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  #1  
Old 10-17-2017, 01:50 AM
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Stuck (Sticky), Dead Tapes

So I have a couple of prerecorded cassettes whose shells are in immaculate (great) conditions but the tapes show a different story. They just stop playing in the middle of nowhere and that's it.

I speculate that these tapes may have been infected. I did notice that one of them have some sort of 4-track rail road etched on the tape--someone did play this on a 4-track car stereo...

Does anyone else encounter such things? Furthermore, any ways to avoid this infection?
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2017, 02:23 AM
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Some prerecorded tape formulations (esp. Ampex tape stop, Capitol label and others) are known to experience "binder breakdown" (not to be confused with the "sticky shed syndrome" that affects mainly open reel tapes). Unfortunately when this happens, it's irreversible. The best that you can do afterwards is:
  1. Just bin the tape, if it isn't of any particular personal or artistic value or
  2. Keep it for display purposes only or
  3. Attempt salvaging it by digitizing/duplicating it song by song, cleaning the transport between attempts. or
  4. Keep the shell, but replace the tape inside with good one, and recreate it from another source (e.g. a CD).

Of course, if you're lucky, it just might be that the shell just plainly sucks (binding slip sheets, no tension posts, no rollers, etc.), and by breaking it open and transferring the tape to a better shells you might still get a usable tape.

Last edited by Velktron; 10-17-2017 at 02:26 AM.
  #3  
Old 10-17-2017, 10:28 AM
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Ah yeah binders. One of them came from Capitol for sure. The shells, as I took them apart and examined them, are very nice. I have digitized the Capitol tape long ago, the other one well...whatever.

Thanks!
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  #4  
Old 10-17-2017, 10:29 AM
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The tape is done.

Keep the shell, get another copy of the album on another format, put good type I tape into the shell, and then record it.
  #5  
Old 10-17-2017, 11:33 AM
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Many record labels used Capitol audio tape. One way of identifying Capitol tape is the XDR logo or CS-1 Cobalt logo. I believe those were added to the j-card and shells mid 80's onward. Earlier tapes don't have any kind of logo to identify, but it's pretty well safe to say if it squeals and won't play it's Capitol audio tape inside.
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  #6  
Old 10-17-2017, 02:37 PM
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Funny thing is that I do have one by Capitol/Angel bearing XDR and Dolby System from 1984 that plays fine. So I don't think that all Capitol tapes are bad.

Anyways, among the two tapes, one of which is a Capitol with XDR, HX Pro, B NR in 1988, and the other is a Quinlan Road/WEA from 1987.
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Old 10-17-2017, 03:16 PM
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When I refer to Capitol tape I mean Capitol Magnetics, owned by the Capitol record label, but not limited to releases on Capitol records. Capitol Magnetics supplied tape to many duplicators, so Capitol tape can be found on a wide variety of labels. Yes, however, it's all bad. It may just not be showing signs of problems yet. I've purchased tapes that played fine, some for years, before suddenly squealing and seizing up. I've yet to run across one that hasn't eventually went bad, but here's hoping yours holds out
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  #8  
Old 10-17-2017, 09:02 PM
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Then it's a shame that their XDR technology doesn't last very long.
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  #9  
Old 10-17-2017, 09:16 PM
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Agreed, I have just one XDR cassette, maybe two, but that one sounds very good and I don't want to lose it. I do have the CD, so maybe when the time comes, I can just replace the tape inside with good ol' TDK D and record it again. It's from 1995, so I hope it still has life left.
  #10  
Old 10-17-2017, 09:23 PM
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I've got a number of Crapitol tapes over the years, and not one of them was playable. Some other tapes have had the same issues too.

I only own one Crapitol tape that works, and that's because I put Maxell UR tape inside it, and recorded the album from an LP.

Not just the tape, but the shells as well... what cheap flimsy trash.


If I see them at the used record store, thrift store, etc., I pass them by. if it's a REALLY good album, I take my chances, expecting to have just wasted my money on an unplayable tape. This sort of thing, coupled with cheap junky boomboxes and personal tape players is exactly why so many people think tapes are worthless.

Last edited by SKguy; 10-17-2017 at 09:25 PM.
  #11  
Old 10-17-2017, 11:18 PM
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I do want to point out that the J-card on my Capitol/Angel tape brags on the quality of itself:

"All Angel XDR cassettes are manufactured with the premium gamma ferric tape specifically deigned and manufactured by Capitol Magnetic Product Division."

Marketing--or that they are never aware of the issues that will arise overtime?

We should consider some non-Capitol tapes too (e.g. Ampex). Anyone have any ideas with dead WEA tapes with "CR" imprinted onto the shell?
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  #12  
Old 10-18-2017, 12:02 AM
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I don't know about the CR part, but most WEA tape seems great for me. Most WEA tape from the mid 80s to early 90s seems to be recorded quite well with peaks of up to +7dB and quite consistently so. I have a feeling they were recorded with digital bin technology before they decided to actively market it as Digalog. Also, the tape itself works perfectly in every WEA cassette I have.

An interesting thing I found is that sometimes, some labels would have other labels make cassettes for them. I have an example of this in the form of 2 Paula Abdul cassettes from 1988. The album is Forever Your Girl and the label is Virgin Records.

Both are ferric tape and Dolby B.

The first one is the "normal" one. By that I mean it was made by Virgin Records themselves or so it seems. The shell is not really pleasing to hold or look and feels kind of cheap and is translucent in parts. It's also a welded case with a clear leader. The sound is all over the place on this one. On Side A, it has slightly less treble than it should but that could be due to age. Side B is absolutely trash. Treble way below acceptable levels, even with Dolby off. Peaks are occasionally around +5dB.

The second one says on the shell that it was manufactured and distributed by WEA in arrangement with Atlantic Records. The shell is transparent and looks and feels much better and it's a screw shell, but from Side B. This one has a blue leader. The sound is quite interesting. On Side A, the treble with Dolby B on is actually excessive. Comparing the CD track and this cassette track, the cassette version has high frequencies extending into the 30KHz range, while the CD tops out at 22 because it's 16/44. Side B has reduced treble compared to Side A, and feels dull, but only because Side A was such an outlier. Peaks right around +7dB. Sounds pretty good too.
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Last edited by abdullahcfix; 10-18-2017 at 12:03 AM. Reason: Word
  #13  
Old 10-18-2017, 01:41 AM
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A fraction of my tapes suffer from bad treble such that I had to turn Dolby B off. Anyways, digging in I do have a number of very good tapes by WEA. They sound way too saturated when played without Dolby B. I just don't know why one of them is dead--suspicious.

If anyone's wondering. The dead WEA tape contains Loreena Mckennitt's album: To Drive Away from Cold (1989).

Having different labels on the same thing is common, especially if they are produced for different regions. Going further goes beyond the scope of this thread...
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  #14  
Old 10-18-2017, 06:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abdullahcfix View Post
I don't know about the CR part, but most WEA tape seems great for me. Most WEA tape from the mid 80s to early 90s seems to be recorded quite well with peaks of up to +7dB and quite consistently so. I have a feeling they were recorded with digital bin technology before they decided to actively market it as Digalog. Also, the tape itself works perfectly in every WEA cassette I have.

An interesting thing I found is that sometimes, some labels would have other labels make cassettes for them. I have an example of this in the form of 2 Paula Abdul cassettes from 1988. The album is Forever Your Girl and the label is Virgin Records.

Both are ferric tape and Dolby B.

The first one is the "normal" one. By that I mean it was made by Virgin Records themselves or so it seems. The shell is not really pleasing to hold or look and feels kind of cheap and is translucent in parts. It's also a welded case with a clear leader. The sound is all over the place on this one. On Side A, it has slightly less treble than it should but that could be due to age. Side B is absolutely trash. Treble way below acceptable levels, even with Dolby off. Peaks are occasionally around +5dB.

The second one says on the shell that it was manufactured and distributed by WEA in arrangement with Atlantic Records. The shell is transparent and looks and feels much better and it's a screw shell, but from Side B. This one has a blue leader. The sound is quite interesting. On Side A, the treble with Dolby B on is actually excessive. Comparing the CD track and this cassette track, the cassette version has high frequencies extending into the 30KHz range, while the CD tops out at 22 because it's 16/44. Side B has reduced treble compared to Side A, and feels dull, but only because Side A was such an outlier. Peaks right around +7dB. Sounds pretty good too.
According with "SR" mark, both Paula Abdul cassettes came from same plant: Speciality Records.

Furthermore details here: http://www.tapeheads.net/showpost.ph...73&postcount=4
  #15  
Old 10-18-2017, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bronco View Post
According with "SR" mark, both Paula Abdul cassettes came from same plant: Speciality Records.

Furthermore details here: http://www.tapeheads.net/showpost.ph...73&postcount=4
Interesting, but why would the shells and tape be different then?
  #16  
Old 10-18-2017, 11:32 AM
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The first Paula Abdul tape shown looks like the same or similar to tapes distributed by Epic. I've recently had one of those to fail, but I'm not sure if it was made by SR. I'd have to pull it out and look.
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  #17  
Old 10-19-2017, 05:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abdullahcfix View Post
Interesting, but why would the shells and tape be different then?
I assume there must be some years in between the two different issues you have, so same supplier changes may have been done meanwhile.

Discogs list seven different cassette issues of that record in US !
  #18  
Old 10-19-2017, 07:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bronco View Post
I assume there must be some years in between the two different issues you have, so same supplier changes may have been done meanwhile.

Discogs list seven different cassette issues of that record in US !
Oh yeah, I remember seeing may different versions on there, but never thought about that. That's probably it then.
  #19  
Old 10-21-2017, 03:48 AM
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Speaking of sticky tapes. I think I recently obtained one that leaves some nasty gooey residue on my head (thus significantly damaging it!). I know that if it is white, it should be glue from the binders, but I'm unsure in my case. For the sound alone, it muffles the treble and is wobbly (definitely something sticking to my head).

Now I know that my head is pretty brittle.

For such tapes, does playing them over and over again reduces the residue?
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