DIY Tape Restoration

November 28, 2023

Curing sticky tape problems by baking!

In the ’80s some tape manufacturers made magnetic tapes of sonic good quality but poor physical quality! I have restored a lot of Ampex 456 tapes from this period in my ‘oven’ which is a hairdryer and a thermometer.

This is a cheap and very efficient method to restore your old sticky tapes and make them playable again.

I spent 5-7 hours at 50 degrees Celsius and it took the water out of the glue. In the tape in every case I tried, the tapes were OK for hard disk recording when dried. I guess you can use less than 5 hours, but I didn’t try.

I do not have tape recorders for every size of tape, but I had a lot of ½” reels with DBX noise reduction and it worked fantastic. Wider tape may take longer than 1/2″ tape.

Transfer the content of the tapes to hard disk as soon as you can as the tapes will begin to re-absorb moisture.

www.audioschematics - dryer box

See the thermometer on the left (it’s light blue – across the hairdryer), the hairdryer on the right, and on the back, there are some ventilation holes where the hot air and the moisture can get out. This is a simple and cheap do-it-yourself Magnetic Tape Restoration Device!

www.audioschematics.dk inside the box

Inside the box. ‘Hovering’ tape. This is just an arrangement that makes sure the warm air can circulate around the tape reel.

Before drying the tapes the tape recorder heads became so sticky the tape recorder wouldn’t run! After drying it ran as smooth as if it were new tapes!

When the audio is sampled through an AD converter, it is possible to remove a lot of the tape hiss and after that, a normal mastering in a 64-bit environment can be applied. Linear Phase eq. and Linear phase compression, real tube or tube emulation, maximizing, and limiter takes over from here.

 

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