Showing posts with label tape recorder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tape recorder. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

My day in almost-dead formats

It's been this kind of day at the studio here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska.
The anachronism is great in this one. May the anachronism be with you.
While I'm eyeball deep in this kind of thing, maybe you can be listening to the
3 Chords & the Truth sort of thing. Just a suggestion.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

It's April 15, the wind chill is something like 10 degrees, it's snowing and just west of here, there was a hellacious blizzard.

In other words . . . oh, what the hell.

Enjoy this bit of yuletide the way it sounded in the 1960s -- Christmas Day programming on KFAB-FM in Omaha, circa 1969. Alas, this aircheck of "Cloud Nine Stereo" -- 99.9 on every FM dial -- was recorded on a dual-track mono tape recorder back in the day.

In transferring the recording to the digital realm, I did what I could to get the most out of the audio.
I'm a wizard that way.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

3C&T: Always first with products for today

Click for full-size version

From Vox:
Mueller’s team describes Papadopoulos as a “proactive cooperator.” That’s a big deal.

Here’s why: Mueller purposely sealed the indictment and kept the arrest secret so that others wouldn’t know Papadopoulos was working with his team — because the probe might be using Papadopoulos to obtain even more information on possible Trump-Russia collusion.

The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale reports that when prosecutors consider someone to be a “proactive cooperator,” it could signal that that person was wearing a wire. And if that’s true, that means Papadopoulos might’ve talked to Trump campaign officials with a wire on. That’s still speculative, of course, but it could pose a serious problem for Trump if officials with secrets to keep unknowingly divulged information to a wired-up Papadopoulos.

Friday, January 08, 2016

You can't take a selfie with a Super 8

First it was vinyl.

Then audiophiles rediscovered reel-to-reel tape decks. (I never forgot them.)

Some folks have fallen back in love with typewriters, (I have two . . . still.)

And now Kodak is bringing back Super 8 movies. (Heh . . . I have two Polaroid instant cameras, some 35 millimeter cameras, a couple of Kodak Brownies and my late mother's 1930s box camera. Did you know no one makes flash cubes anymore -- or consumer-grade flash bulbs, for that matter. Ebay is my friend here.)

It would seem that we're discovering that our brave new digitized world is lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. That we're missing something. That maybe, just maybe, our digital, instantaneous, effortlessly expressed, omnipresent selves, thrust upon the world with nary a thought . . . maybe that's not our best selves.

MAYBE we're thinking that our music ought to be touched and not just summoned. Savored and not just hop-scotched through on a smartphone.

Maybe we think our words should be put onto paper with some effort -- and editing marks and Wite-Out -- instead of emoted onto Facebook with abandon and oftentimes without thought. (Dear World: Please stop oversharing. It really is none of my business.)

And maybe if videos, those things we used to call "movies," were a little harder to make, cost us the price of a film cartridge and took us a week to see, we'd be more hesitant to record ourselves at our worst and more likely to spend that time and effort on ourselves at our best.

Maybe, just maybe, we're coming to some sort of subconscious realization that nobody likes an egomaniac, and our instant-on world of digital proliferation is turning us all into narcissistic whack jobs. I admit, typing this with trembling fingers on a computer keyboard, that as I point a finger at the world, three more are pointing back at myself.

Let's call them Blog, Twitter and Podcast. You'll note that I've hyperlinked everything, because we're not only narcissists, but whores as well.

ON THE other hand, maybe I'm just bloody overthinking it all.

Perhaps folks find records a lot more fun than CDs or downloads. I know I do. And at my age, I certainly can read the liner notes a lot better on a great, big LP cover.

It could be that typewriters are just more aesthetically pleasing than your flippin' laptop, which has just frozen the f*** up yet again and I HATE WINDOWS I HATE WINDOWS I HATE WINDOWS!!! I must say that I never had to reboot a typewriter, nor reinstall anything more complicated than a ribbon.

And it could be that Super 8 just gives us all the warm fuzzies. (Though the missus does give YouTube props for Puppy Christmas, which is pretty damned adorable.)

And, thinking about reel-to-reel tape, it is a hell of a lot of fun, as evidenced by the video above from the electronic home of 3 Chords & the Truth. (WHORE ALERT: There will be a new episode of the Big Show this week.)

SO ENJOY, thanks to our digital world, the video of my 1969 reel-to-reel deck playing back the local AM oldies station, which I recorded on 50-year-old tape -- a tribute to the Wonderful World of Analog and times gone by . . . when expressing yourself took a little time, a little effort and a lot more thought.

Does anybody else think that Facebook  should force you to wad up a post and throw it in the garbage can, rewrite it, throw it in the garbage can, rewrite it, throw it in the garbage can and then rewrite it a lot less stupidly before the "Post" button will work?

Maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Analog in a digital world

Rockin' it really old school in the Revolution 21-slash-3 Chords & the Truth studio tonight. Jazz in the night from a 1960 Voice of Music tuner hooked up to a 1962 Pioneer stereo multiplex converter, and it's all being recorded by a TEAC reel-to-reel deck, circa 1969.

The Crown monitor amp is new, but what you gonna do? They're damn fine amplifiers.

For what it's worth, I shot the video with a Microsoft Surface tablet, which has decent-sounding microphones that also are prone to being overdriven. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Not including sales tax; time machine extra

Yes, Tape Recording magazine! I do want to get the most practical use, fun and personal profit from my own tape recorder! Please show me how!

Here's my $2 for a year's subscription under your special money-back guarantee offer. I can't wait to get better recordings and greater use from my machine!

Sound on magnetic tape . . . a veritable electronical memory! What will science come up with next? Personal UNIVAC machines for the home? Television programs on a video record album?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Exciting. Yeah, that's the ticket

It's exciting!

It's new!

It's an 8-track!


WELL, it also was 1966, and we didn't know any (CLUNK) better. After 1966, the main excite(CLUNK)ment  was when the damn tape jammed in the #&*~!+% 8-track player and $%#@&*! up the whole #$%!*#\ works . . . and why doesn't this tape sound nearly as good as the album???

Son of a bitch.

Pay attention, kiddos, you probably will look back on your iPod just as (ahem) fondly someday -- and by fondly, I mean wistfully derisive of the clearly inferior technology while longing for the days when it ruled the world. Life gets complicated.

And so will you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Back when cassettes ate their peas

"Who wants a tape-cartridge recorder?"

Not enough people, obviously, since I'll bet you've never seen one of these things. This RCA tape-cartridge recorder is a 1959 model, and it's kind of like a cassette deck, only bigger. With better fidelity, too, because it's basically a reel-to-reel machine with the reels in a great big cassette . . . er,

It never stood a chance when little cassettes came along in the mid-1960s.

The world is filled with Philistines! Any idiot knows that Beta the RCA tape-cartridge system is better, but noooooooo!

HEY! You can't argue with "four and one-half years of research."

Well, you can, but that just makes you an audiophobe. Philistine.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Simply '70s: Because I'm a geek

Because I'm a geek, here's a look inside a radio station.

In Detroit.

In 1970.

Because I'm a geek, I miss stuff like radio in Detroit in 1970. And because I'm old, I remember radio in 1970 pretty well.

ALSO because I'm a geek, I liked it when television news featured, uh . . . news.

And because I'm a geek, I liked it when you could distinguish, back in 1970, the network news from the network soaps.

AND BECAUSE I'm a really big geek, I like to watch stuff like this on

Some people see a guy getting all worked up over an old cassette recorder, and their weirdo alarm goes off. Geek that I am, I'm thinking "Why does this guy have all the fun and not me?"

It's not an old, never-unboxed radio-cassette deck. It's a time capsule from 1970 -- and you get to play with it because it was built much better than anything you'll find in 2011.

Now, if it could pull in radio stations from 1970, you really might have something there.

Says the geek.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A TEAC-able moment

I've been away from the blog -- mostly -- for a while doing this delicate dance between my inner MacGyver and my inner MacGruber.

In other words, I was out accomplishing s***.
Despite myself.

The saga started Sunday, when Mrs. Favog and I bought an old TEAC reel-to-reel tape deck for $30 at an estate sale here in Omaha. Did it work? I didn't know, but I suspected I might be setting out on a journey to the Land of Fix-It -- a kind of road trip of the mind and soul that I'll detail in a bit.

But here's what's important right now about that trip:
It feels good -- and I needed that.

It's easy to sit behind the keys here and write about stuff. Some of that output, I hope, is insightful and decently written. Most of it, I fear, falls in the category of
"Well, DUH!"

an age where I have just committed a branding and self-marketing faux pas. Humility is out, and so is introspection that might lead to honesty.

What I ought to have told you is how dead-on right I've been about stuff, that this is important writing, and that you can't live without reading my take on things. This would be because I am smart, hip, happenin' and. . . .

That's right -- cool.

That's how, apparently, one "markets" oneself. I suck at that, probably because I think it's bull.
A lie. Immodest . . . particularly in a world where a little modesty might be refreshing.

Yeah, I could have been waxing eloquently about the bloody obvious fact that Shirley Sherrod got hosed, that the Obama Administration let itself get stampeded by the Big Lie, and that Andrew Breitbart is a far-right ideologue and twit whose actions over the last year or so just
may prove him to be objectively evil.

Or at least indifferent to the truth.

All of that, of course, would be bloody obvious, except to certain brain-dead constituencies who --
unfortunately -- have taken advantage of universal suffrage.

But I didn't wax eloquently about that, or any other stuff that might be rattling around the echo chamber this week. Instead, I've been doing something useful -- fixing up that beautiful old TEAC reel-to-reel tape deck, one about 40 years old.


WELL, for one thing, getting that thing running again -- put back into good use once more -- was something tangible, a sign of contradiction in this increasingly intangible world. I figured I could look at something restored to its former audiophile glory and feel like I'd accomplished something.

That's objective fact. It was broken.
Now it ain't. I accomplished something.

Being another schmuck opining on a blog?
Feh. Maybe that's an accomplishment, but you just might find it to be a first-class detriment to . . . whatever.

Making a tape deck live again -- making it once again able to pluck lost bits of music . . . and history . . . indeed, ourselves out of magnetized oxide particles stuck to a Mylar backing -- now that's something tangible, and your validation neither adds nor subtracts from the act.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
Or hear, as the case may be.

LIKE I SAID, my journey with the old TEAC started in west Omaha last Sunday. The ticket cost 30 bucks.

I don't know why --
I mean, apart from my general geekiness -- I love old reel-to-reel tape decks.

But I do love me some reel-to-reel tape deck, and I have even before I did my first air shift in a radio station, where once upon a time, you could play with top-end (or not) reel-to-reel tape decks to no end.

For its time -- the late 1960s and early '70s -- the TEAC A-4010S was quality stuff. A top performer. Built like a tank.

Today, geeks like me call it a "classic" -- classic in performance, in design and in quality of construction.

When I bought this one -- as I said -- I didn't know whether it worked. Turns out it didn't.

THE ELECTRONICS in the amplifier were fine, as I more or less discovered when I got it home and powered it up, but the tape transport was in bad shape. The pinch roller mechanism, part of what makes the tape move along at the correct speed, was as stiff as a board -- it moved only through brute force.

This was not by design. The whole thing needed cleaning and oiling . . . and a screw in back needed loosening (a little).

And the capstan drive belt? It had turned into tar balls. Really.

Ever tried cleaning tar off of all manner of metal moving parts? Not fun.

Slowly but surely, I got the old TEAC -- it of long-past better days in an Omaha home where its owner used it to listen to Latter-Day Saints conference sessions and some sort of music programming -- cleaned up, lubed up and loosened up.

I scavenged a drive belt and a better pinch roller from another old TEAC tape deck I wasn't using anymore. When I found the belt was too loose to stay where the tape-recorder gods intended, I cut it to fit and super-glued it back together.

And when the torque on the drive motors was too much in one spot and too little in another -- trust me, this can get real ugly, real fast -- I ended up doing some MacGyvering of the taps on a couple of resistors.

thank God for old service manuals found on the Internet, an unused tape deck to scavenge from, WD-40, Super Glue and electrical tape. Not necessarily in that order.

And thank God for the tangible things in a self-promoting, subjective and intangible world. Thank God for old tape decks, craftsmanship that stands the test of time, working with your hands and the visible fruits of one's labor.

Thank God for these things, because sometimes they're what keep us sane. And sometimes, they point the way toward what's really important in life.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's geek porn, I tells ya! Geek porn!

That's it . . . I'm done. As in "done in."

Gone. Lost. Incommunicado.

Just bring me some beer and some Carnation Instant Breakfast, then call EMS to hook me up a catheter. I have been reliably informed of the existence of a website that's the online home of almost every Radio Shack catalog published from 1939 to 2005.

And that's just part of it.

It seems to me that all I need right now is Doc Brown's DeLorean and some period-appropriate cash, and I'll be in bidness. Oh, the places we'll go!

The gadgets we'll buy!

I THINK I'll get me a classic Rek-O-Kut turntable from 1961. And a vintage Harman-Kardon stereophonic receiver.

Maybe an H.H. Scott FM tuner, too!

Oh! And a Tandberg reel-to-reel tape deck! Tapes! I need tapes!

AND WHEN I'm done shopping in the year of my birth, maybe I'll pop over to Radio Shack somewhere during my junior year of high school . . . let's make it Christmastime 1977. I always wanted a DX-160 communications receiver.

And while I'm at it, maybe I'll pick up this, too:

"What is it?" you ask?

It's an iPod.