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Author Topic: How to know if tape head is worn out?  (Read 1997 times)
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F_c_O
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« on: September 16, 2016, 10:22:54 PM »

After recording today, the result was extremely quiet and only on one channel despite recording onto both left and right. I am left wondering if its the tape (the tapes are really old and have been extensively re-used for recording) or if the tape heads are fucked. How will I recognize if its the tapeheads and is there even a chance that the tapes are just fucked after so much use and re-use?
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ConcreteMascara
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2016, 11:01:30 PM »

depending on what you kind of tape player you have, sometimes there can be an issue where the switch between record and playback mode gets kinda stuck between the two, which results in one channel being dropped or fluttering sound. also it can fuck up tapes that are still write-able. happened to a Denon and a Sony deck.
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F_c_O
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2016, 10:39:38 AM »

Right. I ripped a tape that I hadnt personally recorded onto and it comes in with proper volume on both channels so the tape heads arent fucked, at least, which is a relief. I guess I need to go to rehearsal space and try to record on several different tapes and see if the results are any different or will I have to invest in another deck (I kinda figure that actually fixing the issue would cost at least as much as I can pay for new deck, seeing I get mine 2nd hand for quite cheap).
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Theodore
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2016, 01:50:46 PM »

Is it 2-head or 3-head ? Asking cause if it's 3-head, playing fine just means the playback head is OK. Recording head maybe isn't. Also are the heads clean ? A dirty head can be quite forgiving on playback. That doesn't happen with recording.

How the heads look ? Marks, dots ? If you see a mark on head's gap, then head is dying if not dead already. The best way to check a playback head's performance is with frequency response test tape. But these tapes cost quite a lot, and only technicians really need them. A DIY test i have read -if i recall correctly- is record a 100Hz test-tone and a 10KHz test-tone of the exact same level on a deck you trust. Then playback them on the deck in question. Are the two test-tones have the exact same level ? Then head it's still in acceptable condition. The higher the flat response, the better. For example good decks have specs 20Hz - 20KHz response [+ / - 3dB] , for the most part flat and the possible deviation happens as we getting closer to the limits. Where it starts i have no idea, i guess it depends. Anyway, an average deck has specs 30Hz - 16KHz or 30Hz - 17KHz [+ / - 3dB] with normal tape. The 100Hz - 10KHz is the "main body" of that range, so a good condition head must have really flat performance in this. Otherwise it's useless. How much deviation is normal there ? Hm, i don't know. Ideally no deviation ! That + / - 3dB is normal only for the full range !

I am not sure how you can check recording's head performance. I guess by recording test-tone covering all the frequency range, and playback it to see if it was really recorded according to its specs. But then again you need to know how the playback head performs so you know your results are valid. I don't know ...

Last but not least, the problem you describe maybe isn't cause of bad head. Head is only a part of that chain.

Edit : I made a correction. The two test-tones better to be recorded on the same tape.
Edit 2 : Added some explanations more, the italicized text. I want to be as much accurate as i can.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 07:32:03 AM by Theodore » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2016, 10:05:48 PM »

I believe that the tapes I used are just fucked. Made test recordings on other tapes today and the results are extremely satisfactory for short test takes. It aint sounding 'perfect' but it still has heavy low end and good high end response, all saturated to all hell. Exactly what I am looking for.
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