8-track tapes from Sound 8

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Joined
Oct 24, 2014
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Before I get to my question, I thought it might help to give a little of my backstory. I first learned of quad when I was in grade school, maybe 7th or 8th grade. Our class was given library time periodically and I never was much of a reader, so one day I decided to look for electronics books. I found a book on audio that described the new quad record and tape formats, then coming to the market. This would have taken place in the late 80s, so that book had been sitting on the shelf a while. At the time, I had never seen or heard of anything more than 2 channel stereo, it almost felt like that book was describing an alternate reality that never came to be. One thing I took away from the book was how quad reel tape would play all 4 tracks in one direction, and how Q8s had 2 programs of 4 channels each.

Fast forward a few years, in the mid 90s I started collecting records and 8-tracks as a fun and inexpensive away to find the kind of music that I enjoy for not much cash. In the back of my mind, I remembered that if I ever saw an 8-track with only 2 programs, it might be this quad thing I had read about. Remember at this point, I had never laid eyes on any quad hardware or media, and hadn’t read anything about it since that book years before. Finally, one day on a thrift store run, I found 2 tapes with only 2 programs, Leroy Holmes and Seals & Crofts. I bought them, took them home, and confirmed that programs 1 and 3 were different parts of the same song, likewise with programs 2 and 4. I noticed both tapes had a notch in the top left corner, and surmised that this must be how the player knew to switch to 4 channel. I had thought I had seen tapes with such a notch before, but really couldn’t remember – but needless to say, from that point on I was on the lookout for tapes with the notch.

Now after years of looking for notched tapes, I’ve found several of the same style, having the same (or almost the same) shell, often in orange, white, black, or a combination thereof. These tapes all have a notch in the top left, only unlike a true quad tape, they have a ridge on the leading edge. All have regular stereo content. I don’t know if the intent was to make a mold that would work for quad by removing the ridge, or if the notch was intended for some other purpose all together. After gathering several of these tapes, I came across a few that were still in their original slip covers. These state that the tapes were made by Sound 8 in Atlanta, and that duplication was not authorized but that they did pay the publishers’ royalties! These look to me like cheap truck-stop bootlegs, but I am unable to find any other information. The tapes themselves have very basic labels with no manufacture name or marking, just a 3 digit number that is presumably a catalog number. I kept thinking that there would eventually be some mention of these tapes here on Quadraphonicquad, but so far I have seen nothing. I should add that, over the years, I had gathered every tape I could find that either had a notch, or ones with a plug filling the hole in a notched shell, with hopes of some day having a way to record my own Q8s. I think that day may finally be close, so my plan is to file away the leading edge on the notch and use these as blanks, but I thought I would try to see if these are a worth anything as-is before I proceed. I assume if they made it from Atlanta to the Northwest, they must be somewhat common. Also curious if anyone knows why they have the weird notch with the ridge. I’ve noticed that some of the notches are a little narrower than others, yet the rest of the shell looks to be the same. Lastly, two of my tapes, the blue one as well as the green and white head cleaner, do not have a notch, yet they look to be the same shell, and looking closely the plastic in the top left corner is thick, as though they were designed for a notch, then the mold was changed to fill it with plastic. Anyone familiar with these?
 

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I'm certain that somewhere there's something about those truck stop tapes mentioned here. The search function on this site is not the best, it wants to bring up the most recent posts ignoring search details that you would think should point directly to the post that you are looking for.

As far as I remember blank tapes often had a removable tab so that they could be used for either stereo or quad.

I'm not sure why you would want to record Q8's today. I got into 8-tracks only because there was quad content available in that format only. 8-tracks have always been a bit problematical, worse today as the tapes are aging. The foil splicing strip usually falls off, the foam pressure pad turns to glue or disintegrates. I'm sure that you already know about those pitfalls.

You could presumably record quad onto a stereo tape if you cut the notch out but that would only get you half the playing time of the original tape. The fact that you need twice the amount of tape inside a quad tape makes them less reliable than their stereo counterparts.

Back in the "Quad days" I did play Q8s in my car but I wouldn't even think of attempting that today. Now I'm happy just to get the tapes to play long enough to make a digital copy!

If you look on sites like Ebay long enough I'm sure that you will find an 8-track recorder, (quad even) for purchase, if you really want to go down that rabbit hole! Good Luck!
 
Thanks for the reply. It’s very possible that these tapes had been mentioned before, but with a name like Sound 8, search engines turn up everything but what I am looking for.

As I mentioned, I started collecting 8-tracks many years ago, and find the pitfalls easily overcome. Oddly, I did some tape trading with someone way back when I first started in quad, they had tapes that had been modified exactly as you describe, it looks like they used a router to make a notch in the shell. I got them with the hopes that they had something recorded on them, which they didn’t. The problem with cutting a notch is that you cut through the shell and into the bits and pieces that make part of the tape path. This then has to be pieced back together by gluing little pieces into the shell to build your own notch. Not worth the effort if you can avoid it. That is why I have collected tapes like the Sound 8 ones, no need to mess with cutting a notch.

As to recording Q8s, I am sure I am rather unique in this, but I don’t know why someone who’s into Q8s wouldn’t want to record them. Hard to explain, but I have several car Q8 decks and several “all in one” quad systems, so having a selection of Q8 tapes would make them useful. Sure I could buy pre-recorded tapes to use, but they can be expensive, and then I risk damage leaving them in the car or playing them on my cheap SoundDesign system. Plus, with the ability to record, I would be able to have any content I wanted – favorite band, demo tape, whatever. I also think it would be neat to have a small demo system that I could setup to show off quad as well. I didn’t know quad existed until the late 80s, how many potential quad fans do we have that have just never seen the technology? I have looked at eBay for a recorder, and they seem to be several hundred dollars, which I could never justify. I am currently planning to use a couple recording amps intended for use with a reel to reel transport, and connect them to the head of a Q8 player. I will describe this in more detail in a separate post if I am successful.
 
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