The 80-some Reels Project

Content found:
360 hours, 48 minutes in 632 files

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About This Project

March 2020


A friend acquired a reel-to-reel via an online selling site and when he picked it up was given 4 boxes of tapes to go with it.  Knowing that I had a treasure-hunting interest, he brought the tapes to me for doing the inventory.  I am primarily interested in finding broadcast material and it's always worth digging through hours or recordings in hope of finding some rarity.  This collection didn't provide anything like that but it was interesting.

The Tapes

The tapes themselves are a real mix of brands. Most are 7” but there are a few 5. Some of the tapes are labeled, many are not. The labeled tapes indicate either recordings of broadcasts or copies of LP records.  Many of the tapes were in poor condition and amany more were not recorded in the best fifelity.  Starting about Reel 50 or so I ran in to the hated sticky-shed syndrome where the adhesive on the tape is failing and leaving a gooey mess on the tape machine.  I tried to treat many of these with a combination of Nu-Finish and naptha and, to some degree, had success but there were a few that were so bad I was unsuccessful.  I did listen to the content of the tape before completely abandoning my efforts and in all cases the content was just copies of records.


The Process

I went through the tapes, a reel at a time and transfered the content to a computer.  If the material was not copyrighted, I posted it to this web site in its entirety.  Copyrighted material was sampled and those small samples were posted instead.

I played the tapes back on one of three tape machines: an Akai GX-260D, an Akai GX-280D, or an Akai 1730D-SS.  I used both a Windows XP computer and MacBook Pro to digitize them. Which machine I use depends on the workflow at the time. On both machines I am connecting the Line Out of the Akai to the computer through a Ground Loop Isolator. On the Windows machine I connect to the Line In of the sound card and am using a very old version of SoundForge to do the recording. On the Mac, I connect to the USB port using a Griffin iMic and record using Audacity.  Occassionaly I applied some equalization to clean up the sound.

The final files were saved in the mp3 format.  The quality setting on these I varied depending on the audio quality of the recording.  There is no sense saving a poor recording made from an 8-track tape at 320 kbit/s.  I used AudioCatalyst to do the conversion to mp3.

I provide pictures of the tape boxes, reels, and any accompanying documentation. These were shot with an iPhone.

If the selections were from an album I tried to identify it using Shazam, Wikipedia, and Discogs as my resources.

The Files

I am using a file naming convention that is consistent and will allow imortation to a databse at some point. Each item is separated by a hyphen:

reel number - side - item number - channel - date - artist - description

For the Description, I tried to use the album name, if known, otherwise I used "Mix" or "Compilation."  Mix was used if I thought that it was random songs assembled by the recordist.  Compilation was used if I thought it was from an album of such but couldn't or didn't identify the source.  I was not very consistent so those terms can be used interchangably.

Yes, I know have some errors in the database where my typing messed things up.  I'll get around to fixing those at some point.