to digitise their cassettes with no reported quality
> >>> issues.
> >> They lucked out -- the cassettes were recorded with an azimuth that
> >> matched the playback head's.
> >> Azimuth, not sticky shed, is the big issue with cassettes.
> >>> CJB
> >> ---
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> > Eli Bildirici
> > (347) 837-8337