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New to Q8.. so far this is not going well

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SQLGuy

Member
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Mar 22, 2016
Messages
45
Location
Colorado Springs, CO USA
I wanted to be able to digitize some content that's not available in modern quad reissues. I bought a Sony TC-258, which seems to be in decent shape. I cleaned and demagged the tape path and put a new belt in it, and it plays a NOS stereo cartridge I bought locally just fine.

I also bought Q8s of Bridge Across Troubled Water, and Countdown to Ecstasy. BOTW needed a new pad, but it came with one, and I was able to install it easily enough. CTE was supposed to be good to go, but I saw that the pad installed in it had not been cut, so it was pinched by the case. I opened it and replaced with a new pad that was properly cut. When I tried CTE, it seemed to not feed. I opened it back up, and found a bunch of tape piled up inside, and it wasn't feeding from the center... that turned into a mess that now has tangles in the tape and loose area several turns down in the pack. In the meantime, I had played a bit of BOTW, and was setting up to try to record it... after a few minutes, since I didn't think I'd have everything in place for recording, I pulled the cart out and found that the tape was broken.

I know these things are 45 years old and have a theoretically well deserved bad rep, but, really?

Any tips on getting the tape untangled?
 

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sjcorne

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
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Hello there,

I've gotten pretty deep into Q8 over the past two years and I've had my fair share of frustration. I've managed to record 50+ tapes now, and with a little extra remastering work on the PC they sound awesome. A lot of quad mixes will never come out digitally, so in quite a few cases these tapes are the last remnant of some amazing discrete quad mixes, like the two you've got there.

The biggest thing I've learned is that you HAVE to open the tape first and make sure everything is good. NEVER just throw it the player and hope for the best. Problems like this happen when the tape isn't properly feeding out the center and back around. Sometimes shipping can mess up the way the tapes are wound. Those knots in the tape are caused when the tape is feeding out the center one "rotation" too late, if that makes sense. Also, whenever a tape breaks, 99% of the time it's the foil splice.

Here's my general regimen for restoring the tapes prior to conversion:
  1. Open the tape
  2. Change the pad
  3. Check that the tape is properly feeding out the center and back around (hand turn it to check)
  4. Play to the point of the splice, then take the tape out just before the program switch
  5. Change the splice (I also add an extra layer reinforcing the splice on the underside of the tape)
  6. Hand turn it so it's wound correctly again, then record
The way I see it is you have three options:
  1. Cut the tape there and re-splice it correctly, which I DO NOT recommend as you'll now hear a dropout in the program.
  2. Unspool the tape until you get to the splice, then repack it (which can get ugly but at least there's no damage to the musical content)
  3. Slowly guide the tape feed back into the center until it's coming out the same spot one rotation prior. That looks like it may undo the knot and fix the problem. This also may require pulling more tape from the center so it settles correctly.
I'm sorry if any of this sounds confusing, it's just really hard to describe in text. That tape can definitely be saved...best of luck!
 
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JonUrban

Forum Curmudgeon
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Since 2002/2003
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Great advice above. Get a pencil or little screwdriver and stick it in the center of the spool so things don't get worse.

It doesn't look too bad. Once you have the pencil in there, you have to keep pulling the tape and try and get it back into sync. It's frustrating as hell. Many times I've ended up just throwing the whole mess in the garbage can!

Unspooling the whole thing is possible, but you are talking HOURS getting it back on there. Make sure you clear a space to work and take your time.
 

4-earredwonder

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
12,452
IMO, whatever 'genius' came up with the 8 track cartridge must've been a sadist.

But I do realize it's the last bastion of hope to hear a LOT of QUAD albums never transferred to any other format.

But still.......
 

markshan

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
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Messages
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Pittsburgh PA
IMO, whatever 'genius' came up with the 8 track cartridge must've been a sadist.
The 8-track cart was a consumer adaptation of the NAB cart that radio stations used. In that environment it made a lot more sense than having to rewind single ended tape cartridges for things like commercials. Of course as a consumer device compact cassette kicked their butt.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fidelipac
 

4-earredwonder

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
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Messages
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The 8-track cart was a consumer adaptation of the NAB cart that radio stations used. In that environment it made a lot more sense than having to rewind single ended tape cartridges for things like commercials. Of course as a consumer device compact cassette kicked their butt.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fidelipac
I had a tough enough time after making the investment in Open Reel [and later a QUAD OR deck] with the major record companies decision to offer 3 3/4 ips commercial reels in lieu of the 7 1/2 ips standard which was in place since the late 60's.

As most professional masters were 15 ips, I had even a tougher time reconciling the fact that they were further reduced to 1 7/8 ips with the advent of the compact cassette. Even with DBX, Dolby B and C and chromium dioxide formulations, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's vagina.

Which is why I continue to reel against LOSSY digital remasters.

When are these BIMBOs going to give us what's ON THOSE MASTER TAPES?

My guess ...... NEVER.....so we keep buying the same ole music OVER and OVER again.

And if you really want to hear 15 ips on Open Reel .... here's your option: https://store.acousticsounds.com/d/130634/Muddy_Waters-Folk_Singer-14_Inch_-_15_IPS_Tape
 
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markshan

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And if you really want to hear 15 ips on Open Reel .... here's your option: https://store.acousticsounds.com/d/130634/Muddy_Waters-Folk_Singer-14_Inch_-_15_IPS_Tape
Well, no, not your only option. You can make recordings yourself at 15 IPS. In college I worked for the AV Dept and did lots of recital captures at 15 IPS on to an Otari 5050. Solo piano with a couple nice condensers in X-Y with a tube pre feeding the tape deck. The recordings sometimes sounded better than live.
 

4-earredwonder

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
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Messages
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Well, no, not your only option. You can make recordings yourself at 15 IPS. In college I worked for the AV Dept and did lots of recital captures at 15 IPS on to an Otari 5050. Solo piano with a couple nice condensers in X-Y with a tube pre feeding the tape deck. The recordings sometimes sounded better than live.
I was an 'amateur' recordist myself but didn't have access to a machine which recorded at 15 ips [I do have a REVOX A 77 with dolby b that does, at present but it's NO longer in use]. But I was referring to commercially duplicated reels at that speed which are outrageously over priced and offer VERY limited repertoire [mostly jazz, classical and folk].

And ironically, the few reviewers who have heard these reels have pronounced them THE VERY BEST in commercially duplicated music surpassing Vinyl and Digital so the few very deep~pocketed audiophiles who do buy into this format will be rewarded with sonic nirvana.
 

4-earredwonder

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
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I know you were. Just making conversation.
I kind of surmised that but always good to hear from fellow QQers who are so knowledgeable about LIVE recordings.

I once recorded a dear friend on a SONY DAT recorder with two mediocre microphones but he poured his heart and soul into the recording and the results were SPARSE but splendid.

Then he had the bright idea to take his songs into a very pricey recording studio and what came out can only be described as OVER PRODUCED dreck. His gorgeous, simplistic vocals and guitar playing were so bloated, there was unfortunately no semblance left of his beautiful melodies ...... and sincerity. They brought in more musicians to 'augment' his music with yucky results.

Sometimes less IS more!
 

4-earredwonder

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markshan

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winopener

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Since 2002/2003
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Some tips for 8track maintenance. First of all, when handling the magnetic tape, USE GLOVES ON THE HANDS and only plastic stuff.
When a new tape arrives,
1) use a pen as a capstan and roll a bit the tape, to be sure isn't stuck; if the tape moves without friction, pass to step 2, otherwise step 3
2) play the tape for 5-10 sec MAX, then extract the tape: if the playback was ok and the winding is good, you would extract the cart as it was, so you can pass to step 4. If the playback was ok but the winding wasn't good you: or will have a bit of tape outside the cart, or (in rare instances) tape does accumulate inside the cart, so using the pen in step 1, try to pull out a bit of tape: if it is coming out AFTER the rubber/plastic roller, the winding is not good, so pass to step 3.
3) open the cart with the appropriate tool and wind the tape by hand, using the pen in step 1 on the hub. If tape is stuck, pull it gently from the center, even if this does take off several turns of tape, then when finally the tape moves freely on the hub, pull it from the outside in order to re-tension correctly the tape, then you can wind up the extra tape by hand.
4) (if you dare to risk....) play the cart placing attention at the track change, and get the cart out BEFORE the track change, then step 1 to arrive at the splice: check out if it's good or not and decide for a replacement, re-gluing and/or reinforcement.
A useful "test player" for this step is a 8 track player without cover, so you can see quickly if the tape is going ok or messin' up.

When you're at the splice point, you can replace the foam pads or the felt even without opening the cart, which in some cases will damage the artwork.

As a statistic, while on vacation on my parent's house one month ago i checked +- 80 carts; three were stuck, 8-10 were loose, at least 50 had splice failure (even a sealed one), all the ones with foam pads needed a new one and many spring+felt needed gluing. Pretty normal.
 
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Fourplay

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Might I also gently point out that many carts have been lovingly converted by others, and while this discussion of how to manage an 8 track is absolutely useful and appropriate, for some titles it might be worth seeking an existing clean conversion rather than spending hours struggling to get a conversion that might prove to be inferior or even equal.

It does seem to me that we as a community ought to be able to pool conversions of a given title which could be assessed and even combined to make a go-to version which we could all share until such a time as industry deems it appropriate to release the actual official product.

I for one would always buy the Dutton or Audio Fidelity version, even when I have a decent conversion. With very few exceptions (hello, Black Sabbath - Paranoid), the official release is miles better than circulating conversions. And most of us seem to go out of our way to buy the official product in order to encourage more releases.

I guess the only way to learn to save carts that have not been converted or circulated is to go through the sometimes painful processes described above. As sung by the Yardbirds: "Mister you're a better man than I."
 

winopener

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Once you've got some hands on it, it's fairly easy and quick. But if you have no idea it's a hell of a mess.
So, before working on precious and rare tapes, better try to get the feet wet on some ordinary stereo carts... in USA should be still a dime a dozen.
 

TVB

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I"ve had Q8 tapes many times worse than what your picture shows. Your tape looks pliable, like it has not been subjected to temperature extremes. Before you mess with the tape, put on your gloves and look for the splice in the loops that are tangled. If you find the splice, cut at the splice, straighten the tape and put it back together-problem solved. If your unlucky, carefully pull the tape loop toward the front of the cart and dont let any more loops come off the inside of the reel (as mentioned-dont let the reel move). You will be able to see how many twists you have to straighten out. Take the loop around the cartridge and back to your starting location(360 degrees). You will either cause another twist or eliminate a twist. If you cause another twist then go the opposite direction around the cart until the loop is straight. After straightening the tape, slack can be taken in by carefully turning the reel by hand until it fits in the cart. Sometimes a tape is so wiry, it just just keep getting loops no matter what you do, then you must cut the tape to straighten it (a good splice should be barely noticeable if at all, unless you have to remove damaged tape). Before you play any cartridge, get your glove and press your thumb on the tape where the roller is and move the roller and tape to the right. If the tape moves easily, it should be OK to put in your player and play to the splice. If the tape is difficult to move, you will have to open the cartridge. I avoid opening quad cartridges if I can get the tape to move because it can damage the label and cartridge itself. If your goal is to digitize the tape, open it immediately to check/fix problems. Any tape that is sent through the mail could be tangled when you get it because all it takes is a smack on the package while the front label is facing downwards and tape can come off the inside reel (crows nest).
The space in the tape stack in your picture above can be fixed by holding the reel and pulling on the tape from the outside of the tape stack straight out from the cart until the space is gone. Be carefull and pull easily because you do not want to tighten the stack too much. You will now have a very large loop that is fixed by turning the reel by hand until the loop fits in the cartridge. Dont let the large loop scare you, just keep moving the tape until the slack is gone.The bigger the tape stack, the quicker the slack is taken up. The other option is to ignore the space, but there is a chance of more than one loop coming off the the inside of the stack when that space gets to the reel, especially with a wiry tape.The above info is my opinion, is not the last word and may or may not work for you, so try it at your tapes risk.
I remember dropping a Mac Davis Q8 that was rare and the cart popped open. The tape ended up all over the floor. Being unwilling to discard a Quad tape, I finally untangled it ( a year later) by findng the splice, cutting it, then untangling from both ends (it took hours). I had a 50% chance to load the tape on the reel in the right direction. By the way have you ever heard a cartridge tape playing backwards? I have.
 
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Quadchuck

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Jun 14, 2005
Messages
146
Location
Quadsylvania
Misery loves company, I've fixed tens of tapes since the mid eighties and there were times I never wanted to see another tape again.
When I found a good playing shell, I'd use it as a temporary recording shell for any compatible tape reel.
I'd record it and then put it back in it's own shell. Also I'd clean splice both sides with alcohol so splice tape would stick better on both sides.

My worst nightmare after recording has been the deterioration of recordable CD's . I put those cd label on them and many have warped
and ruined. I spent way too much time years ago, and to have to think of recording,burning hundreds of content is daunting.
I believe it's what people rescuing the shedding R2R's of 70/80's are going thru:(
 
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