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Revox Tape Differences

Posted on August 14, 2016 at 13:59:01

Posts: 1
Joined: August 14, 2016
Hello all.
I was given about 30 10.5" Revox tapes. Some are black reels, some are gray. Does anyone know if one is older than the other? Is one higher quality? The black reels seem to run perfectly, no squeal, flutter, degrading Mylar, etc... The grays are hit and miss. Didn't know if this is coincidental or is in fact a reason.


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RE: Revox Tape Differences, posted on August 15, 2016 at 05:06:28
Dave Pogue

Posts: 10809
Location: DC Area
Joined: October 9, 2001
March 18, 2003
I had only one of those. It was black. Squealed like a banshee :-)


RE: Revox Tape Differences, posted on August 16, 2016 at 10:53:58

Posts: 1370
Location: no california
Joined: February 21, 2004
Dump any backcoated tape (which is probably the newest) and keep/sell the reels.
If they're those nice Revox reels, they should fetch a nice price on the Bay.


Agree, posted on August 29, 2016 at 20:15:28

Posts: 814
Joined: October 1, 2001
I bought two reels in 1974. After about 20 years they developed sticky-shed syndrome and were virtually unplayable. I tossed the tape and saved the plastic reels.


RE: Revox Tape Differences, posted on August 30, 2016 at 03:53:31

Posts: 672
Joined: March 5, 2002
Idiotic advice to dump the tape.


RE: Revox Tape Differences, posted on August 30, 2016 at 04:54:38
Dave Pogue

Posts: 10809
Location: DC Area
Joined: October 9, 2001
March 18, 2003
Why idiotic? I'll dump ANY tape that starts showing signs of sticky shed unless I really, really covet the recording enough to go through the problems of trying to save it.


RE: Revox Tape Differences, posted on September 20, 2016 at 09:26:45
Industry Professional

Posts: 433
Location: Midwest
Joined: February 5, 2008
Would agree with Dave. there is no fix for sticking/shedding tape; only a temp fix to bake it, which only restarts the clock until the binder adsorbs enough moisture to start the problem all over again.



Sticky Shed, posted on September 21, 2016 at 08:10:12

Posts: 9275
Joined: July 6, 2005
Ironbut has the right idea. The "high output" backcoated tapes of the 70s and into the 80s had problems. I don't remember if Agfa or BASF or some other company made the Revox tape. I want to say BASF, but I'm no longer sure about that.

There were a couple brands which didn't exhibit the problem when the others did. I think maybe Maxell and Agfa. On the other hand, they might be goo by now, too. I DO know for sure that Ampex 406/407 and 456 were bad, but I still have ALL of the ones I recorded (concert recordings).

In any case, I built a tape baking "oven", and whenever I want to play or transcribe a vintage high output back-coated tape (not acetate!, and not 60s vintage), I bake it first - no questions asked! It's got two thermometers and a little computer-style fan. The heat source is two 100 watt bulbs on a dimmer to control the temperature. My comfort zone is 131 to 134 degrees F for four hours.

I don't know if the back-coating is actually involved in the stick shed problem, or if it just happens to have been a popular idea to reduce slippage and static charge for the generation of tapes which were the creme de la creme of the time.

In any case, if the OP's tapes are of that vintage, I'd dump the tape and keep the reels. Or, sell it all "as is". Or, keep a few reels (dump the tape) and sell the rest. The OP is in a unique position in that he was GIVEN the tapes, so his options are wide open. Whether they're black or gray reels would be indicative of which ones are older, but that doesn't mean that the tape formulation was different, but if they're 70s/80s vintage back-coated, it's a moot point. Although, someone on www.tapeheads.net would probably know, just for kicks.



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