Reel to Reel

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by brokencode, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. brokencode


    Aug 28, 2009
    Allen, TX
    Hi all, anyone have a reel to reel I could buy? I was given a few tapes of Gemini missions back in 1969. I live next door to the widow of Edward White and one house away from Neil Armstrong when he landed on the moon. One tape had LBJ talking to the Gemini crew in space telling them when they came back to earth, they would be visiting Lady Bird and Johnson City. I haven't listen to the tapes since the early 70's -alan
  2. OldDog52

    OldDog52 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    Depending on how they’ve been stored and what specific brand and type of tape, they could be very fragile now. The oxide could literally fall off. There are professional services who can safely transfer them to digital for you, assuming they don’t crumble on playback.

    If I had a working reel-reel I’d offer to do it for free. But I don’t.

    Check eBay. There are devoted hobbyists who restore that kind of hardware and do it very well. But beware of vintage junk being peddled by fools.
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  3. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Certainly there’s an audio-visual studio in Dallas that offers analog-to-digital transfer service? Try these guys...
    Video Services | Audio Tape Transfer| Dallas, TX
    Maybe they can even clean up the fidelity.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
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  4. SubHuman


    Dec 29, 2005
    Good Old USA
    Wow...maybe contact the Smithsonian Museum and work out a deal where you get a digital transfer for donating the tapes. I might damage the tapes trying to transfer them yourself. I would think those are valuable museum tapes of NASA history! Too cool!
  5. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Call a recording studio and talk about this. Don't just jump into it on your own. It would be very easy to ruin the tapes. These need to be handled by professionals who know what they are doing. Take your time. Be careful.
  6. Qlanq


    Jul 9, 2007
    That's a great idea.
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  7. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    I concur with @SubHuman and @Qlanq – those tapes could potentially have great historical value, and might easily be irreparably damaged on the first attempted playback by someone who doesn't know what they're doing. The Smithsonian has expert curators and restoration experts who deal with this kind of stuff all the time.

    Of course, you might also have copies of copies in your possession, in which case NASA and/or the Smithsonian might take a pass on them. But I think it would be worth an inquiry.
  8. Ostie


    Aug 1, 2018
    Mid MI
    Or the Neil Armstrong museum in Wapokoneta, OH.

    Many libraries and archives have reel/reel machines. I think donating the tapes are a splendid idea. If you have them appraised, you may be able to deduct on your income tax.
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  9. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    In all probability NASA has these recordings. Or had. That would have been where they came from originally. Still, it'd be very cool to be able to listen to them again. OP... handle them with care.
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  10. LowFactor


    Jul 6, 2018
    Yeah. Those aren’t something you just want to throw up on any reel to reel and hit play on without doing a little work first. Careful inspection. Probably should be baked to help re adhere the oxide to the backer.... and a reel to reel with a playback head in good condition. Failure to do these could literally just scrape the oxide and recording off the backer when you hit play. Definitely find a good studio or transfer service to preserve them and copy them into a digital format for you.
    Kinda jealous. Love space and nasa history. Would love to hear what is on those. Good luck.
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  11. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    Yes, there is the whole “bake the tape” process that is best left to someone who knows what they’re doing.
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  12. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    There are many other questions that need answering before hitting "Play". Tape speed, 1 7/8, 3 3/4, 7 1/2 or 15 ips, quarter track, half track, full track, stereo or mono, and brand/head configuration, and finally tape composition and age, all enter into play. I recently retired as a media producer for a major ministry and we dealt with archival r-to-r tapes on a regular basis that were 30, 40 and even 50 years old. Sometimes getting just a single pass and watching them self-destruct on they rolled by. Get them professionally dubbed if they are worth anything to you.
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  13. hangman

    hangman Supporting Member

    You lived on Woodland Dr in El Lago?
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  14. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    I have a Sony TC-200 1/4 track stereo recorder/player that has just been refurbished that I am about to put on CraigsList for $100.

    7-1/2" reels 3-3/4 and 7-1/2 ips speeds. Built in amp and nice speakers and still has the original mics! Will play 1/4 track mono or stereo, half track or full track mono.
    TC-200.JPG Shipping will be a bit costly - it is heavy.
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  15. FugaziBomb


    Jun 5, 2017
    As others have said, you should, at the very least, take those tapes to a professional to have a digital transfer done. Old r2r tapes have a tendency to literally disintegrate when played. Sounds like you've got a great little piece of history in your possession. You should take your role as custodian of them seriously. Good luck!
    Winslow, OldDog52 and The Owl like this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    As mentioned before, you need to figure out the tape width, speed, track count, and how it was recorded (stereo, bi-directional stereo, 4 tk, etc.) And if they are not acetate, they most likely need to be baked as they are old. I work at a studio and do a lot of tape Xfers, but we're located in NYC.
  17. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    You sort of need to know if it was mono, two track, what format etc?

    Do you know what type of deck you listened to it?
  18. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    I would venture to guess (and a very good one, too) all this stuff is mono.
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  19. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Stereo was out there. My Ampex was two tracks, one direction, no flipping, 1/8" for each channel. Stacked knobs. Mine is from '62.

    By '69, they likely had it.
  20. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Sure, but given the nature of these recording, I would think it'd be mono.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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