G'day, Nigel, Yes, of course, from the perspective you describe the viewer is easier--hopefully there will be a loud sound near the head of the tape. But, with the viewer, how do you determine if it's a quarter track stereo tape or a mono tape? Do you see enough to determine the programs are different enough? Also, how do you determine speed? My preference for the 4-channel machine stems from a different perspective. Tapes I touch I'm expected to play <smile>...so I might as well be figuring out the minefield I have before me. Hopefully, I've crafted my agreement with the client to the point where I'm covered for what I find. Cheers, Richard At 04:41 PM 3/30/2004 +1200, Nigel wrote: >G'day, Richard > >It is quite common for public archives & libraries to receive by donation or >bequest collections of open-reel tapes. Without proper documentation this >can be something of a "poisoned chalice" espially if the tapes are not in >good condition! I suspect many such institutions no longer have easy access >to open-reel tape-recorders but are obliged to store the recordings anyway! > >To catalogue such collections usually requires a quick guestimate of their >content and technical details. The magnetic viewer facilitates this without >having to worry about sticky-shed, faulty splices, over-wide tape, damaged >spools, etc. etc.