AUDIO TAPE RESTORATION SERVICE


Analog tape is inherently noisy. With state of the art software and hardware Creative Forensic Services can help restore the recorded signal to the best audible condition. Many types of recordings are candidates for audio restoration. Recorded Evidence, Music, Interviews are just a few categories that qualify for restoration. Archiving these old recordings can be essential to preserving the past. Time is the enemy. Make no mistake these recordings will not last forever. It could be a matter of time before the signal to noise ratio and deterioration of the oxide renders them unrecoverable. In some instances the tape is not even playable without being baked in a dehydration oven.

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The first magnetic tapes were manufactured by BASF in Germany in 1932. These were designed with iron carbonyl as the magnetic pigment mixed into the cellulose acetate carrier. Production soon moved to iron oxide coated onto cellulose acetate rolls cut into uniform strips wound onto plastic or metal hubs. Recordists began recording sound on magnetic media in the twenties in the form of magnetic wire. After World War II, the advantages of tape in terms of sturdiness and the ability to edit by cutting and splicing made tape preferable to wire as the magnetic medium of choice. Tape consists of a coating of a magnetic pigment, typically iron oxide (Fe2O3), on a long strip of polyester (polyethelyne terephthalate) base film. This base film has been used since the mid-sixties as a replacement for acetate bases film that was prone to chemical instability. Chemical instability reared its head again in the mid-seventies when two significant tape manufacturers changed their dispersion formulations by introducing a polyurethane binder that, in time, turned hydroscopic and broke down as it absorbed water molecules into the long hydro-carbon molecular chains. The tape coatings became sticky and shed oxide onto all tape recorder parts in their path, including heads, guides, rollers, and capstans. This is commonly called sticky-shed syndrome. Although the problem was confined to two of the four major tape manufacturers (neither BASF nor 3M studio tapes suffer from the problem because neither manufacturer used the hydroscopic binder), all magnetic tapes have been tainted by the defect. Information can be recovered from the "stick-shed" tapes by heating them at a very low temperature in order drive the water out of the binders.[1] The baking method is a one-time solution to the problem because the binder remains unstable. Tapes that do not show the breakdown syndrome do not need any special treatment.