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 Post subject: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Tue 10, 2018 2:59 am 
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I've got a question about 8 track tapes.

Were songs sometimes sped up a little for an 8 track tape to make everything on an album fit?

I've got a few that sound a little fast and I thought it was my player at fault then I have a few that seem to sound right.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Tue 10, 2018 3:12 am 
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Yes - some of the record and tape club stuff was recorded on shorter tapes, and sped up a bit in production. There was a lawsuit (I think I read about it in Billboard magazine on Google...) that ended that practice. Some reissues were also not mastered at the right speeds.

I can't recommend looking for the Motorola test tape - it had a speed track, 3.2KHz - we had one and used an old nixie freq counter to set tape speed on those with the Mitsumi boards that had the +/- 3% speed adjust. Some were in the bottom of the motor, with the adjust hole covered with a sticker or black rubber cover. Most aftermarket (Kraco, Sparkomatic, Radio Shack, and the like) had no adjustment, and ran fast - 3.3KHz was "normal" on those - right at 3% fast... :(

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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Tue 10, 2018 3:27 am 
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My JVC uses an AC motor.

Seems like some of he commercial offerings (put out by the record companies) I have are a little fast. Perhaps it is more along the lines of what is done to songs on the radio where they are sped up slightly and most wouldn't notice except people like me where if a record player were spinning at 45.1 RPMs I'd notice it.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Tue 10, 2018 4:17 am 
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Between this and your other thread questioning comparative audio quality, I think you are realizing why this technology never really made a lasting impression. There were too many variables, even back then, and now with tapes having aged up to 50 years, the differences are even more striking. Even back then, sometimes the machine would eat the tape, other times we used the matchbook trick to get the tape to play correctly.
I don't recall having heard a tape that was intentionally speeded up, but wouldn't be surprised if it was. Actually, as often as not, a song would go to the end of a track, and then pick up after the player changed to the next track. Given that, I don't see a reason to have had the song sped up. Could be just the particular tape.
If you can find RCA labeled songs on a tape, those might be the standard to go by.

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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Tue 10, 2018 4:35 am 
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Judging by the way some tapes are laid out far as tracks are concerned I figure it might have been sped up slightly to reduce tape length which would have reduced manufacturing cost and most regular people wouldn't have even noticed the slightly faster speed.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Tue 10, 2018 11:02 am 
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We just avoided any with a CRTC, CTC, or RRC library number on any tape, 8-track or otherwise - the sure sign of a record and tape club (Columbia and RCA...).

I gotta agree that the technology, even at the prime, was second fiddle to every other recording technology available. Nowadays, 8-track tapes are laughable, and mostly a novelty. Critics point out that every 8 track (less home recorded ones) has a digital version, so no need for the tapes - movie and TV props the exception.

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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Tue 10, 2018 5:56 pm 
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Agreed.

If not for the few 8 track tapes I've accumulated through the years and my dad's 8 track tapes I wouldn't even have an 8 track player.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Tue 10, 2018 6:44 pm 
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I have two eight track players, and well over a hundred tapes. Back in my working days, I had a new player installed in the console of my Chevy, and Tammy Wynette would serenade me on my way to work every morning. :wink:

BTW, if you need to replace the foam cushion in the front center of the cartridge, since most have deteriorated by now, a good substitute is Frost King 3/8" foam weatherstrip.

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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Tue 10, 2018 8:30 pm 
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fifties wrote:
BTW, if you need to replace the foam cushion in the front center of the cartridge, since most have deteriorated by now, a good substitute is Frost King 3/8" foam weatherstrip.


Cool. I've got some that need the foam replaced, but no real inclination to do it :wink:

Some foam used must have been better foam as I have a few that have yet to deteriorate.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Wed 11, 2018 4:51 am 
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Tube Radio wrote:

Some foam used must have been better foam as I have a few that have yet to deteriorate.

I think, just like with radio components, the environment the item was kept in was the major force in whether it deteriorated or not, or to what degree.

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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Wed 11, 2018 1:27 pm 
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Could be, although some of my dad's deteriorated and some have not and they were all stored in the same environment.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Thu 12, 2018 3:15 am 
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8 tracks had their place. pap had the big zenith allegro quad set that used the quad 8 track system. he bought it after he gave me his RCA orthophonic SHF 5 for my bedroom when I was in primary school in the mid 70's.

the allegro 3000 quad system sounded good for what it was.

I had a foreigner 8 track with "cold as ice" or one of their other popular songs on it that was separated between the tracks with a "click"...yep, laughable.

many of the players that I serviced in the 80's and 90's repaired and restored quite well.

most of the component decks and many in the console long stereo cabinet systems had 8 track decks that were built like tanks with big heavy AC motors, good metal hardware, and the like.

but...there was one problem...the tapes themselves. they never held up anything like their players as they aged. folks were excited to get their players fixed, but things quickly went downhill as they played the tapes.

back in the 90's, the cafeteria manager at the school of which I worked gave me a few large boxes neatly packed full (like a box of dominos) with 8 track tapes to transfer to cassette for her. the tapes were stored in her bedroom closet in a nice climate controlled atmosphere.

out of all those tapes, only about three or four out of 125-150 tapes played the whole way thru.

she was quite disappointed and so was I. that would have been a lot of money for the rabbit when the job was done .

steve

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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Thu 12, 2018 12:06 pm 
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Dutch Rabbit wrote:
most of the component decks and many in the console long stereo cabinet systems had 8 track decks that were built like tanks with big heavy AC motors, good metal hardware, and the like.

steve


Exactly. When I look for an 8 track player I always seek one out that has an AC motor.


Dutch Rabbit wrote:
back in the 90's, the cafeteria manager at the school of which I worked gave me a few large boxes neatly packed full (like a box of dominos) with 8 track tapes to transfer to cassette for her. the tapes were stored in her bedroom closet in a nice climate controlled atmosphere.

out of all those tapes, only about three or four out of 125-150 tapes played the whole way thru.

she was quite disappointed and so was I. that would have been a lot of money for the rabbit when the job was done .

steve


The tapes could have most likely been fixed, but that might have ate up any profit you would have made.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Thu 12, 2018 5:58 pm 
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Dutch Rabbit wrote:

out of all those tapes, only about three or four out of 125-150 tapes played the whole way thru.

What would happen, did the Mylar tapes themselves break?

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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Thu 12, 2018 9:04 pm 
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I'm sure they do on tape, you can hear that in a radio station now and then, that the song isn't quite right.

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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Thu 12, 2018 11:28 pm 
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I have to disagree with some of the comments. 8-track was as good as any format, the problems that people seem to remember were often the result of cheap players, cheap tape cartridges, or poor quality duplication. The same could be said for cassette or reel, but it seems like 8-track for whatever reason had more bad than good.

I own several bootleg tapes that have weird speed issues, one has the songs speed up just before the end of the program, like the duplicator recording the tape was slowing down before hitting the end. Some used plastic pinch rollers and lousy foam pads, something that was almost unheard of for reel or cassette. The problem with 4 programs all the same length is that producers now have to divide the album 4 ways. Some of the better companies changed the song order or placed a song on the album twice, a few even had a little blank time on one program. The not-so-nice ones had the program change mid-song. You'll notice that quad tapes with 2 programs never had that issue.

Always make sure that the foam pads are in good shape, old ones turn to gum on the back side, and I have had that grab the tape and bind everything up. Much easier to fix before you get to that point. Besides, the tape not being pushed up against the head makes everything sound horrible.

As far as speed, I had a Sony component deck that ran a little fast, never measured it but could tell by ear. I ended up adding a belt around the large pulley inside to increase it's diameter a little, and it sounded much better. I also disagree about most component decks being built like tanks, I find it to be hit and miss. To me it looks like a few generic mechanisms were using in just about everything, from component decks to radio/phono/tape combos to portables. For example, I have a Realistic TR-801 with a well made mechanism. I liked it so much that I bought a TR-802 that looks to be almost identical. I open it up to find a much cheaper mechanism inside, one of the generic ones I've seen before. My thinking is that Lear Jet and other brands from the 60s were probably the better built units, only to be cheapened by the 70s to compete with stuff being imported from Japan. Just my 2 cents.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Fri 13, 2018 1:44 am 
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i had absolutely no desire to repair the tapes. i never even suggested it because it wasn't going to happen as i was 24 years old with a new career and girls.

if i were to offer the repair service, she most likely would not have paid the additional cost anyway.

the tapes would break at the foil when they changed tracks.

steve

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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Fri 13, 2018 3:10 pm 
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Dutch Rabbit wrote:
the tapes would break at the foil when they changed tracks.

steve


I've had that happen before.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Fri 13, 2018 3:20 pm 
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Happens all the time, even more now that it's several years later. I usually play the tape until the last song ends, then manually advance it until the foil comes to the opening (or sometimes use an auto eject player). If the foil hasn't completely failed yet leaving one end inside the shell, I pull a few inches of tape out, give the foil enough of a twist or tug to insure it is holding well. If it's not, it is much easier to replace at this point because you don't have to pull the cartridge apart.


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 Post subject: Re: 8 track tape speed
PostPosted: Apr Fri 13, 2018 6:08 pm 
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There are a couple FB pages where people are selling old 8 track tapes. I've bought 4 so far; those from a person who reworks the foil/splice and the pads. The other one does not do that, which is fine, buyer beware. I wouldn't have any tapes, but my Akai reel to reel has a built in 8 track player.
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