I worked with a few 1630 audio masters back in the day and I am glad  
to say I don't have to deal with them much anymore.  Like all contact  
media, it was never a very reliable format physically, but it was  
once popular with many mastering engineers who preferred the hit or  
miss error correction (if it was 'on' it was on) as well as the  
required 1x glass mastering.

It's a finicky format & there are tracking issues that are often  
resolved by the player /tape pairing.  You'll often get better  
performance when using a player & processor that were purchased  
together rather than mixing and matching machines.  A particular tape  
might playback perfectly in the machine it was recorded in but  
horribly in another.  Because of the weight & bulkiness of the units,  
the search for the best player is similar but more frustrating than  
finding the right DAT machine.  The best playback will often occur by  
inserting the tape, pushing PLAY, quickly adjusting the tracking in  
pre-roll and letting it play through from there.  Cueing, rewinding,  
stopping and restarting can cause a playback error nightmare.  So  
having a number of players & processors on hand would be ideal for  
any archival undertaking.

And if a U-Matic tape ever gets eaten by a machine it's more likely  
caused by a problematic tape, and the only way to get it out is to  
turn off the player, remove the cover and cut it loose!  Fun!

Jeff Carroll, Mastering Engineer
Bluefield Mastering Inc. - Raleigh, NC  USA
Phone 919.859.0102

On Jan 30, 2008, at 12:04 PM, Jeffrey Martin wrote:

Hello all,

For a curriculum module for NYU's Moving Image Archiving and  
Preservation program, I'm researching the use of and preservation  
issues related to 3/4" U-Matic videotape. As part of the research,  
I'm also looking into U-matic's use as an audio mastering format.

If there's anyone on the list who's had experience with the format-- 
either during its days as a master format, or remastering material  
today from U-matic sources, I'd appreciate it if you contacted me off- 
list for a few questions.

Thanks in advance,

Jeff Martin
Washington, DC