TP-028, Nat Adderley's Work Song is now available

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Messages - jeri

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Tape Tech / Re: Dolby 361 Instruction Manual
« on: September 25, 2011, 12:57:19 PM »
I've never seen a link for downloading the 361 manual either, but Dolby has a pdf for the 363 manual if anyone is looking for that one.  It used to be easy to find on their website under discontinued products, but it looks like they have revised the website now.  The link to the Dolby 363 manual still works, though, and is:

As Steve suggests, eBay is a good place to find a 361 manual.  Or you might be able to get a copy direct from Dolby by calling or emailing their tech support.  I found them to be very friendly when I was looking for a power cord for a 361.  They used to supply replacements, but didn't have any more when I called.  The man I spoke with -- can't remember his name -- went out of his way trying to help me.  (Unfortunately I never did find a power cord.)

General Discussion / Re: Translucent leader tape
« on: August 23, 2011, 11:00:33 PM »

Could you try making your own transparent window by removing the oxide layer from a short section of regular tape?  (You could splice in a short piece of blank tape rather than damaging part of the prerecorded tape if you like.)

I remember watching the tech do this years ago at school while making dupes for the Classical Music lab.  She dipped a Q-Tip in solvent and wiped a section of the duplicated tape to make the clear window.  I have no idea what solvent was used at the time.  Maybe heptane or whatever you are using as a head cleaner would work.

Reel to Reel Tape Machines / Re: otari 5050 levels
« on: August 22, 2011, 10:34:04 PM »

The output level is selectable using a switch on the rear panel.  The switch is marked High (for +4 dBm) and Low (for -10 dBm).

Ah, Fedex. 

I had Fedex ship my Otari MX5050 8-track several years ago.  It was properly crated, double-boxed and all.  Fedex managed to spear it with (probably) a 2-inch pipe through both boxes.  They cracked the side panel, bent some internal parts, sheared some mounting screws, etc and did over $2300 damage.  It was insured (by Fedex), but I had to argue with them for 2 months to settle the claim.  Their first response was they don't pay for normal wear and tear -- claim denied.  It required major negotiation to get Fedex to send an inspector to examine the machine and packing materials.  Since it met all their packing requirements and I had a bona fide repair quote, Fedex eventually paid.  But only after many, many phone calls and threats of litigation.

Everyone is good until something happens.  Then you find out who takes care of business.

Prerecorded Tapes / Re: Quarter Track "Tapeography"
« on: June 17, 2011, 12:52:05 PM »

There could be double listings -- I really haven't looked carefully.  The 346 total seemed reasonable to me since I have 349 different BC tapes (if you count Dolby and DBX versions of the same title as different.)  And there are five more that differ only in one letter used in the catalog number (i.e. HAL C 107 vs. HAL D 107).  I have an Excel spreadsheet if anyone wants a list.

I remember the website you mentioned!  They had a photo of a huge metal building out in a field somewhere.  I'll look and see if I may have bookmarked it.

Prerecorded Tapes / Re: Quarter Track "Tapeography"
« on: June 15, 2011, 01:48:49 PM »
Glad you found what you were looking for Neal.

It looks like the search feature is somewhat primitive.  It requires exact text string matches.  So if the catalog number (as entered in the database) has an embedded space, the search term must include the same embedded space.  Same thing for titles.  Shortened excerpts will work, but those excerpts must match exactly with a segment of the database entry.  No missing or extra words or spaces.

By the way:
For folks searching for Barclay-Crocker info -- there are 346 tapes listed in the database.  They can be found searching for "Show tapes made by" and choosing Barclay-Crocker on the pull down list.

Prerecorded Tapes / Re: Quarter Track "Tapeography"
« on: June 03, 2011, 10:03:16 AM »

There is an existing database for prerecorded tapes located here:

This database includes a variety of track formats, not just quarter-track.  There are over 5000 tapes listed.  Data such as title, label, catalog number, performer, track listing, format, and speed are provided for many.  Some have reviews, but most do not.

Prerecorded Tapes / Moldy B/C Tapes on eBay
« on: May 19, 2011, 11:04:06 AM »
There is a lot of 56 Barclay Crocker tapes being auctioned on eBay ending May 23:

All the tapes are moldy, with the amount of mold varying from a little to a lot.  The seller says he played three of them on a friends tape machine and they play fine.  (Uh Oh.  I suppose his friend will eventually have some moldy tapes to sell, too.)

There seems to be a lot of interest in the auction, and bidding is up to $64 already with four days to go.

Can anyone tell me why these tapes would be worth anything?  I would have thrown them away.  I don't get it.

Prerecorded Tapes / Re: Quadraphonic tapes
« on: April 13, 2011, 03:02:23 PM »
Hi Guglielmo,

Steve is on the right, er, track.

It's normal that the two channels don't balance when listening to 2-track tapes with a quarter track machine.

You might think that quarter track heads would line up with half the width of the recorded tracks of 2-track tapes, but they don't.

The reason is that there are unused guard bands between the recorded tracks.  In the case of 2-track tapes, the guard band is almost as wide as each recorded track, so the tape is essentially divided into thirds.  The outer quarter-track lines up pretty well with one of the 2-track tracks because it is near the edge of the tape, but the inner quarter-track (track 3) is off quite a bit.  This is shown in the attached sketch.

If you run the numbers for actual track widths and positions, it turns out that about 87% of one quarter track head gap covers recorded material on a 2-track tape, but only 41% of the other gap covers recorded material.  With less signal, there is less volume.  So it's no surprise that one channel is louder than the other on playback.


I am very interested.  I have a couple of these (sitting unused), and it would be great to hear about your experience putting them to use.

Good work!  I came across a recent ebay auction for a top panel showing most everything removed.  I thought the seller might have some insight on how to remove the switch -- but no need for that now!

You might be interested in contacting the seller to see if he still has the switch available if you wind up needing a replacement switch.  The auction is at:

Here is the photo of the back of the panel in case it is useful.  You can see the area where the adhesive tape must have held the switch.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  I wonder why Otari taped it in place since they also fastened it with screws.

Hi Kevin,

As Bob noted, the right tension arm is mechanically attached to a microswitch.  This switch is a safety switch which automatically stops rotation of the supply and takeup reels when there is no tape.  Even with power off, you should be able to feel and hear the switch click when you move the tension arm back and forth.

Since you don't feel or hear anything, the switch is malfunctioning.  It can't be absent, since the reels sometimes move.

I'd guess that the switch has become full of crud after years of service and is sticking internally.  When you initially thread tape, it takes a while for the switch to make contact inside.  So the reel motors won't run at first.  If you turn the machine off and remove the tape, the switch stays as-is for a while so the reel motors will still run even without tape.  But the switch s..l..o..w..l..y opens as the internals push back through the gunk inside, and then the reels no longer turn.  Evidently this takes about 25 minutes or so in both directions.

I have no idea if the switch can be cleaned or not to see if it might be the culprit.


Are the Dolby A301's still for sale?


Prerecorded Tapes / Tape Hold Down Tape Question
« on: February 03, 2011, 02:20:00 AM »
I'd like to get opinions on acceptable hold down tape for keeping the free end of prerecorded tapes from unwrapping.

I started using round 3/4" diameter Avery labels and they seem to work fine, at least for now.  But I don't know if there is any long-term risk or if they will keep the tapes wound properly during prolonged storage.

Is there anything wrong with doing this?  Should I replace them all with genuine hold down tape??

Clifford Brown Memorial / Re: Buzz?
« on: February 02, 2011, 06:53:54 PM »
Well, I'm certainly not arguing that it's a bad tape (especially since I haven't heard it yet!).  But my initial reaction was based on descriptions like "a really annoying buzz an important part of the time" that was thought at first to be a defective tape.  And "It bugged me on the first (or second) playings".  And on news that there are complaints about the same defect in a 45 rpm reissue.

So it sounded to me like a pretty significant flaw in the original master.  I was hoping to learn whether fixing the flaw was considered for the TP release, what the trade offs were, and how it was determined that leaving the flaw as-is was the most desirable sonic result.  Steve, I believe you when you say these decisions are made carefully, but I'm curious about the details.

Also, I guess I don't understand why it would necessarily add another tape generation.  Unless it can't be done when the 1-inch master is made.

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