General Category > Prerecorded Tapes

B-C tape heavily distorted on side 2, levels appear normal...?


Danny Kaey:
Hi all,

got a fabulous B-C tape, Smetana's Ma Vlast... side 1 sounds superb; unfortunatley, side 2 has massive bass distortions even though the levles appear perfectly fine...

any thoughts what could have caused this?

Hey Danny, check the appearance of  the inside edge of the the tape ( the outside edge if playing side 2 ). I've never had a BC tape with this problem but I had a Columbia/Ampex that must have been wound poorly and stored that way. The outside edge wrinkled and one channel distorted badly. I couldn't tell this had happened because it was currently wound correctly. But when I stopped the tape and pull out some slack to examine it the wrinkling showed up. I think that damage to one channel of any stereo tape is pretty common since so many things that are bad for tape (water/fluid damage, heat/direct sunlight, magnetic flux) have another track isolating the other channel from damage. I've had great luck with BC tapes but I think that most folks that collected them knew how to take care of them. But, a lot can happen in 25-30 years. I've also had great luck with tape sellers and they've taken returns on all the bad tapes I've had problems with.

Danny Kaey:

thanks for the thought... alas, that ain't it... tape appears perfect cosmetically and mechanically... I am thinking that ... well, I guess I am not sure what to think... like I said, side 1 plays perfect... it's only the 2nd side which is heavily distorted on the bass only... totally overloading, even though the peak levels are no where near as hot as side 1 for example...

I wonder if the tape is a late issue.  Near the end B-C gave its fans the warning that they were going dark and there was one last chance to order.  Tapes from those last days don't have the same level of quality control that was the hallmark of their earliest efforts.  In any case even for a very good B-C tape there was occasionally an audible difference, usually very slight, from side A to side B.  Also, although their literature said they used an Audiotape formulation, thankfully they changed from that early on and were using a very inexpensive Ampex duplicating formulation from the 600 series.  My experiments (on Scully 280's and RS-1500's) at the time lead me to the conclusion that while the tape had decent low level performance it had only modest headroom in the mids it had very poor headroom at both frequency extremes.  Had to keep the max. levels way down when using that tape on voice, piano, anything exposed.  Now that didn't stop B-C from making fine tapes, it just meant that they had to walk a very fine line between max. level and ultimate signal to noise when making their running master and setting levels on the dupes, and perhaps in this instance they went a bit off the line.


[0] Message Index

Go to full version