Numero Group: By The Numbers

Tape Degradation Factors
June 3, 2010, 9:04 am
Filed under: Methodology | Tags: , , ,

Science Thursday over here at Numero HQ.  If you want to get deep in the history tape degradation for various stocks and the problems that may ensue with certain brands then I highly recommend reading Richard Hess’ fantastic essay from the 2007 ARSC conference.  Here’s a link to the essay and the abstract is below.

From about 1950 through the 1990s, most of the world’s sound was entrusted to analog magnetic recording tape for archival storage. Now that analog magnetic tape has moved into a niche market, audio professionals and archivists worry about the remaining life- time of existing tapes. This article, based on the author’s presentation at the 2007 ARSC Conference at the Ward Irish Music Archive, Milwaukee, WI, defines the basic tape types and the current state of knowledge of their degradation mechanisms. Conflicting prior work is reviewed and correlated with current experience. A new playback method for squealing tapes is described. The challenges in predicting future tape life is discussed. Illustrations of various types of tape degradations and a survey of many of the techniques used for tape restoration are included. Suggestions are made for further research and archival practices.

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