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Recording to Tape

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Timothy Murphy

on 24 November 2017

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Transcript of Recording to Tape

Recording to Tape
Reel to Reels
How does recording
to tape work?
Analogue tape was not the only recordable media when it was first introduced. However, it was the first to offer high- quality recordings that could be edited and did not significantly degrade in quality from one play to the next
Magnetic Tape Properties:
- A narrow long strip of plastic (cellulose acetate)

- With a magnetic coating of FE2O3 (iron oxide) attached with a binder

- The binder glues the magnetic coating to the plastic strip

- Analogue tape stores magnetic representations of changes in an electrical circuit on its magnetic coating
– recording very loud sounds caused the tape to saturate, leaving a dark mark on the tape rendering the part inaudible.

– oxide builds up on tape heads so they must be cleaned on a regular basis

Print through
- the tape is very compact when stored on the supply reel and this causes data to print through to other parts of the tape
- Portability
- It was the world's first portable recorder

- Quality -
It offered high quality recordings

- Multi-track -
You could record several instruments onto one tape
- Supply Reel –
storage for tape which is to be played or recorded on
- Guide Roller –
lines the tape up for the recording/erasing head
- Capsten -
the motor-driven spindle on a tape recorder that makes the tape travel past the head at constant speed
Erase Head -

a high amplitude, high frequency signal used to scatter the iron particles (in some cases this is a fixed magnet)
- Record head -
records a sound by converting the electrical analog signal (e.g. from a microphone) into a magnetic signal*
- Playback head –
reads the magnetic signal and converts them to electrical voltage
Tape Machine Components
Speed vs Quality
The faster the speed, the better the quality
Tape Direction
The tape goes:

- From the supply reel
- Around the guide roller
- Over the three tape heads (magnets; erase, record, playback)
- In between the pintroller and the capsten (a small motor)
- Around the guide roller
- Onto the take up reel
Play backwards
- tape could be placed on
the supply reel backwards and the Beatles made use of this technique

- Tape could be cut up and spliced together, which was an interesting method of sampling and correcting recordings

The erase head
- recordings could be simply erased if they were no good and this led to polished performances on recordings

- four tracks could be recorded onto a machine and then these could be panned left and free up space for four more tracks to be recorded on the right. This is why music of the late 60s used extreme panning
* Biasing
To get the information you need, watch from 9.56 to 16.30

If you want a challenge, watch from 0'00" until 16'30" to learn about how analogue is converted to digital

If you are REALLY interested, watch the full 40 minutes to learn how tape delay worked.
Biasing occurs when a high frequency bias signal is applied when recording.

This stirs the magnetisation and ensures a constant magnetisation throughout the recording.
Supply Reel
Take Up Reel
Erase, Record and Playback heads
Guide Roller
Full transcript