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Reel to Reel Decks
Recording Formats: Reel Size, Speed and Track assignment Information.
Question: I'm working on a political archives project and have many audio reels that need to be digitized, however I'm unsure of the speeds that I may encounter from one reel to the next. Is there a reel to reel deck that would switch between any speed I may encounter? If so, do you sell it? thanks!
Answer: I am usure as to what size reels you encounter, but set thsi aside, there are actually 2 items to consider: track assignment and recording speed.
The question here is on what type of deck the tapes were recorded.
Consumer type recorders usually record at 3 3/4 or 7 1/2 IPS in quarter track format.
Studio quality decks often record on 15 IPS and half track format, but if the quality of the recording mattered less than the length of the material, such as in speech, 7 1/2 IPS was used instead. There are also upper class consumer type decks that use 10" reels at 7 1/2 and 15" IPS usually recording in quarter track format.Professional recorders in the 50's (such as used as a temporary set-up on location) often used full track mono format, which can be read by quarter or half track decks if running at the right speed.
There were portable professional tape decks that allowed to record lower speeds, so that more material would fit onto the smaller 5" reel size. These decks offered 1 7/8 IPs, 3 3/4" and in more rare occasions 7 1/2 IPS. In rare occasions smaller portable decks also offered the one half of 1 7/8 recording speed at pretty lousy sound quality.
A good guess would be to consider the reel sizes of the tape you have. 5" and smaller would indicate a portable deck, 7" would indicate an consumer type tape deck and 10" a professional deck was used to record the tape.
A deck that would cover a lot might provide
3 speeds (3 3/4 + 7 1/2 IPS and including the rare 1 7/8 IPS!) and works in quarter track format. an example woudl be a SONY TC-355, which as the above features.
Have a look on my Reel to REEL recorder pages, but if nothing there seems right, I can also provide other decks not shown (professional, multi track, and more consumer type recorders, etc.), which would need to be custom refurbished to your order.
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