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Q. How difficult is it to replace worn heads?
-George Smith, Gainesville, Fla.
A. The degree of difficulty varies with the make and model of the tape deck. Alignment of the head with respect to vertical, azimuth, and lateral orientation can be a problem. An alignment tape is usually necessary. It is always best to have a competent service technician preferably in an authorized service shop perform the job.
Q. Using the calibration tape supplied with my external Dolby noise reduction unit, I get fluctuations on the meters. This is true when playing the tape on either of my two tape decks, also while calibrating in the record mode 1 get the same effect. Do you have any suggestions?
-R.D. Mease, Hamden, Oh.
A. You did not indicate the magnitude of the fluctuations ... if it is on the order of 1 to 2 dB, this is fairly normal. It is difficult to record and reproduce a perfectly steady tone, plus the ear is not likely to notice a fluctuation of this degree, especially on mixed tones.
Q. I am a novice in the taping game and would like some pointers concerning open-reel taping of phono discs and FM programs.
- O.L. Tracy, Overland Park, Kans.
A. Your question is so broad that it is difficult to answer. The best single statement .1 can make is to carefully read the instruction manual for your tape deck. In addition, it might be wise to visit your local audio store to see what books they have on tape recording for the amateur.
The following may be of help. The most difficult step for most tape enthusiasts is to set the recording level correctly high enough to get maximum signal-to-noise ratio the deck is capable of, but low enough to avoid excessive distortion. Using a good quality tape and phono disc as the source, experiment with different recording levels until you get a "feel" for the proper level. If you record too high, the sound may have a grainy, coarse, or even raspy quality. If you record at too low a level, the noise level (due to the tape and tape deck electronics) will be rather apparent. At too high a recording level, there may be a noticeable drop in the treble response due to tape saturation at the higher frequencies. For maximum quality, use the highest tape speed of your deck. After every eight hours of use, clean and demagnetize the heads, guides, and other components contacted by the tape.
Q. I am in the process of choosing between two tape decks for high-quality, semi-professional recording. One is a home-type deck costing around $900 and the other is a professional grade deck costing nearly $3000. This large price difference has me somewhat confused. Your comments would be appreciated.
- George Ciccone, Monmouth Beach, N.J.
A. Once you pay about $700 upwards for a home tape deck you are apt to get a very good quality in terms of performance quality close to that of a "professional" machine. Much of the price difference is due to the sturdier construction of the professional machine, some is due to such additional features as ease of editing and ready adjustment of bias and equalization, while some is due to a slight superiority not necessarily audible in such respects as low noise, low distortion, wide and flat response, low wow and flutter, and accurate speed.
A professional machine is usually operated many hours a day, most days of the week, and most weeks of the year. It is important that the machine stand up under such hard usage with a minimum of costly down time. The home user doesn't need such a high degree of reliability, and therefore can benefit from the cost savings.
If you have a problem or question on tape recording, write to Mr. Herman Burstein at AUDIO, 401 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19108. All letters are answered. Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
(Source: Audio magazine, Apr. 1979; Herman Burstein )
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