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Yeah this sounds like an azimuth maladjustment issue. We witnessed first-hand the importance of azimuth adjustment at the tape workshop at the conference, thanks to George Blood. The decks were  Tascam 122Mk3s that had 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