Reel to Reel

Reel to Reel tape has been around longer than any other audio tape based system.  It was developed after the wire recorders became an impractical method of recording audio.  This format, though it has the ability to sound extremely nice in quality also has the ability to be manipulated by the original user in how much time can be recorded on a single reel.  There are many speeds throughout time which were offered to the original users.  The get the best quality the Reel To Reel recorder would be switched to the higher speeds which would mean better quality but less time.  Many home users were often concerned with getting as much time on a reel as possible and so they would switch to a slower speed thus gaining more record time but less quality.

Professional Reel to Reel recording was a little more predictable as they generally used faster speeds and wider magnetic head formats and were usually documented well enough to know the length of the tape and program material.

When we transfer Reel To Reel audio tapes, we find that it is a guessing game as to how much material is on one tape because not only could these machines record at different speeds but some head formats also had the ability to turn the tape over and record twice again the length of the tape…  If that were not enough, there were some recorders which could record 4 different tracks which could increase the amount of material recorded onto a single reel by 4 times the length.

With all of these variables in mind, we have a system in place which works with any speed, any track and any time.  Our biggest focus on Reel To Reel transfers is to bring the highest quality to the transfer as possible.  We do this by a special process which clarifies the listening level, enhances the frequencies and eliminates much of the original induced noise.

In the later part of tape manufacturing, many of the newer formulations for the magnetic tapes, were flawed and over time have developed a Sticky Shed Syndrome. This problem can lead to disastrous consequences when attempting to digitize and restore them. Some companies try baking the tapes before playing them a this helps temporarily solidify the sticky chemical that has broken down on the tape. The major problem with this method is that is does indeed destroy the frequencies of the recordings on the tape and only lasts for w few weeks at most before the tapes revert back to their damaged state and worse, they have been baked and this starts a degradation process that will eventually lead to total tape death. To avoid any damage to the tapes with this issue, we use a specialized “Poly-Chem” process that restores the tape to near better than new and will help the tape remain in good condition for many years.

To have your tapes transferred, restored and digitized at the highest possible quality is a simple process of sending the tapes to Media Preserve and then waiting for our completion confirmation which will have transformed your old tapes into digital files which can be returned to you on the format of your choice.  Downloadable audio, Audio CD. Audio DVD and Blu-Ray or USB flash memory.  Simply contact us to begin the process.

(Contact Us for shipping address or any questions: 801-785-2131 or see our Contact page)

(Average) Play Time in One Direction Only.  Since tape thickness can change length, these are only average guidelines because reel to reel varies speed and length.  Reels also had the ability to record up to 4 times as much on a single reel if the recorder was able to record 4 tracks counting both directions.

3″ Reel holds 150 to 225 to 450 ft

7 1/2 IPS: 04 to 12 Minutes (6 Min average)
3 3/4 IPS: 08 to 24 Minutes (12 Min average)
1 7/8 IPS: 16 to 48 Minutes (24 Min average)

5″ Reel holds 600 to 900 ft

7 1/2 IPS: 16 to 24 Minutes (16 Min most common)
3 3/4 IPS: 32 to 48 Minutes (32 Min most common)
1 7/8 IPS: 1 Hr and 04 min to 1 hr 36 Min (1 Hr 04 Min most common)

7″ Reel holds 1200 to 1800 to 2400 ft

7 1/2 IPS: 32 Min to 1 Hr 04 Min (48 Min Average)
3 3/4 IPS: 1 Hr 4 Min to 2 Hr 08 Min (1 Hr 36 Min Average)
1 7/8 IPS: 2 Hrs 8 min to 4 Hrs 16 Min (3 Hr 12 Min Average)

10.5″ Reel holds 2400 to 3600 ft

7 1/2 IPS: 1 Hr 4 Min to 1 Hr 36 Min (1 Hr 4 Min Most Common)
3 3/4 IPS: 2 Hrs 8 Min to 3 Hrs 12 Mins (2 Hrs 08 Mins Most Common)
1 7/8 IPS: 4 Hrs 16 Min to 6 Hrs 24 Min (4 Hr 16 Min Most Common)

15 ips is another speed to consider and it represents 1/2 the speed and time of the 7 1/2 speed.

Speed time indication was also measured in Centimeters Per Second as well as inches per second:

38 cps = 15 ips

19 cps = 7 1/2 ips

9.5 cps = 3 3/4 ips

4.7 cps = 1 7/8 ips