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Recording Preservation Tips - Cassette Tapes

  • Heat kills cassettes. Leaving cassette recordings in a hot car will shorten the life of the tape and cassette mechanism. The cassette may warp and the tape may become brittle.
  • The cassette player heads need to be cleaned periodically. Please use only "Tape head cleaning fluid". There are various cassette player cleaning kits that do an adequate cleaning job. Another type of cleaning is de-gaussing or demagnetizing the heads. This will improve the frequency response of your cassette player.
  • If the tape breaks, and you are the "do-it-yourselfer-type", here is what the Audiovisual Equipment and Materials Basic Repair and Maintenance Manual says:
    • Lay two ends of tape together and hold. Cut tape diagonally, assuring both ends have the same cut angle.
    • Put the two ends on a smooth, dry surface and try to butt them together. It may be easier to overlap them and pull the fingers apart. Keep the tape straight.
    • Put a piece of special tape-splicing tape across only the non-recorded side of the tape.
    • Burnish the splicing tape down and cut off excess tape, cutting very slightly into the tape. This technique works best with C-30; C-45; and C-60 cassettes. C-90 and C-120 are almost too thin to handle and tend to curl at the moment of splicing.
    • Cassette trivia: the first version of the compact cassette, initially known as the Pocket Cassette, was launched in 1963 in Berlin. Philips engineers later claimed that five considerations had driven the design of the Compact Cassette:
      • Smallest possible dimensions with a playing time of 30 minutes
      • Simple sturdy construction
      • Reliability
      • Maximum protection of the tape
      • Low energy consumption during playback and rewind
      • The initial specification called for monaural recording---two tracks, one in each direction. This was soon supplemented by a standard for stereo recording. Unlike existing stereo standards, which maximized separation of the four tracks required by two-direction recording by interleaving them, the Philips standard placed the two forward tracks and the two reverse tracks next to one another.  This made it possible to play stereo recordings on monaural machines without modification.
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