Tape Guide (Q and A) (Jan. 1978)

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Meter Recalibration

Q. I want to adjust the calibration of the VU meter on my TEAC tape deck as 1 am changing to a high output tape that requires a 1 dB greater input level for a 3 dB higher output. How do 1 go about making this adjustment?

-J. Hardy, USS Bryce Canyon

A. Consult the TEAC manual for the location of the control that adjusts the VU indication when recording. Feed a 400 Hz signal into the deck and note the VU reading. Maintain the same input level and adjust the VU calibration so that the meter now reads 1 dB lower than before. However, I feel that the inexactitude of the VU reading is such that a 1 dB adjustment becomes rather academic.

Alcohol Cleaning

Q. Does the use of isopropyl alcohol for cleaning heads damage either the heads or the tapes?-Allan Northcutt, Bedford, Mass.

A. Generally tape heads can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol without damage. But it is always safest to check the deck manufacturer's recommendations as to cleaning fluid, or if you're using a replacement head, check with the maker of that head. Let the heads dry thoroughly before running tape past them.

Dolby Improvement

Q. I have just added a Dolby noise reduction system to my tape equipment. Can you please tell me if the reproduction quality with the Dolby unit is better when taping at 33/4 ips, that at 7 1/2 ips with the Dolby?

-S. Warshauer, Phila., Pa.

A. The quality is better at 7 1/2 ips with the Dolby, than at 3 3/4 ips with the Dolby--using the same tape machine.

However, the improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio is usually more noticeable at the slower speed.

Prerecorded Playback

Q. I understand that if I don't play my prerecorded tapes once a month or so, then before playing them 1 should rewind them in order to get the proper tension. The trouble is that I have too many tapes and don't get to hear them for months on end.

-D. Pearson, Salt Lake City, Ut.

A. While it is a good idea to rewind unused tapes periodically, I don't think that this has to be as often as once a month, particularly if the tapes are stored after being wound at normal playing speed. Rewinding about every six to twelve months should be sufficient. It is okay to use your fastest operating speed in rewinding.

Price & Performance

Q. Based on reports in Audio, I bought a TEAC reel-to-reel tape deck.

At 7 1/2 ips, comparison between the tape and the source gives identical results. At 3 3/4 ips, the TEAC handles the high frequencies without much loss. However, the comparison of the TEAC specs with those of other tape decks leaves me wondering whether I could have gotten more performance for my money.-Larry Scherer, St. Joe, Mich.

A. If a tape machine had a flat frequency from 0 Hz to 1,000,000 Hz, your ears probably couldn't tell the difference between this machine and one with an essentially flat response from about 50 Hz to 14,000 Hz. In a directory of tape decks (such as appears annually in the October issue of Audio), you will see that some high-priced decks have more modest specs with respect to frequency response than some of the lower priced ones.

Beyond a certain point-say roughly 15,000 Hz-there is very little to be gained by further extension of the treble response, since it would require a sacrifice in other aspects of tape performance, e.g. distortion and signal–to-noise ratio. Therefore, if your tape decks sounds good to your ears, forget about the specs and be happy with the deck.

If you have a problem or question on tape recording, write to Mr. Herman Burstein at AUDIO, 401 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19108.

All letters are answered. Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

(Source: Audio magazine, Jan. 1978, Herman Burstein)

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Updated: Sunday, 2017-01-29 12:18 PST