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Author Topic: 2 Track prerecorded tapes  (Read 4163 times)

Offline xcortes

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2 Track prerecorded tapes
« on: June 19, 2009, 12:29:21 PM »
I'm curious as to what other members' experiences are with 50s two track prerecorded tapes soundwise.

They have been going for "very high" prices on ebay and I'd like opinions on whether people here think they're worth it.

These tapes have been going for an average of maybe $80 a piece with some outliers up to $250. How does that compare to other media? (note: many of the reissues or lp's have twice the content of an original two track tape so take comparisons with a grain of salt):

TP single tape: $500: 0.16 times
45 rpm lp reissue: $50 1.6 times
33 rpm "audiophile" reissue $30 2.7 times

Also if you consider that these tapes cost $15 in the late 50s inflation makes that around $215 in 2009 dollars.

So I guess based on the TP and original prices $80 looks cheap and even $250 sounds OKish. That is, of course, if they are as good as many people say they are. There's always a crapshoot factor on these tapes but even with a 1 to 2 hit ratio prices would make sense?

Yes, I know that a few years ago probably you could get these tapes for substantially lower prices but I'm thinking ahead, not backwards.

And I guess that those crazy guys buying these tapes and driving the prices up are some of the same guys that buy TP subscriptions, have invested heavily in tape decks and need mo' music to play on them. Anyone here willing to confess?

I've already bid on a couple to have my own opinion and that will come in time.

Your thoughts?

Xavier Cortes

Offline ironbut

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Re: 2 Track prerecorded tapes
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 01:44:51 PM »
Hey Xavier,

I haven't really checked eBay tape prices in quite a while so I'll just generalize with prices.

The 1/2 track tapes that I have so far have been all over the place as far as sound goes. But one rule of thumb is that the ones that were produced in the late 50's to the mid 60's are much more consistent. Recordings like some early production Mercury tapes sound great but of course, they're very "hissy". Recordings with  Paray/Dorati/Hanson at the helm of their respective orchestras can really be a joy. These performances and recordings by Wilma Cozart Fine make it easy to forget about the hiss and just get lost in the music.
Likewise for RCA releases with Reiner.
The above tapes are the only ones that I currently feel are worth paying high prices for (your budget will determine exactly what high is). There are some exceptions of course.
There is a personal fondness for tape and the sound it produces that is at least a 25% factor in my thinking.
The very best vinyl reproduction is different in it's presentation. Some of this is because, as Tom Fine noted in the thread regarding tape duplication, Mercury actually made their running masters from the session tape eliminating an entire generation (as Paul does with the Reference Recordings tapes and I'd venture to guess, the Jacqui Naylor also).
These are some of the things that I'm trying to find out and will post it in that same duplication thread. I'm currently trying to contact someone at RCA to find out first hand, what their practices were and how they evolved as time passed.

At this time, I haven't really gone crazy trying to obtain these tapes. I've still got at least 50 Barclay-Crockers to get to complete that collection and I can only afford to pursue that at the moment.
If you haven't already checked out Charles King's wonderful ratings of the 2k or so 1/2 track tapes that were made, go to the Yahoo Groups Reel to Reel group and look for it in the saved files section.

A few words of warning to the 1/2 track beginner;

The early Mercuries and RCA's aren't without a few "dogs" in the bunch.
And these early tapes are all on acetate. That means that they are "delicate little flowers" and break very easily. There are precautions that should be taken and special handling procedures to be followed (these can be found in the "beginners guide").
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Offline xcortes

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Re: 2 Track prerecorded tapes
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2009, 07:39:22 PM »
Thanks Steve,

I bet some of these must be very good. Anyway, there's no way I'm paying the high prices they're commanding now. Particularly because I'm pretty sure it's (at least partially) TP subscribers who are driving them up and eventually prices will come down to reasonable levels. It's not that they are so scarce and there's not many guys with two track reel to reel decks willing to pay those prices. Hopefully time won't prove me wrong.

I wasn't very lucky with the BCs but I attribute that in part to the Dolby decoding.

As you have noticed I haven't had a chance to go back to the bench but you'll hear from me soon.

Xavier Cortes

Offline EMB

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Re: 2 Track prerecorded tapes
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2009, 09:48:30 PM »
Beside the fact that many of these are on acetate stock, the positive thing is
that the high speed dubing process was young and the speed were lower like 2X or 4X versus 32X